Inbound marketing is a methodology that uses digital channels and uses different strategies to constantly generate leads. The difference with traditional marketing is that it is about attracting customers to your brand , instead of going out to find them and saturating them with invasive advertising.
But how is inbound marketing related to B2B companies? Since between 60% and 90% of B2B buying decisions are made online, it is the prospect who is in control of the sale. Your role is to anticipate this situation and improve your B2B digital marketing strategy .
The inbound B2B marketing focuses on creating relevant content to educate your ideal client and guide you through your purchase journey until you are ready to buy. But what is the profile of a potential B2B customer?
What is the B2B customer like?
The B2B customers belong to selective niches and regularly have more objective reasons , such as profitability, profits, ROI, investment, resources or time. In B2B purchases, 5 to 10 people are involved in the purchase decision process, some of them are influencers or decision makers, so it is important to demonstrate authority and dominance in what concerns us.
In addition, to close a company-company sale it is necessary to convince in a personalized way and to play with all the existing pieces. To establish a long-term and trusting relationship, factors such as:
- Value proposal. Why should they choose you over the competition? What are your competitors doing to meet the needs of your potential customers? Your value proposition must be unique and must focus on satisfying the requirements of your customers.
- Positioning and online reputation. In a constantly evolving environment, having a website is no longer enough. In addition to diversifying digital channels, you have to choose those that your customers prefer and offer them valuable content. Have a blog, success stories, landing pages, etc. it can improve your authority and relationship with your audience.
- Culture and business philosophy. It is increasingly common to give importance to the image that the company transmits, the values, its culture, social responsibility policies, to establish a collaboration.
Now, how do you start attracting new customers with B2B marketing ? We tell you in 5 easy steps.
1. You must align your marketing and sales teams
A common problem in all companies is the constant friction between marketing and sales. Sometimes because leads are of poor quality or because they are contacted when they are not ready to buy yet. With the inbound methodology, communication and processes are simplified by creating a constant and two-way workflow .
While the sales team provides key information about the ideal customer and their requirements throughout their buying journey, marketers can create different content offerings to solve their doubts or problems and educate them until they make their decision.
In turn, this content helps sales to build a valuable relationship with prospects, generate interest and even to handle some sales objections and sell more.
How to attract and convert new customers?
The conversion funnel helps us understand where each prospect is and sets the tone for taking one action or another. To attract and convert prospects, there must be a common language between both departments where the following concepts are clear:
Lead. By creating valuable content and disseminating it through different digital channels (blog, networks), it is possible that prospects arrive on our website. In this stage of discovery, the person performs searches to solve their doubts and left us their data to download an ebook. We don’t know yet if it will be a potential customer, but it has become a lead.
MQL (marketing qualified lead). For that lead to evolve into an MQL, it is essential to warm it up and qualify it. How? Identifying the offers that have interested you to insert it into a nutrition flow and interact as necessary. As you give us more information, we can evaluate if it is an opportunity or SQL.
SQL (sales qualified lead). Those MQL’s that request a direct contact with sales or that have been evaluated by marketing and qualified as a commercial opportunity. At this stage, you can open the conversation with an exploratory meeting or phone call, but always using the prospect’s context.
2. Research who your ideal customer is
To attract prospects interested in your products and / or services, you must be very clear about their characteristics, needs, how they look for you and how to help them.
While in B2C marketing we address an individual buyer, in the B2B sector, we must see it at two levels: as an organization and the people who interest us in terms of the position they occupy in the company. In other words, we must know who the decision makers are and how their procurement processes work .
Buyer profiles or buyer persona are semi-fictitious representations of your ideal customers. In addition to collecting demographic data (age, family, job, etc.), it is important to understand their behavior, challenges, and motivations.
The greater your understanding of the buyer persona, the more empathy you can generate to understand how to help them and open the conversation.
In a B2B inbound marketing strategy , it is very important to know the buying process of our buyer persona. It is the path that a user travels from discovering a need or problem, investigating possible solutions, until finally deciding that we are the best option.
Being clear about the buyer journey of your prospects will also be useful in creating content, tracking leads, sales and any process related to attracting and retaining customers.
Characteristics of the company
If we go a step back, before finding our buyer persona, we must focus on prospecting at the organization level. To do this, you can use a matching matrix, where you determine certain fundamental characteristics that a company must meet.
This way, you can discern between a good-fitting prospect, maybe a bad fit, or a bad fit, and decide if it is worth your time and effort. Some are probably not a good fit in the first place, that doesn’t mean you should ditch them.
3. It is necessary to optimize the commercial process
The sales process always depends on the product and / or service you offer. Therefore, the goal of B2B inbound marketing is not to pressure the prospect to buy, but to establish a structured process in which marketing and sales accompany the prospect until they are ready to buy.
In other words, the lead conversion funnel, MQL’s and SQL’s should be the mirror of your sales pipeline. To avoid sending commercial messages to a lead who is just in a phase of discovering his need, for example.
In that sense, we will classify them in this way:
- MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). They are those leads that are in the intermediate phase or MOFU (Middle of The Funnel) of the sales cycle, because they have already shown interest in our content on several occasions.
- SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). They are those leads that have already advanced to the BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) phase and are already prepared for the purchase.
The key to improving business efficiency is to give sales teams the most qualified and likely to buy leads, thus speeding up the sales process time.
Automate your actions with the help of a CRM
In marketing, there are many repetitive tasks such as sending emails month after month or reporting results. Having a CRM (customer relationship management software) will help you automate multiple actions to follow up with your prospects and create an optimal communication flow between marketing and sales .
Likewise, it will be useful to accelerate lead scoring (qualification of leads) and lead nurturing (maturing of leads).
4. You must create a constant flow of potential customers
When doing B2B inbound marketing , we know that not everyone is ready to buy, so it is essential to constantly generate leads and the way to achieve this is through 3 important pillars:
Blog. The basis of your inbound strategy is content and it can be in different formats: articles, guides, videos, infographics, webinars, etc. But, it must be aligned to the interests and concerns of your buyer persona and, in addition, it has to correspond to their purchase journey.
SEO . Before creating content, you must do a previous analysis of keywords, that is, the words by which your prospects will find you in search engines. A key factor is to think of a structure of relevant topics for your audience and also, take care of aspects such as the organization of your website, duplicate content, as well as internal and external links.
Social media. In B2B it is believed that interactions are made only face-to-face, by phone or by email. However, networks such as Linkedin or Facebook help us to spread our content, find like-minded users and interact in a more direct and personal way.
5. Digital analysis
An essential part of the inbound marketing strategy is to measure the actions. Therefore, in a transversal way, it is always advisable to carry out an analysis of what is working and what is not.
In this way, you can define whether it is necessary to optimize your website or your digital assets (articles, landing pages, etc.) to suit the interests of your potential customers.