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8 Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies for B2B Companies

The current B2B environment is extremely unpredictable, as companies face potential new lockdowns driven by the pandemic, labor shortages, and raw material shortages. Coupled with rapid changes in buyer behavior — such as greater interest in online purchasing, data privacy, and virtual meetings and events —B2Bs should be reevaluating sales and marketing strategies, tactics, and budgets. Staying nimble and making every budget dollar count are more important than ever, which is why cost-effective marketing strategies should be the focus going into 2022. 

Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies for B2B

What Does “Cost-Effective” Mean?

Before diving into these eight cost-effective marketing strategies for B2B, let’s take a moment to define “cost-effective.” For a B2B marketing strategy to be cost-effective, it must be an exceptionally good value. The eight marketing strategies reviewed here are cost-effective for one or more of the following reasons:

• High potential for meeting a narrowly defined but important marketing objective

• High potential for meeting multiple, broad marketing objectives

• High potential for serving business needs that go beyond marketing

• High potential for delivering strong and measurable ROI

1. Direct Mail

Sending a piece of mail to a B2B prospect or customer may be old-fashioned — but that may also be the reason direct mail works. In an age where everyone uses email, a direct mail campaign enables you to stand out and be noticed. 

Direct mail using high-quality materials, professional graphic design, and samples is valuable for introducing products, onboarding customers, and building business relationships. And whereas deleting an unread email is easy, tossing an intriguing piece of mail without reading it is difficult.

2. Email Marketing

While direct mail is cost-effective for specific marketing objectives, email marketing offers value because it enables B2Bs to achieve many important marketing objectives at a low cost. Email marketing achieves results for communicating offers, sharing news, generating sales leads, building relationships, updating order status, suggesting new products/services, and much more. 

The keys to successful email marketing are having an updated, segmented, and relevant list, allowing subscribers to opt-in, and methodically split testing. Fortunately, email management platforms are robust and affordable — delivering additional value in terms of low cost and scalability.

Email marketing platforms have robust analytics and testing capabilities that enable results to be clearly measured and continuously improved — the worst day of an email campaign should be its first day. 

3. Niche Targeting

Broad strokes are not the best way to devise a winning B2B marketing strategy. For products and services with unique advantages for different customer segments, geographic locations, applications, etc., crafting unique messages aimed at individual niches makes the marketing campaign more relevant, meaningful, and likely to produce sales leads and new business.

A niche campaign can utilize one or more of the seven other strategies described in this article. In general, SEO (discussed below) works extremely well in many niche campaigns because the keywords associated with them (“longtail” keywords) are very specific and easier to rank highly for than more generalized and competitive terms.  

4. PPC (Pay-per-Click Marketing)

Many B2Bs avoid PPC (paid advertising on Google and other search engines) because they doubt that B2B buyers click on Google ads. However, Google has redesigned its SERPs (search engine results pages) so that ads are virtually indistinguishable from organic results. Companies that have not tried PPC in recent years may experience better results today.

Like email marketing, PPC can be precisely measured and lends itself to methodical testing and continuous improvement. Campaigns can be expanded, contracted, or turned off in a matter of seconds, giving B2Bs the ultimate in budgetary control. 

In addition, PPC offers exceptional value for certain specific marketing objectives, such as introducing products/services (where none of your content is established enough to rank organically) and penetrating new geographic markets (where local competitors dominate organic rankings). 

Finally, when larger competitors dominate the SEO landscape, PPC is a way to move to the top of Google SERPs immediately. This is far more cost-effective than investing in a long-term SEO campaign where the odds are not in your favor.

5. Referral Programs

Most B2Bs have great success with referrals since personal relationships are such important buying influences. Setting up a formal referral program offers exceptional value because t very little cost is associated with creating and publicizing the program, the quality of sales leads is high, and the close rate is high as well.

The keys to a successful referral program are keeping it simple enough to attract interest and generous enough to motivate action. Potential targets for a referral program include current customers, vendors, employees, and companies in related industries. 

Many referral programs involve online registration, tracking referral status, and incentive payouts. Automation makes a referral program more efficient to manage, more scalable, and more easily measurable. 

6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is hard to ignore because Google processes upwards of 5 billion searches a day. Few B2Bs can overlook a marketplace of that size, especially when high ranking website content means prospects will find you precisely when they are looking for what you sell.

The value of longtail keywords has already been discussed with respect to niche marketing. In addition, SEO offers an additional benefit most companies overlook — the inherent value of website content that achieves #1 or #2 position on Google for strategically important keywords. Since these rankings are so difficult and expensive to achieve, if you have them, those rankings become a corporate asset that increases the value of your company in a merger or acquisition. 

7. Telemarketing

Telemarketing, much like direct mail, is effective partly because it isn’t new. Compared to email marketing, telephone communication is more personal, able to adjust to unexpected responses from the prospect, and able to close a sale on the spot or take the prospect one step closer to becoming a customer.  

Another very important way telemarketing offers value is as a training ground for field sales representatives. Telemarketing personnel are under the constant watch of sales management and get immediate answers to their questions. This accelerates the training process and results in new field reps who already have advanced training and real-world sales experience. 

8. Virtual Event Marketing

Virtual events — webinars, customer onboarding, annual business reviews, product/service introductions, etc. — have skyrocketed in popularity since Covid lockdowns made face-to-face meetings and events difficult or impossible. 

Besides being popular among B2B personnel, virtual events offer value because they are far less expensive to put on, give a business unlimited reach, and are repeatable and scalable. Virtual events are effective with cold prospects, hot prospects, new customers, and established customers — the ultimate in versatility. 


In addition to evaluating the cost-effectiveness of various marketing options, it may also be highly beneficial to take a step back and consider whether your overall marketing budget should be increased (or decreased) as a whole. Many B2Bs have historically relied heavily on their sales teams for lead generation. But with growing limitations on travel and face-to-face customer contact, greater emphasis on digital marketing techniques may work more effectively for making initial contact with prospects and building engagement. 

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