What Is an Acquisition Channel?
An acquisition channel is an avenue through which businesses meet and communicate with their clients. For example, a business can use online ad campaigns, social media, email, referrals, SEO campaigns, Facebook marketing, in-person and online events to communicate with clients at different stages of the ‘sales funnel.’ You can read more about the B2B sales funnel here.
There are often several touch points across a number of channels before a potential customer becomes a paid one. This is why it’s important to use each channel for a specific purpose. For example, SEO might be used in the customer acquisition process to educate clients and provide useful information regarding a problem that your customer is facing. Eventually, the sale may come from an email marketing campaign, but each channel has contributed along the way - fulfilling the job that the channel is intended to do.
Why Channels for B2B Customer Acquisition Differ From B2C
The B2B sales process is very different to B2C. You can read more about the nuances of B2B vs B2C here, but to summarise, B2B buyers often need a lot more ‘convincing’ as B2B sales generally have much higher stakes than B2C sales.
With that said, the channels used to target and sell to B2B customers may be slightly different to B2C. Whilst both B2C and B2B businesses would use social media, for example, a B2B company is unlikely to gain as much benefit from Tiktok as a B2C company would - and vice versa for Linkedin. This is why it’s important to:
- Think about the channels that will reach your intended audience
- Think about the messaging used in your communications for these channels. Your customers would expect different content on each channel, so it’s not a case of producing one piece of content and sending it out across multiple channels.
13 Best Customer Acquisition Channels for B2B Marketers
B2B sales cycles can be very long and complicated because of the number of decision-makers that would have to be consulted for a sale to be completed. Each of the following 13 channels can be used strategically to generate B2B sales and communicate with your target customers at each phase of the B2B sales cycle.
- Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is a long term marketing strategy that involves optimising your website through strategies such as:
- Keyword research (identifying what your customers are searching for)
- Writing quality content to satisfy these searches
- Building site authority or links through building relationships
- Ensuring your site is technically sound and accessible to search engines.
When you implement a well thought out SEO strategy, your website will start ranking in organic search results for keywords that are relevant to your business. SEO can be used to help generate a steady stream of B2B leads and is often the first place that many buyers begin to look for new vendors and solutions to the problems they face.
- PPC or Google Adwords
Similar to SEO Pay-per-click advertisement is a form of inbound marketing - the difference being that businesses can pay to instantly be at the top of Google (for example) rather than spending time building organic rankings
This can be a great strategy if you’re looking to boost traffic very quickly, launch a product or build a consistent and predictable traffic source. PPC ads are highly relevant since your ads are targeted at people who search for terms related to your business. Also, it’s a great way to give your business exposure whilst you build your organic rankings.
- Display / Retargeting
Retargeting ad campaigns allows you to display ads to customers who visited your website and left without converting. 96% of website visitors are not ready to buy yet, but these are very high intent prospects that have already shown interest in your products.
The retargeted campaign is an opportunity for you to remind prospects why your products are the best solution for the problem they have. Display ads can appear on social media channels, websites, and apps.
- Referral and Word of Mouth
60% of customers trust the reviews from friends, family, and other customers. So how do you get the conversation going about your business? Firstly, do a great job for your existing customers and see word spread about the amazing results / benefits you’re bringing to businesses.
If customers had a great experience interacting with your team topped by the great products, they would be enthusiastic to talk about your company.
The same goes for how you treat your business partners, employees, and your general business environment. No one will risk their reputation to recommend a substandard business.
- Social Media Marketing
Having and maintaining social media accounts is a great way to keep the conversation going with your prospects and this is no different for B2B companies. We wrote about this in a post here: B2B social media - here is what you’re doing wrong.
Social media is also a great place to get customer feedback and creatively keep your prospects informed about new products and services. Remember, social media is not a sales opportunity all the time. Use these platforms to inform your prospects and be social.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing for b2b strategies focuses on informing your prospects through informative emails about your product to build a relationship over time.
Unlike a B2C email campaign filled with product highlights, discounts, and offers, a B2B email campaign is filled with content that will educate executives and decision-makers about the solution you are offering to position your business as an industry leader.
A great way to capture emails is to use pop-ups on your website and offer valuable resources to your clients in change for their emails.
Though most clients don’t convert immediately, they may be willing to offer their contact so you can educate them about your product. Start with a regularly scheduled email newsletter that is informative, well structured, and easy to read.
- Content Marketing
Content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy that creates relevant and unique content such as articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, and guides. This content is then distributed to educate your target audience about your business or rather how your business can help to solve a problem in their business.
Content can be a great way to establish yourself as an authority figure in a particular field, making people trust your product and easily convert to clients.
A great way to start content marketing is by adding a blog page to your website. Remember to observe SEO best practices here for long-term results.
- Outreach Marketing
B2B marketing is targeted to key decision-makers in businesses. Reaching out to these decision-makers directly can be an effective customer acquisition strategy.
You want to reach out to a person in the business that will benefit the most from your solution - a person in the business in which your service or product will improve the ability to do their job. This could be CEOs, Directors, marketing managers or procurement managers.
- Video / Youtube
Your target customers may consume media in different ways. Some love to read blogs, some are more visual and would respond better to video content. Video content on your website or on Youtube can increase engagement with your content, help to make your company seem more human and help customers to get a feel for who your staff are.
Youtube videos are also a great avenue to give information about your product through explainer videos or interviews with clients to provide social proof. You can also use the Youtube comment section to get feedback from prospects and answer their frequently asked questions.
- Purchasing Leads From Other Companies
The process of finding highly qualified leads, gathering their data then engaging them through multiple sales funnels before they are ready to buy can be time-consuming, which is why some marketers buy leads instead.
Some companies do the hard work for you and generate leads that have predefined characteristics. Whilst this strategy is often more effective in B2C, a B2B company can reap the rewards by partnering with a B2B lead generation company who is experienced in your field.
The most significant benefit of buying leads is get access to a consistent stream of cherry-picked leads that are interested in hearing about how your business can help to solve their problem.
There are cons associated with this strategy such as reduced brand awareness and less reliability on your own assets to generate leads. Ultimately the best option would be to put in the work yourself to generate a reliable source of leads over time.
- Direct Mail / Printed Materials
Direct mail is one of the ways you can directly market to people who show great interest in your business. It involves communicating directly with your prospects through email, printed material, or telephone calls.
Direct mail and print material can give you real-time data about your marketing message and how your prospects receive it.
Since this is a direct channel of communication for acquiring b2b leads, you can constantly position yourself as an industry leader in front of your prospects and continuously remind them why your product and services are superior to your competitors.
Despite the seemingly dated nature of print, direct mail can be an excellent strategy for new businesses to help them acquire their initial clients.
Hosting events is a great way to generate B2B leads. B2B marketers can invest in both in-personal events, which can be private or public functions with hundreds of attendees, or online events, which include webinars and live streams, popular on Facebook. To make your event successful, whether in-person or virtual, you need to firstly provide value and generate buzz around this value.
Webinars are becoming increasingly popular among B2B marketers and rightfully so. They are a great marketing channel to present information and engage with your b2b leads in real-time during the webinar. Webinars are a great way to establish authority, credibility, and trust through hosting educational and thought leadership events.
The webinar can offer long term value after the fact too. If you publish it on your website, it can be a resource your prospects can always refer to. Always give your audience value in your webinars through visual aids, statistics, slideshows, screenshots, illustrating the benefits of the products, showing how the product works, and demonstrating the products.
If you’re looking to understand how each B2B customer acquisition channel can be used to grow your B2B business, get in touch with Tiga B2B marketing consultants today.