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15 Non-traditional B2B Campaigns — Examples & ideas you can implement

In the United States alone, it’s estimated that there is around $780 billion in B2B marketing alone. B2B campaigns are responsible for bringing in over double what B2C marketing typically brings in. 

Why is that? We’ve discussed the difference between B2B and B2C marketing before, so we won’t go into too much detail here. What I will say, however, is that getting your B2B campaigns right is important. You won’t be perfect coming right out of the gate, but you will undoubtedly want to hone in on the process sooner rather than later.

Here we’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best B2B marketing campaigns. Paired with these examples, we’ll go over some ideas that you can use to improve your B2B campaigns.

Before we jump in, let’s mention what we refer to when we talk about a B2B campaign:

A B2B campaign (also known as a business-to-business campaign) is a marketing process whereby a company promotes its services or products to another company rather than an individual customer. 

Marketing from one company to another is typically very different than B2C marketing. Everything from the mentality of the seller and buyer to the touchpoints and customer journey. It’s all quite different.

Top 15 best B2B marketing campaigns of all time

Now that we’ve got the fundamentals out of the way, it’s time to dive into the deep end with some of the best B2B campaigns. Some of these examples may not be relatable to you and your business, but you should take inspiration from the creativity and success of each campaign.

1. Employee Advocacy – Drift

One of the biggest issues companies have with their B2B campaigns is they seem too distant. Sure, you’re talking to another company, and most of the time, they just want the facts and data, but there’s still a human on the other side of that screen.

Drift wanted to bring a little extra human element to their B2B campaigns, so they started their employee advocacy campaign. These campaigns were designed to strengthen the personal relationships between Drift and their B2B customers while keeping it professional. 

They did this by running a “Power user spotlight”. These spotlights were shinned on individual employees within the company. In some cases, the faces and stories behind these employees were even splashed on the homepage.

This B2B campaign worked so well because they found a way to bring emotion into the B2B space where there previously was none. Instead of marketing with feelings, they gave their B2B customers a real person to latch onto.

2. Hyper-targeted campaigns – Upwork

If you’re unfamiliar, Upwork is a platform where you can hire freelancers for various projects. Upwork decided to get extra specific with their audience back in 2018 by using their “Hey World” B2B campaigns.

What these campaigns did that contradicts B2B was target specific public figures and thus make it stand out and work.

Through a series of video ads, they mentioned people like Elon Musk to garner attention. It makes sense that they would go for such a bold move. Being one of the most influential people in the world, I’m sure Elon’s name is something that many brands try to use. At the very least, it hits some buzzwords that will get people talking.

Using social media and traditional ad placement, Upwork managed to get its ads in front of millions of pairs of eyes. They attracted the attention they wanted using pop culture, making this quite the successful B2B campaign.

From the mouths of the marketing gurus at Upwork themselves, this unique tactic resulted in a 10% increase in Upwork usage from fortune 500 companies. Because of this increase, over 30% of fortune 500 companies now use Upwork. 

3. “Yeah, we tried Slack” – Slack

Slack is well known nowadays for being the go-to communication channel for many businesses. That being said, many companies are skeptical and stuck in their ways. Slack’s answer to this issue was to create a very well directed video short that plays out sort of like a sitcom, interviewing a company that didn’t even realize they had an issue. 

The result is a 2 minutes and 20 seconds long video detailing how this company, we’ll call it company X, thinks it’s doing just fine with its current method(s) of communication. They then list quite a few ways they chat back and forth, but each person says something different.

The result is chaos, and within the video, company X realized its need for change, which is where the catchphrase “So yeah, we tried Slack” originates from.

This works so well because it targets an issue that a lot of businesses don’t even realize they have. Or perhaps some of these companies don’t care. The video shows that these companies should care, and they don’t even understand what they’re missing. 

4. B2B customer referral program – Carpathia

Many people, including myself, tend to operate under the conclusion that referrals in B2B don’t work all that well. At least not as well as they do in B2C. Most of the time, businesses get what they need and get the heck out of there. Carpathia wanted to change that. And so they did.

This referral program worked so well because it only took a few steps. Since Carpathia sells cloud-based solutions for larger-scale enterprises, you could rest assured that those who made it to the referral stage were well informed on the product. At least they weren’t there to waste any time.

Within three easy steps, a business could become a Carpathia Referral partner. By signing up, they were given access to sales tools like case studies and white papers. They were also paid a nice commission when their referral was successfully converted. 

This works because, no matter who you’re marketing to, whether it’s an individual or a company, everyone is human. Referral programs like the one Carpathia created are designed for humans.

5. Marketing Dynamix – Dropbox

Dropbox wanted to scale its B2B lead generation process. In addition to that, they wanted to target a new and challenging audience: marketers. If you’re not a marketer, that might sound simple. But marketing to marketers is like selling ice to a polar bear. They understand it, and they aren’t so easily impressed.

At least, that was the stigma before Dropbox teamed up with marketing agency Transmission. Together, they did their marketing research and concluded that marketing teams often blamed project delays on personality clashes within the team and communication obstacles. 

Their solution? Marketing Dynamix. This tool allowed marketing teams to understand their colleagues and how they can improve their marketing processes using this newfound knowledge. 

Using media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, they used GIFs, videos, and other related graphics to reach an audience that everyone thought was unreachable.

This B2B campaign works because it hits the marketing audience right in the heart. Instead of wasting hours, days, and weeks trying to convince them that they need something they don’t necessarily need, they offered a solution backed up by facts through the audience research and left it at that.

6. SuperSmart Security comic – CISCO

The biggest part of marketing is convincing the audience that they have an issue and you have a solution. We can write content all we want, target and retarget audiences, SEO optimize all our landing pages and blog articles, and hope and pray that a B2B customer finds us.

But the reality is that you are a fish in a sea of a lot of other fish. It’s a fish eat fish world, and you’ve got to stand out and be creative. B2B prospects do their research before they make any purchases. Whatever stands out most to them when it comes time to pull the trigger has a significantly higher chance of winning them over.

CISCO understood this through and through. They knew that in order to stand out in the cybersecurity space, they needed to get creative. Thus, their SuperSmart Security comic strip was born.

Like any good comic, this one has a hero and a villain. The hero, Phil, is ACME’s chief security officer and is tasked with protecting their data. Phil’s superpower? He implemented CISCO security. In the end, the villain fails at hacking into their system.

This works so well for so many reasons. Other than the fact that it stands out, it paints CISCO as the unsung hero. Someone that wants to protect the greater good, aka the data of B2B customers.

7. “More clicks” – Adobe

What’s the one thing that every company with an online presence is focused on more than anything? Clicks! More clicks to the main page. More clicks on CTAs. More clicks to the blog.

In a somewhat comical video ad created by Adobe Analytics, we how quickly we can all be blinded by certain metrics. Often, we forget about the other metrics that lead to a successful campaign, whether it’s B2B or B2C. 

The video ad follows the chain of events starting from the top. Employees bust through the door of the boss’s office and excitedly announce that they have more clicks. As a result, the big boss calls their supplier and orders more paper. The paper company then calls the lumber mill and orders more trees, and so on. 

The chain ends with a scene of a baby mindlessly clicking on a CTA on the original company’s website. The moral of the story? You should know what your marketing is doing. How do you do that? Pay attention to more than just the headline metrics, which is what Adobe Analytics helps their B2B customers do.

This ad worked so well because it is funny. Not too often in B2B campaigns do you find yourself chuckling. What’s even better is that your average Joe will not understand that humor. Only B2B customers will understand why; although it is funny, it is dauntingly true.

8. Starting a T-shirt business – Shopify

At this point, anyone in the eCommerce space is very familiar with Shopify. It is the industry leader for start-up shops looking to sell some products. But what about those that are a little shy? What if they’re afraid to dip their toes in the water and start selling through Shopify?

For those people, Shopify took a very simple approach. They created a 2-minute video showing how someone could create a T-shirt store in just 10 minutes.

Shopify is no stranger to experimenting with some bold tactics. For example, in the not-too-distant past, they pushed a video a day across their social platforms for three months straight. 

So it came as a surprise that they took such a simple approach in this video ad. But, according to Shopify’s videographer Matt Wiebe, it worked incredibly well.

“It was a three-minute video of how to start a t-shirt store in under ten minutes. And it just killed it. We had so many people watching that video and signing up for the free trial.”

Matt Wiebe

9. Trolling Boris Johnson – Monday

Not all successful B2B campaigns are reserved for the internet’s eyes. Back in 2019, popular management software, Monday took the streets and the tubes of London, somewhat trolling UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As passengers flew by in the underground tube system that expands much of London, they found themselves giggling at the inside jokes Monday had posted all over the walls in physical ads. 

The ads read, “Manage anything. Even London”, then mentioned some of Boris’s failed projects. 

As you can see from this ad example, Monday was quite bold in their B2B campaign, but it certainly garnered the attention they were looking for. In the meantime, they were able to showcase some of the accessibility and ease of use their platform promoted.

10. Instagram placement ads – Airtable

Being about organization in the workplace, Airtable itself showcases its organization skills across the board. This includes their Instagram profile. 

Airtable has long acknowledged that B2B prospects are more likely to see paid ads than organic posts on Instagram. With that in mind, they decided to use their Instagram profile as a landing page. 

When you click on their profile (scroll towards the bottom of their profile), you’ll see only 10 images. But, the ad team behind Airtable constantly runs ads for Instagram placement. They then use their traffic to direct prospects towards their product. 

Although there were only 10 posts at a time, you certainly won’t find any lackluster content. It’s well thought out, visually pleasing, and very cohesive with its organized image. 

Because of strategic B2B campaigns like this, Airtable was able to grow over 400% in 2019 alone. And according to their CEO, they grew their evaluation to $1.1 billion. 

11. Freedom to transform – Oracle

Often, businesses looking to market in the B2B space aim for big companies. The rationale here is that the bigger the company, the more money they have to spend. Although it never hurts to aim for the stars, you don’t want to be forgetting the small and medium-sized businesses.

Oracle wanted to bolster some support amongst these small and medium-sized business owners, but they knew it wouldn’t be easy. Oracle is well known in the world of enterprise database solutions. In 2020, it was the second-largest software company in the world as a whole.

But with that title comes a few misconceptions. Even now, as you’re reading this, you might be thinking that Oracle sounds pretty complex and costly. 

With Oracle’s B2B campaign, they wanted to clear up these misconceptions and get even the small business owners thinking about their solution. To do that, they created an explainer campaign that included a short video. The video covered marketing assets like blog posts and landing pages but aimed it toward smaller brands.

At the end of the video, Oracle promised to provide the tools, resources, services, and support that anyone might need in order to adapt and face new challenges. 

They approached the problem with a simple solution. Instead of going into detail and spending a massive budget on video ads, they incorporated simple and cost-effective elements into their B2B campaign. This helped drive their point that they aren’t too complex or expensive for small business owners and cleared up a lot of misconceptions for a lot of people. 

12. Account-based marketing – Couchbase

Speaking of enterprise database solutions, Couchbase had a hard time attracting anyone other than tech-savvy customers. Actually, they had quite a few problems, but their biggest issue was their product itself.

You see, their product was built on NoSQL tech. Traditionally speaking, this sort of technology is marketed to a high-tech audience, making it very unappealing to those smaller businesses or businesses that didn’t have the time or resources to invest in something they thought was too complex.

On top of that, they had to face industry giants like Oracle and other similar businesses that weren’t built using NoSQL. That’s a tough hill to climb, and they knew it.

Couchbase turned to account-based marketing (ABM) to overcome all of these seemingly impossible obstacles. This involved extensive research, as they wanted to reach for bigger accounts. But, to turn those accounts into actual customers, they knew that they needed better insight.

Couchbase quickly went to work running persona workshops. Their goal was to understand the user’s roles, pain points, buying cycles, and other preferences of the person or people making the buying decisions.

Using keyword volumes and social persona data, they avoided the annoying guesswork and created highly niche and laser-targeted content for these accounts. They knew what they needed to create, when they needed to create it, and where it needed to be delivered. 

Source

As a result, Couchbase built up $1.5 million in their sales pipeline, and with their newfound knowledge, they knew that they could convert these high-value customers at the end of the funnel.

13. Personalized email campaigns – Double Your Freelancing

In marketing, if you try to appeal to everyone with your messaging, you’ll attract no one. The whole reason personas exist and why it’s so important to understand your audience is that not everyone will be interested in what you have to sell. You have to tap into this audience and avoid vague and widely-aimed copy. 

As an education company that helped thousands of freelancers, Double Your Freelancing had customers from various industries: content marketers, designers, photographers, agencies, and more. 

Originally, the plan was to tap into a single audience. But what Brennan Dunn, the company’s founder, soon realized is that the product didn’t need to change, but the messaging did. So with that, they began creating personalized email campaigns based on industry.

They created industry-specific CTAs, ad copy, content, and more. Each was designed to resonate better with the given audience. They even went so far as to propose certain testimonials through email copy using if/then liquid conditionals. Following this, a dedicated landing page was created to make sure each person received the message they needed to hear.

Not every B2B campaign has to be over the top. Essentially, by making a few tweaks to their messaging and paying more attention to their various audiences, Double Your Freelancing was able to produce a 250% upturn in conversions. 

14. Subverting expectations – FedEx

As a top-tier shipping and logistics company that largely caters to other businesses, you won’t expect FedEx’s marketing to be very creative. After all, everyone knows what FedEx is. What FedEx doesn’t have is a social reach. Or, at least, they didn’t. They knew that nobody expected anything from them, and they wanted to change that. 

Being one of the biggest marketing platforms in the world, FedEx took to social media and quickly garnered 209,000 followers. How? They turned their page into an international travel experience.

If you visit their Instagram page, you’ll be greeted with all kinds of images. Specifically, you’ll notice pictures of FedEx trucks and planes in various famous locations worldwide. Each of these posts, although subliminal, make you associate FedEx with these locations.

For B2B customers, this attests to FedEx’s commitment to bringing you your packages wherever you are. The result was a highly engaged audience and a very creative social feed that acted as a travel log.

15. “In It Together” – LinkedIn

When anyone thinks of LinkedIn, they think of business professionals discussing logistics, sales, and the next big corporate move. It’s a platform designed to connect professionals, sure, but it never stood out as a platform for anyone except salespeople, CMOs, and SaaS gurus. That was until LinkedIn launched its B2B campaign titled “In It Together”.

The campaign’s goal was to remove this misconception that LinkedIn was reserved for any one group in particular. They wanted people to think of LinkedIn as a place for anyone to come and make connections and grow professionally, no matter what they did for a living.

With the simple message that LinkedIn is for everyone, they’ve exponentially widened their customer base. This B2B campaign made so much noise that it was even mentioned at the Golden Globes. Now, LinkedIn can be a place for CFOs, dog groomers, sales titans, car wash owners, and everyone else. 

How to make your own B2B campaign

If one thing is clear from all the examples above, it’s that no B2B campaign is quite the same. Depending on your goal, you could be doing something that nobody else has even attempted before. It’s all about knowing your audience and knowing how to reach them.

That could mean doing something as straightforward as growing your social followers with some creative photography like FedEx, or something specific to your audience, like changing your messaging to cover a wider audience like LinkedIn.

What doesn’t change from B2B campaign to B2B campaign are some fundamentals that you need to understand to make it all work. You need to optimize the channels that your audience is in. And again, we really can’t tell you exactly where your audience is. For someone like a highly niche Malbolge coding company, your ideal audience might exist in a subreddit that nobody has ever heard of.

But, there are four primary channels that anyone can utilize to reach most corners of their market. Here they are laid out in no particular order.

1. SEO-driven blog posts

As a medium, blog posts are likely to be one of the most effective marketing tools out there. They’re typically easy to make and can be SEO optimized to bring in a large variety of stakeholders. 

By crafting marketing materials for B2B customers, you can get detailed with the keywords you want to target, bringing in your most ideal customers. B2B marketers often use blog posts to drive narratives, make quick conversions, and generate SQL that they can later pass off to the sales team for higher chances of conversion.

2. Email marketing

Email marketing is an incredibly powerful marketing channel that is often underutilized. In B2B campaigns, email is even more powerful because most business professionals have an email. It is the industry standard for communication between businesses and should be maximized with email automation.

Using emails, you can nurture leads, create more detailed user journeys for streamlined marketing automation, quickly onboard new users, and so much more. Email is the quickest way to get your message to the world.

Just like Double Your Freelancing, you have to be very specific with your messaging. They were focused on getting the right message to the right people at the right time. With email marketing automation, you can do precisely that and a lot more. If you’re not currently running some B2B email campaigns, you might want to get started as soon as possible.

3. Business conferences

Although they require more work, in-person business conferences are a great way to make powerful connections. A lot of businesses go to these conferences looking specifically for opportunities.

These conferences come with a business expectation. They are the perfect place to brag about your product, give a demonstration, shake hands, and close deals. They are also incredible places for learning and making a name for yourself.

As a marketing channel, conferences may not convert as much as a highly optimized landing page might, but they will undoubtedly help you get in front of the right audience. That is, given that you go to the right conference. I highly encourage you to look for some local conferences and start there. You never know who you might run into.

4. Social media

As we saw with a few examples above, social media is important for any growing business looking to make some B2B conversions. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter are all great platforms you can utilize with ads and engagement.

Social media platforms are places where businesses grow their audience and, therefore, awareness. They have the highest reach potential over any other platform out there. With billions of people on social media nowadays, you can be confident that your audience exists even for B2B campaigns. 

My advice would be to start small but aim for the stars. Allocate a budget for some ads, do some market and audience research, and see what kind of results you can pull. Be sure to make adjustments and do plenty of A/B testing along the way. You might be surprised at how powerful social media can be as a B2B marketing channel. 

What to take away from this

B2B campaigns are going to generate, on average, more revenue for your company. Businesses typically do their research before making any purchasing decision. They go through an extensive research process so that they can be sure that your solution is right for them. They typically produce a higher lifetime value and are more likely to be continuous customers over a B2C customer.

The biggest thing to take away from all the examples and ideas above is that you should be investing more time, resources, and effort into your B2B campaigns. If you’re not currently doing so, take a look at the examples above and draw some inspiration from them. Heck, if you even need to straight-up copy some of them, go for it. It’s all for the sake of the betterment of your company, which we here at Encharge are all about. 

Additionally, if you’re not using any sort of email automation tool, or you’re unhappy with the results of the one you’re currently using, give Encharge a shot. One of the easiest and best ways to distribute content, get the right message out there, onboard new customers, nurture leads, and more. Book a demo today to see what we can do for you. 

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