The way people buy from B2B businesses has changed. They do more online research than ever before they shortlist suppliers. Google believes potential customers are nearly 70% through their buying decision before they pick-up the phone to a salesperson. A new approach is required from B2B marketing and sales professionals.
What is inbound marketing?
A magnet is probably the best analogy to describe inbound marketing. It focuses on attracting prospects to your business. This contrasts with the traditional sales and marketing approach which is about finding and targeting prospects with techniques such as cold calling, broad-brush advertising or direct mail.
Businesses that use inbound marketing create content useful to prospects who will turn to them for more information. Instead of outbound techniques, they will make it really really easy for prospects to find them online whether via the website or social media.
How does inbound marketing work?
There are three key components of inbound.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
By getting SEO right, you make sure that your business appears at the top of the rankings for the topics and questions that your prospects are most likely to be asking. The SEO process for B2B businesses identifies the high volume, low competition keywords and makes sure that the onsite content reflects this. It also requires some work on the linking architecture and speed of the site to improve performance.
Social media allows you to connect with your customers and prospects in a more human way. By making yourself available to answer questions, contribute to discussions and share useful content on social media you build credibility and reach for your business.
Valuable content is the heart and soul of any inbound marketing campaign.
This could take the form of anything from blogs, videos, whitepapers, ebooks and social content such as LinkedIn posts. The content needs to perform different roles. Sometimes it’s about awareness, other lead generation and, in the latter case, often involves gated content that requires prospects to hand over their contact details.
The benefits of inbound marketing
In comparison to traditional advertising it has the following benefits:
Better quality leads
Inbound marketing is very precise because it targets better qualified prospects with highly relevant content. By reading the content, they are raising their hand to show an interest in the subject.
Better long term return on investment (ROI)
When you switch off your PPC campaign, your traffic stops. When your sales team stop calling, the leads stop. But with inbound, your online content is always on, attracting new prospects. Good quality content can be accessed day and night by your prospects and will exist on the internet for a very long time at no extra cost to you.
Technology allows you to do more for less
When you combine marketing automation technology you can scale-up your marketing efforts considerably. It offers many efficiencies. Email responses can be automated, based on triggers. It can be integrated seamlessly with your customer relationship management (CRM) systems and allow you to have a single customer view. It provides data such as lead scoring to help you identify prospects most likely to become customers.