Inbound marketing – the process of attracting potential customers through providing high-value, relevant content – is uniquely well suited to the Business-To-Business (B2B) industry. This makes B2B inbound marketing one of the best weapons in your business arsenal.
For one, B2B sales cycles are longer than B2C and often involve several decision-makers. This makes buyers less likely to be swayed by quick advertisements. They will be prioritizing credibility, trust, and the potential for a long working relationship – all things demonstrable through inbound.
Secondly, many B2B products are disruptive – introducing a new solution that the industry hasn’t seen before – and need to be marketed differently from products that are variations on an existing theme. Inbound marketing is effective in that it allows you to target consumers who understand they have a problem/opportunity, but not necessarily the solution – and educate them.
Deciding to employ inbound strategies in your marketing is one thing, but how can you actually build a smart, scalable plan for effective B2B inbound marketing?
Simply churning out blogs on your website is unlikely to get the results you want – you need a proactive strategy to succeed. In this five-step guide, we’ll show you how to scale up your marketing efforts effectively.
Step One: Perform a Technical Audit
B2B inbound marketing is fueled by great content. And yet, even posting world-class content, a poorly built website will never thrive. Google uses bots called spiders to literally ‘crawl’ websites continually, clicking links and scanning content, to index your website.
Far from just hinging on keywords, there are over 200 ranking factors Google uses to index. If your website is hard to navigate or contains things like dead links or thin content, you won’t rank very highly.
That’s why this is step one. Before worrying about a content strategy, clear any roadblocks to success, by performing a thorough analysis of your site’s performance and optimization.
SEMrush has an excellent guide to performing a technical SEO audit, to walk you through the intricacies of the auditing process. When paired with their site auditing tool, you’ll have a straightforward itinerary of optimizations for your site. Fix any flagged technical or SEO issues, and then move on to step two.
Step Two: Build a Strong Content Strategy
The first step to creating an effective content strategy is to define your purpose.
All customer-facing teams – marketing, sales, and customer service – must be unified in understanding why your product or service needs to exist. This extends beyond your initial vision of your business to its practical application—understanding why your buyers actually value your product offering is crucial to correctly targeting new leads. Consult with your existing customers and integrate their contributions into your brand positioning.
Next, you need a granular view of who your customers are. This is especially important in B2B inbound marketing, as the market for your product is likely to be relatively small and focused.
Build buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. These will be based on data, research, and some educated guesses. These personas will act as guideposts when you think about your audience and their needs.
Why are these steps important? In B2B inbound marketing, educating your audience is key to building trust and brand awareness. Without a practical understanding of your customers and their needs, your marketing won’t resonate.
Once you’ve defined your purpose and audience, it’s time to craft your content plan.
We’ve previously written an in-depth guide to building a solid content plan, which can be read here. But to summarize in brief: you need to analyze your competitors’ sites to glean inspiration for content. Create topic buckets for potential material. Conduct thorough keyword research to start filling those buckets.
Build your content plan from a combination of your keywords, research, and understanding of your target audience, thanks to your buyer personas.
Step Three: Determine Your Volume - and How You’ll Maintain It
At this point, you’ll have a strong idea of the kind of content you need to be creating. Now it’s time to drill down into specifics: variety and volume.
You should be blogging at a minimum once a week to keep your site ‘alive’ in the eyes of search engines. Ideally, however, your output should be 3-5 posts a week.
Determine a backlink strategy. Hubspot has defined three types of content that reliably get backlinks – citations on other websites that link back to you – original research, controversial but informative opinions, and beginner’s guides – how can you incorporate this information into your strategy?
Consider the variety of content you’ll be creating. You’ll want to work out a schedule that includes a variety of content, including gated content. You should also be considering how you can use posts to enrich your email sequences and social media posts. Can you guest post on other industry blogs to grow awareness?
It’s generally recommended you don’t schedule posts more than 6 months in advance. Otherwise, you’ll risk taking your finger off the pulse and losing sight of what your audience is currently looking for.
If maintaining this level of volume seems unsustainable, now is the time to consider hiring a B2B inbound marketing service to supplement your efforts. B2B inbound marketing is highly effective – when efforts are consistent. With only intermittent commitment, this marketing strategy is far less likely to succeed.
Step Four: Supplement with Paid Advertising to Accelerate Growth
You may need to wait up to 6 months for your B2B inbound marketing to take off – this is normal. Content is a long process. Of course, just because it’s typical doesn’t mean it’s practical. Your business needs a steady flow of leads to fill its sales pipeline. This is where paid advertising can be your friend.
Your content strategy will help reinforce your presence – lending credibility and professionalism to your site, while your ads will target buyers at the decision stage for quick wins. The two strategies – content and paid marketing – can be used in tandem to drive and convert leads far more effectively than either alone.
Step Five: Adjust and Experiment to Stay Agile
Marketing moves fast. Trends come and go. Your buyer personas may change. Which is all to say, there is no such thing as ‘set it and forget it’ SEO, or surefire content, or PPC guaranteed to land before the right eyes. At the end of the day, experimentation and agility are what sets great B2B inbound marketing apart. So keep testing out new ideas and pay attention to customer data.
At Nituno, we couldn’t find a marketing agency that catered specifically to the needs of disruptive B2B companies – so we became one. Our Hubspot and SEMrush certified team creates SEO content plans based on our client’s unique needs – using a combination of inbound, outbound, and paid marketing techniques to drive traffic and turbocharge growth. Need effective B2B inbound marketing? We can help. Book a content strategy meeting today.