Inbound marketing for B2B

by Niclas Bergenblad - 19/04/2018 - 19:45

Friday the 13th, Navigator was in charge of the World’s Best Morning at Media Evolution and the focus area was inbound marketing – how to turn your suspects into ambassadors. A lot of interesting questions were put by people in the audience, one of them being, “As a start-up with limited resources, how can we afford to invest in inbound marketing? And can we afford not to invest in inbound marketing?”. We would argue that you should do the best you can with the limited resources you have. If nothing else, at least to learn by doing. So that you are up and running when your business is.

If you did not attend the World’s Best Morning or if you did but want to learn more about inbound marketing. Here is some further thoughts.

Time for change

It's about time we evaluate and revalue traditional communication activities and strategies for B2B. The digital evolution creates new behaviour within all industries. The latest statistics from CEB and Google shows that 89 percent of all buyers are starting their buying process on the Internet. There are more people involved in the decision-making than ever before, and it takes an average of 12 interactions before the potential customer will meet a salesperson from a future supplier.  If you wish to be the last one standing, you better profound your knowledge in inbound marketing for B2B and discover all its advantages.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is all about driving traffic to your website by creating attractive and relevant content for your potential customers. You need to deserve the attention organically, without interrupting anyone. Outbound marketing works the opposite way. The sender pushes out messages regardless of the relevance for the recipient, consequently leading to annoyance. Just like traditional B2B communication, inbound marketing requires a long-term perspective and consequent work with brand-building and sales-driving activities to create confidence in your brand. By finding the perfect balance between rational and emotional arguments, you will gradually convince the potential customer that your product or service is the best. And that is why inbound marketing is a good marketing model for B2B.

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Inbound marketing is often described as the new, modern way to communicate, whereas outbound is closely related to traditional communication. Statistics show that inbound marketing receives 90 percent of the clicks online, making it a very cost-effective way of obtaining new customers. However, inbound may need a bit more creativity and personal efforts than outbound, whose success is depending on a high budget level and repetition. Because of the quantitative factors, outbound marketing effects will end the day you decide to stop investing in it, whereas inbound marketing will keep alive from the accumulated effects of being relevant and interesting for your target group. SEO/PPC, blogging, content marketing, newsletters with opt-in lists, PR, word of mouth, community building, own channels and social media are all examples of inbound marketing activities. They last, in comparison to outbound marketing activities such as bought e-mail lists, advertisements in TV, radio and print, popups, banners and passive press releases.

The digital customer journey

Inbound marketing is closely connected to content marketing and also related to activities such as marketing automation, lead generation, and the digital customer journey.  The latter is a way of creating interest for your messages, and thereby drive traffic to your website. Feasibly, the traffic will change from prospects to leads - and finally into customers. The digital customer journey is normally divided into five steps:

  • Attract: Use different marketing channels and strategies like social media posts, blog posts, SEO and PPC campaigns to make sure that your potential customers will find and interact with your content.
  • Capture: Get to know your prospects by encouraging them to leave their e-mail address or other information through forms for newsletters or gated content.
  • Nurture: Now that you know your visitors, keep them warm by using automated flows and e-mail campaigns with complementary information.
  • Convert: It's time for your sales team to make use of the information that you have obtained through the former activities. Customize your pitch after the potential customer's actual needs.
  • Expand: Keep up the tempo to make sure that your new customer will get whatever he or she needs. Recommend and give offers on other relevant services.

Getting started

One of the advantages of inbound marketing is the possibility to measure the results of your investments. All of a sudden you will know what 50 percent of your marketing budget that gives a good effect. And be able to optimise the half that is not performing as well. As a suggestion, start with a minor test project. Here follows a number of steps to follow once you have identified the purpose of the project and the KPIs that you are interested in:

  1. Identify your personas: Who is your target group? Identify your personas' demography, driving forces, challenges, needs, and digital maturity. Create two-three personas for starters.
  2. Define your keywords: The next step is to evaluate the keywords and phrases that your personas use when they search for products and services related to your offer. Define at least 30-50 qualitative phrases per persona. Remember that it's not certain that the phrases with the highest search volumes are the best ones for optimisation.
  3. Match with content: Prioritise your keywords and define what kind of content that is the best match for each phrase. One phrase equals one page or one piece of content. The first phrase might be a blog post, the second a regular page on your website, the third an e-book or a whitepaper.
  4. Map your channels: Determine what channels you will use for inbound marketing. How are they related to one another? How do they drive traffic to your website?
  5. Create an editorial plan: It is time to plan your activities. Make a concrete and precise plan, showing what content will cover what keyword. Describe when and where the content will be published.
  6. Define your MA flows: Create and describe the marketing automation flows for your sign-ups and downloads. What will happen when someone has filled in his or her e-mail address? How will you canvass the person and with what kind of information?
  7. Implement: Make sure your sales and marketing team is in sync, recognising when prospects and leads are ready to be forwarded from marketing to sales. Create a routine for "closed loop reporting", to jointly follow the development and draw conclusions from your work.
  8. Time to launch: Inform all of your co-workers continuously on how the project is proceeding. Inbound marketing is an important learning process that will contribute to the company's digital transformation.

Skills and tools

To become successful in inbound marketing, you will need the right skills and tools. Skills, in form of knowledge in pairing content with persona. Normally, you will need information on different levels with a variety of details to succeed. You will also need tools to measure and automatize your work as much as possible. We suggest a blog, a CRM system connected to a marketing automation system and e-mail platform, as well as a tool monitoring your leads. There are several holistic solutions on the market, like Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua. We also recommend Apsis and its modules Apsis Pro and Apsis Lead. They are all stable solutions with a good fit for inbound marketing for B2B.

Good luck with your inbound marketing efforts and don’t hesitate to give us at Navigator a call if you need any help!