For years there has been an ongoing debate that marketing is more difficult as a B2B organisation than a B2C organisation. Back in the days where outbound marketing was pretty much the only option for marketers, this may have been partially true. But since the introduction of the internet, this has simply turned into an urban myth.
Whereas traditional outbound techniques such as TV ads or billboards required B2B organisations to deliver a sales message directly to the customer whilst maintaining a professional and consistent image, they were fairly limited in terms of creativity. Compare this to inbound marketing techniques, whereby you focus on attracting customers rather than going for the ‘hard sell’, and you have so much more creative freedom. In fact, inbound marketing has given B2B brands the opportunity to tell stories – something that had been fairly limited with a lot of traditional outbound techniques.
But that’s far from the only reason why it’s become such a popular marketing strategy. The results that some brands have achieved are simply incredible. And it’s so much cheaper than outbound marketing too. Did you know that inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads, on average?
As you can probably tell, we’re huge advocates of inbound marketing. But for a good reason. With the right amount of commitment, consistency and well-crafted campaigns, any B2B organisation can use inbound to revolutionise their marketing strategy. Check out these 5 steps to B2B inbound marketing success…
Without a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, it’s going to be near impossible to achieve the results you want. Take the time to consider all aspects of your marketing campaigns, looking at different techniques that could work well for your business. It’s essential that you keep your budget and resource limits in mind whilst in the planning stage – there’s no point spending hours on a killer inbound strategy if you don’t have the resources to implement it.
When in the planning stages you should also take into account the four stages of the inbound marketing methodology – attract, convert, close and delight. Look at each stage individually and figure out which techniques may work best for your brand at each point. From here, you can really dig down into each technique and work out the most appropriate way forward to generate ROI. We’d advise sitting down with a few other people in your team when putting together your strategy – collaboration is by far one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing.
Finally, make sure you set trackable goals. With online outbound tactics such as paid search it tends to be easier to track results as they often have a more direct impact on revenue. But with certain inbound methods this can be more difficult to measure without a comprehensive CMS such as Hubspot. One way to get around this is to set SMART goals and review them on a regular basis.
When starting out with inbound marketing a lot of B2B brands opt to play it safe, sticking to a cautious tone of voice and sharing more generic content around their business and industry. Whilst this can generate results in the long term and help to maintain a consistent brand presence, you shouldn’t expect it to transform your business overnight. And it certainly shouldn’t be your sole form of inbound marketing. If you’re looking to ‘make a splash’ with inbound then you need to be prepared to venture out of your comfort zone. Some of the most memorable marketing campaigns come from controversial topics, such as KFC’s recent ‘FCK’ campaign. As with all campaigns it’s crucial that you remain conscious not to offend people, so again it could be useful to sit down with a few other people in your team and bounce ideas off each other.
One other useful piece of advice is that you shouldn’t be scared to ‘steal’ ideas. Now we’re not saying to rip off another brand’s campaign, because that’s not going to do any good for your reputation. But taking inspiration from a successful brand can do wonders for your business. Just look at the ‘Stories’ craze that has taken over the online world; it started as Snapchat’s USP and it’s now a feature of pretty much every social media platform out there!
Social business strategist, Bryan Kramer, is a strong believer that “there is no B2B or B2C: it’s Human to Human”. Whilst this may not be true in every scenario, human-to-human marketing is undoubtedly becoming more prominent. People prefer to interact with other people rather than a business. It’s simply human nature. Therefore, doing things like sharing behind the scenes snippets, getting your team involved in the company blog and celebrating team birthdays on social media can have a huge impact on building trust and transparency with your followers.
Another technique that works really well in demonstrating the human side of your B2B organisation is positioning someone as the ‘face of your brand’, usually the company CEO. The vast majority of Fortune Global 500 organisations have a face for their brand – take a look at Facebook, Virgin, or even Amazon. The leaders at each of these organisations have spent years establishing themselves as key players in their industry.
Richard Branson in particular has been a prominent blogger for many years and is a strong advocate of content marketing. He’s used blogging, amongst other things, to establish himself as a business ‘thought leader’, and probably one of the most successful business minds in the modern era. As well as posting on his own sites and featuring on guest blogs on global publications, he’s a regular blogger on LinkedIn Pulse – so much so that he’s ranked at number two in their list of ‘INfluencers’.
As effective as inbound marketing is, your results can be magnified on a whole new level through the implementation of a fully-integrated campaign. Using a variety of inbound, outbound, online and offline marketing techniques, you can reach every corner of your target audience. For example, say you’re running an email marketing campaign to launch a new service. You could combine this with an organic Twitter campaign, an Instagram paid advertising campaign and numerous billboard advertisements to maximise results. It’s important to maintain a consistent message and branding across all platforms, otherwise you could turn off and confuse your potential customers.
FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE
Don’t be disheartened if your inbound marketing efforts don’t seem to be paying off at first – this form of marketing tends to be a lot more long-term than outbound marketing. In fact, research from Eloqua suggests that the average cost per lead drops by 80% after five months of consistent inbound marketing.
For most businesses it will take a while to find the right balance between posting content on a regular basis and producing high quality content. But stick at it, regularly test different elements and you’ll find your groove with time. Some of the basic aspects that you could be testing include the length of your blog posts, different topics for your social content, and email sender names. But don’t be scared to test things in more depth too.
One technique that can help you produce high quality content on a regular basis is using video to lead your content strategy. Just one video can be repurposed into countless different content formats: podcasts, blog transcriptions, social media posts or even webinars and events. Your options are literally endless!
With the right strategy and distribution inbound marketing can undoubtedly transform your B2B organisation. It’s a major aspect of any forward-thinking brand’s marketing strategy, and it’s only going to become more important over the coming years.
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