Top 11 B2B Marketing Tools that Grew my Business in 11 years
With over 30 more B2B marketing tools mentioned to take your marketing to the next level in 2023.
Last year I wrote an article about 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years of running my own business, and this year I want to focus on top B2B marketing tools that helped me grow my business over the last 11 years.
This year Shift ONE digital turns 11 on the 11th of the 11th…now that’s got to mean something.
The number 11 has a few ancient meanings:
The vibrational frequency of the number 11 is one of “equilibrium,” and it appears in your life to remind you to maintain a sense of balance and to keep things in perspective.
As a business owner or a Marketing Manager, it can be challenging to keep your sense of balance because there is so much going on on any given day.
How do you know that your marketing efforts are working? How do you know which ones are working and which to stop? Every day you work yourself to a standstill and at the end of the day, you ask yourself: Have I achieved anything?
To answer these questions, and a few more, here are the top 11 B2B marketing tools that I’ve used over the last 11 years that have helped to grow my business, and kept me sane at the same time.
#1 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Time Tracking and Project Management Tools
The reason you need this is to be able to track staff productivity – who is working too much or too little and to track client profitability – who are you over-servicing, and where and why, so you can address this.
We sell time.
We buy time from our staff and we add value to it (knowledge, IP, experience, creativity, strategy) and we on-sell it to our clients in order to achieve their goals.
If we don’t track our time properly, we might as well close our doors.
It’s taken us a number of years and a number of different tracking systems to come up with the ideal time-tracking and project management process and tools but essentially it’s the following:
We have used Asana in the past and we are currently using ClickUp (Basecamp is probably the cheapest for larger companies). Toggl integrates with most platforms or they will have their own built-in time tracking.
The trick is to set them up in a way that, when you pull the monthly report, you can clearly see which team/project is over or under the allocated costs. This took a while and some trial and error, and a lot of effort to roll out across the company, but when in place, you are able to see each person’s productivity as well as report on projects and client work clearly.
Decide which metrics are important to you and then set up the reporting in order to have them in place.
Craig Rodney with his Agency to Exit course was instrumental in helping us with this, Craig you beauty!
#2 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Webinars and Events
WHY: I always tell clients that events are probably the number one way of winning new work.
It’s always worked for us in the past.
It gives you an opportunity to share your knowledge, and meet new prospects, the trade-off for them is they get to learn (so don’t be afraid of giving away some of your secret sauce, I promise you, it will pay off). At the end of the event, you know each other a little better.
Webinars need to act like face-to-face events, so you need to work harder to establish that personal connection.
Zoom is probably the best for a webinar, everyone knows it, most people have used it before and there won’t be any issues with the learning curve or early adoption.
The size and scale of your webinar will determine the complexity of the setup. You can run a simple webinar with barely any effort or a conference with multiple speakers, breakaway rooms, music, polls, Q&A, whiteboards, etc, all requiring a more complex setup.
The trick with webinars is to run at least 3-7 dry runs or practice rounds until it goes off without a hitch. Remember to include all your external speakers or panelists, and your MC, and to test all their videos and audio, sound and lighting well before the day.
Your PowerPoint needs to be VERY well designed (let a professional graphic designer who knows presentation design help out here), because a simple PowerPoint is the leading cause of death by PowerPoint.
#3 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Email Marketing
Why do so many marketers still disparage email marketing?
It’s one of my favourite, favourite tools for B2B marketing. Why? Because it’s cheap and it works.
Here are a few email marketing stats to blow your mind courtesy of Hubspot:
- There are 4 billion daily email users.
- 37% of brands are increasing their email budget.
- A majority of marketers using email leverage mobile-friendly emails as part of their marketing strategy.
- Subscriber segmentation is the most effective email marketing campaign strategy.
- 33% of marketers send weekly emails and 26% send emails multiple times per month.
- 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months.
- Smartphone users prefer to receive brand communications via email.
- Almost half of marketers report changing their email performance measurements as a result of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection changes.
- Testing your emails leads to higher ROI.
Email marketing is one of the leading contributors to sales conversions…just do it right!
I have to go with MailChimp here because it’s the easiest and cheapest to get going plus it has all the add ons you’ll need later on like automation, and integrations. Other options are Constant Contact or the built-in mailing platforms that come with your CRM as covered in the point below.
Key to your setup is a welcome mailer, welcoming new customers to your list. You can create a welcome video to go along with this too.
Also important is to set up your database so that you can segment your audiences, only sending content that is relevant to the right audiences, this is done using tags.
#4 Top B2B Marketing Tools: CRM and Customer Journey Mapping
Being able to track where your customer is in the sales pipeline is critical, because it allows you to send them relevant content at the right time, which will aid with the response R x R x R = sale.
The setup of your CRM is critical as you’ll need to create a CRM strategy and plan before setting yours up. You shouldn’t just start with your CRM without first deciding who your audience is, what each unique customer journey will look like, and what your content interventions or paid media ads are going to be to support them on the way.
#5 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Thought Leadership
A big part of B2B marketing is thought leadership: Building the profiles of your senior management teams, team leads or executives creates trust.
People buy from people, not brands.
You want to give your company the best chance of standing out, and that is through thought leadership.
Your biggest friend when it comes to Thought Leadership is LinkedIn: the number one business-to-business social platform. Here’s a quick How to use LinkedIn for Thought Leadership video I hosted during Lockdown.
You’ll want to use video to build thought leadership – it’s the fastest way to grow trust.
We’ve spoken about events, it’s a great way to grow your thought leadership, by hosting webinars.
Writing articles is key here. LinkedIn has a great publishing tool, you can also create LinkedIn newsletters, which will bring your content into people’s inboxes via email marketing, something we covered above.
#6 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Social Selling
Social selling is about using LinkedIn to get prospects and customers, because it’s the top B2B social platform, if not the only one.
For social selling we use LinkedIn.
There are a ton of automated LinkedIn social selling tools, like this one or this one but we are a fan of doing it manually. It’s slower but the quality is higher. But if you’re looking for mass outreach and don’t mind a few poor-quality responses (or a lot of them) then definitely go for the automated response.
Oh, and your account could get locked by LinkedIn, so be warned.
For account-based marketing (ABM) you can also try DiscoverOrg.
For ease of calendar bookings Calendly is king.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Create a list of targets you want to reach – you can do this using the advanced search filters on LinkedIn
- Take out LinkedIn Sales Navigator – it makes life easier
- Write out your messaging – start with a flow diagramme to make your response planning better. Here we really know what works, so be sure to reach out to us
#7 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Marketing Strategy
Having a clear Marketing Strategy is key, because your annual marketing strategy will help you capture everything in one document, align the team, management, and suppliers on where you are going, who your target market is, what your positioning is, which channels you’re using etc.
A few tools you’ll need for setting up your marketing strategy are:
- Data: You’ll need to draw down data from any AI Data tools like SEDGE or Google Analytics as well as your Facebook analytics and social analytics.
- Market Research: Tools like Survey Monkey or Google Survey Forms are a great way to get customer insights, especially when boosted through Facebook ads. Just remember that setting up a survey is a science so do some research first.
- Target Market Table: I shared my (brilliant) target market table in a blog and I do swear by it.
AI data tools are harder to set up as you’ll probably need to start by cleaning your data. Google Analytics is free and quick to set up, as are all social tracking and analytics platforms.
For your full marketing strategy, the best thing to do is book a session with me.
#8 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Messaging and Positioning
Standing out from your competitors is imperative.
The world is full of look-alikes, how are you going to differentiate yourself? If you don’t stand out, you’re dead in the water.
If you don’t know what makes you unique, you’re not going to be able to communicate it to your customer.
There are a few things that work together to give us our messaging.
Top tool here to use is a positioning matrix.
Competitor analysis here is also key, we simply screenshot and link each competitor channel in a PowerPoint document and go through this in detail to identify strengths and gaps and messaging so we can see what we are up against.
You’ll also want to mix in a website messaging session because I find that unpacking your website messaging is key – it all starts with your website message – so you’ll need a wireframing platform like Balsamiq or plain PowerPoint (I just use PowerPoint for a simple wireframe) or Axure for more complex ones.
HotJar will also help with website layout and messaging.
We usually fill out a few Positioning Matrices from various different angles, to work out which axes to position you on, which benefits are key to the customer that your competitors aren’t offering, and then look for the gaps.
There is a little bit of magic sauce that comes into a messaging workshop, I usually take competitor work, the existing website, products offered, positioning matrices, and working in PowerPOint I will mock up a new website home page, menu, navigation, slogan, opening message, supporting points, trust cues, etc all within a 2-4 hour workshop.
Simplicity is key!
#9 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Lead Generation
As a B2B company it’s critical that you create a lead generation sales pipeline bringing in a consistent flow of leads into the business.
You might only want 1 or 2 new clients a month or 1,000 a month, either way, the process, and tools are similar.
Pipedrive is a great tool for keeping track of your sales leads as is LinkedIn Sales Navigator, mentioned above.
You might want to create a landing page using Unbounce.
I would say Google SEO (search engine optimisation or being on page one of Google search results without paying for it) is our NUMBER ONE way of generating sales enquiries. We create the page, it ranks on page one of Google, we get enquiries every day, and the same for the clients we do SEO for.
You might want to look into setting up ClickFunnels too for high powered conversions.
For SEO you need to start with your keywords as mentioned above, then create one page to match each keyword. We have a video on how to do SEO and how to write for SEO.
#10 Top B2B Marketing Tools: B2B Influencer Marketing
When you think of influencer marketing you think of influencers lying on an idyllic beach sipping pina coladas, all sponsored. However B2B Influencer marketing is a little-known and infrequently used power tool in your arsenal of tools as a B2B marketer.
B2B influencers will often have more clout and credibility than B2C and they will often work for free, in exchange for knowledge or access to breaking news, research insights or information.
With all influencer marketing, it’s key that you collaborate with the influencers in order to come up with an angle that is unique and that benefits both parties, don’t just leave it up to them to come up with the idea, definitely work with them and brainstorm, you might want to rope in your agency for the brainstorm session.
#11 Top B2B Marketing Tools: Content Marketing and Social Media
Social media marketing is key for B2B marketing, why? Because your customers need to be educated, and informed and you need to support them in being successful in their jobs and work.
This is where content marketing and social media comes in. By creating social content you answer a number of key questions and challenges your customers have.
Solve their problems.
Don’t sell to them.
Social media doesn’t really sell, that’s what ads are for, social media convinces, supports and educates. It wins customers’ hearts and creates loyalty.
If you’re designing your own posts, Canva is the best with its predesigned templates for nearly everything.
Scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer are also key when scheduling content.
We love Trello for content dashboards.
You’ll want to create content pillars, and a plan for the year, the month and each week and day.
Break this up in Trello using colourful tags to help you differentiate.
Remember that NEXT LEVEL social media should not just be static posts (images) but a mix of people posts (behind the scenes), video, and animations.
Always solve customers’ problems and you can’t go wrong.
Shout if you need help with your B2B marketing!