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B2B Marketing Tips for a Bright Holiday Season

Many marketers may think that business-to-consumer (B2C) companies own the holiday marketing space and it’s just not a good fit for business-to-business (B2B). While there may be a slowdown in the B2B marketing world, that doesn’t mean it comes to a complete halt. Many effective holiday marketing strategies exist to help B2B marketers succeed.

Smart B2B holiday marketing strategies can help businesses take advantage of the holiday season to nurture leads and maintain visibility through the end of the year. Using effective B2B holiday marketing strategies can keep customers engaged, drive demand and prime people to make decisions earlier in the new year than they might otherwise.

To develop an effective B2B marketing strategy for the holidays, marketers should consider the following tactics.

Formulate More Deliberate Seasonal Budgeting Strategies

Many B2B organizations have a quieter holiday season and may have budget left to spend. This is often “use it or lose it” budget, and marketers want to spend that money.

Marketers should consider front loading monthly budgets during the fourth quarter (Q4). This should particularly be a priority in the first half of December leading up to Christmas. Focus on spending most of allotted budgets in the first few weeks, rather than the final weeks when other advertisers – like e-commerce brands – make their final push for shipping cutoffs.

As the holidays approach, B2B marketers need to focus on precision with search and social advertising as costs increase. Consider turning off digital efforts or lowering budgets during peak seasonal or high-volume days, like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas where inventory is at a premium and costs inflated.

B2B marketers can capitalize on holiday search demand by complementing search marketing strategies with highly relevant, holiday-specific keywords. Adding phrases like “free shipping all season long” or “exclusive holiday deals” can be an effective strategy to maintain awareness and help ads stand out. Additionally, by leveraging remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), marketers can re-engage customers and potential customers in their exact moment of need.

During Q4, B2B marketers can also invest more heavily in long-tail keywords that are not likely to be as competitive and frequently offer a higher conversion rate. B2B marketers should also consider increasing impression share on underperforming keywords during the holidays and using negative keywords on popular words and phrases which can help avoid wasting money placing ads on pages irrelevant to products or services for sale. 

In addition to holiday-specific search tactics, B2B marketers must choose the right social media budget strategy based on seasonal business goals. For example, Facebook ad costs commonly increase during the holiday season; cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) can even double during this period.

Social media inventory can close off early with only so many impressions available, so focus budget on the right networks to maximize spend. Still, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can provide good reach for B2B marketers if utilized at the right times; particularly sponsored posts and tweets which can add value since they appear as organic content.

Being more deliberate in budgeting for the holidays and precisely tailoring search and social strategies to cost-effectively take advantage of seasonal fluctuations can help B2B marketers deliver more value.

Focus on Leads Already in the Sales Cycle

The customer journey during Q4 and the holidays is unique for B2B. To fully maximize potential of marketing programs, consider focusing on leads already in the sales cycle, instead of net new. Help sales teams hone in on retention and closing those high-quality, vital leads rather than catching as many new leads as possible.

Utilize what’s easily available in leveraged networks, like Google or Facebook. For instance, remarketing can capture those potential customers that previously engaged and retarget them with more specific messages to refocus efforts and close leads. Concentrate on closing the sales funnel rather than the increasing incremental lead volume that would cost too much to acquire during this peak-spend season.

That said, if targeting new leads remains part of a larger strategy, customer match lists provide buckets of potential leads that mirror existing leads. They’re essentially pre-qualified, reducing money spent aimlessly in an already saturated market.

Consider Seasonal Customer Needs

It’s important marketers know and understand the changing needs of their market. B2B marketers should consider seasonal customer needs and make sure not to turn off campaigns aligned with those needs.

Small B2B businesses, for example, shouldn’t overlook Small Business Saturday. While many traditionally think of this day – sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – as a day for holiday shoppers to support their local retail businesses, B2B marketers can also capitalize by finding creative ways to participate, like promoting a special holiday deal on specific products or services or offering discounts for service appointments booked that day.

For B2B marketers with hot seasonal products like corporate holiday gifts or in-demand services like commercial cleaning that customers generally need this time of year, consider promoting special pricing for businesses or offering an exclusive subscription package for sign-ups before the end of the year through email marketing, social media or paid search.

Measure Results and Adjust Accordingly

Regardless of the time of year, marketers need to measure campaign results to understand what works and what doesn’t. For B2B marketers, it’s especially important to measure results by keeping track of conversions vs. sales. During Q4, make note of which seasonal keywords and phrasing actively drive traffic, generate leads and convert visitors into customers. From there, hone, refine and qualify audiences for retargeting with different creative that helps push them further down the funnel.  

While B2B marketers do these things for campaigns year-round, be more critical and stringent during the holidays. Keep tabs on and turn off keywords faster, set higher benchmarks and so on. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, be extra shrewd with budgets.

Leveraging these types of seasonal marketing strategies will help take B2B marketers’ holiday performance to the next level. Using these tactics, B2B marketers can increase visibility through search and social media and effectively move prospective customers through the purchase funnel to foster engagement and motivate them to purchase, while driving impressive results during the critical holiday season.

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Aubree Rose is senior director, paid search at Chacka Marketing in Tampa, Fla. She can be reached at aubree@chackamarketing.com.

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