Allow me to start the article off with one of the most washed-up and chewed-up cliché sayings of all time – assumption is the mother of all failures. So if you *assume* you know what inbound is, but you’re not totally sure – read below to dismiss any suspicion. Also, if you have no idea what inbound marketing is or how it applies to MarTech and AdTech verticals, read on.
We’ll kick things off with a few words on traditional marketing.
If we were to somehow go back in time 10 years, we’d quickly discover that cold calling and emailing is standard practice. Everyone’s trying to get in front of their customers’ faces, sweet-talking them with the elevator pitch, trying to get them to convert.
Fast forward ten years to 2017 – people rarely pick up the phone if they can’t recognize the number on the caller ID. With emails it’s even worse – there’s a lot (and we really mean, *a lot* of spam). This is forcing marketers into a different approach.
Traditional marketing, one which we now sometimes refer to as “outbound marketing” is all about exposing your brand, telling people what it does and how it helps them. Google AdWords are the majority of businesses' first choice, although there are some seriously good alternatives to AdWords to check out, as well.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, completely twists that concept. Instead of going out there – the goal is to get buyers on their journey to come to you, on their time. That is achieved by creating marketing content that the leads will find useful and / or educational.
This might have answered your “what is inbound marketing?” question, but it has probably created a bunch of new questions, like “How do you drive leads?” How do you mean – ‘on their time’? What kind of content are we talking about here? Is it possible to write content for everyone? What’s the buyer’s journey? What has this got to do with MarTech and AdTech?”
Well, it’s time to give those questions an answer!
Let’s talk about B2B marketing
Before going in depth on inbound in MarTech and AdTech organisations, let’s take a broader look at inbound for B2B vs inbound for B2C. Earlier in the piece, I talked about the need to understand the buyer’s journey. What is it, exactly?
Let’s say that I decide to freshen up on my wardrobe after work. I’ll go to the mall, and probably end up in Zara. I’ll look at a few items, find something I like and head to the counter. The entire process won’t take more than, say, half an hour. Could your potential buyers do better? I don’t think so.
Regardless of if we’re talking about B2B or B2C, all buyers go down the same journey. First they understand they have a problem, then they look for potential solutions, finally choosing one.
Here’s how it looks like:
When it comes to B2B customers – it’s no different. They too have to go through the awareness stage, when they realize they are facing a challenge, followed by the consideration stage, where they weigh in on their options, ultimately reaching the decision stage, when they make up their minds on what to do next.
The biggest difference is how much time it takes going from phase to phase, followed by trust that’s needed in order to actually make a decision. B2B products are usually more expensive, which means businesses won’t be so trigger-happy reaching for the wallet and will want to be absolutely certain they’re choosing the right solution.
What makes B2B unique
- A larger number of people is included in the process
- The target audience for B2B companies is a lot more narrow
- B2B customers require a long-lasting relationship. They’re not the ones to make a purchase and disappear without a trace.
The inbound methodology
For inbound, the buyer’s journey is indispensable. But how do you make people who aren’t even aware you exist, trek down the journey, make a purchase and become your brand’s ambassadors? Enter inbound methodology!
B2B businesses need to pay close attention to a couple of things:
- Bringing people to their site.
- Turning them from visitors to leads.
- Helping leads turn into clients.
- Make sure they’re happy and delighted by going that extra mile and offering various perks.
Content is king of the inbound methodology
After establishing the framework, the next step is to determine a strategy. What you need to do is create helpful content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. The goal is to become a guide that helps them along the way. Now we’ll discuss various kinds of content you can create to help your prospects wherever in the buyer’s journey they may be. At the end of the day, this will turn you into an expert of their problems, and your industry.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a MarTech company which offers simple DIY landing page creation. So, the target audience (also known as the buyer persona) will be CMOs.
The first thing our fictitious company needs to do is do some much needed research to understand their buyer personas. If they’re to write content for them, it is paramount that the content be relevant to them as pros. Think of the roadblocks and other trials they’re faced as CMOs. After that, look for keywords these personas are usually searching for on Google as they look for solutions to their problems.
Knowing that more than half of prospects do online search before they decide to give their supplier a ring, our company’s main goal should be to create value for their future prospects in the early phases of their googling.
The next step is to actually create content. Building consistent content, B2B companies can increase their traffic by more than three times, compared to companies that blog once or twice a month. So – our fictitious company’s main entrance is going to be none other than its blog.
Pro tip: Always keep the buyer’s persona in mind. Your content needs to educate, not promote. In that respect, some topics such a company could cover would be:
How to increase your landing page conversion rate
- Landing page optimization tips.
- How to keep your leads engaged.
- Tips for creating better landing pages.
If you guessed that these blog posts wouldn’t be talking about our MarTech company at all – you guessed right. The only goal of these posts would be to educate the company’s buyer personas. Shoving products and services down the visitors’ throats right from the get-go will get you nowhere – fast.
But this is just the beginning. Our company will also need a call to action at the end of each article, which will invite visitors to download a content offer. Clicking on the call to action will lead them to (you’ll never guess this one) a landing page. They’ll have to fill in a form, give a few details and bam – the marketing team now have a lead to follow.
Pro Tip: Content for the awareness stage is usually the hardest to create. When you have a solution it’s hard to think you know anything besides what your solution can do. Do research, talk to your clients, look for their strategies and pain points to understand what they’re faced with and how you can help.
At this stage, you’re starting to offer solutions. You can write more blogs, or you can create podcasts or videos – the goal is to show your prospects all the different solutions for their problems.
Let’s go back to our fictitious MarTech company for a moment. Now, our target audience, the CMOs, already know that they have a problem with landing pages. Now is a good time to teach them about the solutions they can find out there. Yes, during the consideration stage, you can mention your own company and its solutions, but it should definitely not be at the center of the content. The main takeaway should be that they can find a solution that’s best tailored for their challenges.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your buyer personas. Are they a younger audience, or an older one? Are they prone to avoiding new technologies or are they early adopters? By paying close attention to who your audience is, you can tailor the content accordingly.
This brings us to the final step, where you’re free to talk about you. You have an awesome product, and it’s time to tell the world. You can create things like case studies, free demos, stuff like that. But don’t fall for the business-centric trap. It’s not about you – it’s about them and what they can gain from your product. Focus on benefits, and not features. If you can’t help yourself and absolutely must list features, at least make sure to write down what your customers are getting from it.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to show your readers how your product works. If you’re thinking about creating a live demo, make sure to use this opportunity to tackle any problems your prospects might have. They’ll probably have questions like “I have this problem, can your product offer a solution?” or “How do I use this?”. Knowing these questions will help you tailor the demo better and create content that’s practical, engaging and educational. Storytelling can help you create fun, insightful walkthroughs.
With the inbound methodology, you’ll turn total strangers into brand evangelists. You’ll achieve that by creating educational, helpful content. When it comes to the MarTech and AdTech industries, you’re probably building something many would consider out-of-this-world. However, advanced technology can sometimes be intimidating and confusing. With inbound, you can bring your solutions closer to them.