B2B Marketing Strategy Tips w. Neil Patel

Show Notes

On this rapid-fire new episode with B2B Marketing Expert Neil Patel, we dive into his advice on:

  • How a new marketer can approach their B2B market
  • How to prioritize your efforts (with so many b2b channels to pursue)
  • How to differentiate your solution when others offer *roughly* the same outcomes
  • Tips for ‘un-sticking’ opportunities in the sales and marketing funnel
  • Predictions for inbound marketing in 2024
  • Strategies for paid search in uber-high CPC niches
  • How you should be directing your Linkedin budgets right now
  • How to turn webinar registrants into qualified leads
  • How marketers can use email drip sequences to keep leads warm 
  • The challenges of scaling Reddit ads
  • Short, plain text emails vs HTML creatives- What wins in B2B?

Work with Neil: https://www.npdigital.com and check out his blog at https://www.neilpatel.com


Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Tech Marketer Live, helping you create and capture demand in the enterprise technology market. Now here's your host, Jordy Carswell.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
All right, welcome everybody. Jordy here and I'm happy to be joined by Neil Patel, who probably needs no introduction, but for those who are not familiar with the, Neil, do you want to sort of give us an introduction to who you are and what you do?

Speaker 3 (00:22):
Sure. I'm a marketer entrepreneur. I've been doing this for 23 years now. I own an ad agency called NP Digital where we help companies to get more traffic and generate more leads or sales online. We both, we work in pretty much most major countries and we work in both B two B and B two C also in some software plays like Uber suggests. And I also own Answer the Public on top of that blog, neil patel.com and post a lot of educational content online on social. Awesome.

Speaker 2 (00:54):
Well, thanks for joining us today. We want to talk a little bit about B two B, especially today for our marketer or tech marketer audience. I was thinking about this, how do you and your team approach a new B two B market? So do you have sort of a go-to-market framework or a way that you look at approaching a new niche?

Speaker 3 (01:16):
So when you're talking about new niche, are you talking about a new category, someone creating, I don't know, a security cybersecurity solution that's never existed before? Or are you talking about more so, hey, I'm entering in the video conferencing market. There's a lot of players in Zoom, WebEx, et cetera. How do I get started? So which one is it? Are you creating a whole new category or are you more so entering existing category? When we talk about niche?

Speaker 2 (01:46):
Yeah, I mean most people like to think they're creating a new category, but usually they're entering a space that already has existing players. So if you're a marketer on our audience side, if you're coming into a role where you're going to be responsible for marketing a cybersecurity solution, for instance, what is your sort of go-to-market strategy of where you start mapping out how you're going to go to market?

Speaker 3 (02:09):
So the big thing that we look at with our go-to-market strategy is we first look at any competitors, even if the competitors don't offer the same product, you nailed it on the head in which everyone thinks that they're creating a whole new category, but typically they're in existing category and they have a new better mouse trap, right? They have a better way to do it or a better solution than someone else. So we look at the existing competitors, and you can use a lot of tools like ss, E M R, SimilarWeb, Uber suggests the list goes on and on. Where are they getting their traffic from? Where are the keywords they're ranking from, where they're spending their ad dollars? You can even go to Facebook's ad library and then type in your competition and see what ads they're running and what landing pages they're sending traffic to, what kind of content they're creating on a regular basis. What's their conversion funnel? Actually go through the funnel, submit a lead or buy the product, see their flows. That starts giving us ideas on what's working in the space, what's not working in the space, and what are some of the channels that we need to do to be successful. And you wouldn't do that for one competitor. You would do that for four or five or six competitors because if you start noticing commonalities, typically you see commonalities because it's working within the space.

Speaker 2 (03:20):
Awesome. And a lot of our clients struggle because although there are some nuances and differences in their approach, they're basically bringing roughly the same outcome. They all do intrusion detection for instance, but they feel that they do a little bit differently. So if you're trying to differentiate when you're offering a service that's very similar to others, what are some of the ways that you could do that to differentiate stand out?

Speaker 3 (03:49):
So the best thing that I like doing to differentiate is actually not looking at the competition, is actually looking at your customer base. So if you survey your potential customers and existing customers, what are the things that you do that delight them? What are the reasons that are not satisfied with the prior solutions they've used in the existing market? And those two things will start giving you ideas of how to position your company to stand out and appeal to your ideal customer. See, positioning and standing out isn't all about my competitor does X and we do Y. It's more so what are we doing to delight customers to cause them to refer more customers, for them to keep paying and using our product to keep coming back. And differentiation is all about messaging to them. That's who matters. It doesn't matter what your competition thinks. It matters what your potential customers and your existing customers think. So that's what we focus on.

Speaker 2 (04:45):
Awesome. Yeah, I think we can become competitor myopic, just a hundred percent concerned with what competitors are doing. It doesn't really doesn't map out. So when you're looking at, and

Speaker 3 (04:58):
To go back to that really quickly, people get it wrong. They obsess about their competitors instead of obsessing about their customers. You should obsess about your customers and pay attention to the competition, right? Don't obsess about the competition and pay attention to customers. It should be the reverse. You obsess about your customers and you pay attention to the competition.

Speaker 2 (05:19):
And I think that a lot of marketers never talk to a customer. They have no idea. They have no idea what matters to them. And that's such a treasure trove of data, a treasure trove of data. If they can get in front of them and spend some time with customers just doing interviews and surveying them, awesome. When you've got so many B two B channels to pursue, so a marketer wants to go to, they want to take their product to market, they've got so many channels, how do you decide what to prioritize? Where do you start?

Speaker 3 (05:54):
I look at low hanging fruit. So if you need results tomorrow, paid ads typically works or sponsorships work if you're going to, if you have time, things like ss e o works and social media and generating content. And when you think about B two B marketing, see, when I started in B two B marketing, whether it was SaaS or services, it wasn't as competitive 10 years ago these days. You got to eventually do all channels. And if you're not leveraging all the major channels out there, you're just not going to do well because no one channel is going to give you the results that you're expecting, but a combination of a lot of 'em should start getting you some of the results you are expecting. And what we do is we look at low hanging fruit and we go after those first. But generally with our marketing, we look at the 80 20 rule.

Speaker 3 (06:42):
80% of our marketing efforts in B2B are long-term strategies that drive traffic and leads and sales. 20% of 'em bring short-term results. Now, it doesn't mean the 20% is bad. You need to do a combination of 'em and you got to focus on long-term because if you focus all your energy on short term, you're going to end up getting screwed over by your competition. They'll end up winning. But if you focus on long-term solutions, you'll do better. And a great example of this is most people think in marketing long-term solutions are just like SS e o or building up your organic social channels. But I'll give you another example. I'm in b2b. In B2B we provide marketing services. My ad agency is called NP Digital. So we release free tools like a AB testing calculator, SS e o tool, paid advertising tool called Ads Grader.

Speaker 3 (07:30):
And a lot of these free tools takes time to build, takes time to get out there and build popularity, but they consistently over time will bring in leads without much effort. So for example, our ads greater brings around 50 to 60 good leads a day. That's not bad, one free tool, but you're talking about a year plus long project and now it's come to fruition and now it's producing results. Now, the reason I say this is most people look at marketing and B two B as just channels, but you can also do marketing through your products as well to drive a lot of leads and demand. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (08:06):
It's time Horizons such a huge piece. It's just like investing. It's different for everybody. They got to take a look at what they're able to do. So if somebody's looking at SS e o and content marketing, making those longer term investments, what are we talking here a year, two years, three years? What is a typical time horizon?

Speaker 3 (08:26):
We really see compounding effects once you start going beyond two to three years, but within six months, you should start seeing traction within a year. You see good results. Within a few years, you're seeing amazing results.

Speaker 2 (08:38):
So you're looking for signs of life in the early going?

Speaker 3 (08:40):

Speaker 2 (08:41):
Yeah. Cool. One of the things that our clients have mentioned to us is they have a lot of opportunities in their sales pipeline. We're going to shift gears a little bit to talk about how marketing can help with the sales pipeline, but they have a lot of opportunities that are stuck in the sales pipeline in mid funnel. Maybe there was a conversation that was sales in the early going and then it just didn't kind of go anywhere, and now there's a whole bunch of deals in their pipeline that are just stuck. Have you got any suggestions of how marketing can help unstick some of these opportunities?

Speaker 3 (09:18):
I do, and there's a few easy things you could do. One, you can create a drip sequence and you can end up following up with those people, like a reactivation get in the product and you can send 'em case studies ideally within their space, you can talk about new data or stats or anything that could be like, huh, oh yeah, I need this. You can also send out emails and campaigns and hey, set up calls. And with those people, you can also remarket them on the internet, retargeting, remarketing, whatever you want to end up calling it and showcasing ads to those people and using case studies and data to show why they need your solution. But those are two simple ways other than just doing phone calls, most salespeople will just keep calling 'em after a while, they just stop following up. But why can't you follow up through 'em through ads and automated sequences?

Speaker 2 (10:11):
Yeah, that's a great idea to help things get moving again. So when we think about channels now, just a little bit curious to get your thoughts. What is inbound marketing unquote going to look like in 2024 as far as you're seeing what's going to change do you think?

Speaker 3 (10:29):
I don't think too much is going to change in inbound marketing, especially for B two B. If you look at the channels right now, inbound is typically you're running ads like on Facebook or Google or LinkedIn or whatever channel you want. I don't really see the channel providers really changing, like TikTok b, b2b, yes, you can produce something, but it's not going to produce the results you're looking for versus a LinkedIn, a Google, or Facebook. The content formats I also see being very similar, whether it's video, audio, like podcasting or text-based content or images. I don't really see that changing. And the only real thing I see changing, I'll actually give you two things that I really see changing. One is a lot of people are going to use AI to automate a lot of their marketing. And what that's going to cause is a lot of content's going to look like content.

Speaker 3 (11:20):
And what I mean look like content. Imagine where's Waldo, right? You see this image and you have to find out Waldo Waldo's, a guy in the red and white striped shirt and is wearing that cap and has glasses on. Now imagine everyone's using the same AI tools and they're starting to create similar types of content. Instead of having one Waldo in the picture, you're going to start having 20, 30, 50. Eventually the whole page will be filled up with waldos. So what you're going to have to end up doing is you're going to have to figure out how to differentiate yourself. And what I mean that by differentiate yourself is like let's say in b2b, what can you give away for free that people are used to paying for to gobble up the audience and the traffic? How can you create your content manually versus doing it all automatic and in your content start including unique data and reports and studies that people have not seen before to stand out. So I don't really see the channels changing. I don't really see marketing changing much other than people are going to use ai. So more things will look alike. And the other thing is, so to stand out, you're going to start creating a lot of your content manually like you are right now and just start doing more research pieces, more in depth, spending more effort on 'em. And then the second thing was figure out more unique ways to get people such as giveaway free tools and sell 'em on something bigger.

Speaker 2 (12:48):
That's a great idea. And two, I love that with the waldos. That's awesome. We've got speaking of paid search, so a lot of our clients are in Uber high C P C niches like big dollars, right? If you think cybersecurity data protection cloud, what approaches does

Speaker 3 (13:11):
Payroll software, all this has massive CPCs.

Speaker 2 (13:14):
Yeah. What does your team do to help your clients in those environments succeed? Despite the budget challenges?

Speaker 3 (13:23):
It's actually all creatives. So the tools, they're getting more and more advanced. A lot of 'em use machine learning. A lot of 'em have some AI capabilities, but think of it this way, those same things are available to the competition. The price is a price and you can do some things to get it down, but the real thing to get a better r o i is your creatives. How can you make your ads so appealing? People want to click because if your click rates are way better than your competition, then the cost is actually going to go down. Then the platforms will realize they're making more from you, right? You're not going to get the cost down by tweaking some settings. You may if you're running your campaigns poorly, but the real way you get your cost down or your creatives and what I mean creatives, I'm talking about the ad, whether it's the text or the images or the videos. Then the landing pages, where are you sending 'em to? What messaging are you using that really resonates with them? And then your offer, how good is your offer versus the competition? And that's what we really focus on. The first two, the offer is tough for us to control as a marketing agency, but the first two is much easier for us to control, and that's where we're seeing the real savings in ad costs.

Speaker 2 (14:26):
Where do most of your B2B clients land people? A lot of our clients drive people to demo booking pages. Is that too premature? Should they be? What should they be doing in terms of where they land people?

Speaker 3 (14:40):
Ours is similar, but we don't just have demo bookings. A lot of times it's the landing page that educates and then to demo booking, or a lot of times it is to landing page then to a lead form, and then if the lead is qualified, you can qualify based on a lot of different criteria and company size, revenue, et cetera. Then we send 'em to either a booking page or a schedule once or a Calendly where they can just book appointment into a sales rep's calendar, and we found that to be effective. And then you can end sending 'em text reminders like a day before the call, an hour before the call, et cetera, to increase show up times or show up rates.

Speaker 2 (15:15):
Awesome. Yeah, I guess you could send them through to a lot of these tools too, with some of your paid traffic to help build, get people into those funnels. So what about LinkedIn? So I know we're jumping all over the place here. I appreciate it. We've got so many things we want to ask you about, but when it comes to clients that are running LinkedIn assets or lead gen ads with content assets, the effectiveness of this seems to be going down in terms of the amount of actually qualified pipeline that it's creating, and there's a lot of competition. How are your clients directing their LinkedIn budgets right now?

Speaker 3 (15:57):
So we base everything on R O I, whether it's LinkedIn or Facebook or Google. It's really simple. We'll spend as much as we can as long as it's profitable. The days of companies have this X budget. It still exists, especially with publicly traded companies, but those budgets are super flexible. If it's profitable, the moment it's profitable, no one really cares about budget. They're like, spend as much as you can, right? Yeah, you may have to go to a manager or C F O or someone to get approval, but if you can show 'em, you spend a dollar and you make $2 in profit, right? Not revenue, but profit. Everyone in the organization typically says, keep spending, but show us it's profitable along the way as long as you increase. And that's how we look at LinkedIn. And LinkedIn. Their algorithm is quite interesting and based on what they want to show and stuff like that, they're trying to get more professional content these days. If you look at the last year, there's a lot of viral content that has nothing to do with the work, and they're trying to get back more to the roots. But even with LinkedIn, it's a simple equation, similar to Google or Facebook or any others. If it's profitable, spend more of it and you can test out different approaches. With LinkedIn,

Speaker 2 (17:04):
What do you consider to be? Is profitability the bar you're shooting for or is it more like a four to one or a two to one?

Speaker 3 (17:13):
We don't shoot for a ratio like that. We look at profitability in whatever the company wants end up doing, because every company is different. If you're publicly traded, and let's say most analysts are valuing you on revenue, then it's very different than if it is, hey, they're looking at what's your EBITDA and what's dropping to the bottom line. So we really vary it based on the company and what their goals are and where they are in the market,

Speaker 2 (17:37):
If they're owned by PE or not.

Speaker 3 (17:39):
Correct. If they're owned by private equity, it's very different than if they're publicly traded or even if they're bootstrapped or self-funded.

Speaker 2 (17:45):
Yeah. Awesome. So we do a ton of webinars at actual tech. We've got hundreds of webinars a year that we're running for our clients. I know that you've talked a lot about webinars still working lately on your podcasts and driving a lot of leads. For you, how does your team turn webinar leads into qualified leads? What tactics do they use to identify potential customers during a webinar and get things dialed in?

Speaker 3 (18:17):
Sure. So the first step is actually the webinar itself. We try to host webinars that are very specific because a more broad we go with webinars, the harder it is for us to convert leads into customers. So for example, we're in 2023 and let's say in another few months, we'll be the end of 2023. If I start doing webinars on the future marketing, how marketing's going to change in 2024, I'm going to get a lot of people to sign on for the webinar and register and even attend. But it's going to be hard for me to convert many of those leads into customers. But if I do a webinar in which how to track your data and maximize your paid advertising, r o i in a cookie less world because a lot of cookies are going away or cookies are going away, I'll get way less people attending the webinars, but they'll be much more qualified.

Speaker 3 (19:10):
These are people who are worried about that problem of analytics and data tracking. When cookies are gone and they're spending money on paid advertising, so when we first do more specific webinars, you'll get less people, but there'll be more qualified. The second thing we do is we follow up with them. We look at all the leads that have enough money, company size, et cetera. Sales guys will call up on them and just try to reach out to them. The second thing we'll do is we'll just do sequences. Hey, here's another case study, check this out, book a call, et cetera. We're just sending out a lot of emails. The next thing we do is say, Hey, Jordy, thanks for attending the webinar. Here's a deck in case you wanted it. Let me know if you want to book or call to go over how we can implement the strategy, discuss on the webinar for your company. So a lot of it's just drip sequences and it's being really specific with the webinars and also having the sales reps call and follow up with all the leads that they think are qualified as well.

Speaker 2 (20:09):
And this is a little bit tactical, but how long are those drip sequences? How many days typically? Is the cadence daily or is it

Speaker 3 (20:17):
No, the cadence is a few times a week. Two times a week, and we'll do it for a month plus.

Speaker 2 (20:21):
Wow, okay. That's a long string. That could be eight or more emails in the sequence.

Speaker 3 (20:30):
And then after they're done with that, if they don't convert, we just add 'em to our normal email sequence, so that way we're building a report with them.

Speaker 2 (20:39):
What framework or approach does your sales team use to move those webinar source prospects to a later funnel stage? So they'll have a phone call with them, they'll qualify them. Where do they go from there? Do they go to a senior AE kind of thing? And then,

Speaker 3 (20:58):
Yeah, so we have SDRs that'll call and then warm 'em up and then see who's qualified and educate, and then the ones that are qualified go to AEs.

Speaker 2 (21:07):
Right. And then when you're engaging with those more qualified prospects, do you have sort of an idea of how long a sales cycle you're looking at and what's,

Speaker 3 (21:20):
For us, our sales cycles around six months,

Speaker 2 (21:22):
Three to six, six months

Speaker 3 (21:25):
From the long run.

Speaker 2 (21:27):
Yeah, I think that's similar for a lot of our clients. They're a really long sales cycle, and that goes back to the Unsticking piece. How do you keep a deal moving through those pieces, which is more of a sales question, but marketing can help, I think, a lot to keep things moving along by equipping sales with the tools that they need to keep things fresh, keep new content coming to them, stay top of mind through the process. Alright, so as we look at Reddit, Reddit ads, is this something that your team works on?

Speaker 3 (22:00):
We do. We find it to not work as well for B two B as some of the other channels, but we leverage Brita ads. We just haven't been able to for most our B two B clients. Some we have, but most of them, we haven't really been able to scale up Beretta ads in a profitable way. Spending five, 10 grand a month isn't hard, but spending like a hundred to 500 grand a month in b2b, we feel it really breaks the economics in most cases.

Speaker 2 (22:27):
Is that because

Speaker 3 (22:28):
We have some oddballs where we've been able to spend more than like 20, 30 grand a month on Reddit, but it's really tough for us to get the volume that we need for Reddit in a profitable way for most B2B businesses.

Speaker 2 (22:44):
Interesting. So is it that you just run out of qualified subreddits to advertise in? Is that typically the limit? Yes. Okay. Yeah, I think a number have run into that problem, and plus you're fighting with what you used to be fighting with crypto guys for space, all this kind of stuff. Not anymore,

Speaker 3 (23:01):
But there's also the visitor account that Reddit has isn't that much in the grand scheme of things when you compare it to a YouTube or a Google. So it's not just the number of subreddits, it's just they don't have the traffic volume themselves, and I'm not saying Reddit doesn't have good traffic, it's just in comparison to Google, it's not that much at all.

Speaker 2 (23:20):
Interesting. Yeah. It's basically the forum for the internet, and there's only so many clicks there that exist. Speaking of reaching out to email lists and things like that, I noticed I'm on your list and I've noticed that members of your list tend to get super short, plain text emails from you instead of a fancier sort of flyer style layout. Obviously you're finding that works better when it gets to comes

Speaker 3 (23:50):
To action, does more, opens, more clicks and better deliverability, although I probably said it in the wrong order, is better deliverability, more opens and more clicks.

Speaker 2 (23:58):
Interesting. So any tips around email outreach right now for folks who are trying to get their email lists better activity or trying to increase the performance of their lists?

Speaker 3 (24:11):
Short and to the point, scrub your list. Don't keep emailing people who don't ever want to engage because it's just going to cause your deliverability to go worse and worse over time and more people don't mark you as spam. The other thing that you really need to do with your emails is provide tons of value. Figure out where they're having issues and how to help them in the email and get that message across as quick as possible. Emailing to make a sale is hard. Emailing to help people solve a problem that they have is much easier. How do you identify the problem and break down how you can solve it?

Speaker 2 (24:44):
Awesome. That's a great way of framework to think about it from the perspective of how you can help them as opposed to asking all the time. I love it. So appreciate all of this. Neil, I think one of the questions I've got for you is what's something that you're not often asked on podcasts and interviews that you think people should be asking?

Speaker 3 (25:07):
And we covered it on this podcast. You didn't ask the question, but I covered it anyways. In b2b, what's the best way to market? And I think it's about giving something way for free. I look at b2b, a lot of it as a race to the bottom, especially in software. So for example, if I was a payroll service provider, I would give away free payroll software. Not that expensive. Companies spend so much money on payroll software like Gusto, a d P, et cetera, but give it away for free and then charge for something bigger. Health insurance, if you look at the payroll software space, if I look at Paychex, I'm pulling up their stock right now. Paychex is a stock that's around 44 billion as a recording of this podcast. And if I look at their revenue, Paychex is revenue per year, the last trailing 12 months.

Speaker 3 (25:55):
When I look at annual for 2023, it was 5 billion. On the flip side, if I look at UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealthcare is a health insurance company, and UnitedHealthcare has a market cap of 458 billion pretty much 10 times the size. Their annual revenue is 300 plus billion dollars, 324 billion to be exact. You're going to make more money giving away payroll software for free. And a lot of companies who use payroll software and need health insurance for their customers or their employees and sell 'em something bigger. What I'm getting at is what can you give away for free that's a mouse sharp, not freemium, but free, and then sell 'em something bigger. We give away SS e o software, a lot of it for free. Yeah, we have some paid versions, but we give away most of it for free because we sell 'EM services, which generate way more revenue than software in our space at least.

Speaker 2 (26:49):
Interesting. Yeah, I mean, we have a lot of clients too who are moving from a licensing model for their software to a SaaS model, and it's not as easy as it sounds to make that transition from the license based. Have you seen some who've been successful in doing that and what they've done?

Speaker 3 (27:07):
I don't know. Too many have been successful, but it's possible. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but it's more so it's a grind and it's not easy, especially for the older players that've been doing this for a long time, like 15 plus years.

Speaker 2 (27:21):
Yeah. Everybody's looking at Microsoft and thinking, how can we make that transition? But that took a ton of marketing investment from them to get that messaging across and to move everything in that direction, that's for sure. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Neil, how can people work with you?

Speaker 3 (27:39):
My ad agency, np digital.com.

Speaker 2 (27:43):
Awesome. So feel free to reach out to NP Digital and bring Neil's team's expertise toward your direction. So thanks for joining us, Neil. We appreciate it. And everybody for joining us on another episode of Tech Marketer Live.