How to Market B2B Software in the Middle of a Pandemic
by Aden Andrus • April 9, 2020
As COVID-19 has swept the nation and the world, it’s created a variety of challenges for businesses. In particular, most B2B companies are in a complicated position right now.
On the one hand, there’s a good chance that demand for your software is higher than ever. However, there’s also a good chance that social distancing has turned your sales funnel upside down.
To survive—let alone thrive—in the current situation, you’re going to have to adapt your marketing strategy to meet the new and changing needs of your target audience. Now is not the time to rely on your old funnels or ad campaigns.
Instead, it’s time to rethink your buyer personas, customer journeys and sales funnels. Things are different right now—your marketing needs to be different, too.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how things have changed and what you can do to adapt your strategies and make the most of this challenging situation. Let’s dive in.
How COVID-19 is Affecting B2B Software Companies
If your business sells B2B software or has a B2B SaaS offering, you’re probably in a fairly good position right now. With 88% of businesses encouraging or requiring their employees to work from home, there’s never been a bigger need for software to coordinate and automate things for businesses.
The problem is, many B2B software companies rely on face-to-face meetings to land new clients. If your business relies on in-office pitches, big conferences, live demos or other in-person meetings, this whole “social distancing” thing is wreaking havoc on your marketing strategy.
Sure, virtual events and video conferences are a good adaptation, but “webinar fatigue” is a very real thing. The internet has been around for a while now, but there are a lot of reasons why many businesses still rely on in-person meetings.
So what do you do? You might have increased demand for your software, but if you can’t reach your target audience, how do you convince them to invest in your solution?
To make matters worse, this pandemic has hit businesses hard. Almost 2% of the US population filed for unemployment last week alone. Millions of people have already lost their jobs or had their hours cut back and it’s only going to get worse.
Business owners and decision-makers are having to pull back in many areas. They’re understandably worried about what the future holds for their business, which can make it even harder to convince them to invest in a software solution—especially when your conventional sales funnel has been thrown into disarray.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s a challenging time for B2B software businesses. However, there are still opportunities to be had in the current situation. You just have to know where to look.
Since in-person meetings are out of the question, it’s time to adapt your strategy to the best medium you have left: the internet. 88% of businesses are asking their employees to work from home, which means your future customers are online. You should be too.
However, you can’t depend on online events to take the place of live events in your marketing strategy. You need to rethink things and approach your marketing in new ways.
With the quarantine in place, many businesses are suddenly discovering that they need a software solution for a problem they didn’t even know they had. Google Ads is a great way to ensure that they find your business when they look online to see what their options are.
If you aren’t already running paid search campaigns, now is a great time to get started. Google Ads is a great fit for B2B software businesses under normal circumstances, and it’s absolutely vital right now.
If you already have paid search campaigns running, now is a good time to revisit them. We’ve helped tons of B2B businesses with their Google Ads campaigns and most of them struggle with the same sorts of problems.
With Google Ads becoming ever more competitive, you can’t afford to waste money on the wrong clicks, so dive into your campaigns and make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible. For more advice on how to make the most of your Google Ads campaigns, check out this article.
Or, if you really want to do things right, why not let us take a look at your strategy and give you some free, personalized recommendations? To let us know that you’re interested, just click here.
LinkedIn is another great marketing channel for B2B businesses. If you’re looking for ways to network and interact with people directly, LinkedIn is the biggest professional social networking site out there.
Connect with potential clients. Message them. Join groups. Participate in discussions. You might not be able to meet with people in person, but LinkedIn is a great alternative way to reach out to prospects and build relationships.
In addition to being an excellent organic marketing channel, LinkedIn also offers a wide variety of paid advertising options you can use to get in front of and stay in front of your target audience. Odds are, they’re probably spending more time on LinkedIn right now, so there’s never been a better time to experiment with LinkedIn Ads.
For more tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn Ads, check out this article.
Facebook isn’t normally a great marketing channel for B2B software companies. It can work, but most people aren’t looking for business solutions when they hop on Facebook.
Right now, however, the line between business and personal life is very blurry. Since so many people are working from home, there’s not a lot keeping them from checking out Facebook in middle of work hours.
Depending on what your software is and does, Facebook Ads may be a good channel for your business right now. There are a ton of great ways to get in front of your audience, so it’s worth looking into.
Even if Facebook Ads doesn’t seem like the right fit, you may want to consider getting involved with Facebook Groups. Groups are an easy, non-intrusive way to get into your potential customers’ feeds and start building relationships. You can learn more about how to use Facebook Groups for your business here.
If your sales cycle tends to be on the longer side, content marketing is another great channel to invest in. Content marketing is all about providing value and building trust, so it’s a great way to go now that in-person meetings are off the table.
Depending on your business, you may want to start blogging, writing eBooks, running webinars, recording podcasts or all of the above. The idea here is to create enough value that people come to you. This is inbound marketing at its finest, and since businesses are being extra careful with their finances right now, it’s an ideal way to break down walls and open doors for your business.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use content marketing to drive leads and sales, check out this article.
Email marketing goes hand-in-hand with content marketing. Like content marketing, email marketing is all about creating relationships and providing value.
Your potential customers might not be ready to buy your B2B software right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready in a few days, weeks or months. With the right email drip campaigns, you can use lead magnets to get people’s email addresses and then stay on their radar until they’re ready to buy.
Good email marketing takes some time to set up, but that’s probably something you have an excess of right now, so why not give it a shot? You can read more about B2B email marketing here.
Making the Most of Your Online Marketing
No matter what marketing channels you choose to focus on, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Even though you might not always be interacting with your potential customers directly (especially at first), they’re still people.
So, if you want to successfully market your B2B software online, you should focus first on building relationships. This has always been a critical part of your marketing strategy and it won’t change just because you’re marketing digitally.
When you’re asking people to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on your business (or even more), your potential customers want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like people. If your leads feel like just another number, it will be hard to turn them into sales.
Be the expert, but more importantly, be their expert. Demonstrate your expertise, talk the talk and walk the walk. Your potential customers won’t be able to meet you in-person, so you have to work twice as hard to give them the confidence they need to feel good about buying from you.
Just make sure you don’t come off as trying too hard.
Good B2B marketing is a balancing act. You want your customers to trust you and feel confident in your solution, but you also want them to feel like they’re your top priority. Focus on your audience and their needs, not tooting your own horn. Your expertise should be so effortless that they trust you without really knowing why.
If you blend all of that with the right marketing channels, you’ll be well-equipped to deliver a great online marketing experience.
Whether you’ve been marketing online for a while or this is all new territory for your business, digital marketing has become the key to selling your B2B software right now. In-person meetings aren’t an option, so your only choice is to adapt and focus on driving leads and sales online.
If all of this feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, we’re here to help. The Disruptive Blog is full of great recommendations for B2B businesses. Or, if you’d like more personalized help, just reach out to us here or in the comments!
How has COVID-19 changed your marketing strategy? What’s working for you? Where are you struggling? Leave your thoughts in the comments.