How can inbound marketing help generate B2B customer leads?

The internet continues to change how we do most things in our life today. With information just a click away, the B2B buyer-seller relationship has also changed, turning it completely upside down as the balance of power has shifted.

Read our list of 7x Inbound Marketing tactics to help you generate B2B leads.

In today’s market, 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally and B2B buyers actively seek out ways to educate and self-research before they make any commitments.

As a result of all the changes to the B2B buyers journey, buyers are as much as 60% of the way along their decision making process, with the added complications of more stakeholders, more cost control, increased pressure on the ROI, etc. before they even talk to you.

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Digital empowerment has changed the way buyers consume content, they are in control, tuning out traditional marketing and sales tactics that they consider impersonal and disruptive. 

What is inbound marketing?

If marketing has one clear goal, it is to reach a target audience at that key moment in their buying journey when there is an opportunity to influence and impact a “share-of-mind”. 

So, if you could have an open conversation with your B2B buyers, that would help you find out what their needs are, the challenges they face and how they are searching for advice – would n’t you jump at the opportunity to have that kind of dialogue?

By starting conversations with buyers and listening to the way that they want to interact, their preferences and concerns; you could go a long way to gaining their trust and loyalty. 

Inbound marketing makes this a reality. As a strategy it enables your business to build trust and engage in conversation with your buyers and prospects in advance of prematurely talking about closing a sale.

So Do I Need To Be Big To Benefit From Inbound marketing?

For a smaller business or may be a start-up, inbound marketing can help you create content, optimise it for search engines and share it across social media. Then enable you to engage your prospects with landing pages, calls-to-action, personalised emails and smart website content.

Inbound attracts an audience, the timely and relevant sharing of content is part of an ongoing conversation where you are nurturing your prospects toward a sale. This is a conversation that takes place with the permission of your audience, where you are engaging with them on their terms.

Traditionally outbound marketing has been the typical approach for many years to generate sales leads, with businesses pushing out communications as advertising noise, which today is easy to filter out.

Comparing Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing Behaviour

Outbound marketing does have benefits, for larger companies that can afford bigger budgets to invest in a wider range of marketing tactics. Outbound organisations tend to focus more on sales enablement and less on leads and organic traffic growth.

But changes in B2B buyer behaviour are pressing sales and marketing to adopt a strategy that taps into a buyers’ needs and preferences, a buyer-centric approach rather than an “company-centric”one.

The inbound methodology in principle aims to grow visitor traffic organically by using educational and informative content to engage your visitors. This audience may have already shown an interest in what you have to offer – by visiting your website, downloaded some content or opened an email you have sent that they opted in for. 

The inbound strategy is more of a “pull”, as opposed to the outbound marketing’s “push” tactics.

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What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing involves spreading your marketing message to as large an audience as possible, without considering their preferences or needs. 

By pushing out a “one way” communication, it tends not to give scope to deliver a targeted message that caters to the needs of the buyer. Are they just starting to look, do they even know that they have the symptoms of a problem or are they already far along the sales cycle and you are adding no value to the conversation?

There can sometimes be a mis-match between how sellers believe they should communicate and the preferences a buyer may have for the type and format of content they want to receive and when. 

Typically sellers rely on outbound tactics to get their sales messages across, whereas buyers have shifted to using online methods for self-research to inform and educate themselves.

When you compare some typical outbound tactics of a seller versus a buyer’s communication preferences there is a possible risk of a mis-match.  

The costs associated with outbound marketing are often out of reach for smaller businesses. One advantage of inbound marketing is that it opens up the chance for an affordable two-way communication, listening and engaging with the buyer, thinking of ways to help rather than sell.

From attracting visitors to closing sales, a comprehensive inbound marketing program brings your marketing and sales activities together.

You can integrate your activities across lifecycle marketing by on-boarding new customers, responding to those that need some inspiration or are near the end of a contract period, through:

  • Blogging
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Social Media / Social selling
  • Website
  • Lead Management
  • Lead scoring
  • Landing Pages & Forms
  • Calls-to-Action
  • Marketing Automation & Workflows
  • Email personalisation
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Analytics & Reporting
7x Inbound Marketing tactics for B2B Businesses

The Internet and access to cheaper technology have levelled the playing field in today’s competitive market place for smaller businesses. 

Now is a great time to take advantage of low-cost, high-impact inbound marketing strategies to fuel growth. 

Decision makers now need to be approached in a different way, to get them on your side, for you to build a level of trust and become an influencer rather than a follower.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your business isn’t big enough to benefit from inbound marketing. Whether you want to increase your leads, accelerate sales, or simplify your sales and marketing processes inbound can support you.

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So if you are just starting out, getting ready to grow or re-evaluating your growth strategy as a small business or a start-up, inbound marketing can help you in a number of ways:

1. Consolidate & Save On Sales And Marketing Costs

Generate sustainable traffic from search, and convert these visitors into leads through your inbound efforts. 

Inbound is one of the most cost effective ways to get your message across by saving time and money through consolidating your activities all in one place.

For example writing a blog post on your favourite subject and then sharing that content on LinkedIn and starting a customer conversation, costs only the time it takes to write down your thoughts and distribute your content.

  • Reduce the cost of your customer acquisition by managing your time and budget through more effective customer targeting with your buyer personas profile (ideal customer).
  • Increase the relevancy of your offering and grow conversion by focusing only on the specific needs of your buyers.
  • Maintain and build a sales and marketing momentum rather than a ”stop and go” approach often used in traditional marketing activities for example with paid search advertising.
  • Improve your targeting by learning where your customers are when they are searching for relevant content.
  • When you provide advice rather than sell, you are building a strong bond of trust and authority with your audience and shortening the sales cycle.

For a small business, inbound marketing can be the best way to organically build a vested audience.

2. Build A Lead Generation Program

Inbound sales and marketing is a methodology that addresses all the stages in the buying journey, to aid lead generation, qualification, nurturing and closing.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting, engaging and converting visitors into leads – those who have shown interest in your business. Lead nurturing tactics help your business to advance leads through their buying journey.

In today’s difficult marketplace, lead generation for a small business is an effective strategy to create demand and extend the reach of your marketing messages.

  • Through a lead generation program you can collect information and contacts.
  • Inbound can help you generate qualified visitors and leads to your website and at the same time increase brand awareness by distributing your content.
  • By providing advice it adds value and will promote longer-term growth through your relationship building activities.
  • Using a buyer persona will help to create a qualified lead management process and identify the different stages in your sales funnel that can may be adapted over time.
  • Identify and track which loyalty drivers work best for each target audience as you analyse what visitors do after each interaction.
  • Detail your customer’s journey to see where you can improve satisfaction and build loyalty across different touch points.
  • Use the contact data base to identify which leads you should be following up through lead scoring, and which ones to leave for now.
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3. Social Selling Through Your Networks

Inbound will amplify your content through relevant social networks and contacts. With so many buyers now preferring to trust third party sources of information rather than corporate ones – it helps to have an engaged network to endorse and share your content.

  • Social selling can be about engaging with decision makers via online conversations or it could be you making a contribution to a group where you are a subject matter expert.
  • Social occasions provide the opportunity to educate rather than sell.
  • If you want to start your journey into social selling an important first step is to decide which social media platform you want to focus on which can be found through your buyer persona research.
  • Inbound can help channel your content through your social network and provides an opportunity to interact where your ideal buyers spend their time.
  • Using social monitoring can track potential customers, contacts and competitors across your social networks.
  • Social publishing allows you to build a brand personality.
4. The Art Of Content Marketing

It is true that content is the fuel for inbound marketing. However, it is not about how much fuel you need, but rather, what is the right type that can power your business to the top at the expense of your competitors.

To grow awareness and attract visitors takes time and effort, you need to consistently publish content that your readers enjoy. 

Content marketing is the top of the conversion funnel when it comes to inbound strategies. Whether you are writing blogs, creating infographics or uploading e-books, your content should provide unique value to its audience to attract them into the funnel.

  • For your sales and marketing to be successful it relies in a big way on content creation. 
  • Potential customers need validation that you are trustworthy, knowledgeable and an industry authority, a validation supported by the quality of your content. 
  • In a world where “content marketing rules”, buyers are more likely to trust other sources of information than your own.
  • Engaging your audience in a meaningful dialogue through content marketing means opportunities to improve your organic search ranking.
  • Content distribution can be considered as a way to extend the reach of your content making sure the content you create gets found, read and shared.
  • A “rule of thumb” is to spend 50% of your efforts on creating the content and the other 50% on making sure it gets distributed.

Customers want to interact differently, so you cannot reach out to them all in the same way – having a buyer persona allows you to focus your efforts on the best prospects and not a “one size fits all” approach.

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5. Digital PR & Inbound

Buyers are more selective than ever before and don’t need to hear from a brand directly to form an opinion. Reputations are created and shaped independently and can often be made outside the control of your team.

Digital public relations helps improve the visibility of your brand online through brand mentions, contributions and thought leadership. The benefits of digital PR don’t happen over night, so when building a PR strategy, it is important to focus efforts on those sources that have authority and a reputation for distributing valuable content. 

  • Positive PR can help generate inbound links to your website.
  • Help establish your brand as a trusted expert with authority.
  • Being perceived as trustworthy will make visitors feel more comfortable working with your business.
  • Digital PR opens up your brand to audiences you may not have otherwise had access to.
  • Increases your brand’s reach and delivers qualified traffic to your website.
6. Email Marketing & Marketing Automation

In terms of immediacy, email marketing is one of the most effective channels to generate traffic and sales and is at the core of a inbound marketing program.

Building personalised emails that move prospects along the sales funnel as they build trust in your actions and content offers many benefits:

  • Satisfy a growing customer demand for more personalised and relevant content.
  • Use your marketing automation tool as a data source to develop targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Use workflows and custom lead scoring to drive the impact of your marketing automation campaigns.
  • Marketing automation helps work on lead management from acquisition and engagement to retention and conversion.
  • Compared to other digital marketing tactics, email marketing is relatively low cost, yet still allows you to reach a large targeted audience.
  • More personalised content is shown to be more effective at generating engagement and sales.
  • Email audiences are naturally more likely to be willing to engage with your content because they’ve already opted in to receive it.
7. Conversion Rate Optimisation / SEO / Keywords

Conversion rate optimisation is the process of testing and implementing changes to your website to improve the rate at which site visitors take a desired action. Testing and improving your website’s performance is an essential task — one that should be supported by an inbound plan. 

  • An improved SEO performance can improve organic search ranking.
  • Incorporating your Keyword research through-out all of your inbound activities will improve search ranking.
  • When approached strategically, conversion rate optimization can unearth findings that can be applied throughout your business. 
  • Conversion rate optimisation, when done successfully, increases the rate at which users become customers or leads.
  • Customers typically begin their buying process online so optimised pages, links and keyword research will help conversion.
  • Understanding the types or intentions of search results that you are receiving will help your search strategy.
Take Away

For any size of business, typically marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel as quickly as possible – but resist buying leads as opposed to generating them organically.

Any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know who you are and they could end up flagging your messages as spam. 

If you want to learn more about combining content marketing and how to create your own sales funnel to generate leads, send us an email and get a free consultation.

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