For marketers, never before has the B2B buying process been more unpredictable—or as full of opportunity—as it is today. According to Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo, “today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor.”
With prospective buyers choosing to educate themselves early on in the B2B buying process, B2B companies must find a new way to earn their place on a buyer’s shortlist, and many have chosen display advertising to achieve this. Why? Only targeted display advertising gives B2B companies of all sizes the ability to elevate and differentiate their brands to the target audiences that matter the most to their businesses. Whether you’re just thinking about using display for the first time or about to launch your tenth campaign, here’s how to ensure that you’re boosting your brand value in your prospects’ B2B buying process:
1. Differentiate. Use display advertising to differentiate your brand with B2B target prospects—even before they know they need you.
As the Forrester research indicates, brands must establish a strong foothold with prospects as early as possible in the B2B buying process. Display advertising is an ideal strategy for this, as marketers can target ads and keep their brands in front of the right audiences wherever they travel online—and in some cases, even before prospects are aware that they need a certain product or service. By using display to maintain a consistent online presence with your target audience online, you’re likely to be the first one that prospects reach out to once they do decide to seek out a solution like yours.
Audience targeting, or the ability to target display ads to a specific audience demographic wherever they may travel online, is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you’re reaching your ideal prospects. As you’ll see below, when I visit a marketer-oriented site such as MediaPost, I’m served an ad from Bizo, which targets online marketers.
2. Build credibility. Emotions run high in B2B sales—display advertising brings credibility to your brand and reduces the feeling of risk in the B2B buying process.
B2B purchases are highly emotional—not only are multiple people involved in the typical buying decision, but also the product or service under consideration is often a very large financial investment. What’s more, B2B decision makers can face an enormous amount of pressure because there is a large amount of potential risk involved—to the organization, to their job security and personal credibility, and so on. Because strong emotions such as fear and risk exist, B2B prospects want to know that they’re making the best possible choice. Display advertising can help increase the credibility of a brand and provide this feeling of reassurance.
Including customer testimonials in display advertising can be a great way to boost credibility and build confidence in target prospects involved in the B2B buying process, as Salesforce.com has done.
3. Look like a bigger player. Even if you’re an SMB on a limited budget, don’t overlook the value that display advertising can bring to your growing brand.
Decades ago, television, radio, and print advertising were the primary vehicles for brand advertising, but these were not cheap ventures. The enormous financial investments required by these channels meant that brand advertising was limited only to the large companies and agencies that could afford it.
Fast forward to today. Online advertising has leveled the playing field, making it easy for businesses of all sizes to foster their brands through advertising. One of the most effective ways that SMBs can take advantage of display is through retargeting—the ability to serve relevant ads to users who have visited your website before, but did not convert the first time around. Here’s a look at how retargeting works:
Why is retargeting so effective? Because people who have visited your website are already familiar with your brand, and by keeping your brand in front of them with display (not to mention personalizing your retargeting ad creative to address their previous interests) you’re one step closer to achieving that sought-after conversion.
For more advice on this topic Bizo invites our readers to download a free copy of “Building a B2B Brand Online For Dummies.”
Jennifer Agustin is senior director of marketing at Bizo, which specializes in business audience marketing. She focuses on content and product marketing, social media strategy and development, and also helps the company manage its own display advertising efforts. Follow her on Twitter @leadjen.