According to sources, the B2B buyer alone manages between 60% and 90% of his purchasing process. It is therefore necessary to be in the places where he will carry out his research, with quality content attracting his attention.
Inbound marketing is a revolution in the field of marketing. Inbound marketing is the reverse of traditional marketing, it is the reverse of demand marketing because it is on the offer that we must arouse interest and not the other way around.
Hence the term “inbound”, which is opposed to “outbound”. It is the customers who do your marketing.
To cope with the changing behavior of the B2B buyer, the marketer becomes a content producer
You are in a relationship of trust, as a partner – and not as a seller – with your customers.
The period of the glorious thirties is over. Studies, surveys, focus groups have been used for many years to understand what customers need.
In the context of inbound marketing, sales, especially in B2B, are no longer due entirely to sellers but to ambassadors, who are often early adopters. Ambassadors who must be “cocooned” because the whole strategy consists of making them say “I made the right choice”. This circuit of influence takes precedence over the seller.
Inbound marketing also means the end of egocentric user clubs. A club is a place of exchange, not for the seller, but for the one who participates in it. This seems to be obvious and yet it needs to be repeated very often.
To go beyond the old marketing of need, you have to acquire the 4 cultures of inbound marketing
- Innovation, which has become a Western and capitalist act of survival
- Customer obsession
- The difference: it nourishes your DNA and your image
- Impertinence: it must be present even in the most off-putting areas.
Concretely, in inbound marketing, the conversion funnel consists of the following 4 steps:
- Attract quality traffic through websites, blogs, all from a natural referencing (SEO) perspective, not to mention social media
- Convert these visitors into qualified leads (contacts for whom we have contact details) by encouraging them to download quality content or to make contact. The role of call-to-action is very important, to direct visitors to a landing page built specifically
- Conclude leads, that is, transform them into customers. The techniques of lead scoring, marketing automation and lead nurturing are crucial during this stage.
- And finally, retain customers, that is to say, maintain a quality relationship over the long term so that they become ambassadors, promoters.
The limits of theoretical approaches
Any inbound marketing strategy is a long-term strategy. The ROI does not appear until after several months. The production of quality content is time consuming; it requires surrounding yourself with qualified, competent people (in writing, SEO, etc.) and who are imaginative.
Before generating your first leads, you need to publish a certain volume of articles so that readers get used to you, recognize you and trust you.
Another point of vigilance: the alignment between the marketing department and the sales representatives.
While inbound marketing has become an essential component of any Bob strategy for vegetable importers, we still too often see that the relationship between marketing and sales is not always in good shape.
No matter how good the technology you put in place, nothing will happen without this famous alignment.
It should also be borne in mind that the notion of funnel (conversion funnel) is not relevant for procedures involving several decision-makers or when decisions are slow and require documentation.
Marketing automation tools are also expensive tools (several tens of KE per year), which leads companies to create scenarios and prioritize their investments.
Trends and innovations
Among the current major trends in inbound marketing, the personalization of content comes first. Personalization can of course be done according to the channels where you are present. It can also be done according to previously defined personas
Basically, there are two types of content personalization:
- The first is explicit personalization. Explicit personalization refers to the fact, for example, of entering the name and first name of your interlocutor, sometimes even the title of his position or his company. It is a first step but it is not everything.
- The implicit personalization is it to propose the right offer to the right person. How is this achieved? By carefully studying the behavior of the buyer you are targeting this is far more powerful than explicit customization.
Tools and methods
There are many tools to deploy an inbound marketing strategy. Here we will focus on marketing automation tools, in particular on Hub spot, Market, Adobe Campaign (formerly Noelene) and Webmecanik.
Market leader Hub spot, established in 2006, has taken the world by storm. Publication on blogs, management of these publications on social networks, creation of well-referenced landing pages, automation of e-mailing campaigns…
The platform offers the whole range of actions useful for an inbound marketing strategy worthy of the name. The only flaw: its reporting tables are very “traffic” and “contacts” oriented (prospects and customers). This approach is sometimes restrictive in the context of complex sales where other indicators must be taken into account.
Acquired by Adobe for $ 4.75 billion at the end of 2018, Market is another heavyweight in the market. Very large account oriented, Market offers very advanced reporting, scoring and ABM (Account Based Marketing) functionalities. It will take time to become an expert in all these settings. Once you have become knowledgeable, you will be able to industrialize your actions and manage large volumes.
Adobe Campaign, formerly Noelene (Adobe bought the French company Noelene in 2013), offers numerous campaign automation and CRM features, allowing you to efficiently manage your e-mailing actions, your operations on social networks and on mobile. The other side of the coin: a complexity sometimes observed in the configuration of the solution.
In B2B, you will find yourself more and more faced with mature decision-makers on the subject of digital, demanding and autonomous in their purchasing process. Constraints to integrate into your strategy to meet their expectations and get maximum profit.
Here are 5 tips for a successful inbound strategy in a B2B relationship:
# 1 A comprehensive definition of your goals
The first step to your inbound strategy starts with a real definition of your goals. Your objectives must be detailed, they must concern both the commercial branch and the marketing.
# 2 An elaboration of your buyers personas
To know your target, you have to develop what are called buyers personas. They fictitiously correspond to your ideal customers. Their descriptions go through the creation of a complete profile including: professional situation, ambitions, dreams etc …
# 3 Good cooperation between sales and marketing
Marketing is central to the company and will directly impact all of the other services.
Thus, the commercial pole must work closely with the marketing for an effective strategy.
# 4 Create relevant content with high added value
For an even more optimized strategy, your content must meet and anticipate the needs and obstacles of your potential customers. Likewise, it must be relevant and coherent in all the different phases of the purchasing process: from awareness raising, through the evaluation of offers to decision-making. In B2B, the purchasing journey is often much longer than in B2C, it is essential to continue to feed your prospect with content.
# 5 use the right tools
Make sure you have all the tools in your hands when setting up your inbound marketing strategy. Content creation, promotion on social networks, sending emailing, reporting… you must have these concepts in mind to carry out your actions and achieve your goals.
Inbound marketing is a growth lever for B2B companies who want to optimize a digital marketing strategy already in place.