Secrets of a B2B Marketer: How to Reach Your Target Online

By Cara Garretson

You’re a B2B brand. You have limited marketing budget and multiple, complicated target markets. If you miss the mark with targeting you risk spending money on people who have no relevancy to your industry. Wasted impressions equate to wasted dollars. The stakes are high.

The good news is that never before in the history of marketing has targeting been so sophisticated. The bad news is that even with B2B marketing, we live in the most complicated media landscape that has ever existed. The convergence of media channels has also provided some opportunities that, not long ago, didn’t exist.

So where do you start? It’s important to begin by thinking holistically about the target. Who are they? What are the characteristics of their industry that define their media consumption? Are they tied to a desk or are they in the car on mobile devices all day long? The better you understand the intricacies of your target audience the better equipped you will be to craft an effective marketing strategy for them.

The digital media space offers the ability to reach nearly any target audience you can define. Nearly all of us are heavy utilizers of online media and digital media vendors hold the key to data sets that allow for highly accurate targeting. Many of us in the business would argue that the online banner has had its day, however video units tend to hold a different reputation and can be compelling, entertaining and drive strong metrics.

The targeting methodologies available in the digital space are constantly evolving. Let’s start by talking about one of the more simple means of targeting. Geotargeting is one of the most basic, yet most important of the set. Few brands have sufficient media budgets to target everyone, everywhere. Determining the geography of your target is one of the best places to start. Most online vendors can target as broadly as country and as narrowly as a five mile radius around a particular location.

The second of the useful targeting types online is Industry or Job Title targeting. Through the use of Standard Industrial Classification codes you can ensure that your digital marketing is served only to users who work in relevant industries and carry the job titles you specify.

Behavioral targeting often comes into play with digital B2B schedules. This methodology basically takes into account the online behavior of a particular audience. For example, if a user reads the websites of manufacturing trade publications and does Google searches on terms relevant to the manufacturing industry they would behaviorally be identified as working in the manufacturing business.

Occasionally, brands will want to exclude a small portion of professionals in a target industry. By overlaying something called negative keyword targeting on top of SIC, job title and behavioral marketing we are able to reach only those we do want and not those we don’t. The way it works is quite simple, a list of keywords that those users are likely searching for is compiled and anyone in our target who performs a search in that set is removed from the user pool of those who could potentially see an ad. For example, if a brand wants to reach everyone who practices law with the exception of real estate lawyers a keyword list of real estate law-related terms would be implemented to remove them from the target set.

Retargeting is something that I feel should be used no matter the digital marketing strategy. Remessaging users who have visited your webpage with your banner or video ads helps to keep your company top of mind and build frequency of message.

Data onboarding is one of the latest trends in the digital B2B marketing space. This is one of the more sophisticated means of targeting and not all digital vendors can execute it. Data onboarding utilizes your actual prospective customer database, wipes it of all personally identifiable information and then matches it to the online vendors’ dataset to serve banner or video units to them. This differs from retargeting as a user doesn’t need to have visited your site to be in the user pool but rather just be in your prospect contact list.

Layering digital targeting methodologies can help ensure you are reaching your B2B targets with as fine a point as possible. While the means of online targeting are certainly exciting, the space is wrought with issues such as viewability, ad blockers and fraud. No media is without its shortcomings and, as long as brands understand the pitfalls, online media offers a means of reaching niche and complicated audiences with accuracy that other media channels lack.

The online world is an exciting and ever-evolving space. Huge advances in targeting have opened it up to B2B marketers in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago. If you’re a B2B brand with limited budget and niche targets (aren’t we all) online media might just be worth a closer look.

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