There are a number of different factors to be considered when defining your B2B customer acquisition strategy, but if you are going to be successful you’ll need to understand how to operate in the 5 major digital channels (Organic, Direct, Referral, Social, and Paid).
The first step for any SaaS business interested in driving product led growth is to acquire website visitors. To begin acquiring customers you first need to focus on building awareness and attracting the right people to your website.
This guide describes each of the 5 major digital customer acquisition channels, provide strategic guidance, and outlines how to track and measure progress within each of the channels.
Building Successful B2B Customer Acquisition Programs
Often your most valuable B2B customer acquisition channel, in terms of quality, building a strong organic search foundation is well worth the investment. Think of organic search traffic as your opportunity to capture naturally occurring demand for your product or service.
The organic traffic you attract will be reflected in the content you create, so spend some time developing a strategy designed to capture search traffic for keywords important to your business, and then build the tracking and reporting to understand how people engage with your content progress through your funnel.
A few things to consider when developing a content strategy:
- Focus on keywords that are important to your business.
- Organize your content into buckets that indicate the mindset of the person reading it. Something like: Awareness, Consideration, Decision; or simply Top, Middle, Bottom.
- Design programs to progress people towards the decision stage, and when they get there, work on moving them to the product.
Organic Tracking and Measurement
The goal here is to rank for high-value keywords, so build tracking to understand the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
- Organize your keywords based on the content buckets you defined earlier and measure your rankings. I suggest you get a tool like Ubersuggest, SEMRush, or Moz for this.
- Create Google Analytics Segments that represent page views to pages in the content buckets you defined (awareness, consideration, decision), and measure growth.
- Use this data to move people along a funnel e.g. present people visiting pages in the awareness stage content offers from the consideration bucket.
- Claim your domain in Google Search Console and use it to understand the search terms actively bring people to your website, and to continuously optimize your website.
- Optimize your content using to whichever SEO tool you choose
- Watch your traffic grow.
Focus on building awareness and acquiring visitors in your target market – trust your targeting and develop content to teach people about the problem(s) your product can solve for them.
Direct traffic is when people type your website URL directly into the browser window, making it a valuable b2b customer acquisition channel. Steady growth in direct traffic is an indicator that your brand marketing is working and that you’re gaining awareness.
Typically, direct traffic produces high-quality visitors and moves through the funnel efficiently.
Understanding direct traffic to grow b2b customer acquisition:
- Establish a baseline prior to rolling out a formal marketing strategy, and measure the impact various programs have on direct traffic. Keep in mind offline events such as trade shows can have a big impact on direct traffic, as well as paid media, and even BDR outreach when executed at scale.
- Often direct traffic will contain high numbers of return visitors, so be sure you’re looking at both uniques and total sessions.
- Be sure to filter out your internal IP addresses
Direct Tracking and Measurement
- Keep track of the programs running, by month, and look for insights into how they impact direct traffic. Be sure to look at both the channels (ppc, banners, social, syndicated content, trade shows, bdr outreach, etc), and spend.
- Don’t undervalue the power and impact brand marketing can have, include a healthy dose of brand in your marketing early, and measure the impact it has on other channels.
- Pay attention to the type of content your direct traffic is consuming, and if trends surface, consider ways to optimize that experience.
- Look at dips in direct traffic as an early indicator that other channels may be experiencing fatigue or other issues that require your attention.
Referral traffic occurs when external websites link to your website. This could be a review, a mention in a blog post, syndicated content, partner programs, etc. These external endorsements are incredibly valuable. Think of it this way … some other website owner likes you so much they are willing to put a link on their website that takes people away from their website.
Referrals are a key component of a successful long term b2b customer acquisition strategy and should not be overlooked.
Leveraging referral traffic to increase b2b customer acquisition:
- Referrals increase the value of your domain, as it relates to Google and Bing
- Referral growth reinforces the strength of your community – people are willing to openly endorse you
- Referral traffic takes time and effort to acquire and has a direct impact on your ability to rank high in the SERPS for competitive keywords
- Referral traffic sources may present opportunities for more formal partnerships
- Referral traffic is an indicator that people like your product and are having positive experiences with your product and/or brand.
Referral Tracking and Measurement
- Develop a strategy to acquire links from high-value sources
- Track your top referral sources and consider more formal partnerships, or advertising opportunities where it makes sense
- As part of your SEO strategy, you’ll want to track the number of inbound links as well as the quality of those links
- Keep an eye on the domains you’re receiving inbound traffic from, not all referrals are helpful from an SEO perspective. Leverage a quality SEO tool to manage inbound links to your advantage.
Use social to amplify your content and brand, and to build community. Social channels are noisy but can be productive b2b customer acquisition channels when leveraged properly.
Some ideas for leveraging social media channels to drive b2b customer acquisition:
- Always add value. This is a good rule to follow in all of your marketing, but especially when it comes to social. Give away something of value, rather than asking for something of value.
- Focus on the brand. Social is a prime channel for culture and overall company momentum and appeal. Develop a strategy, and use it to build a brand.
- Leverage a tool like MeetEdgar to help keep the drum beating and lower the burden of managing social channels.
Social Tracking and Measurement
- Focus on your most valuable channels and work to grow your audience size, post engagement, and traffic to your website. All of these are meaningful and will have an impact on your overall growth.
- Consider supplementing organic social with paid sponsorships
- Test different types of content and formats (video, text, images, etc) and tailor your posts to fit the channel
- Tag paid links with _utm parameters and track through the funnel.
Don’t underestimate the importance of paid traffic when it comes to b2b customer acquisition. In the early days, it can go a long way to introduce people to your brand and increase velocity; and as your brand matures it can help to drive conversions and bottom of the funnel.
Some considerations for your paid strategy to drive b2b customer acquisition:
- Have a plan. This sounds obvious, but not every ad has to drive direct conversions. So have a media plan and mix that is intentional. Some ads drive brand, some drive trials, some drive revenue, some drive content, etc…
- Look for impact on non-paid channels as you add paid and/or increase spending
- Use paid channels to test alternate messaging, new feature interest, content ideas, etc. Paid channels can be a really effective way to test theories before putting a ton of effort into them
Paid Tracking and Measurement
- Tag paid links with _utm parameters and track through the funnel.
- Monitor spend, and conversions and keep an eye on the cost to acquire (by channel), but also understand that this is not the only benefit of paid channels.
- Build quarterly programs or flights, and overlap programs by about a month to allow new programs time to ramp, before the old ones wind down.
- Keeping spend flat for extended periods of time will result in flat growth. Build momentum with paid channels, by consistently adding net new channels or ad spend.
- Diversify your advertising mix to minimize risk, and maximize the impact you have on overall growth
Driving b2b customer acquisition begins with your ability to select, profile, target, and attract your ideal customer. Leverage the various channels to help your customers understand your product and get excited about it.
Don’t overcomplicate things, your primary objective when building b2b customer acquisition programs is to introduce people to your company and product, and drive people to your website. Stay focused and drive growth.