The world of B2B marketing has changed. Traditionally, it’s been a numbers game with aggressive outreach campaigns to stimulate customer demand, but modern B2B marketing is all about applying empathy to campaigns.

That’s why it’s so important to understand how you can apply the design thinking approach to B2B marketing. If you can think like a designer when creating and implementing your campaigns, you’ll win the trust of your customers over time.

As you might know, design thinking is a problem-solving approach with empathy at its center. Essentially, it means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to find the best solution to address their pain points. In this article, we will explore how you can embed the design thinking methodology into your marketing endeavors to produce the best results. Let’s dive into it!

#1: Applying Design Thinking to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is an essential pillar of a solid B2B marketing strategy. With an audience that consists of C-Suite executives or business professionals, you need to provide content that’s intellectually stimulating, educational and entertaining — all at the same time! Only then will Google reward you with a good ranking.

If you empathize with your customers, you would ask yourself questions like:

  • What types of topics does my audience want to read about?
  • What questions are my customers seeking answers to?
  • What keywords do my customers use to find answers to their questions, in relation to my product or service?
  • How can I make my content interesting, engaging and visually appealing to catch the attention of my audience?
  • If I were my own customer, what would I like to see on my blog?

These are all questions that come from a place of empathy and putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. The answers to these questions will reveal the insights you need to do keyword research effectively, so you can create content your audience loves.

The best way to check whether your audience loves your content is to monitor metrics such as bounce rates on your blog. The lower the bounce rates are, the higher the interest your audience has in your content, which will have a positive effect on your SEO campaigns.

Using tools such as Google Analytics you can also monitor other metrics, such as the amount of time customers spend on your blog. This information can act as the key to unlock ideas for blog articles that will work well with your audience and to see the ones that won’t.

#2: Applying Design Thinking to Paid Media Campaigns

In the world of B2B marketing, you’ve probably used paid media campaigns on channels like LinkedIn, where you can buy paid ads or sponsored updates on the news feed. Other paid media channels, include, but aren’t limited to, Facebook, Instagram, business websites like TechCrunch, Business Insider or Inc Magazine.

Applying design thinking to paid media campaigns requires you to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and do a journey map exercise to find out which media channels they’re on. For instance, you may find out that all of your customers are subscribers of TechCrunch. In this case, you know that paying for ads on TechCrunch would be a wise decision, both for you and your users.

Once you’ve identified the right paid media channels in which to invest your marketing dollars, it’s time to think about the actual ad content you’d like to publish. The great thing about paid marketing is that you can A/B test your ads to find out which ones work and which ones don’t. Think about some potential ad experiments you’d like to invest in based on how well you know your customers, and create ads that best meet their interests.

Using design thinking, think about all aspects of your ad, including the ad copy, images, video, design and placement of your ads on the paid media channel you’re planning to invest in. We recommend browsing through your identified paid media channel like your customers would.

For example, if it’s TechCrunch, browse the website to see all the things customers could lay their eyes on and try to envision what the best performing ad would look like. You’re bound to generate great paid ad ideas this way.

You could also talk to the editor of TechCrunch to understand the types of ads that perform well and the ones that don’t. This is a great way to seek the direct cooperation of your advertising partners and improve the odds of success.

#3: Applying Design Thinking to Email Marketing Campaigns

If you receive thousands of emails from various businesses trying to get your attention, you’re not the only one.

That’s why it can be so annoying for people to manage all the marketing emails they get from businesses, which usually results in the prospect not reading your emails at all.

If you apply design thinking to this problem, you’d think:

  • Why are my customers not reading my emails?
  • Do my customers need help with managing their inboxes?
  • How can I create and send email campaigns my customers actually want to read?
  • Of all the emails I’ve sent so far, which ones have they most enjoyed reading?
  • What time do my customers like to receive my emails?
Design thinking photo 3

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Do you see how all of the above questions are seeking insight from the customer’s perspective? You are eliminating your agenda, your ego and your marketing plans to understand who your customer is, what it is they really want and how would they love to hear from you.

Once you understand this way of thinking, you will start noticing the shift in your mindset and create email campaigns that actually solve a problem for your customers and are received with joy!

Wrapping it up

By applying design thinking, B2B marketing becomes “H2H” marketing, i.e. “human to human” marketing. It’s easy to forget your customers are real people, and by remembering to be empathetic, creative and service oriented, you’ll be more effective in generating healthy returns on your campaigns, while also building meaningful relationships with your customers.