6 Successful B2B Marketing Campaigns to Inspire Your Strategy
Updated: Jan 15
You’ve probably heard it before: ‘B2B marketing campaigns are boring!’
B2B marketing campaigns are notorious for lacking creativity, being boring, you name it, it’s not good.
Let’s face it: B2B marketing isn’t easy.
There are many factors and variables to consider. And with the increased competition as well as the misguided advice to post content every day, B2B marketers are struggling.
(We see you, we get you. And we have something for you 😊)
You may have seen too many bad, boring, or cliche B2B marketing campaigns recently. Or maybe you're just too scared to get creative with your B2B brand. The good news is: There’s a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Over the years, several B2B brands have decided to lift the bad b2b content curse and created unique and successful campaigns.
In this article, we’re showcasing the best and most successful B2B marketing campaigns out there. But before we dive in, we’ll explore the challenges of marketing for B2B audiences and what makes a B2B campaign successful.
Challenges of B2B Marketing
B2B marketing often starts with a sigh.
The challenges businesses struggle with are intensified when you want to create content for a B2B audience.
To get a clearer idea of how and why the top B2B marketing campaigns were successful, it’s important you’re clear about the challenges plaguing B2B marketing in general.
1. Defining Success & Managing Leadership Expectations
What is marketing success?
Defining success is an essential element in all of your marketing campaigns.
The answer to the question will differ from one business to another, even if they’re in the same industry with almost the same target audiences.
B2B marketers find that measuring the return on investment (ROI) of their activities is one of their biggest challenges. Nearly 30% of B2B marketers in a HubSpot survey cited measuring ROI as their biggest challenge.
Your success could be growing sales revenue and growth, reducing cost per lead, maximizing conversion rates, increasing the lifetime value of a customer, making a specific return on marketing spend, and/or more.
By defining what success actually is for each campaign you run, you can better manage expectations with all stakeholders and leadership.
2. Being human while being B2B
One of the biggest problems marketers struggle with is being human when creating B2B content. And we get it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re talking to a ‘company.’
But B2B content should always be directed to a person.
Because at the end of the day, who makes decisions in companies? Till now, its people.
But unlike a B2C audience, these people aren’t solely moved by emotions. They take many other elements into consideration such as product value, pricing, flexibility, and others.
In other words, they’re moved by how your product or service helps them and their business.
3. Understanding your content marketing needs
Content creation for B2B audiences isn’t easy. B2B marketers, regardless of industry, know that. In B2B, you can’t create anything and just hope for the best. That’s like throwing away your budget.
To ensure, you’re reaching your customers, you need to create content that
Educates your target audience
Helps your audiences
Builds authority and supports your brand’s positioning.
What you don’t want to do is:
Create content that talks about you or your business (and that’s the hard part!)
The B2B customer journey is a long and far more complex one than a B2C buyer’s journey.
Creating content that helps and entices your B2B customers should come from a clear understanding of your target audience. Get the most out of your efforts by following B2B content marketing best practices.
4. Differentiating between demand generation and lead generation
In B2B, there are important and related concepts you need to be aware of. That’s demand generation and lead generation.
Demand generation is about creating demand or interest for your product or service. Demand generation is a long-term strategy that involves reaching a large number of people.
On the other hand, lead generation involves using marketing campaigns that focus on collecting ‘leads’ or information from potential customers. The next step is to begin qualifying these potentially interested customers.
Both demand generation and lead generation rely on content marketing to build awareness and generate leads.
5. No one size fits all
With B2B marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all. What works for your competitors might not work for you, which makes your marketing efforts even harder.
But knowing this, means you have room to experiment and A/B test.
By pinpointing your target audience(s), you can begin to create content and marketing campaigns that fit this particular audience and not any other.
Essential elements of a B2B marketing campaign
Now that you’re aware of the top B2B marketing challenges, let’s focus on what makes a B2B marketing campaign a success.
1. Determine your campaign goal(s)
Before you create or launch a marketing campaign, you need to determine what your goals for this campaign are. AND how you’ll measure those goals.
Goals for a B2B marketing campaign can include:
Generating demand for a new or existing service or product
Raising or increasing awareness for your brand, services, or products
Building your brand’s positioning
2. Identify your marketing channels
Are you going to use LinkedIn only? Or will you use Facebook and Twitter? Or maybe you’d rather create one or more email marketing campaigns?
You need to know where you’ll launch your campaign. Which of your marketing channels will you be using? You can launch your campaign on a single channel or several.
Contrary to common belief, you don’t have to be on all platforms at the same time. And even if you choose to be everywhere, which we don’t recommend, you definitely don’t have to create posts or ads for all platforms simultaneously.
The result usually means thinning out your budget, increasing the cost of your campaign, and not generating the results you’re hoping for.
How do you identify which marketing channels to use? Focus on the top platform where your customers are. In B2B, LinkedIn remains the number 1 platform for B2B audiences.
3. Make sure your landing pages are up and running
This is one of the most important steps in ensuring a successful B2B marketing campaign. Make sure your landing pages are clear, with good design and copy, and that all your links are working properly.
Otherwise, if customers come to your landing page and find it glitchy or even poorly written, they’ll leave.
Make sure your call-to-action is clear and that whatever you’re using to get customers to complete your call-to-action is operational. For example, if the purpose is to get customers to visit a blog post, then your link should send them there.
If the purpose is to complete a sale, then you’ll need to ensure your payment gateway is operational. If your target is generating leads, then is your lead-gen form working? Where do the emails go?
4. Determine what success means and how you’ll measure it
We’ve touched on this briefly. When launching a marketing campaign, it’s imperative you define what success means for you and how you’ll measure it.
Does success mean a higher number of followers? A high click-through-rate? Engagements?
5. Be flexible
In today’s ever-changing and ever-evolving marketing landscape, you need to be flexible. Yes, you have your goals, target audience, and success metrics, but you also need to be ready to change your plans, add new copy, and refocus your efforts on other platforms, among others.
Remember 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic decided to turn the tables? (No one can forget that.) The whole world had to adapt. Businesses – both B2B and B2C – who thought ‘it will pass’ were hurt the most and had to scramble to catch up.
It’s 2022 and technology is evolving at a super-fast pace. Customer needs are changing faster than ever. So, if you’re not flexible, you’ll hit a wall.
6. Know who your target audience is
If you’re thinking not again, then I’m here to tell you that if you don’t get your audience right, no amount of money will help you keep your business open.
Although this is the most important element of running a successful marketing campaign, I saved it for last because it builds on all the above elements.
Picture this: You sell cybersecurity software and your target audience is businesses with more than 25 people (we’ll leave it at that for now). This means that almost everyone in B2B is your target audience. That’s not only a massive target but also requires a sizable budget.
You run a marketing campaign and get 10,000 leads. Great, right? Not necessarily!
Of these 10,000 leads, 8,000 are individuals who want to know how to protect their computers and data (not your target audience). Another 800 are super small companies that can’t afford your software (also not your target audience). Of the remaining 1,200 leads, there are students who are curious about cybersecurity, a few curious readers, and - finally - 10 firms.
From your 10,000 leads, you got 10 leads that may – or may not – amount to something. So was this a good campaign? Probably not. How much did you spend to get these 10 leads? Probably a fortune, resulting in a hefty cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per lead (CPL).
However, if you had nailed your target audience from the start, the results and costs would have been massively different.
Here’s a more detailed description of your target audience:
B2B SaaS and fintech firms. Our decision-makers are the cybersecurity senior executives, CTOs, chief information security officers (CISOs), or IT managers, of those companies.
We’ll be targeting them on LinkedIn and Twitter, where company executives tend to be most active. And we’ll target companies that can spend between $3,000 and $10,000 a year.
You can factor in a location such as a country or a region to see where your top leads and customers are coming from (assuming you don’t already have a specific target in mind).
From boring to brilliant: Best B2B Marketing campaigns of all time
Now it’s time to see what some of the world’s best B2B marketing campaigns look like and why they were successful.
If you think B2B marketing campaigns are boring, then you haven’t seen these!
1. Slack’s video marketing campaign “So yeah we tried Slack”
B2B communications platform Slack wanted to show other businesses how it saved them time and improved their communications.
To do so, Slack launched a light and video marketing campaign that nailed the benefits of using their software. The campaign, featuring a fictional company called Sandwich Video Inc., was called ‘Yeah, We Tried Slack…’
About the ‘Yeah, We Tried Slack’ campaign
Slack’s video, launched in 2014, was a mockumentary-style video that’s similar to the popular TV show The Office. It showed different members of Sandwich Video Inc. struggling with the different communications platforms they were using.
Then the Sandwich Video Inc. team decided to try Slack, which transformed their communication and collaboration.
Using Slack, employees of the fictional company could not have all their files in one place, easily share them with each other, and create a fun and sociable work experience for the whole team.
What stood out about this campaign
Slack used humor, showed how people struggled with multiple tools, and added a human element to the video. Plus, it wasn’t salesy.
2. Cisco’s SuperSmart Security graphic novel
If you’re wondering what a brand like Cisco has to do with a graphic novel, you’re in for a treat.
Cisco’s SuperSmart Security graphic novel marketing campaign is one of the most creative B2B marketing campaigns out there.
Cisco took something as nerdy and as technical as cybersecurity and turned it into a graphic novel. They could have created a white paper or technical document. But they didn’t.
They chose to experiment and that made all the difference.
That said, they also knew what they wanted to do from the onset and how they would do it.
About the Cisco Supersmart campaign
The comic book-style graphic novel tells the story of a fictional organization, called ACME Corporation, and how it succeeded in tightening its security with Cisco while expanding its business.
ACME's Chief Security Officer, Phil, the protagonist, wanted to make sure that his company was secure. So, he decided to use Cisco Supersmart.
In the story, we see Phil and Supersmart discuss some of the most common security vulnerabilities companies struggle with and how to avoid or combat them.
So how does the story end?
As the company began expanding, hackers tried to gain access to the company’s data and software. And failed. In the end, using Supersmart, Phil succeeded in ensuring his company was secure during its expansion and the bad guys failed.
3. QuickBooks and Danny DeVito
Who doesn’t love Danny DeVito?
QuickBooks offers accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses and freelancers. To tell people about their product, they hired Danny DeVito and shot several 30-second videos.
What makes QuickBooks’ campaign successful?
Like Slack, QuickBooks used humor and a human element to focus on their customers’ pain point that’s managing business spending.
The B2B video marketing campaign, launched in 2017, focused on QuickBooks’ target audience, small business owners. The videos were part of the company’s broader ‘Backing You’ campaign.
4. IBM and TikTok
IBM and TikTok? Come again?!