Inbound Marketing for B2B
What is inbound marketing and how does it work for B2B?
You’re sitting at your desk and the phone rings – it’s an irritating cold call from an organization trying to sell you something you don’t need. You log on to the internet and a pop-up obscures the page you’re trying to visit. You go out to lunch and a promoter on the street interrupts your conversation to hand you a leaflet you don’t want.
What do these scenarios have in common?
They are all examples of traditional marketing, which aims to push a message at the market, often in an intrusive way that prioritizes the needs of the company pushing the message over the needs of the organization that’s receiving it.
Inbound marketing turns this model on its head.
Instead of putting your message and your marketing goals at the forefront of your content, you look at the business needs of your clients and aim to solve them in a way that draws them to you, pulling them in instead of pushing your message at them.
Inbound is about building a relationship with prospects based on attraction rather than interruption.
Organizations create content that is interesting, useful or insightful to attract potential leads to their website. Once there, prospects are incentivized to share their details with a free content offer. This might be an e-book, a webinar, a video course or anything that supports the visitor’s business goals.
When the lead’s details are stored in a CRM, they can be nurtured via email. Since the lead volunteered their information, and they already have a relationship with the organization based on having consumed that information, they’re more likely to open emails and become customers or clients.
Organizations can then continue to build and maintain the relationship by providing high quality content on an ongoing basis. The CRM allows you to see a linear timeline of a prospect's interactions with your company through different tactics and platforms (social, email, web).
Inbound builds connections with prospects in a less intrusive, more engaging and significantly more cost effective way.
Creating buyer personas.
In order to create tailored and relevant content, it’s essential to create buyer personas that identify specifically who your target is. These are personifications of your ideal clients. Once you know who they are and what matters to them, it becomes easier to bring them into your marketing funnel.
A B2B buyer persona like ‘Finance Frank’ might identify what sector and role Frank works in, what the structure of his team might look like, what problems and opportunities he faces every day in his role, an estimated budget he might have to solve those problems, and educated guesses as to where Frank goes to find trusted information on products and services.
Every touchpoint, every piece of content, and every experience is tailored to a buyer persona.
Go deeper: Read more about B2B buyer personas.
Most people do extensive research before making a big purchase, and this is especially true in a business context where clients may have to show their decision-making process for compliance reasons.
That’s why it’s important to build a relationship with your prospects instead of simply pushing your products and services at them.
There are three main stages of the Buyer Journey:
- Decision Making.
At the Awareness stage, your prospects realize they have a problem.
Your prospects at this stage know a problem exists, but they haven't fully defined that problem or how they intend to solve it. They're going to start by researching the problem, not the solution.
Content at the Awareness stage should target those problems with empathy, and provide information to begin solving it. As an example, you may produce SEO-friendly blog posts so that your prospect will find your website when they do a Google search related to their problem, and recognize your authority on the topic.
Learn more about the Awareness stage.
At the Consideration stage, your prospects are actively looking for a solution.
Prospects at this stage have defined the problem and are now researching solutions. Personas will help you understand what those problems are, and producing content that speaks to them.
Consideration content is not a sales pitch, but rather information to help prospects understand and select a solution. You might want to produce an e-book that explains various solutions related to the prospect's unique business challenges. To access the e-book, they will need to enter their email address — at which point you can begin nurturing the relationship.
Learn more about the Consideration stage.
At the Decision stage, your prospects are ready to make a purchase.
One prospects reach the Decision stage, they'll have narrowed down possible solutions to a short list. They'll be looking for answers about how the products or services on that shortlist meet their exacting requirements.
At the Decision stage, content should offer specific information about your products and services that will help prospects differentiate you from other entities, while also helping your team qualify prospects. Highlight your USP, address common objections and provide a clear path to purchase.
Learn more about the Decision stage.
Content at each stage of the buyer journey should offer the prospect an obvious 'next step'.
The entire process should feel fluid and intuitive. CTAs should be clear, concise, and logical.
Using the Inbound methodology, the marketing relationship can be longer than the sales relationship. Potential clients first become subscribers, then a relationship is built through the delivery of tailored, relevant content, until eventually the prospect becomes a sales qualified lead (SQL).
In many organizations, sales and marketing aren't well integrated — but this integration is crucial to effective inbound marketing. As the buyer moves from Awareness to Consideration to Decision, marketing has a crucial role in taking them through the funnel. This process can improve the quality and quantity of SQLs, and can generate valuable intelligence that will aid in the sales process.
Learn more about how to tackle the 5 biggest sales-marketing alignment challenges.
Customer relationship management software like HubSpot or Marketo can help teams integrate more easily. For example, you can trigger a sales alert based on a particular prospect action that would allow a salesperson to pick up the phone when the solution is still top of mind for the prospect.
Improve conversion rates by enhancing user experience
Improving your conversion rate is one of the fastest ways to boost sales. Imagine you have a landing page on your site or an email list that currently converts at 5%. For every hundred people that engage, five become leads, or even make a purchase. If you could optimize that page or list to the extent that the conversion rate increases to 8%, the end result would be a pretty dramatic increase in leads and ultimately sales.
A/B testing is a best practice that can help you raise your conversion rate, and it is an important part of any good Inbound strategy.
Of course, optimizing and testing is only possible if you have the appropriate data available. Learn more about strategic reporting.
Centralize marketing metrics to demonstrate ROI.
Back in the 1900s, John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” That’s the problem that integrated inbound marketing and automation help to solve.
You need to be able to tell which of your marketing activities are working and which are not. With inbound marketing, it's particularly helpful to see how prospects progress through the funnel, and especially where they drop out or stop engaging.
Effectively populating and configuring a CRM gives marketers a clear understanding of traffic sources and buyer journeys. You can see when prospects engage and how often, where they come from and what they do. Based on that information, you can optimize content delivery, build nurture paths and refine personas.
You can even input details for contacts from trade shows and events, and nurture those relationships through content. Sales can see everything a prospect has engaged with, and use that information in more targeted outreach.
Ultimately, you can attribute revenue to marketing efforts to easily calculate their ROI, then use that information to refine and invest in strategies with the best return.
Learn more about measuring content marketing ROI.
Developing your B2B inbound marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing is used extensively in B2C — often quite well. B2B organizations have been slower to adopt these strategies, but B2B marketing is where inbound can really shine. Unlike B2C, where there is a huge focus on Buzzfeed-style ‘info-tainment’ content, effective B2B content is much more practical. B2B inbound marketing content must provide insight, actionable business tips and useful tools.
By adopting Titan ONE's content-driven inbound strategy, Alfa Laval was able to generate more high-intent leads, increase organic traffic, improve Google keywords rankings, reduce their cost per lead by 90%, and increase conversion rate by 837%.
Download the free guide to creating an integrated B2B inbound marketing campaign.
Is it difficult to shift to inbound-thinking?
Once you make the mindset shift, you won't look back. It’s a better choice for your customers because it puts them at the heart of your marketing efforts, aiming to provide genuine insight to them as they make business decisions. It’s also a better choice for your organization, since it helps you build trust and attract new clients rather than simply pushing a message out and hoping for the best.
Can we re-use existing content?
Absolutely! In fact, it’s a great place to start. Audit your existing content and see what has performed best in the past. You can go back to older content you have produced to update and optimize it. It’s a great opportunity to make sure the information is still relevant, valid and SEO-friendly. Once it's updated, share it again on your social channels or to your email list.
How can I make sure that I am fueling my funnel with the right content?
Good, strategic, helpful content is the key to the successful implementation of an Inbound marketing strategy, so these are critical considerations. Whether you go internal or external, you need to make sure that you have a well-designed content strategy.
Whoever you work with (internal or external) should be inbound-certified, and able to put together and manage a content strategy that will align tightly with your business goals. Make sure you have the resources available to actively promote the content.
How much content do I need, and how can I produce it all?
Quality is more important than quantity. If you need to start slowly and ramp up, follow a strategy and address higher priorities first. If you've built your buyer personas, you should be able to envision their buyer journey. First, address any gaps in content that could cause a prospect to drop out, and build up from there.
Many marketers are overworked and under-resourced. If you're interested in working with a dedicated strategic content partner to extend your team's capacity, please connect with us.
How can inbound content be leveraged for the outbound sales process?
Essentially, you'll be leveraging data and personalized insights from inbound leads to improve conversations and tactics for outbound. Sales teams can use content as conversation starters, provide additional value through relevant resources, and nurture leads with targeted content. By utilizing these strategies, you can enhance your outbound sales efforts, establish credibility, and increase the likelihood of engagement and conversions.
Titan ONE supports ABM strategy and outbound through strategy and content — here's how.
Should I manage inbound internally or externally?
This is really a question for you and your organization. There are some important questions you should ask: What abilities do you already have in-house? What gaps have you identified? Do your people have the background and capacity to do all of this properly? If not, is increasing specialized employee headcount an option?
If you go external, can you trust that the vendor you've selected will back up their service promise to ensure you are getting the most benefit? Are they interested in unified strategy or are they focused on selling tactics and services? Who will they have working on your account? Will they take a collaborative approach with your team?
At Titan Content, we act as a strategic partner, working with you to develop and execute an inbound strategy that will deliver results — and we'd love to chat!
How does inbound relate to SEO?
More than ever, content is critical — but in a new way. Things are changing in how SEO ranks content. Search engines are using AI-based algorithms that work to interpret intent regardless of keywords, and to match those inquiries with content that has topic or domain authority.
Content should first aim to be helpful, addressing the buyer stage and persona — that is, your content should speak the customer's language. SEO algorithms will value content more favorably if it addresses the searcher's needs than if it's stuffed with irrelevant keywords. There's no point ranking for the wrong audience.
Balancing SEO goals and best practices while creating valuable content is crucial aspect of inbound content marketing strategy.
Do I need a CRM to manage inbound strategy?
No. Inbound is a way of thinking about marketing that can be beneficial regardless of what platform you have or don't have. It's simply a more intelligent, effective way of aligning your marketing efforts around customer needs and experience.
That said, a CRM can be hugely beneficial to getting the most out of an inbound strategy. One of the biggest advantages is having a centralized place where you can access and administer all your marketing tools, and easily pull reports to show metrics, KPIs and most importantly, ROI. This makes attribution and 'reporting up' a lot easier.
We work with companies to supply inbound content and strategy regardless of platform.
How can I get help with my inbound strategy?
Titan Content works with our clients on integrated inbound and content strategy and execution. We can develop and deploy turn-key go-to-market content packages of various types to allow you to get in market with your updated strategy — increasing brand awareness and widening the funnel to create more opportunities.
This content is platform agnostic, and can also be deployed manually.
How can I get help with implementing or optimizing a CRM?
If you'd like to begin using a new CRM, or are revisiting how well your current CRM is working for you, Titan Digital would be happy to help.
Used properly, a CRM can be a tremendous force multiplier for both sales and marketing teams.
We are a certified HubSpot Agency Solutions Partner and an Adobe Solutions Partner, and are equipped to assist your organization in getting the most from your marketing automation.
At the end of the day, it's not the platform that will determine success — it's the strategy and content that you feed into it. That's our core focus.