When customers find success, and share that success with others, it attracts new prospects to your organization, creating a self-sustaining loop. This is how your organization builds momentum and develops lasting relationships.
That also happens to be the basic definition of inbound marketing, as you are attracting qualified leads by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. When you are solving challenges for your target audience and providing information they are searching for, you are engaging in inbound marketing.
How to Develop an Inbound Marketing Strategy for B2B Companies
One of the reasons inbound marketing works is that the internet has evolved to become a conversation superhighway. People desire interactive communication when online, and a more personalized relationship with the companies they partner with.
This all plays quite nicely into developing an inbound marketing strategy. Below, we outline 6 steps for doing exactly that.
1. Define Buyer Personas
Defining your buyer personas forms the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy. It’s imperative you understand exactly who your audience is and what motivates them.
The buyer personas you create are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. For instance, within your target market are numerous types of buyers. If you manufacture a product that is useful in a variety of industries, but is most often used by people with the title Lead Engineer, it doesn’t make sense to have a buyer persona for each engineer in each industry, because they have the same goals and pain points. Instead, you can write one buyer persona, and then use that buyer persona as a guide when you write industry-specific content later on. Taking the time to define and understand the characteristics of your buyer personas helps you focus your content creation on specific topics that will attract these ideal customers.
2. Identify the Marketing Triggers
Now that you’ve identified your ideal customers, it’s time to determine the pain points that are ‘triggering’ them to take action.
This strategy relies on you being proactive in learning about your target audience and their daily challenges. Rather than arbitrarily pushing out messages to mass audiences, you are targeting your efforts to companies that you can partner with to help their business succeed.
These trigger marketing messages are direct, relevant, and often engage their recipient at the right time and place.
There are a number of events that your clients experience that provide openings for sales opportunities. These are known as trigger events. A great example of this is when an existing contact or customer takes on a new role in their company, or moves to a new business. This presents an excellent opportunity to reach out and see if they’d be interested in taking your product/service with them. If you offered them added value in their previous role, it’s likely that they’d be interested in implementing this value in their new one.
3. Perform SEO Analysis
It is estimated that there are roughly 3.5 billion Google searches conducted per day, which equates to 1.2 trillion searches per year. The one goal all those search terms have in common is landing on the first page of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Eye-popping numbers like these clearly illustrate why SEO is so vital to your inbound marketing strategy. The insights from an SEO analysis will provide direction on how to deliver a better experience for your audience.
There are three main areas to focus on during your SEO analysis:
- Performing Keyword Research helps you identify which words and phrases your website should target so search engines know what your business is about and what you sell. Using the right keywords in your content helps you rank higher in search engine results, driving traffic (and new leads) to your website. An important tip as you do your keyword research – consider the buyer’s intent behind particular phrases and whether your content matches it.
- A Competitor Analysis gives you the opportunity to understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in relation to yours. This will help refine your SEO strategy based on what is happening within your market. Understanding how your existing and potential customers rate your competition can give you insights into exactly what your advantages are and how best to use them strategically. This insight may also help you develop strategies for expanding into new markets.
- Performing a Content Analysis should be at the heart of your SEO efforts, as it is key to successful optimization efforts. You must ensure that your content is not only relevant and builds trust in the minds of your audience but it must also be optimized. By performing a comprehensive content analysis, you ensure that you fill any SEO gaps and your content is easily found through search engines.
4. Set Specific Goals
Your inbound marketing goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. To ensure you are setting the right goals, you must first set a benchmark for comparison. To do this, ask yourself questions like the following:
- What is your website’s current traffic?
- Where did this traffic come from?
- How many inbound leads are you attracting per month?
- How many of those leads have converted to sales?
Knowing how your current inbound tactics are helping you convert leads will give you the necessary benchmark to set realistic and relevant goals.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of your progress will help you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If you’re not achieving your objectives, make adjustments and fine tune your strategy.
5. Outline Your Digital Content Strategy
Digital content is king when it comes to your inbound strategy, especially when looking to attract leads organically. You must tell your story in a way that engages your audience, without being intrusive.
There are several steps you’ll need to take when creating a digital content strategy:
- Determine the purpose of your content.
- Know your audience and their buyer’s journey.
- Identify topics you want to be known for and build authority around them.
- Identify contextual terms you intend to rank for on search engines.
- Create a feedback loop.
- Optimize and expand your content based on that feedback.
By using a variety of thought leadership content, such as blog posts, videos, and downloadable resources, your digital content will educate and inform potential buyers.
6. Define A Lead Nurturing Process
Only a small percentage of your inbound leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase. Thus, the importance of employing an effective lead nurturing strategy to build brand engagement with your remaining leads.
While many marketers focus on email to nurture qualified leads, an effective inbound strategy does not live by email alone. Experienced marketers are now executing multi-channel lead nurturing strategies.
Effective multi-channel lead nurturing most commonly involves a combination of:
- Marketing automation
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Paid retargeting
- Direct sales outreach
B2B companies should deploy these marketing strategies across the marketing and sales process. When you thoughtfully integrate multi-channel lead nurturing, it creates a fertile ground for healthy, long-term relationships with your customers.