Growth
Mar 28, 2024

B2B Inbound Marketing: 7 Methods that Work

B2B Inbound Marketing: 7 Methods that Work

According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound, B2B companies find inbound marketing and SEO more effective than B2C companies because they get considerably more ROI out of it.

But you need the right tools for that.

That’s what this article will empower you with:

  • Knowledge of what makes inbound marketing different than outbound and content marketing
  • Specific examples of companies winning at inbound marketing for B2B
  • Tools and software you can use in the process
  • Insider tips and advice

Let’s begin.

TL;DR: B2B Inbound Marketing

  • B2B Inbound Marketing: Inbound marketing is highly effective for B2B companies, offering better ROI compared to B2C. It focuses on providing valuable solutions and information to customers.
  • Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Inbound marketing attracts customers by creating content with their needs in mind, while outbound marketing involves pushing messages to the audience.
  • Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing: B2B inbound marketing and content marketing are related but differ in goals, channels, and strategies.
  • Methods that Work:
  1. Clearly Defined Target Audience: Create detailed buyer personas to tailor your messages effectively.
  2. Laser Focused Goals and KPIs: Set specific, realistic goals and choose appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  3. Properly Designed and Optimized Website: Ensure your website is aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly, and optimized for both search engines and user experience.
  4. Creating Useful Content: Develop content that solves customer pain points, considering the buyer journey and using the right keywords.
  5. Email Marketing: Implement personalized email campaigns to engage and nurture leads.
  6. Social Media Engagement: Use social media to connect with your audience, create relatable content, and address customer pain points.
  7. Targeted Paid Ads: Employ targeted ads, like LinkedIn ads, to attract potential customers with relevant content.
  • Implementing an Inbound Marketing Plan: It's about giving more value to your prospects to gain more clients. Consider the strategies mentioned and focus on providing value to your audience.

What Is B2B Inbound Marketing?

B2B inbound marketing is like the wingman to your company’s sales pitch:

Instead of bombarding a consumer with traditional advertising, B2B inbound marketing focuses on providing valuable information and solutions to the consumer’s needs.

It’s like the classic saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Except in the realm of B2B inbound marketing, it’s more like “give a customer a solution to their problem, and you sell them your product/service for a day; educate a customer on how to solve their problems, and you sell them your product/service for a lifetime.”

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

  • Outbound marketing involves pushing your message to your target audience.
  • Inbound marketing is about creating content and experiences with your audience in mind, attracting potential customers to you.

Here's a tl;dr table summarizing the most crucial differences between these two approaches:

inbound vs. outbound marketing

Think of the difference between shouting into a megaphone at a busy intersection versus setting up a food truck at a festival – which approach do you think will generate more interest?

And if you want to truly connect with your audience and build lasting relationships, inbound marketing is the way to go.

Is Inbound Marketing the Same as Content Marketing?

The short answer is no; here’s why:

B2B inbound marketing entails attracting and converting buyers through relevant and helpful content. Much like B2B content marketing, you want to create a connection with your B2B audience through valuable & relevant content.

While both strategies rely on high-quality content to educate, inform, and entertain prospects, there are some differences:

  • Goals: Inbound marketing strategies are a "pull" method, attracting customers to your brand. Content marketing can be a mix of “pull” and “push,” getting your content in front of your target audience, even if it’s interrupting them.
  • Channels used: Inbound marketing involves search engine optimization, social media, whitepapers, guides, and more. Content marketing may use a broader range of channels, including influencer partnerships, sales pitches, and paid ads.
  • Strategies: Inbound marketing tactics often involve lead nurturing and personalized messaging. Content marketing may prioritize storytelling and branded content.

B2B Inbound Marketing Methods That Work

Now that you understand the differences between B2B inbound marketing strategies and its peers, let’s see how you can make the most of it:

1. A Clearly Defined Target Audience

Picture this: you’re a salesman and walk into a room full of potential buyers. You don’t know anything about them, except maybe their job titles.

Do they like long walks on the beach or prefer binge-watching Netflix? You have no idea.

Enter the B2B buyer persona.

It’s basically a detailed description of your ideal customer:

  • What kind of business are they in?
  • What drives them?
  • What kind of challenges are they facing?

You should also consider:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Purchase behavior
  • Goals
  • Pain points

This B2B buyer persona helps you tailor your inbound messages to your target customer, leading to more successful sales (and less awkward small talk).

Pro tip: When creating a buyer persona, focus on characteristics relevant to your product and unique selling point.

For example, Sonepar is a company offering B2B electrical solutions. The brand defines its prospects as “electrical equipment makers.”

But prospects aren’t companies; they’re key decision-makers in those companies.

What do they look like? Sonepar’s brand mission gives us a good start:

Sonepar example of messaging
Source

The company’s target audience:

  • Is made of electrical equipment makers
  • Values efficiency
  • Requires a wide range of products and services
  • Works in major markets

And that means these people are likelier to pay more for high-quality services.

Pro tip: You can go more in-depth with your buyer persona, focusing on relevant characteristics.

For instance, In Sonepar’s case:

  • Age and gender aren’t essential factors.
  • Location, industry, and business size are crucial.

2. Laser Focused Goals and KPIs

Knowing your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) is like having a trusty GPS minus that annoying voice telling you to turn left in 500 feet.

Without that clear sense of direction, you’re essentially wandering around blindly, hoping to stumble upon success.

Side note: Blindly stumbling around isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

2.1. Goals

Remember: Use SMART goals according to each stage of your customer sales funnel.

Attracting web visitors, increasing leads, and converting leads into customers are all worthy targets for inbound marketing.

But they’re not formulated correctly.

Instead, aim to:

  • Use specific & realistic numbers and deadlines
  • Leverage the buyer target persona you’ve created

Let’s go back to Sonepar. A good goal for them would be:

Increasing web traffic by 30% in the next six months for SMB electrical equipment makers in Australia.

That brings us to the following point:

2.2. KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are variables that measure the success of your campaign.

That’s why you should pick the right ones based on your initial goal.

For example, increasing website traffic by 30% in the next six months for Sonepar entails measuring:

  • Number of organic website sessions
  • Average time spent on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Keyword rankings
  • Newly acquired traffic

If that’s your goal, don’t measure:

  • PDF downloads
  • Conversion rates
  • Newsletter sign ups
  • Contact form submissions

3. A Properly Designed and Optimized Website

A properly designed and optimized website attracts more organic visitors.

And that’s precisely your goal with inbound marketing.

That’s why your inbound strategy should include results-driven, strategy-first SEO.

The key features include:

  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Intuitive
  • Easy to navigate and understand
  • Optimized for both search engines and user experience (think B2B keyword research, easy-to-read structure, catchy title, screenshots, and more)
  • Relevant, comprehensive, and informative content

A good website will keep visitors coming back for more and ultimately lead to increased engagement and conversions.

Let’s see how some B2B companies out there stack up against these requirements:

MedUX is an umbrella company offering telecom monitoring solutions for companies.

MedUX website example
Source

Notice: Their website opens with a clear CTA, advising prospects to get a demo.

The chatbot in the left-right corner helps prospects connect with a MedUX representative.

These details show that MedUX’s goal is to gain more sales-qualified leads worldwide.

The next part of the website proves this point as the brand showcases its unique advantages:

MedUX brand showcase
Source

You can also notice the wealth of keywords that could bring qualified leads to this website (e.g., “telecom metrics,” “quality of service,” “QoE monitoring solutions,” “QoE measurement,” and more).

Side note: Here are three easy steps and SEO tools to find valuable keywords for your strategy-first SEO efforts:

  1. Conduct a market analysis using BuzzSumo to research trends in your industry.
  2. Analyze your competitors’ current organic and paid keywords in their content strategy. You can find these words using Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs. You can replicate a similar strategy or find missed opportunities in your competitors’ inbound marketing campaigns.
  3. Find solid seed keywords based on your niche and activity. Input these keywords in Google, Quora, Wikipedia, or a tool like SEMrush and Ahrefs. You will get a wealth of ideas to leverage.

For example, tap “telecom metrics” in Google and scroll down to the bottom of the first results page, where you see this:

telecom metrics keyword

These results are based on other people’s searches – and these people are your prospects.

These are all useful ideas for future relevant content you can include in your inbound strategy.

4. Creating a Wealth of Useful Content in Different Formats

When you create content for inbound marketing, there are two principles you must consider:

  1. Create content according to your buyer journey.
  2. The content must be useful and solve a pain point instead of immediately pushing toward sales.

And sure, B2B prospects prefer certain types of content on average, such as case studies and reports.

But if you focus on the two principles above, you will publish the best content for your B2B customers, not the average consumers.

Side note: One common mistake we noticed with our clients is that they get a paid tool like SEMrush and use it undiscerningly for keyword and topic research.

For example, you can easily type in “telecom metrics” in SEMrush and pick a suggested topic randomly:

keyword research in SEMrush
Source

But remember, you must focus on:

  • Your business goals at each step of the marketing funnel
  • Each audience segment’s pain points

If your goal is to increase web traffic in the awareness stage, your content must be new, informative, and original.

You want to:

  • Educate your audience: Think of useful blog articles, webinars, how-to videos, tutorials, and email marketing. Build a social media community where your audience can interact and invite their peers.
  • Attract new prospects: Including medium- and long-tail keywords that fit the searcher’s intent. Aim to rank for these keywords so that search engines will bring your website higher in search results pages.
  • Write for potential partners and websites: To increase visibility, get more high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources. That means creating topics that interest these authors (e.g., industry studies they can quote or valuable reports and resources their audience can benefit from).

For example, Royal Brinkman B2B horticulture company boasts a wide range of whitepapers to educate their audience:

whitepapers on Royal Brinkman
Source

One of our clients, an influencer marketing agency inBeat, has devised a bevy of free and paid tools for marketers. These marketing tools are incredibly helpful, so they get cited a lot, creating a neat ever-growing backlink profile for inBeat:

inbeat results in Ahrefs
Source

To get more leads in the consideration stage, focus on:

  • Information: Technical articles, e-books, product demos, and case studies that showcase your experience and give you a competitive edge. You want to give your audience valuable content and information, but you want to stand in the limelight too.
  • Emotion: Create desire and social proof on social platforms. If you become more relatable and part of the social fabric, you will be your prospects’ top-of-mind choice.

For example, Kantar has a 2-minute animated case study showcasing the brand’s work with Samsung:

kantar case study
Source

That’s an excellent example because it mixes both strategies, with an emphasis on the informational side.

On the other hand, Linktree uses relatable memes like this one to keep its prospects entertained:

linktree meme
Source

But we’ll talk more on social media channels below. First, we’ll discuss another key strategy under the inbound marketing umbrella for B2B: email marketing.

5. A Well-Oiled Email Marketing Engine

Email marketing can boost your inbound marketing efforts considerably.

Why?

Because your B2B clients genuinely want to read useful newsletters. These people are decision-makers in their companies, so they read stat reports for fun during their lunch breaks.

And you’re probably doing the same.

Other advantages of a strategic email campaign include:

  • Low cost: You don’t need to break the bank to send out emails, and the returns on investment can be huge.
  • Easy to monitor: With neat CRM software, you can see your open, click, and response rates. That will help you understand your efforts better and you’ll know what to optimize further.
  • Easy to measure: Track your success and make adjustments as needed.
  • Customizable: You can tailor your message to specific groups of customers, making each email feel like it was personally crafted just for them.
  • High ROI: Along with content marketing and SEO, email marketing is among the most profitable marketing strategies. And it can generate $40 for each $1.
inbound marketing roi
Source

Remember: Keep your marketing goals front and center.

  • Personalize your messages.
  • Cater to your target buyers’ specific interests.
  • Nurture leads through engaging content and stories.

Here’s a neat newsletter from one of our clients, Monday.com.

Monday.com newsletter

Monday.com addresses current customers or people on the verge of conversion with this email.

Side note: You still need inbound marketing even after you have converted your customers.

After all, you want to keep that “pull” type of relationship going, keeping them interested in your brand.

Otherwise, they might drift away to better offers from your competition.

Remember: Customer loyalty is a massive issue for B2B companies.

Your shoppers are key decision-makers (we can’t stress that enough), so they’ll always look out for better solutions to optimize their workloads.

They’ll also constantly compare you with your competitors in terms of features, benefits, and costs.

And they’ll always make informed decisions.

Now back to the Monday.com example, which:

  • Educates the audience: Notice the clear benefits and the easily digestible embedded video that offers value to Monday.com’s audience.
  • Creates a relationship with prospects: A solid relationship with your prospective customers isn’t based on engagement alone. It’s also based on being straightforward, no-nonsense with them. That’s why Monday.com email lacks marketing lingo: it simply focuses on the benefit without any push.

Lessons learned:

  • Offer value.
  • Don’t push.
  • Focus on quality over quantity.

6. Using Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media is a treasure trove of inbound content because it helps you connect to your audience without being pushy.

Social media posts can be engaging, informative, and shareable – that’s how they support your inbound marketing efforts.

Asana’s TikTok account is filled with good examples:

asana's tiktok account
Source

Notice the bevy of relatable TikTok videos, duets, and jokes. These are highly shareable, increasing Asana’s social media presence.

But more importantly, they make the company part of the pop culture.

Asana leverages the Gen Z language, creating relevant TikTok content for its audience.

Note: Relevant doesn’t just mean informative or educational content; it means addressing your customers’ pain points.

And Asana shows that you can address those pain points by being relatable first and foremost.

7. Completing the Circle with Targeted Paid Ads

Targeted paid ads can complete your inbound marketing program without necessarily becoming an outbound marketing approach.

For example, a product ad can be classed as outbound.

But a LinkedIn ad to a free webinar is part of an inbound strategy because you’re still attracting potential customers with relevant content.

Pro tip: LinkedIn ads have a high chance of reaching your B2B target market, though they’re more expensive.

In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, so you should include this marketing channel in your strategy.

Here’s Hubspot using text ads on LinkedIn to promote its useful guides:

hubspot ads on LinkedIn
Source

And LinkedIn states that this strategy increased LinkedIn’s click-through rate by 60% compared to ads on other social media platforms.

VistaVu leveraged the extensive targeting options on LinkedIn to address a very specific audience of people:

LinkedIn Vistavu
Source

This precise targeting meant that out of the 20 Vista Vu’s campaign leads, 19 became marketing-qualified leads.

Lessons learned:

  • Use your buyer persona in your paid ads to increase targeting precision.
  • Create a hook by offering valuable tools and resources.

How to Implement an Inbound Marketing Plan for B2B

This article took you through seven bulletproof strategies for B2B inbound marketing.

But it’s not a question of which one you’ll choose.

It’s a question of having the right mindset: give more (value) to get more (clients).

So before picking a strategy or even building an ideal customer profile, ask yourself what you can give your prospects.

Blue Things can help you with the rest.

We’ve shown you a few of our clients’ strategies in this article, and we can help you build similarly effective plans.

Book a free strategy call, and let’s see what we can help you with.

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