Inbound marketing benefits B2B companies and B2B buyers in various significant ways. First of all, it’s no secret that B2B sales cycles are long and frustrating. Inbound marketing makes the lengthy sales cycle more tolerable by ironically helping customers faster in terms of communication and support.
Continuously communicating their clear commitment to the buyer’s journey builds a strong foundation of trust between the customer and the business. The sales team also benefits from the relevant and quality content produced by the marketing team, which keeps the business functioning internally. Furthermore, a business using inbound for B2B can save resources while benefitting from good traffic and quality lead generation.
Outbound marketing is when the business goes out to the potential customers without having a target audience and is largely built on relationships. Outbound marketing is a traditional method that, in this day and age, has become increasingly difficult, thanks to the rise of screening tools, opt-outs, and fewer in-person interactions.
Examples of outbound marketing tactics would be cold calling and putting up billboards. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is when the business lets potential customers from their target audience come to them.
They achieve this by making information more accessible, presenting it respectfully and quickly, and allowing potential buyers to do their own research. Inbound marketing is a modern solution and has proven itself to be more effective because it is compatible with technological evolution. It thrives on digital marketing tactics and benefits both B2B and B2C marketing campaigns.
The Sales Funnel Model
The sales funnel model is a visual model that a business’s sales team uses to understand the sales process in marketing. The model breaks down every stage of the buyer’s journey. Some businesses might phrase or label their sales funnel differently, but here is a common structure that is used to show the stages. From top to bottom, the stages are:
- Awareness: The customer has found out about the business in question and the type of services they provide. The marketing efforts have paid off and gotten their attention.
- Discovery: The customer has found a product that looks intriguing. They have become a lead.
- Evaluation: The customer has weighed the pros and cons of purchasing the product. They have done their research and become a marketing-qualified leads. They have pondered whether they can afford the product or not.
- Intent: The customer has made the decision to purchase the product. They are now what’s referred to as a sales-qualified lead.
- Purchase: The customer has purchased the product of their choice.
- Loyalty: If satisfied, the customer knows that the business that sold them the product is competent and plans to buy from them again. They have probably written a review or fill out a survey to communicate their feelings about the product.
The Flywheel Model
The flywheel model is a visual marketing model introduced by HubSpot that represents lead generation. It is similar to the sales funnel but shaped like a wheel instead of a funnel, with slightly different visualized principles. The two models follow similar steps. The flywheel features three main principles that have a significant role in the inbound marketing methodology; attract, engage, and delight.
- Attract: You must promote your brand enough to attract prospective customers. This is similar to the awareness category on the sales funnel model.
- Engage: At this point in the sales funnel, the customer is considering, evaluating, and forming a decision about the product. Engage them with any type of content tailored to their specific needs.
- Delight: By now, the customer has decided and purchased the product. They are a sales-qualified lead. After they have been delighted by the product and/or service, they have become a promoter.
To summarize, as each stage of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to loyalty, is completed, the relationship between the person and the business progresses from stranger to lead to customer to promotor, which leads to more strangers becoming leads, customers, and eventually promoters. As the cycle continues and the flywheel keeps circulating, the flow of revenue for the business is maintained.
There are numerous types of inbound marketing that can be used as part of your inbound marketing strategy. These inbound marketing examples are different types of content creation that can build brand awareness when utilized efficiently in a marketing plan.
- Websites and Blogs: Company websites and blogs have become commonplace to the point of having their own art and science. The business requires qualified web designers who can set up and improve the website. If the website includes a blog, then the business needs people who can write clear, detailed, and helpful blog posts to answer as many customer questions as possible. It is possible that a customer will want to reach out to you, so be sure to include the appropriate parties’ contact information to allow this to happen.
- Social Media: Social media is fast. You can use it to spread relevant content, post by post, in a way that is digestible and convenient for customers who have connected to you on their platform of choice.
- If you have paid someone to be an influencer for your business, then the spread of your word is enhanced even further. Social media is not only a great source of content marketing, though. It can be used for quick and easy messaging with customers who have further questions because they are interested in buying your products. You can use social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, and TikTok.
- Infographics: Infographics can be found on countless websites for all different businesses. They can be very helpful for someone who is a visual learner and is trying to understand what the business does and how it can benefit them. Infographics are often instructional in case the customer needs to do anything specific to help the company do what they need to do to assist the customer.
- Video Content: Videos are appealing because they tend to deliver valuable content with clarity and depth. These can include high-quality informational videos on YouTube, the business website, and social media livestreams.
- Testimonials: These are written or video accounts of what real customers have experienced when they have associated with a business. Testimonials provide valuable feedback for the marketing department and can be used to promote the business. They are often found on the website.
- Email marketing: Email marketing is both popular … and often taken with a grain of salt. Some emails are spam, some are legitimate, so make sure that your potential customers can tell the difference. Email marketing is a common and effective outlet for marketing automation, in which actions across digital marketing channels are automatically completed. The subscribers on your list will automatically and regularly receive important emails.
- White papers: White papers are special reports that educate the target audience about specific problems they face in daily life and explain how business works to solve them. White papers are time-consuming and serious but are also in-depth and promotional and can increase lead generation when it is clear to the customer that the business is both legitimate and dedicated.
- Podcasts: Podcasts can be a good option for people who enjoy listening to voices more than reading emails. Having podcasts available allows potential customers to take in the information about your business’s services at their own pace.
- Webinars: This form of communication is unique because they can deliver important and beneficial information while being interactive, immersive, and cost-effective. Webinars increase lead generation and conversion rates.
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- Buyer Personas: Creating buyer personas can help you with finding and marketing to your ideal customers. When creating these personas, include age, location, occupation, interests, and demographics.
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to ensuring that you can be found on the internet. Ensure your keyword research is thorough and your website title is unique. When you complete these actions, your website should be one of the first that appears when someone googles the keywords.
- Case studies: Case studies are a great way to share proof points that you and your marketing team can use to drive additional business. Case studies can include data on your target audience, the marketing industry in general, competing businesses, and customer satisfaction. You can use this social proof to gain more qualified leads and produce more great content.
- Landing pages: A landing page is a webpage that is reached by clicking on an email, ad, or link. On a landing page, you will find a Call to Action (CTA), which is the page's main purpose – a landing page encourages visitors to take an action. For example, if a potential customer shows interest in signing up for a mailing list, they can use the landing page to complete that action. From there, they can receive more emails and eventually buy from the business if they want to.
- PPC: Pay Per Click, or PPC, is another clever tactic that helps you strategically pay to put your message in front of customers instead of relying only on organic website traffic. PPC is a digital advertising model in which an ad publisher gets paid a fee every time one of their ads gets clicked by someone on the internet. If SEO and PPC have been used, a website could be the first to appear when a certain keyword is searched, which also accelerates lead generation.
- CTA: A Call to Action (CTA) is a written directive that marketers use to guide users to a specific place. Examples of CTAs include social media ads, hyperlinks, and buttons that say Buy Now, Subscribe Shop Here, or Download. These can be found on landing pages. CTAs give customers the chance to go ahead and buy products or access more information that can help them during other stages of the buyer’s journey.
- KPIs: Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are also commonplace in the digital marketing world. These metrics are used to measure the success of your marketing efforts. Examples of KPIs include revenue, marketing qualified leads (MLQs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), customer retention, conversion rate, return on investment (ROI), and organic traffic.
Not having clearly defined marketing goals.
Without fully formed business goals, your marketing team will be disorganized, and you will not get anything done. You will have no idea who to reach out to or how to do so and will not know how to allocate your time or budget. This can harm your revenue stream, and your business will struggle to remain afloat.
Solution: SMART goals. These are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals. This is a common, simple, and effective tool you can use to keep setting goals that you will remember and work to achieve. Having SMART goals can help you with many things, from balancing workflows to adapting your content strategy. They will motivate you and increase your confidence in your marketing efforts.
Not running enough tests.
Data is everything, and so is analyzing that data on a regular basis. If you don‘t test your website‘s performance, you will know nothing about the design flaws. Any piece of content that fails to satisfy your target audience and bring more B2B buyers is a liability. Once the general swath of website visitors notice your failure to address the shortcomings that negatively affect their online experience, your website traffic, and lead generation will deteriorate.
Solution: Using online analytics tools to track website traffic and other important metrics will help you achieve this more easily. Google Analytics, Hotjar.com, SEMrush, HubSpot, and other services can do this for you sufficiently and quickly. The data you collect and analyze with these tools will help you evaluate what you currently have on the website and then produce more quality content.
Not having a target audience.
Your lead generation will suffer if you aimlessly produce work with nobody to tailor it to. This is especially true if your line of work is supposed to be inbound marketing. If you are spinning out non-specific content devoid of further details, even digitally, your methodology mirrors the outdated methodology of outbound marketing instead of the modernity of inbound marketing.
Solution: This is the reason why you need to create buyer personas. The personas will help you find your target audience, get to know them, and figure out how to tailor your business to them. You will know how to personalize the emails you send, you will know what appealing quality content to put on your website, your lead generation will increase, and your relevance in the community will improve. The business will also thrive financially.
Spamming people’s inboxes will not pull them in – but rather push them away. People find spam annoying and tend not to trust it, especially if they have been hacked in the past. Protect your reputation with customers by refraining from creating spam.
Solution: The alternative to creating spam, use regular, polite email marketing. It will feel like you are still spamming in the beginning, but the difference here is that you actually have a list of subscribers you can send these relevant and helpful emails.
Ignoring customers’ pain points.
Pain points are any of the problems faced throughout any stage of the buyer’s journey. In B2B, common pain points for the customer include feeling unsupported or uninformed, not getting their money’s worth from the product, or finding the buying process overly complicated.
Solution: Listen carefully to what a customer has to say. Their words are authentic, and they matter. Validate their concerns about navigating the marketplace and make sure to address and solve the issues they’ve been experiencing. Make sure to keep communication between your business and the customers clear and constant. Thoroughly inspect and redesign your products to guarantee longevity and satisfaction. Make every stage of the buyer’s journey as simple and efficient as possible.
Does your content offer the value customers need?
The most important takeaway from this article is the importance of taking what you have learned and applying it. There are many different marketing structures, types, and strategies that often overlap with one another, and they are all worth knowing so you can be prepared for anything your business experiences.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what defines an inbound marketing structure, why it’s effective, and how it’s compatible with B2B, you now know how to use various inbound marketing strategies across multiple marketing channels and how to keep your momentum going during customer interactions and sales. For marketing teams that require additional bandwidth, fractional marketing support can help you achieve your inbound marketing goals. Most importantly, you know how to stay relevant, and no matter the business, product, or platform, relevance is what a customer needs to see from you first.