How Growth Hacking can be applied in a Business to Business context

Mei 2019 – door Isabel de Bruijn

In general Growth Hacking tends to be inherent to the Business to Consumer context. Ultimately aiming to maximise revenue by growing the customer base, maximising the customer lifetime value, and minimising costs. In order to do so, a combination of creative marketing, data and experimentation and automation and engineering is applied.

But why can’t we just simply apply the growth hacking principles in a Business to Business context? What is actually the difference between customers and clients? Both are human beings, it both starts with a C :), and the ultimate company goal is most likely the same; maximising revenue. And that revenue is even reinforced by the same prerequisites (€ * # customers)… So what is the actual difference? That was what I was wondering when finishing the full month of training at The Talent Institute and started working at Loyalty Rockstars. Soon I found out.

The answer lies in the difference in the relative size of each prerequisite for revenue maximisation such as illustrated in Figure 1. In B2C we are dealing with a big customer base but a relatively small lifetime value per customer, whereas in B2B the opposite applies; huge accounts but a relatively small amount of clients. Therefore growth hacking in a B2B context requires a slightly different approach.

But it is not impossible. Let me give you some tips on how to get started. First of all, like in B2C growth hacking, we need to identify the quality of the current processes in order to establish a starting point for optimisation. Therefore it is very useful to establish the AAARRR funnel or pirate funnel as well in a B2B context. Also consisting of 6 stages such as visualised in Figure 2. But compared to the B2C context, the lead time in the B2B pirate funnel is generally much longer and much fewer clients will enter the funnel. In case your company is using a CRM system, such as Pipedrive, you can use this as a good starting point to define the stages. A CRM system is actually your Google Analytics in a B2B context and should be kept up to date for future growth hacking purposes!

When specifying the funnel stages for a B2B company, another essential difference between B2B- and B2C growth hacking emerges. In B2B, a big part of the activities in the funnel might happen offline, due to the scope of the purchase, resulting in a much longer sales cycle. Therefore the performance in each stage simply can’t be traced by our friend Google Analytics – and should be done in another way.

Hence you should identify those offline parts of the funnel through a qualitative approach. Talk to key persons about the process and identify patterns in what has worked in the past and what hasn’t, in turning visitors into loyal clients. It is a time-consuming task but definitely worth it. Although a part of the funnel (phase 1 and or 2) might happen online, I would still recommend to be slightly careful by drawing conclusions from Google Analytics in a B2B context when those numbers are small. This could provide you with false insights, which you obviously should not iterate upon…


Be careful drawing conclusions from numbers in a B2B context


So how to hack that growth then? Once you have specified the stages of the funnel, the One Metric That Matters (OMTM), additional metrics and have a clear view on the current performance per stage, it is time to start optimising. You will see that it basically requires the same mindset; verifying what works and iterating upon that. Also it is useful to prioritise your ideas for experiments by using a PIES or BRASS framework. But compared to B2C growth hacking, another toolset and skillset is needed in a B2B context. Here are some ideas and tools which might be useful for your business, defined per stage of the B2B pirate funnel.

  1. Visitor stageDux-soup – with this freemium tool you could automatically send multiple LinkedIn messages. Saving you a lot of time in lead generation – but make sure you write a decent message so it won’t actually backfire your intentions.
  2. Prospect stageAlbacross – this tool identifies which companies have visited your website. In turn you could integrate it with your CRM system. Pipedrive can give you a notification when someone has visited your website 3 times. All very useful…
  3. Activated customer stage – perhaps you could offer a free service through an online tool, such as the Loyalty Quick Scan from Loyalty Rockstars. This enables to let the prospect experience the AHA moment of your proposition and will more likely be activated.
  4. Customer stage – although it might be called “business to business”, we are still dealing with people. And they need to be convinced in order to close the deal. Good sales people are important at this stage. They should identify the different roles of the stakeholders of the project and especially finding the right way to convince the decider. Also, you should not loose sight on your own proposition. What are your company’s unique selling points; why would they choose you? Stay up to date on your competitors and possible substitutes to your customers’ problem. Make sure you guarantee the perfect solution for the specific problem of the company and in general a product-market fit for your own proposition.
  5. Active customer stage – once the deal is closed, it is obviously essential to provide an excellent service. Also, ask for feedback to your client in order to optimise your current and future service proposition.
  6. Loyal customer stage – in case you have done a great job, the client may get back to you with another or additional project or may refer you to colleagues or partners. We all know that worth-of-mouth and personal references are extremely powerful, especially when people are involved in the service (no one wants to work with terrible people right!?). So always be kind, helpful, caring and authentic. Next to having, more joyful days, from a business perspective, it may also save you a lot of time and effort in the acquisition process of new projects. And B2B revenue is construed by a small number of clients but big accounts, as you know. So it is definitely worth to put a smile on your face, that is not rocket science 🙂

Always keep in mind that you are dealing with people…

I hope this will give you some guidance on how you could start to grow your business in a B2B context. So, although A/B testing on your website might not be the most relevant and effective approach in B2B, there are multiple other opportunities. Just be creative and iterate on what works. And.. keep your CRM system up to date. Enjoy the ride, it’s fun!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.

Isabel de Bruijn

#B2Bgrowthhacking #Growthhacking #B2B #Thetalentinstitute #Loyaltyrockstars #Loyaltyconsultancy


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Usually when you read about Growth Hacking, it focucces on business to consumer (B2C) instead of business to business (B2B). Isabel de Bruijn wrote a great blog about the differences in approach and funnel stages. Learn to apply Growth Hacking in your B2B context
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