Every time you speak with an SEO agency about inbound marketing strategy, you get the same answer. “You need to commit to a year with us to see results.” This simply doesn’t work for fast-growing B2B SaaS Companies. A year is an eternity. How can you go faster and accelerate your inbound marketing?
I’ve been working in Inbound with B2B SaaS companies for the last decade, and this is what I’ve learned. You can go faster, but you need to mix your inbound marketing strategy with other marketing efforts. In fast-growing B2B SaaS Inbound can’t work quick enough in a vacuum.
Guide: Accelerate Your Inbound Marketing
What Makes Inbound Ideal for B2B Companies
Let’s start with the value of inbound marketing first. Inbound generates higher quality leads for less money when it’s done right. Put in marketing terms, your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is lower, and you might even get away with a smaller sales team because inbound marketing and marketing automation can prequalify your leads.
Inbound is particularly well suited to B2B SaaS because it lets you move up the funnel. I’ve your bringing an innovative tool to market, only a small percentage of people will be searching for solutions like you offer. In this case you need to go to the top of the funnel and rank on keywords related to the problem you solve so you can generate demand. With the right inbound marketing strategy, you can generate demand, educate and evangelise in a way that is arguably not possible with paid alone.
Finally, B2B SaaS sales cycle are much longer than others in the space or than B2C. A consumer purchase won’t typically involve multiple people – meanwhile, the B2B sales cycle involves on average, 6-10 decision-makers. The motivation is also different. Even if there’s a practical use for the product, a B2C consumer will also be swayed by how a product makes them feel. Because of this, free trials and low obligations are often very appealing.
Meanwhile, B2B buyers will consider an unsuccessful trial period to be a waste of time, and by extension, money. They will do the majority of their research before contacting a potential supplier and will be less swayed by emotive branding.
Inbound marketing provides a space to explain the innovations behind your product, smoothly. It allows B2B buyers to discover your business organically while doing their own research, and space for you to demonstrate your value. Finally, by positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you’ll attract exactly the kind of traffic you need – that of relevant leads.
Top Tips to Revitalize Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
Unify Your Team Behind Your ‘Why’
Buyers need a consistent message from all customer-facing teams to build their loyalty. Hubspot uses a business model called The Flywheel to best illustrate this.
In the flywheel, strangers become prospects in the journey from marketing to sales – where prospects become customers. Great customer service then turns customers into promoters, sharing their positive experiences with their friends – strangers who can then become prospects. Because inbound marketing hinges so much on building trust, this positive cycle can have a powerful effect on your momentum.
For your business to act as one well-oiled machine, you need to be all singing from the same playbook. Gather your team under a single understanding of why your product is necessary – and base that understanding on how your customers actually use it. A company’s north star may start out based entirely on the founder’s vision but must evolve with time to reflect the customers’ needs.
Understand Your Buyer - And the Competition for Their Attention
On the subject of your customers, great, resonant content will always be written for someone. Writing without your target audience in mind will lead to broad and bland content. If you haven’t already, take time to cultivate your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a detailed, semi-fictional characterization of your ideal customer. Buyer personas are built from research data and some educated guesses.
You’ll be performing a competitor analysis that will almost certainly contain research into what keywords you’ll be competing for. So far, so good. But your direct business competition is not the only keyword competition you need to worry about. It’s well worth researching who else is using your chosen keywords to rank highly. They may not be in the same industry – or even selling a product. But if their website is ranking highly, you will still be competing against them for the attention of your potential leads. Take notes.
Make Sure Your Website Is Performing For You
You can have the most informative and engaging content in the world – and it still might not gain traction. Why? Bad SEO. A poorly built website will hinder your every effort at ranking high. Fixing technical issues is a methodical process and can’t be side-stepped or shortcut. Google has over 200 ranking factors for indexing websites – so building your base with strong SEO is essential. Before pouring all your efforts into your content creation, do a thorough audit of your technical SEO. SEMrush has a straightforward guide here, and when paired with their SEO Audit tool, you’ll be well on your way to a highly indexable website.
Create Content For All Stages of The Buyer's Journey
The buyer’s journey describes the journey of consideration potential buyers take before becoming customers. The steps in the buyer’s journey are:
Awareness → Consideration → Decision
The awareness at the journey’s beginning does not refer to becoming aware of your company – or even some variation of your product! It simply refers to awareness of a problem/opportunity that your product could help with. In the next stage, consideration, the buyer will research and consider their options. In the final stage, they will have chosen a solution and be actively looking for a supplier.
As mentioned above, B2B sales cycles are long and often involve significant research on the buyer’s part. This is where your inbound marketing strategy can shine. You can create content answering questions relevant to every stage of the buyer’s journey. Start appearing in your potential buyer’s searches often, and you’ll build trust and credibility, as well as be able to educate your buyers about your product in a subtle way.
When creating your content plan, be sure to allocate some time to whitepapers and ebooks – having gated content that offers further value is a powerful way to further engage your audience.
How to Accelerate Inbound Marketing
Once you’ve gone through all of the steps above to build and scale your inbound marketing, the next step is to go faster. Most conventional inbound marketing agencies say it takes 9 months to one year for inbound to really start showing an ROI.
This is too long for B2B SaaS. You can’t say to your CEO or your investors, ‘be patient and in a year we will see some ROI’. It won’t work. There are two things you need to do to go faster with your inbound marketing.
Request a Marketing Audit
The Right Marketing Mix
You need the same team working on Paid advertising, events and inbound marketing. Paid marketing should spend a portion of its budget pushing content to drive up the search results. Paid works like steroids for content marketing. It’s great to help drive up results, but you shouldn’t get addicted to paid because it is challenging to scale, and changes in laws or the algorithm can mean the bottom falls our of the ROI.
Tradeshows and events are a great way to raise your profile and a great way to get signups for your newsletter and to push your content. The right events can give your content marketing a shot in the arm and will help you climb Google rankings faster.
Outbound marketing also should play a role in your inbound marketing strategy. The marketing team needs to work closely with the sales team to generate optimized content that the sales team can push out in emails. This means both articles they can share as ice breakers and gated content they can push for conversions.
Finally, inbound marketing needs a backlink strategy to work fast. The easiest way to get backlinks is via public relations or paid article placement. Again, this is why it’s important for the same team to be working on PR, paid advertising, events and inbound marketing.
The Right Team and Partner to Go Faster
Finally, you need all of the marketing activities listed above to be run by the same team. You can’t have one consultant on paid, one on inbound and a team of field marketers running events. At the very least your CMO needs to be the conductor managing this all but ideally you have an outside expert partner working on the inbound, paid and coordinating with the PR and events.
My business partner and I founded Nituno to be that partner. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help.