How to Build An Effective Inbound Strategy for B2B
Developing a B2B Marketing Strategy can be the most challenging aspect of Inbound Marketing. Complex business portfolios and multiple customer segments muddle the big picture, allowing tactics and campaigns to take priority over strategy. Sales teams with different locations, products, and goals can complicate matters.
All of these reasons amplify the importance of developing and maintaining one cohesive B2B Inbound Strategy. Developing an umbrella strategy that includes all business divisions and units, including administration, management, sales and marketing will keep everyone focused on the big picture; growing sales and profitability.
Creating and implementing an effective B2B Inbound Strategy can be the decisive factor in which companies develop an edge over their competitors.
But where to begin?
Creating a B2B Inbound Strategy
Take a look at these building blocks for creating the perfect B2B Inbound Strategy.
1. Goal Setting:
The complete inbound strategy begins and ends with key performance indicators (KPIs).
To develop and implement an effective strategy, measurable goals are necessary. SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed) goals should be developed jointly with sales and marketing. A closed loop between sales and marketing ensures that the right KPI's can be tracked within the context of the strategy.
A key word to remember while setting your goals is "Attainable." With the agreed upon plan, are the objectives attainable? If not, it's not a goal; it's a fairy tale.
Go back and take and figure out how your strategy can align with attainable, albeit challenging, goals.
3. Buyer Personas:
The next building block in the Inbound B2B Strategy must include well-developed buyer personas.
Focus on who the decision makers are and where, when and why they make those buying decisions.
What are their pain points?
What are their business priorities?
What information can you provide them to move them toward a buying decision?
Keep your persona information fresh, amending as needed as your persona's needs and behaviors change. Educate every member of your team on how to better understand the priorities and goals of each of your buyer personas.
Bottom line: Well researched, in-depth buyer personas not only gives you insight into the kind of marketing that will attract leads, but in targeting the right people, you will drastically improve lead quality at the same time.
4. The Buyers Journey:
Each of your B2B customers generally follow a pattern in getting to the actual buying transaction. This pattern can be surprisingly consistent across many different industries. The best marketing strategy will be built to identify those critical pieces that remove friction from that pattern, allowing the potential customer to move smoothly through the natural stages of the buying decision.
These stages are referred to as the "Buyer's Journey." Mapping out your buyer's journey, and testing and learning how to remove friction from that journey is the heart and soul of long-term inbound marketing success.
At the top of the funnel, the journey begins with basic educational topics that attract prospects that are searching for causes and possible solutions to their problems. Pitching a product to someone in this frame of mind will not work very well most of the time. Creating content that connects, empathizes, and gives value to that person rather than pitching them, will close a higher percentage of them as they move toward picking a product that solves that problem.
For instance, a business owner might search Google to find out why some of his employees are having allergic reactions and sickness at work. Pitching him a mold inspection right away is a low-percentage conversion because he's not even aware at this point the cause of his problem. But when you give him educational content that leads him to understand, mold may be his problem and that he needs a professional inspection, he is much more likely to buy your service.
This is how the buyer's journey works. What pieces of educational content can you give your prospects that help them understand the what, why, how at each stage of this journey, and nudge them on toward the next stage.
Pay close attention to "bumps in the road," where prospects have struggled to move forward. What compelling piece of content can be created to move them along smoothly where a large portion are jumping out of your sales funnel?
B2B is B2C In Disguise
A lot of people get sidetracked in labeling their strategies as B2B or B2C. Remember, regardless of industry and size of company, at the other end of the line is a real person, not an organization. This real person is trying to solve real problems.
Being too distracted by the forest will sometimes keep you from noticing the termites eating the trees. The metaphorical groundskeeper will always be searching for a solution to that problem. They don't want to save a forest; they want to save a tree.
Being a B2B company is great, and you'll have plenty of reason to focus on the problems businesses face. But to really drive results, get to know your personas - the ones who are doing the shopping for what you provide. And focus on them like you would a B2C product.
You'll see that people and solving their problems are ultimately the deciding factor in any business transaction.
Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.