Inbound Marketing for B2B
Table of Contents
Business to Business, or B2B, is at the forefront of the world economy. Even when it comes to selling products or services directly for the consumers, supply chains cannot be properly established and/or maintained without B2B companies. Companies purchase products and components such as raw materials and capital goods that are used in the manufacturing process. The finished products can only then become available for individuals via B2C transactions.
The rise of the Internet and the Digital era has marked a tectonic shift in the way Business-to-Business companies conduct their transactions. They now use e-commerce as the driving force to achieve increased profit margins, revenues and business growth. The B2B industry has indeed strived to expand and innovate over the past few years in light of technological progress being made available.
The numbers speak for themselves: B2B ecommerce is set to drive an estimated $1.2 trillion in revenue by 2021. 83% of B2B businesses that are not yet online will plan to be within the next two years.
B2B customers nowadays are more tech-savvy than they have ever been: today’s B2B buyer makes an average of 12 searches online before making a purchasing decision. The B2B sales cycle is now every bit as long as the B2C cycle.
Long story short, if you are planning to start a B2B company and plan to succeed, there is no choice but to go digital. Just like in every industry and in every market segment, B2B companies need marketing.
At the heart of successful B2B companies is a tech and customer-experience friendly B2B marketing process. B2B marketing should involve building valuable relationships to guarantee long-lasting customers. B2B organizations are fully aware of that. They have understood that the quintessential factor that drives business growth is a more personalized B2B Marketing plan.
When it comes to achieving those goals, the concept of Inbound Marketing will help reach them in an organic, more efficient manner. By using a comprehensive, buyer-friendly B2B Inbound Marketing strategy, B2B companies are setting themselves up to reap huge rewards.
First, let us examine what Inbound Marketing is, and then what type of tactics can be incorporated to form a successful B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is the method of aligning your business’ B2B Marketing efforts with the buyer’s decision-making process.
The Inbound methodology focuses on pulling people IN to your B2B brand. It enables you to expose your company’s expertise to them, how, when and where they are looking for it. B2B Inbound Marketing enables your business to earn a prospect’s trust instead of pushing said prospect away.
B2B Inbound Marketing buying process
The buyer goes through a process called the “buyer’s journey”. The prospect travels from a position of having a problem, or a pain point, that he seeks to address. Through researching solutions to those pain points, the prospect identifies which B2B companies suit his needs best, before eventually choosing one among them.
In other words, the prospects, through their research, become aware (Awareness stage) of certain companies, consider (consideration stage) their options, before they make a purchasing decision (decision stage).
Through B2B Inbound Marketing, buyers have seized the initiative of the whole purchasing process. They are the ones in control of the flow of information between them and B2B companies, and are in control of all communication and contact.
The Inbound methodology recognizes that change. B2B marketing efforts should be geared towards earning the prospect’s trust at all times.
In terms of implementing B2B marketing solutions, your business must engage them in a conversation about what it is offering, and how it can address their pain points. Basically, your business is going to have to play by their rules.
Playing by their rules means allowing prospects to do their own research online, and not interrupt them using Outbound tactics, such as cold-calling.
B2B Inbound Marketing helps prospects to make good decisions, adds value to their research. More importantly, B2B Inbound Marketing is not a disruptive methodology that attempts to bluntly sell a product to them at every opportunity.
B2B Inbound Marketing Methodology
Through earning the trust of prospects, B2B Inbound Marketing has the ability to turn strangers into buying customers through a 4-stage process. This process is considered to be a B2B Inbound Marketing Funnel that guides the potential buyers through their transformation into paying customers.
Drawing the prospects’ attention to your business is the first key step in the B2B Inbound Marketing methodology.
At this stage, the prospects are looking for information in order to address their problem, or buyer’s dilemma. They are evaluating which B2B company suits best their needs.
Your business must set itself out from the competition by addressing their pain points and purchasing concerns. The methods through which is done will be discussed further down below.
At this stage, the prospects have identified your B2B company and its products as a potential solution to their problems. At this stage, the B2B Inbound Marketing goal is to convert them into qualified leads.
As a whole, the second stage is the process where B2B lead generation takes place.
In simple terms, a lead is an individual or organization that has an interest in what your business is selling. A qualified lead is a lead who has explicitly indicated an interest in what a brand has to offer, and are more likely to become customers than other simple leads.
The goal at this stage is to obtain those prospects’ contact information. In return, your business must ensure that they obtain something of value that will compel them to give away their contact information.
This is the most important stage of the entire B2B Inbound Marketing methodology. This is where your business must push the envelope through nurturing the qualified leads and ultimately convince them that your company is THE solution for their purchasing dilemma.
This stage of the B2B Inbound Marketing process dictates that your business’ sales team must connect with prospects at the right time, and at the right pace, to close the deal.
Simply put, the closing stage is the culmination of the whole B2B Inbound Marketing methodology.
The fourth stage of the B2B Inbound Marketing campaign is perhaps the one that is the most overlooked by both B2B companies and B2B marketing experts. No B2B company, or any organization for that matter, can experience a substantial growth without referrals and sales from pre-existing customers. B2B Inbound Marketing revolves around providing value and a rich customer experience to both leads AND customers.
The goal of delighting customers is both solving their problems and turning them into promoters of your B2B company. Customers can either be the biggest advocates for your brand, or its biggest detractors. The goal at this stage is to further engage with customers and provide them something with value, such as newsletters, birthday discounts etc. All in all, the B2B Inbound Marketing Methodology turns strangers into visitors, visitors into leads, leads into customers, and finally, customers into promoters.
This B2B marketing strategy will be able to yield a bigger ROI than outbound methods. Barring circumstances that extend beyond the scope of B2B Marketing, your business will be able to experience stable growth. A clairvoyant, insightful B2B Marketing Consultant would advise your business to allocate a big share of the marketing budget towards implementing B2B Marketing solutions in general, and B2B Inbound Marketing solutions in particular.
LetsMarket.it is an Inbound Marketing Agency that aims to help your B2B company achieve its goals. We have a team of hardworking, dedicated B2B Marketing consultants that are more than willing to implement a comprehensive B2B Inbound Marketing strategy, which will allow your business to experience exponential growth. A B2B Inbound Marketing approach is a B2B Marketing strategy that will optimize customer experience, and ultimately, your business’ performance.
In the meantime, here are several examples of how several B2B Inbound Marketing solutions can be incorporated as part of your overall B2B Marketing strategy.
B2B Inbound Marketing Solutions
B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy – Buyer Persona Development
Buyer persona analysis is of paramount importance when it comes to adopting a B2B Inbound Marketing methodology.
Whether your B2B company is a fledgling startup that is just starting to gain traction, or an enterprise that is seeking to expand into new markets, an in-depth understanding of who your target audience will be is key.
Once your business has set its goals, it must take the necessary time to analyze and understand the buyer personas by asking the following questions:
In terms of implementing modern-day B2B Marketing Strategies, those questions can be addressed using the following methods. We are going to assume that your business has already built and launched a website online.
Content creation constitutes the nucleus of every successful B2B Inbound Marketing campaign. This is especially true as far as B2B companies are concerned.
The decision-making process in business to business is much more complex in comparison to the B2C industry. The purchase of consumer products does not require as much expertise as industrial, capital goods products.
Whilst consumer products are largely standardized, b2b products often require high levels of expertise and fine-tuning. Since they have to be integrated into other wider systems, they have very specific requirements and need constant examination and maintenance.
Buyers of consumer goods or services are not as interested in the fine prints of what they are buying compared to B2B customers.
As far as B2B Inbound Marketing goes, this is why your business should focus on creating lengthy, targeted content. It can take many forms: blog posts, white papers, templates, videos etc.
These forms serve as the foundation that enables your business to attract potential customers to your website. Content must be produced in a way that answers all of the prospects’ questions and needs in lengthy detail.
Your business is trying to engage with the target audience through providing them with something of value for free. Content Creation also constitutes the first medium through which your business can unveil its story and generate brand awareness. It also allows it to reach a larger audience, and it gains long-term exposure.
Consistent content creation that puts your business’ prospects into the fold will position your B2B company as a leading expert in the industry and market segments it operates under.
Be advised that a consistent content-driven B2B Inbound Marketing plan is a medium-to-long-term one. But it pays back substantially over time.
Social Media Platforms
As far as the buyer persona process is concerned, addressing the question “where do they spend their time online” is best answered through establishing a social media presence.
B2B Inbound Marketing simply cannot work without having social media accounts for your business.
Over 60% of buyers check out new product and service providers on social media, making it a commonly-used source of information.
With the emergence of social networks, expertise-based referrals are increasingly being made on the basis of interactions on said networks.
Simply put, social media act as accelerators for the reach of your business’ reputation, expertise, and content. They enable your business to network and connect with valuable contacts and other businesses. They also allow you to monitor your brand by social listening.
As far as B2B Inbound Marketing is concerned, your business should research which of these platforms other businesses use the most. Businesses usually set up pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and to a lesser degree, Twitter and Instagram.
B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy – SEO
B2B Inbound Marketing in general, and content creation in particular that do not incorporate a solid SEO strategy will not pay dividends. SEO, or Search-Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
SEO makes it easier for Google, Bing or Yahoo to crawl your site and boost your B2B company’s search visibility, helping users and sales prospects learn more about your brand.
B2B Inbound Marketing dictates that you enable your target audience to easily find your website and social media accounts.
Though SEO is a complex and evolving discipline, it ultimately consists of two primary components.
This B2B Inbound Marketing solution uses targeted keyword phrases to communicate the concepts and ideas that matter to your audience. These keywords phrases typically focus on your B2B company’s products, services, and expertise.
The purpose of on-site SEO is to communicate to search engines what your website is about. This allows search engines to produce more relevant results to users.
That way, when audiences search for insight on your area of expertise, they are bound to find your business.
As far as the keywords themselves, specific, long-tail keywords are ideal in terms of driving highly qualified traffic. For example, instead of focusing on a B2B term such as “logistics”, opt for using more descriptive terms such as “logistics management”, or “logistics management case studies”.
Off-site SEO takes the form of links to your business’ website. For example, through outside engagement or guest articles. These efforts have the ability to position your website, and ultimately your business, as a widely recognized authority on your industry.
As more authorities and relevant websites link to your website, search engines will begin to see your business’ website as a more credible one. This results in better SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Page).
B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy – Lead Generation
As previously mentioned, B2B Lead Generation involves collecting a potential customer’s contact information: Name, Email, Company Name, Job title etc.
This type of data will be used to personalize communication and drive sales. After this information is collected, these leads are generally nurtured, and are passed to your business’ sales team once they become qualified leads.
The ultimate objective of B2B Lead Generation is to create a consistent flow of highly qualified prospects that eventually turn into paying customers.
There are several highly-effective strategies that increase the process of B2B lead generation.
Content marketing is an obvious suggestion. High-quality content should be produced and distributed throughout the B2B Inbound Marketing funnel in order to generate qualified leads and transform them into paying customers.
Landing Page tactics
As far as increasing B2B sales is concerned, your website’s landing page constitutes the most transformative point in the buyer’s journey.
Your business can quickly increase B2B lead generations on the landing page, by taking for instance, the following steps:
Facebook Sponsored Stories
In 2016, Facebook rolled out its Sponsored Story feature. It allows your B2B company to generate more like, check-ins, posts and prompt users to take action and give out contact information.
Sponsored stories can optimize your business’ B2B Inbound Marketing campaign in general, and its social media campaign in particular.
B2B Video Marketing
Video content is an essential content format that should be recommended by every B2B Marketing team, every B2B Marketing Consultant, and basically all B2B marketers. The whole enchilada.
62% of B2B Marketers rate video as the most important format they will use for content in 2020, which is far more than email, infographics, blog posts etc.
Video content is indeed most immersive and attention-grabbing than other content formats, since they say and explain more in less time in a user-friendly way.
A B2B Inbound Marketing campaign is simply incomplete without at least a modicum of video content.
Video content can help your B2B brand in different ways, such as:
All in all, B2B Video Marketing is one the most powerful differentiator and lead generating tools at your business’ disposal.
In conclusion, B2B Inbound Marketing is an excellent form of marketing that organically generates more leads, and eventually more paying customers, and paves the way for a higher marketing ROI and a bigger business growth.
A B2B Inbound Marketing campaign done correctly advertises your business in a way that naturally aligns with what your buyers really want.
As an Inbound Marketing Agency, LetsMarket.it focuses on data-driven, powerful b2b strategies that prioritize content creation, B2B lead generation, and sales nurturing that power business growth.
Our B2B Marketing services are at your disposal at all times!