An online presence puts your brand front and center as a reputable source, and helps you reach decision-makers your B2B company needs to influence. This B2B branding strategy positions your organization as a trusted industry authority and gives you the leverage you need to gain and retain high-value contracts.
Discover why every B2B business—large and small—needs a digital presence and steps to build an online brand identity.
What is an Online Presence?
In practical terms, an online presence means that your brand is findable to the right people in online searches. The more findable your business is, the more robust your online brand identity. This yields greater power to reach your target audience and influence them to meet business goals.
Strengthen and grow your brand virtually to directly impact performance in the real world. Integrate your digital existence with your established real-world brand to amplify the overall brand experience to communicate and keep your brand promise.
How to Have an Online Presence as a Business
When we say findable in searches, we’re not speaking exclusively about a search engine like Google—although Google is clearly important. Business decision-makers search for companies and information to solve their organization’s problems on searchable platforms like:
- LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media
- Quora and Reddit
- Online publications
- Review sites
- Search engines
Together, these marketing channels make up your brand identity and share your brand promise. They give your brand a voice, making it part of the industry conversation.
Your target audience uses voice, typed keywords, hashtags, directories, and recommendations from others to find what they’re looking for.
Having An Digital Presence is Essential for Business
An online presence gives B2B companies a platform to communicate their brand message directly with their audience to earn trust, respect, and high-value accounts.
Ad space or brochures serve a purpose but offer limited communication space. An online presence gives you ample room to showcase what you have to offer in a format that promotes discovery by the buyer. Armed with the correct information, prospects can make the best decisions for their company.
By investing in a digital presence, B2B companies can eliminate the background noise of competition and guide leads reliably through a pipeline. This adds efficiency and predictability to that path, allowing for dependable revenue forecasting based on how many leads the online presence generates at any given time. Unlike most behind-the-scenes, real-world brand interactions, a digital presence is trackable and measurable!
How Important is an Online Presence to a Business?
71% of B2B transactions now happen online. By 2030, B2B eCommerce is expected to exceed $33,317.37 billion.
Millennials—the generation that has spent most of their adult life using the Internet to research products and services—now make about 73% of B2B buying decisions.
66% of B2B businesses expect to increase their investments in their online presence with a spending breakdown that looks like this:
- Branding (27%)
- Digital marketing (44%)
- Content marketing (33%)
- Social media (22%)
Moreover, 52% of B2B buyers buy from a company after consuming online content. What do decision-makers want from your content?
- Understand product specifications and functionality (67%)
- Compare one product or service package to another (65%)
- Look at what other customers say about the brand and how they interact with it online (61%)
As you can see from the stated goals of B2B buyers, each channel that makes up a digital presence is critical to reaching and convincing key decision-makers.
How an Online Presence Supports Sales
At the same time, something is happening that is making the online presence even more critical for closing deals. 54% of experienced sales representatives say it’s getting harder to contact prospects.
An online presence gives key decision-makers better resources to make confident choices for their businesses. They can—and do—discuss them over coffee, through email, and in the boardroom. This reduces friction at the bottom of the funnel.
What Digital Presence Management Does for a Business
An online presence doesn’t make you findable by everyone on the Internet. They’re not your potential customers, and that would drive marketing costs through the roof. Your online presence should help key decision-makers find you.
Online Presence Management magnetizes your brand to your target audience. It strategically answers their real questions and solves their biggest problems through valuable content in places your likely customers will search for it.
At the same time, this more visible brand identity provides a preview of the attentive, solutions-focused customer experience prospects can expect when they sign with your company. Once you have their attention, build trust and guide them through a buyer’s journey.
Small businesses usually don’t have big marketing budgets, so this efficiency is vital to getting the most out of their money. But let’s say you’re with HSBC Financial, UPS, or Exxon Mobil—all well-known and big businesses. Those who need to know already recognize you. You’ve been reaching business buyers and building relationships in the real world for decades, if not centuries. Why do you need an online presence?
All businesses can benefit from an online presence, regardless of size or status. The business landscape will continue to evolve in favor of a digitally-driven buyer’s journey.
Why Social Media Presence is Important
Social media presence establishes authority by demonstrating that other businesses engage with your brand online. It increases brand engagement and gives your company an “owned channel” to communicate directly with its audience. The alternative is relying on “non-owned channels” where journalists, non-profit advocates, competitors, and government agencies tell “your story”.
Branding can seem a bit intangible, so you want to know: How does social media directly impact business goals?
Social media presence plays several critical roles in the B2B buyer’s journey. For example, 86% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn drives sales within their organization.
Investing marketing resources in social platforms can:
- Generate awareness
- Build trust
- Create a pathway prospects reliably follow to learn more and become leads
- Re-engage existing customers, turn them into digital word-of-mouth, and increase customer retention and lifetime value
- Improve recruiting and employee retention
Why Is Search Visibility Important?
An estimated 68% of online journeys begin with a search engine, of which Google holds around 90% of that traffic. People who search on Google have high intention of performing an action. They’re looking for something specific. You know what they’re looking for based on what they searched for, allowing you to build resources around real searches.
This increases your search visibility—your search presence. This delivers consistent, high-intention traffic to your website.
66% of B2B marketers globally have been increasing their content marketing efforts yearly. They’re doing it for a reason. 67% say content marketing generates demand and leads.
Capture a percentage of this traffic using a lead-generation strategy like exchanging a high-value report, guide, whitepaper, or case study for contact information. Now, you’ve converted your online presence into a tangible lead you can nurture through email automation and sales follow-up.
How to Build an Online Presence for Business
In B2B, a digital presence is something you actively create piece-by-piece. There is no one way to engineer your brand’s online identity, but it’s essential to think of your online presence as a whole, so it will likely include these steps.
1. Build a User-Friendly Website
Your website is the home base of your digital presence. It should convey professionalism and immediately communicate your Brand Promise to the target audience, so they know they’re in the right place.
Make it fast and mobile-friendly with simple, intuitive navigation that guides visitors through the buyer’s journey.
2. Research and Publish Useful Content Regularly
Research your target audience and what they search for online related to your company. Invest in high-quality content that answers these queries.
3. Claim Important Business Profiles
Prospects will turn to review sites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, TrustPilot, and Google My Business to learn how others experience your brand. Claim important profiles and engage with reviewers professionally. Demonstrate that you’re aware of customer experience and care about building lasting relationships.
4. Target and Retain Your Ideal Customers on Social Media
Sharing helpful content to attract the ideal audience, engage them, and keep them engaged. According to Semrush, 94% of marketers distribute content through social media.
LinkedIn and Facebook are generally the most critical platforms for B2B.
5. Drive Traffic to Your Website
Invest in paid social media and paid search to drive initial traffic to your website. As your online presence grows, you’ll become less dependent on paid media and be able to navigate this traffic organically. Capture leads to engage through more targeted marketing channels like email.
6. Re-engage with re-targeting
Keep existing customers visiting your social media profiles and website by re-targeting previous visitors and targeting lookalike audiences. This re-engagement will strengthen your digital presence, reducing your dependence on ads.
7. Deploy Marketing Automation
B2B marketing automation eliminates repetitive tasks, streamlines operations, and optimizes your message’s timing and targeting to get the best result.
8. Analyze, Test, Optimize, and Repeat
Set up technology and systems to track performance. Analyze and optimize to meet critical business goals like leads, revenue growth, and cutting customer acquisition costs. Review, rinse, and repeat what’s working.
9. Integrate Your Online Identity with Your Physical One
You’re one brand whether you’re mailing out pamphlets, being featured in a magazine, running TV spots, or starting conversations on social media. Integrate and unify the brand and customer experience.
Brand Development and Integrated Marketing
At S.O. CREATIVE, our specialty is brand development and integrated marketing communications for B2B industries. Connect with us today and let’s talk ideas that drive business!