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One of the most critical aspects of any successful marketing campaign is knowing your audience.

It seems simple, but after initial concept development, multiple iterations of creative, and layers of approvals, it's easy to lose sight of exactly whom you're talking to.

It doesn't matter whether you're promoting a local nonprofit, selling tires, or offering Web development services; if you aren't up to speed with who your target audience is and what it wants, even the most expertly crafted messaging is going to fall flat.

The importance of knowing your target audience is magnified in B2B marketing, largely because of the often significant amount of money being put toward a certain initiative. An investment mistake can be catastrophic—especially in the small to midsize business world.

Potential B2B customers share common characteristics:

  • They have specific—and often unique—problems they are looking to solve.
  • They already have a firm budget and scope in mind.
  • They're willing to do extensive research on your company (and your competitors) before making a decision.
  • They are expecting you to clearly illustrate what makes your business different from others, and why yours is the right choice for them.

So, what does that mean for your marketing strategy?

We already know that understanding your audience as precisely as possible is paramount, but that's just the beginning. It's what you do with that knowledge that determines the success of your campaign.

Here are five tips to make sure your B2B marketing campaigns appeal to the right people, convey the value your company can provide, and put your sales team in a great position to drive potential customers over the conversion finish line.

1. Create a compelling story

It may be business-to-business, but humans run businesses. Your campaigns have to be compelling to compete with all the messages people are inundated with. So, frequently we think about what story we want to tell about our business instead of the story our readers want to hear.

Your marketing has to be helpful in some way. Jay Baer's "Youtility" concept explores the idea in depth.

Be relatable. Make it easy for your intended audience to both learn from your marketing and take the next step in the buyer's journey.

2. Know what you're measuring before you start

If you don't set your objectives ahead of time, you won't be able to measure your success.

Whether your KPIs are connected to brand awareness, lead generation, reputation management, or increased conversions, determine them ahead of time. Doing so will not only help drive thoughtful, purpose-based strategies but also allow you to understand what worked and what needs further consideration the next time you launch a campaign.

Not sure where to start? The first step is understanding your metrics. A lot of energy is wasted on metrics that don't mean much in the grand scheme of your campaign. Know what metric matters most and how it contributes to meeting your goals.

3. Help your audience find you

OK, so you understand who your audience is, you are positioning yourself properly, and you are telling a relatable, compelling story... but is anyone seeing it?

Again, a successful marketing campaign comes down to the sum of its parts. In this case, you have to ensure your target audience knows how and where to find you. The ability to find your business easily online is critical, and your ads and other marketing activities also need to be where your potential customers are looking.

It can be a lot of work up front, but it's worth conducting a thorough SEO audit in an effort to boost your site's domain authority and to rank at or near the top of search results. Also, identify communities and marketplaces where your buyers go that rank high for the keywords that are relevant to your service area.

Finding sites that rank highly on Google across a tremendous number of service area keywords allow your key audiences searching phrases with those keywords, such as "best digital marketing agencies," to find you easily, should you be included on these types of lists.

4. Throw fuel on the fire with LinkedIn

Social media marketing is primed for content distribution. LinkedIn allows you to target your buyers when they are in a business mindset, and by building a matched audience with intent data you can use Conversational Ads on LinkedIn to directly target the inbox of potential customers who you know have an interest in your product or service.

Pair those ads with image or video ads to build a greater presence and use an account-based marketing approach to develop deeper relationships with current customers.

5. Iterate, iterate, iterate

Not every idea works the first time, and small changes can have a big impact. Successful marketing requires incremental improvement over time. Finding ways to squeeze out 1-2% more return is critical to reaching your goals and creating a high-performing campaign.

Our team recently tested customer testimonial copy against benefit-focused copy, and the difference in conversion rate was 43%. Also, when capturing inbound leads, we tested a confirmation email versus a confirmation page with a calendar embed. The page with the calendar availability tool ended up increasing meetings booked for our sales team by 124%!

Whether it's copy, design, or process, consistently challenge yourself to optimize your performance and adapt as quickly as necessary.

Build a successful B2B marketing campaign that gets real results

Although many of the core concepts are similar between B2C and B2B marketing, there are nuances in the B2B space that you have to key in on for your campaign to really take off and perform as well as—or better than—you expect.

You must be precise in your targeting, and it's imperative that you present useful information that not only highlights your products or services but also educates, inspires, or entertains your potential customers, outside of simply making the sale.

Don't be afraid to try something new, but also understand why you're doing it. Set clear goals, get up to speed on the metrics that matter most, and don't be afraid to tweak and optimize midstream.

The business landscape is as competitive as it's ever been. You have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and present a compelling reason your business is better than the one down the street. The five tips in this article can start you off on the right track, and when you put it all together you'll have a successful B2B campaign that drives high-quality leads and ultimately more conversions.

More Resources on Successful B2B Marketing Campaigns

How to Manage a Successful Marketing Campaign That Meets Your Objectives

Four Successful Ways to Combine Inbound and Outbound Marketing

10 Demand-Gen Campaign 'Gotchas' to Overcome for Flawless Marketing Automation Execution

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image of Heidi Sullivan

Heidi Sullivan is the senior vice-president of product & marketing for UpCity, a B2B services company. Prior to that, she spent 13 years in various executive roles at Cision.

LinkedIn: Heidi Sullivan