There's no way around it. For a sales team to flourish and a business to be profitable, it needs a steady stream of quality leads.
Qualified business leads are the lifeblood of any organization, and for marketers, generating leads is the No. 1 priority. (Source: Hubspot)
Over the past few years, inbound marketing has become an increasingly popular tactic for companies to generate leads. In fact, the number of companies that use inbound marketing view it as a success:
“68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective, while 52% of outbound marketers do not think their strategy is effective.” (Source: HubSpot)
Why is this?
Unlike traditional outbound lead generation strategies, with an inbound marketing strategy, new customers find YOU, not the other way around. An inbound marketing strategy can help companies increase brand awareness, save money and generate more B2B leads.
Below we’ll dive into inbound marketing to explain how it works, determine whether it’s right for your business, review its benefits and learn how you can use it to generate important B2B leads for your company.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a proven marketing methodology that is especially important in today’s digital age. This type of marketing strategy focuses on the development of quality content that pulls people toward your company and product.
Inbound marketing achieves this by attracting targeted traffic to your website using relevant content aimed at your buyer personas, or fictionalized representations of your ideal customers. The goal of inbound marketing is to develop qualified leads for your sales team so you can improve conversion rates.
Why is it so important that potential customers find you?
One study found that 94% of B2B buyers conduct their own online research at some point during the buying process. In other words, most buyers will do their own research before ever speaking to someone from your company.
Targeting an audience through high-quality, valuable content is critical to implementing an effective inbound marketing strategy. Content and strategies specific to your business may include blog posts, search engine optimization, email marketing, call to actions, eBooks and others.
The idea is to put customers first by providing information that is truly valuable to them. Developing and publishing relevant content allows companies to look beyond their own products and services to focus on the topics related to their market that customers truly care about.
The more targeted information you can provide to potential customers, the more likely you are to help them solve challenges they face, establish a level of trust and ultimately land a sale.
Not convinced? Consider this:
“Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average (visualize them here), which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.” (Source: Internet Live Stats)
You can bet that some of those searches are relevant to your products and services.
Is Inbound Marketing Right For My Business?
While inbound marketing offers advantages to several types of companies, there are some industries for which it may not be the best fit. These include short sales cycles, businesses in which there is a small average price per order and companies with high customer volume.
However, inbound marketing strategies can work for more companies than not, and often you must consider whether it will work based on data … not on how you think your current strategy is working.
Our article, Is An Inbound Marketing Strategy Right For My Business?, explores how you should evaluate whether inbound marketing is a good fit, but in general, the following criteria serves as a good indicator that it is right for your business:
- The average revenue per sale or average revenue per customer per year should be at least $500.
- There should be some level of education or research required for a customer to buy.
- Your business is focused on building a long-term strategy, not a short-term fix.
Benefits Of An Inbound Marketing Strategy
In addition to lead generation, implementing an inbound marketing strategy offers several other benefits as well. Many of these benefits are important to the long-term outlook of your company.
This is often overlooked, but it's arguably the most important benefit of inbound marketing for B2B companies. People and businesses tend to spend more money with the brands they trust.
By providing a steady stream of valuable, quality content, your company will become that trusted source of information for customers and prospects. As a known thought leader and influential voice in your field, businesses will be more likely to reach out to you when it's time to buy.
As discussed above, you can't talk about inbound marketing without mentioning search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google crave lots of quality content, and it's your job as a business to provide it.
Using a combination of keyword and market research, you'll be able to generate a host of quality content items for search engines to index. This will help raise your profile and make your company more visible in Google, increasing the likelihood that some of those 1.2 trillion Google searches AND new potential customers find you online.
People don't just engage with quality content, they also share it with their friends and colleagues. If your company is providing truly valuable information, word will spread. As a result, people will be more likely to share your great content with friends and colleagues via email or social media...turning these outlets into yet another free source of B2B lead generation.
How To Generate B2B Leads
The content you create for inbound marketing can (and should) come in a variety of formats. Most importantly, it should be relevant to your buyer personas (ideal customers).
Blog posts and articles can be great for driving more inbound traffic through search, while multimedia content can extend your messages to wider audiences. Exclusive eBooks and case studies can be hidden behind a registration wall, requiring visitors to share their contact information to access the content.
Videos can be posted to YouTube with calls to action that encourage viewers to visit your site to learn more. There's also podcasts, live webinars, customer testimonials...the possibilities are practically endless.
Although this may seem a little (or a lot) overwhelming, the good news is there are marketing agencies experienced in inbound marketing that will develop a strong content strategy with you. You should continue hiring an inbound marketing agency for lead generation if:
- You have limited time to dedicate to implementing an effective strategy.
- You don’t have access to resources like search engine optimization (SEO) tools, creative suites for design, social media scheduling tools, and other subscriptions to apps.
- You don’t have the necessary staff of writers, graphic artists, SEO specialists, programmers and marketing strategists (we outline here just how expensive this can be).
- You can’t afford to make a marketing mistake or run the risk of what may come through trial and error.
In the end, a strong content strategy is the key to successful B2B lead generation with inbound marketing. And, since the content machine is being managed by you or by an inbound marketing agency, you can ensure the leads you generate are of the highest quality.
After all, no one knows your market and the needs of your customers better than you!
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!