As a B2B company, you've probably relied on traditional Marketing strategies for a long time. But now, with more competition and noise in the both the offline and online environments, it's time to use dedicated B2B Marketing strategies - and more specifically, Inbound B2B strategies - for your company to achieve greater success.
Discover everything you need to know about Inbound and B2B.
B2B Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
First, let's start with a simple definition of B2B Marketing:
"B2B marketing targets the needs, interests, and challenges of individuals who are making purchases on behalf of, or for, their organization (rather than for themselves), thus making the organization the customer". - HubSpot
B2B Marketing differs from traditional Marketing because you're not trying to reach the direct consumer. Instead, you're trying to reach the decision-makers in each business account (buying committees, departments, and stakeholders). Because of this, B2B tends to be oriented around the bottom line (ROI), and needs content and information to be clear and straightforward.
In line with these requirements, Inbound Marketing is actually the perfect fit for B2B companies looking to expand or optimize their Marketing strategies.
“Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.” - HubSpot
Inbound revolves around creating value, and doing it in a way that is geared towards and personalized for your target. In this case, the target is B2B.
There is no debating that B2B is the right strategy for companies targeting other companies, but incorporating Inbound Marketing into your B2B Marketing strategy needs to be well-thought-out and designed. Below, discover mbudo's 6 tips for doing Inbound and B2B, hand-in-hand.
6 Ways to Combine Inbound and B2B Marketing Strategies
1. Research Your Target through Buyer Personas
In B2B, researching the businesses you're targeting is extremely important. In Inbound, these are known as Buyer Personas (BP). For BPs, it is important to study the existing data at your disposal. Look internally at which businesses tend to buy your product or service. Ask your sales agents the trends they have witnessed.
Also, ask yourself which businesses would you like to work with and research these accounts. It is often easier to find data on corporations and companies than the consumer sector, given the amount of reports and case studies out there. With internal and external data, you can put together a complete picture of your ideal B2B target using our Buyer Persona template.
Additionally, consider if Account-Based Marketing could be another approach to use in order to achieve the personalization and targeting that business accounts require. Either way, mbudo are experts in Inbound and ABM for B2B and can help you decide which strategy to use.
2. Discover the Buying Process through the Buyer's Journey
The business buying process or buying cycle is something you must understand to know when, where, and how to target businesses looking for your type of product or service. In Inbound, this is called the Buyer's Journey.
This is the journey a buyer or buying committee takes from starting the buying process, all the way up to the sale and after (repeat buys, support, etc.) For a business, they will research their problem or need, the options available on the market, consider the options between all departments and decision-makers, and then the final decision-maker will bring their choice to fruition through the final sale. It is also helpful to understand the needs of your B2B target as a business and the needs of their customers, that way you can provide a solution not only for them, but indirectly for their customers.
Understanding how your target goes through the B2B Buyer's Journey will help you reach them where they're searching, at the exact point they need, with the right content for their current stage of the buying cycle.
3. Inbound B2B Strategy
After you know your target and have mapped out the stages they will go through when buying, it's time to develop your B2B Marketing strategy based on the Inbound methodology.
Your company's vision or mission statement should tie into the strategy. What do you want to achieve? What are your long-term goals? With this vision in mind, you can start developing the framework of your strategy and the actions you can take to achieve specific goals. Remember, use smart goals.
Your Inbound B2B strategy should above all prioritize high-quality lead generation and the sales process. Marketing and Sales alignment comes into play here. A business decision-maker will not waste time with a complex or confusing sales process. Keep in mind the B2B sales process tends to be longer than B2C.
Your brand positioning is important, and this affects your strategy and business. Everything you do should point to the fact that you are a thought leader and expert in your sector. What is your unique value proposition? Be aware of the competition when creating a strategy.
After you have a strategy and framework, individuals actions or tactics can be mapped out that are actionable. Strategy tends to be broad, while your actions will be specific.
4. Assets, Channels, and Campaigns
In order to take action, you need to be aware of what assets you already have, which channels you will use, and how you will carry out campaigns. For Inbound Marketing, content is king. You need to perform a content audit and develop a clear content strategy.
The content audit is an investigation of all the assets you currently have (website, press releases, blog posts, etc.), and the assets that you're lacking. For B2B, it is essential to have:
A nice professional website, geared towards businesses
A business blog or resource center where visitors can learn more about your company, product/services, sector
Social media channels
Landing pages and forms for lead capture
Lead nurturing emails and materials
Solid sales processes (spurred by a combination of automation and sales reps)
You don't have to have all of these assets right away, but a content plan will help you get organized and plan how to create and release these pieces.
For B2B, blogs are great for awareness, but case studies and white papers are even more useful for lead generation. Also, consider webinars as a cost-effective and high-return option for large events and conferences.
Next, your content strategy will tell you how to best utilize your content. The HubSpot Content Strategy is based around Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters, creating relationships and links between pieces of content in order to rank higher on search engines (and thus be more valuable to your audience). Research the topics and keywords you really want to rank for and create pillar pages for them, with supporting content to back up each pillar. This will cause your web pages, blog posts, and other pieces of content to surge in search engines and create more opportunities for your business.
And of course, you need to consider carefully the channels you're using and the campaigns you carry out. Believe it or not, B2B companies need to have a social media presence. Consider: which online platforms do your target accounts use, where are they searching (and what are they searching for); do they favor in-person events or trade publications? For B2B, a good channel to start out on is LinkedIn, where you can easily do campaigns for brand exposure or lead generation.
5. Marketing Objectives through KPIs
There is one more thing to do before you start taking action. In order to know how your strategy, tactics, and campaigns are going, you need to establish Inbound KPIs. While a strategy is generally a long-term indicator of what you want to achieve, KPIs are how you measure shorter-term goals since they demonstrate whether you are on the right path or not.
Some Inbound KPIs that are important for B2B include:
Organic and paid traffic: Discover which pages are attracting traffic naturally and optimize the pages that are struggling.
Conversion rate: Conversion on landing pages, forms, and gated content will tell you which types of content are popular.
MQL > SQL rate: Percentage of leads that go from Marketing qualified leads to Sales qualified leads. This tells you if you're targeting is on point.
Sales velocity and close rate: Some types of leads might close faster or more often than others. Study the trends and focus on the best leads.
Customer acquisition cost and customer lifetime value: Really study whether or not your customers are worth the costs you're putting into them.
ROI: The most important KPI of all, are you growing your ROI through your strategy and actions? If not, it's time to pause and re-consider what you're doing.
6. Measure and Optimize with Analytics
As every businessperson and Marketer knows, analytics are a no-brainer in the digital age we live in. It's easier than ever to count on software and tools to measure our KPIs, goals, investment, and output. However, many companies tend to focus more on strategy and leave analysis on the back-burner. No longer! It's time to reverse course and make sure our strategy is always informed by our results.
In Inbound for B2B, every few months it's important measure our results, make sure they're in line with our KPIs, study the trends, and optimize according to successful results. Maybe what we thought would work when developing our initial strategy, hasn't exactly proved true, but through analysis and optimization (A/B testing, smart content, etc.), we have adjusted course and not missed out on any opportunities.
This is a key facet of Inbound, and something that can take any Marketing Strategy to the next level.
Taking into account these 6 steps, your B2B strategy will benefit greatly. If you're a B2B company and you're interested in using the Inbound methodology, get in contact with mbudo. We offer a wealth of services and specialize in B2B companies and tech-based companies. For more information on our agency, discover the ebook below.
Mary is a professional copywriter with over 10 years of experience in Marketing and Advertising. As an American expat in Madrid, she enjoys the relaxed Spanish culture, hiking, and the latest shows from Netflix and HBO. Mary also loves cats and music (she's the office DJ!)