Are you doing enough to reap the benefits that inbound marketing has to offer? With more and more of our time spent online (especially since the pandemic with less opportunity for face-to-face communications), researching, understanding our buying options and making purchasing decisions, inbound marketing has come to the fore and is an important part of the marketing mix for B2B as well as B2C companies.
Learn in this article:
- What is B2B inbound marketing?
- Inbound vs. outbound marketing
- Benefits of B2B inbound marketing techniques
- Key components of a successful strategy
- Implementing a successful strategy
- Successes from B2B inbound marketing techniques
- The impact to lead generation and the conversion funnel
What is B2B inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing can be a cost effective and efficient method of attracting, converting and retaining customers who are spending much of their time online.
However, in recent research we conducted with SAPIO, less than 50% of respondents in the IT, Manufacturing and Engineering companies we surveyed are investing in key areas that underpin a successful B2B inbound marketing strategy which can help deliver leads and increase sales. While some sectors, such as IT, do seem to have a handle on generating leads through their website, there is still room for improvement in this respect for the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Across the board, only around 50% of the companies we surveyed (less in some sectors) are investing in SEO (keywords and technical SEO) to improve search results and updating their website with regular content to improve visibility of their brand with the potential of turning visitors into customers.
A B2B inbound marketing strategy is a must if you want to raise brand awareness, customer loyalty and gain more sales leads. Here we take an in-depth look at how B2B inbound marketing techniques can help you to deliver.
A B2B inbound marketing strategy is based on attracting prospects to your website with content that is relevant and valuable to them. Inbound marketing enables you to find pre-qualified prospects and complements outbound marketing strategies.
If you can attract the right buyers to your website with content, half the battle of finding leads and winning sales is done. Buying teams are researching online before purchasing, so at the initial stages of the buyer journey, inbound marketing is particularly important in helping potential customers find your website, company and product information. In fact, access to the right information, at a time when a prospect actually needs it, can help solidify a purchasing decision. According to TechTarget’s 2022 Media Consumption Report* 82% of B2B buyers can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list solely on the basis of digital content.
B2B inbound marketing versus outbound marketing
Both inbound and outbound marketing are key pieces in the overall marketing strategy, and can be successful on their own or combined.
The key benefit of B2B inbound marketing is that it attracts pre-qualified prospects to your website, whereas with outbound marketing you need to identify and actively segment and target (through paid media or telemarketing in large numbers) in the hope of interrupting enough of your target audience just at the right time so that they take note of your marketing message or promotion.
Inbound marketing builds trust and attracts prospects when they are already in the process of looking for answers to their business problems or actively searching for a solution like yours.
So, if combining both inbound and outbound it makes sense to start with inbound marketing, building a base of prospects, and use paid marketing programmes such as placing advertisements to reach a larger number of targets.
“Push” approach to target audience to gain leads and drive sales.
“Pull” approach. Attracting prospects to your website to increase brand visibility and engage prospects who already have an intent to buy and searching for solutions.
Promote your company and solutions via paid advertising, tradeshows, direct mail, etc.
Educate audience about your company and solutions.
One way communication out to target audience.
Can build a two-way interaction, with social media, different content along the buyer journey and nurturing.
Can be expensive, with cost of advertising, etc.
Benefits of B2B inbound marketing techniques
According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends report, B2B brands find inbound marketing and SEO to be more effective than B2C brands and have seen better ROI than consumer products companies from inbound marketing.
- One of the key benefits of B2B inbound marketing is that with an effective SEO strategy and relevant content you can increase brand awareness and build trust over time.
- Inbound marketing is a cost-effective and efficient way of using your marketing budget compared to other lead-generation activities such as tradeshows and advertising.
- Leads are already “warm” and higher quality as your audience has already expressed interest through their search and this can shorten the sales cycle.
Key components of a B2B inbound marketing strategy
Content, content, content
Inbound marketing relies heavily on producing quality content, which is available on your website and social media channels, that will attract and resonate with your target audience. Content, such as blogs, videos, webinars, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, social media posts and so on, are made available. The types of content used as part of inbound marketing will depend on the specific aims of your marketing, the different buyer personas you are trying to attract and different stages in the buyer journey.
SEO and Social Media signposting your brand and website
In addition to making your content readily available on your website and social media channels, the B2B inbound marketing strategy also includes SEO, using the right keywords, and backlinks to ensure that the content you do have available on your website is easy to find in searches and is high enough up the Google rankings to attract the right prospects when they are on the lookout for information. One way of achieving this is to make sure you have a constant stream of quality blogs with relevant keywords that will attract the right readers. Social media can also be used to build a community of likeminded prospects and promote your content to potential customers who will end up on your website and fill out a form for more information.
First steps in implementing a B2B inbound marketing strategy
- The first step is to determine your marketing goals and what you want to get out of your B2B inbound marketing strategy. B2B inbound marketing techniques can help you to improve online brand visibility and trust, generate more leads, help close sales, support account-based marketing, educate existing customers to become brand advocates, to name a few.
- The next step is to understand the types of prospects that you are aiming to attract. Understanding the buyer personas and different roles within the purchasing team will help to determine the type of content you need.
- B2B inbound marketing is at its strongest when content resonates with the audience you are trying to attract, so issues-based campaigns and content that offer solutions to the questions your prospects are asking or problems they are experiencing, are ideal to promote your products.
- Determine content for each stage of your buyer’s journey – Awareness, Consideration and Decision Stages. For example, thought leadership content, such as industry analysis and reports, is perfect if you are looking to establish your company as an expert in the industry and improve brand awareness and trust. Technical information and white papers on specific features will help the engineering team to determine if the solution is really the right fit.
- Determine your SEO strategy and research the keywords that will resonate with your audience, help your prospects find what they are looking for and ensure that your content stays in the top Google rankings.
- Defining the goals of your B2B inbound marketing strategy will also help establish the key performance indicators and results you are looking for. To understand how well your inbound marketing is working you might look at web statistics, such as number of website sessions, average time on-site, improvements in keyword rankings or look at the number of forms completed, demo requests, newsletter subscriptions, or other calls to action.
- Keep your prospects engaged. Once a prospect has accessed content on your website you can retarget them with tailored advertising. Or, if they have entered their details you can follow up with an email nurturing campaign to help propel your prospects further down the line and warm leads ready for your sales team to handle.
Successes from B2B inbound marketing techniques
As an integrated marketing agency we often get asked to assist with inbound marketing as part of our clients’ overall marketing strategy. Here are a couple of projects where we have used B2B inbound marketing techniques to help our clients improve the number of visitors to their websites and ultimately lead generation.
Driving leads with keyword position improvements
One project we worked on with fabrication specialists, LR Engineering, achieved strong keyword success. As part of their B2B inbound marketing strategy, LRE needed to boost visibility for some competitive terms that highlighted their key manufacturing partner status. This was a crucial area of lead generation for the company, and one that would deliver good sales opportunities if improved.
We worked with LRE to create new technical content, including blogs and web pages to boost their rankings. And the results? LRE saw their keyword position increase from 200+ to the first page of Google for several keywords. Quality traffic is up, and call-to-actions are taking effect! The success is down to focusing on key business initiative terms and creating high quality content with a technically effective website.
Attracting website visitors with technical blogs and content to educate and inform
Fiber optical networking company, Pro Optix, have a well-established website covering the breadth of their product range targeted at a host of different customers – system integrators, telecom and internet operators, metropolitan network carriers, municipalities, universities and private companies.
As part of their B2B inbound marketing strategy, it was important to keep content on the website up-to-date to ensure that it is seen in search engines. We developed a plan to create blogs, defining the priority products and topics to be covered and then determining the most appropriate keywords for each blog to ensure high ranking in searches versus competitive sites. Blogs are released regularly and are targeted at visitors throughout the customer journey. The blogs start with informative overviews and the benefits of different technology areas, through to investigating technology in depth and advice on how to select the right products for complex fiber optical solutions.
Regular content updates ensure that the content is found in searches and the blogs also help in raising the profile of Pro Optix as the go-to brand for fiber optical networking in the Nordics and beyond.
The impact of inbound marketing on B2B lead generation and the conversion funnel
B2B inbound marketing techniques and tips
- Build a plan for inbound marketing campaigns (see the steps above)
- Do your keyword research thoroughly to ensure you get the right terminology for your audience and review it on a regular basis to make sure it is still resonating and getting the results you are looking for.
- Keep quality content regularly updated and relevant, so your page is ranking in Google, you are top of the search and review to ensure that your keywords are relevant. Regular content updates can help build trust and prospects will see your brand as good source of information.
- Blogs are one a good way of keeping your content up to date. According to Hubspot, B2B marketers who use blogs receive 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
- Whilst blogging is a good way to keep your content fresh, be patient, it can take time to see results and improve traffic.
- Gate your content so that you can capture leads. It is a good idea to have a mix of information that is downloaded straight away and ungated to draw people to your site, such as blogs, but gated for more detailed content, such as whitepapers and e-guides.
- Extend the range of your content, it’s not just about written content and blogs, extend with videos and infographics.
- Don’t forget social media as part of your inbound marketing and build a community of followers on Linkedin and promote your latest blogs and educational content.
- Follow up leads with a nurturing programme and remarketing to provide more valuable information to your prospects and help them further down the buying journey.
- A B2B inbound marketing strategy doesn’t stop at “purchase”, with the right content to support your existing customers you can build more trust and advocacy of your products and services.
Inbound marketing is part and parcel of any integrated marketing strategy, sitting alongside outbound marketing to ensure success. The success of a B2B inbound marketing strategy relies on having a clear understanding of your ideal customer, defining their persona, mapping the buyer journey and creating clear messages and high quality content that resonates with your target audience. This should be backed up with by in-depth keyword research that is relevant and engaging, plus regular content updates for high-ranking SEO results.
Start with your inbound strategy now to build your brand, shorten your sales cycle generate more leads! Get in touch with the Motion team to discuss your B2B inbound marketing strategy options.