35 Recession Proof B2B Marketing Tools for Your Small Business
Today B2B marketers benefit from an abundance of great and easy-to-use marketing tools like WordPress, MailChimp, Pipedrive and LinkedIn. Chiefmartec.com now counts a staggering 8,000 tools marketers can use. And many of them are very accessible and cost next to nothing. So, how do you choose which technology to use as a small business?
B2B Marketing Technology in 10 Building Blocks
First, let us organize the most important aspects of functionality you need as a B2B company to enable your marketing and sales process. This helps you to view the marketing technology landscape from the perspective of your specific needs as a small business. In our approach, we call these aspects of functionality “building blocks.” For each block, we discuss:
- The main functionality
- Which profile data is captured and
- Three popular solutions for small businesses
In this blog we focus on B2B marketing tools that handle customer and lead data. It’s a first in a series of 3 blogs, in the next 2 blogs we will focus on aligning (blog 2) and integration (blog 3) the B2B marketing tools from the 10 categories we discuss here.
Building Block 1: CRM
Customer relationship management, or CRM, is a system used to build and manage existing relationships and qualified leads. This block of B2B marketing tools is used to record customer preferences and trach customer activity, especially by salespeople. Every time they are spoken to, regardless of who they talk to, customers get a fully personalized and consistent experience. CRM systems normally integrate with your office email like Microsoft Outlook. In a good setup, there is a process to add qualified leads to the system for a personal follow-up by sales.
Your CRM system typically captures the following customer and lead data:
- Contact information of existing customers
- Contact information of qualified leads
- Sales calls, sales emails and sales visits
- Status of sales opportunities
- History of deals and contracts
- Registration of stuff like invitations and subscriptions
Some popular CRM systems for small businesses include:
- Pipedrive is a highly rated sales management tool designed to help sales teams of small businesses manage sales processes in an intuitive manner
- Insightly is an easy-to-use CRM that integrates with Gmail, G Suite and Outlook and is one of the market-leading solutions in the small business area
- Salesforce is the market-leading SaaS CRM offering wide functionality, which makes it more complex and expensive than Pipedrive
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is the SaaS CRM from Microsoft to challenge Salesforce, and it integrates smoothly with Office 365
Building Block 2: Email Marketing for B2B
Email marketing solutions are applications that allow you to plan, execute and monitor email marketing campaigns. This block of B2B marketing tools often come with email builders, email scheduling features and campaign automation tools to help you streamline operations. Moreover, they provide reporting and analytics that will allow marketers to measure key metrics and fine-tune their strategy.
Your email marketing solution typically captures the following customer and lead data:
- Email address and basic contact information
- Subscriptions on email lists and tags to segment your list
- History of email sends and behavior, including opens and link clicks
Some popular email marketing solutions for small businesses include:
- MailChimp is the market-leading, all-in-one email marketing solution and is very easy to use with a low price barrier to get started
- Constant Contact is a great alternative to and competitor of MailChimp
- Campaign Monitor is a rising star in email marketing with an exceptionally attractive workflow engine that is also growing its marketing automation tools
Building Block 3: B2B Tools for Content Management
A content management system, or CMS, is software that helps users create, manage and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge. Put simply, this block of B2B marketing technology helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all). Instead of building your own system for creating webpages, storing images and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure for you so that you can focus on more forward-facing parts of your website.
Your content management system typically captures the following customer and lead data:
- Tracking of behavior on web visits
- Building profiles based on things like interests and location
Some popular content management systems for small businesses include:
- WordPress is the market-leading, open-source CMS with over 55,000 plug-ins to add functionality, and it is the easiest and most powerful blogging and website CMS
- Drupal is another free CMS based on open-source technology with a large, supportive community, which is used more for larger corporate websites; it has complexity but also more advanced functionality than WordPress
- Joomla is our third choice as open-source CMS and a more beginner-friendly option than Drupal
Building Block 4: Tools for Forms & Landing Pages
A landing page is a page on your site that is designed to convert visitors into leads. It has a form that allows you to capture a visitor’s information in exchange for a desired offer, for instance, an e-book, a webinar or a free consultation. The sole purpose of the landing page is to convert unknown visitors into known contacts. Simply put, a landing page is any page that has a form on it and doesn’t include other distractions. A short form (with viewer fields) usually lowers the barrier for visitors to convert.
Forms and landing page tools typically capture the following customer and lead data:
- Contact information like email, name, company and industry
- Response history like downloads and registrations of a contact
Some B2B marketing tools to create forms and landing pages for small businesses include:
- Manceppo is a B2B marketing solution for small businesses that contains an easy-to-use WordPress plug-in to configure download forms for WordPress and track visitors, and it integrates directly with MailChimp, Google Analytics and Pipedrive
- Unbounce is a tool you can use to build professional landing pages with an easy-to-use editor, and it provides a plug-in to integrate with WordPress
- WPForms is a popular and easy-to-use drag-and-drop forms editor for WordPress that has a free version, but you will probably need the paid version for more functionality
Building Block 5: Social Media Tools
Social media tools help you manage social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Generally, there are three key areas in which these B2B marketing tools are used: listening, publishing and measuring. Social media listening (or monitoring) is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about your company, product or brand on social media. Some tools combine functions and others are just designed to do one function really well.
Your B2B social media management tool typically captures the following customer and lead data:
- Engagement of members with your content, including likes and comments
- Social media tokens and basic profile information
- Direct interaction and conversations with members
Some B2B marketing tools to help you manage your social media as a small business include:
- Hootsuite helps you keep track and manage your social network channels and enables you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and helps you respond instantly; it’s great when you have many channels and is good value for the buck
- Buffer is a simple and easy-to-use web application that allows you to schedule social media posts across a variety of popular social networks; it’s basically a stripped-down version of other popular social media management tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite and focuses mainly on post scheduling
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an advanced sales tool that aids sales teams, organizations and individuals to build, interact and nurture customer relationships on LinkedIn
Building Block 6: Chat & Chatbots in B2B Marketing
B2B websites increasingly feature a chat function to start interaction with visitors as a lead generation tactic. Chat can be handled by a person or a chatbot. A chatbot is a piece of software that can communicate with a user automatically. Typically, chatbots on small business websites interact by text and let you create simple question and answer paths, allowing you to get the critical information you need from a prospect in chat format.
Chat and chatbots typically capture the following customer and lead data:
- Basic contact information like email and name
- Chat or answer history
Some B2B chat tools and chatbots to help you as a small business include:
- tawk.to is a free live chat app that lets you monitor and chat with visitors on your website or from a free customizable page
- Intercom shows you who is using your product or website and makes it easy to personally communicate with them in various ways
- Drift is a cloud-based live chat, in-app messaging and email management solution designed for sales and marketing teams
- LeadBooster is a WordPress chatbot plug-in for users of Pipedrive that captures visitors on your website and turns them into sales opportunities in your Pipedrive CRM system
Building Block 7: Webinar Tools
The word “webinar” is a contraction of the words “web” and “seminar.” It’s an online presentation moderated by one or several speakers talking to a target audience. Webinars have been a popular B2B marketing tactic for quite some time. Typically lasting between 30 minutes and an hour, webinars are video streams that educate viewers on a topic through a slideshow, and visitors can interact with the presenting experts. Marketers typically use both webinars and webinar recordings as a B2B lead generation tool. Webinar tools are also often used to demo a product.
Webinar tools typically capture the following customer and lead data:
- Basic contact information like email and name
- Registration, participation and interaction of webinars
Some tools to organize B2B webinars as a small business include:
- GoToWebinar lets you interact effectively with a widely dispersed workforce in real time with prerecorded or live workshops to large audiences
- Webex is the Cisco enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen sharing and webinars
- Zoom meetings allow participants to chat, raise their hands and have a question and answer panel, if the host allows these options
- Google Meet is great for smaller interactive online sessions like workshops and roundtables
Building Block 8: B2B Marketing Tools for In-Person Events
In-person events help to facilitate interactions that result in relationship building, B2B lead generation, sales pipeline generation and acceleration, customer retention and brand awareness. As knowledge sharing is a critical part of why people attend B2B conferences, in-person events are a great B2B content marketing tactic to consider. Event management tools enable you to manage B2B event activities like scheduling, promotion, creation of an event page and ticketing. These tools are composed of an online back office and an attendee interface, often including a mobile app.
B2B event management tools typically capture the following customer and lead data:
- Basic contact information like email and name
- Registration and participation history
Some tools to help you organize in-person events as a small business include:
- Eventbrite is a web-based event management software that helps you manage ticket sales, promotion, information collecting and more for your event
- Meetup is a web service used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests
- Sched is another mature web-based event management solution with a mobile web app and a custom native app for Android and iOS
Building Block 9: B2B Tools for Data & Tracking
To increase performance and learn how your content is performing, data, analytics and tracking tools are key to today’s marketing success. For every B2B content marketer worrying about engagement stats, there are many options, both free and paid. Knowing who is on your website and enriching lead data is a little bit more challenging, but there are many services that can help you.
Some tools to get started with data, analytics and tracking tools as a small business include:
- Google Analytics is the most complete, free and easy-to-use web analytics tool every small business marketer should use
- LinkedIn is the most comprehensive source of information on companies and professionals where you can see what they’re up to
- Manceppo enables you to find out more about who is visiting your website, by analysing web visitor’s IP addresses, e.g. to see if web visitors come from a company domain and which company that is.
B2B tracking and data tools and services typically capture the following customer and lead data:
- Comprehensive tracking of web visitors
- Recognition of companies on your website
- Enrichment of basic profile information
Building Block 10: Advertising Networks
Advertising networks are used to drive traffic to your content from your target audiences. An online advertising network is a service that connects advertisers to websites that want to host advertisements. The key function of an ad network is an aggregation of ad supply from publishers, matching the advertiser’s demand and optimizing targeting.
Advertising networks typically capture the following data:
- Track anonymous visitors across the network
- Lead data with services like LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and CPL media
Some widely used advertising networks for B2B marketing include:
- Google Ads allow you to get interested visitors based on keywords people use in Google and measures the cost per click or cost per lead
- LinkedIn Ads help you get targeted visitors based on criteria like industry, job title and region; LinkedIn Forms allow you to share your content, engage with your audience or generate leads
- AdRoll allows you to remarket people that visited your website earlier on other websites within their network
- Facebook allows you to remarket your visitors from LinkedIn during their Facebook visits or to generate leads with Facebook by targeting a look-alike audience of your marketing qualified leads
B2B marketing tools to optimize traffic, like SEO tools like SEMRush and MOZ, and content distribution tools, are also great for B2B marketers. These tools are not discussed here, as we have focused on tools that capture customer and lead data in the lead generation and sales process.
Alignment and Integration of B2B Marketing Technology
As a B2B marketer, you have many options to use technology to amplify and target your content to generate and nurture leads. But how do you align and integrate the tools you use? Think of the CRM system that you use in combination with email marketing and tracking data from your website. Is it wise to combine different systems? Should you turn to an expensive marketing automation solution? Or is there another approach? We will discuss these questions in the next 2 blogs.