Inbound marketing strategies when carefully planned and executed can be very effective. There are however some inbound marketing fundamentals that you need to know and then of course, execute. And no one knows this better than one of the best CRM platforms in the world – HubSpot. They teach inbound strategies so well in their online Introduction to Inbound Certification course. But if you don’t have the time to do the training yourself, we’ve highlighted the key things you should know in the 3 steps below.
Before we dive in, let’s clarify what inbound marketing is. Essentially the philosophy is based upon helping, instead of selling to people. People are tired of being sold to and most of us prefer to do our own research and then decide who or what we believe is the right solution to solve our problem. This means businesses need to provide helpful content that will draw people to your website where you then have the opportunity to build trust and credibility. The opposite of this, is interrupting them with an ad when they’re not even in the market for your product or service.
Here are 3 key elements you need to consider if you want your B2B inbound marketing strategy to work.
Identify the problems your customer is trying to solve
B2B marketing should always seek to understand what the customer is struggling with. No one is interested in WHAT you do, they want to know HOW you can help them. By identifying their problem you will instantly draw them in and be able to create a connection.
Write the problems down in the language they are likely to use when doing a Google search. This will help you later when you need to create SEO-friendly content.
Empower your prospects to make informed decisions
Long before someone is ready to do business with you, you have the opportunity to start building trust. And trust is not built by forcing them to engage with you through interruptive experiences (aka adverts). That’s not to say adverts don’t work – of course they do, but it’s all about being relevant at the right time, to the right person. A long-term content strategy is the best way to make sure you’re providing relevant and helpful content at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Here are 3 ways to do this:
- Ask questions
- Provide solutions (they don’t have to pay for)
- Provide insights
By the time they reach the decision stage you have built trust by empowering them to make their own decision. By focusing on what motivates them and showing them you have the expertise to solve their problem, you become a resource.
Marketing, sales & service all have a role to play in inbound
There are 3 stages of an inbound marketing strategy: Attract, Engage & Delight. What’s important to understand is that each department has a role to play at each stage if inbound is going to really work. It’s not only the marketing teams’ responsibility to be involved in attracting prospects. Although it starts with helpful content, sales need to be available for calls and services can create knowledge documents that can be easily found online when the prospect starts his research. And once the prospect has taken any action they enter the engage stage where you start collecting information about them that can be used to further push them down the funnel, until they are ready to engage with sales. Although it may appear that delighting customers is the sole responsibility of the service team, there are always opportunities to cross sell, up sell and refer friends, so sales and marketing also need to be delighting prospects.
Image courtesy: HubSpot
Whether your inbound marketing strategy aims to attract B2B or B2C customers, the principles remain the same. HubSpot teaches these 5 inbound principles:
- Standardize for CONSISTENCY
- Contextualise for RELEVANCE
- Optimise for CLARITY
- Personalise for IMPACT
- Empathise for PERSPECTIVE
When you approach your future customers like friends, rather than prospects, it changes your mindset from trying to sell to that of wanting to help. And then when the time comes when they are ready to buy, you’re likely to be the business they reach out to. And that’s why inbound marketing strategies work for B2B businesses.