It's long since overdue for Inbound Marketing to completely emerge from the shadowy depths of business concepts and take a rightful seat at the table of prominent business-to-business (B2B) marketing and growth strategies. Here's why...
Executive-level managers are constantly wondering what they can do to generate more leads, close more business and get a better return on investment from their marketing efforts. That's a perfectly legitimate question for any business to ask - the problem is that most don't know the answer.
In fact, it's not uncommon for executives to ask questions like, "We're continuing to do the same type of marketing and expecting different results, but the results aren't matching our expectations. What can we do to improve our B2B marketing?"
Everyone asks this kind of question at some point. If you're still relying on these dated B2B marketing strategies for your business - print advertising, traditional public relations, press releases, cold calls, direct mail, trade shows, and so on - and you're not yet disappointed by the results, then chances are you will be soon.
A decade ago, there weren't too many marketing options for businesses. All companies really did was adjust their strategy around the same small set of tactics - maybe you attended a different trade show, sent more direct mail, created new literature or tried to get more creative with print advertisements. However, unless you got outrageously lucky, none of these made a big difference - and under no conceivable set of circumstances should you be relying on luck to drive sales.
Today, on the other hand, you can make a real improvement in what your B2B marketing is, how it functions, and what kind of results it can deliver. Why should you do it right now? Simple - because events are converging in a way that's making Inbound Marketing the only way to truly promote your products and services. The sooner you start, the sooner you can take advantage of results that could position your company for explosive growth.
Of course, most people are skeptical - so let's look at some of the real reasons why Inbound Marketing is what you should be doing.
Changes In Buyer Behavior
Buyers and consumers - especially young ones - are making purchase decisions in a drastically different way... even when compared to the behavior people demonstrated just a few years ago. If you truly want to succeed with your B2B marketing strategy, you need to understand these changes.
To begin with, people don't want to talk to a sales person until late in the buying process. They want to do independent research and educate themselves before they get anywhere close to a salesperson - and that means you need to build a marketing and sales experience that matches this new buying process and talks directly to their problems, challenges and pain points.
Anyone Can Do Inbound Marketing
A major driver of the change in buyer behavior is the spread of tools and information that can help people make decisions. Google's own context-based search engine is one of the best examples of this - people aren't just typing in keywords, they're asking questions. The results they get tend to be web pages that actually answer these questions - and you need to be present in these search results if you want to have any hope of attracting that customer.
It's also possible to use social media as a way of spreading information and increasing your reach. Most people are actually quite comfortable with sharing their experiences and knowledge, and if you're not yet using social media as a channel for your company's B2B marketing strategy, you need to develop a plan and get started.
(Never, ever start a marketing campaign blindly. Create the plan first, figure out what you're posting and why, and then get started on it. It's amazing how many companies forget to do that.)
There's an old joke in marketing - "I know half of my ads are working, but I don't know which half." With Inbound Marketing, you'll never need to make that joke again, because the entire system is all about measuring results with real data, in real time, and allowing marketing teams to make decisions based on hard numbers, not guesswork.
This means that I can check how often pages like this one are visited. In fact, your presence on this page has added another tick mark to the analytics report I'm going to be looking at tonight. I will know when you visited this page, what else you did on the site, what you downloaded, and I'll be adjusting our marketing strategy and campaigns based on what that data tells me.
You can do the same thing. Do you feel like you're getting fewer visitors? Create an extra blog post. Is a landing page converting at a lower rate? Spend some time improving it and run some A/B tests to track the results. Is it hard to consistently convert visitors into leads? Consider adding an informative e-book further up your sales funnel and see it that impacts conversions.
All of these can be done based on real-time data, and the more responsive you are, the better your program will perform. Making decisions based on facts and real data is what truly works these days, and how you'll achieve the best possible results for your business.
(That said, there is a limit. It's important to look at trends over time, and not work yourself into such a frenzy that you don't allow your content time to work.)
The Obvious Return on Investment
When you have the kind of data we've talked about here, it's possible to calculate the actual return on your investment. This means no more ambiguous math or estimates - you have proof of what works and what doesn't. The things that don't work get tossed in the trash - and anything that proves successful gets more attention to make it work even better.
Anything that's merely "okay" can get adjusted by steadily tweaking it over time. The end result is the creation of a marketing system based on data and built on success - you've found what worked and did more of it. Isn't this so much nicer than simply calling people cold and hoping they'll buy from you?
You Won't Be Alone
More and more companies are switching to Inbound Marketing as their preferred strategy for generating leads and growing sales - because it works. In fact, over the course of just a few years, some conferences on Inbound Marketing have swelled to well over ten thousand attendees.
The old, outdated methods of traditional marketing have simply run out of steam. Senior managers and marketing leaders are finally starting to recognize that they need to make a change - but no tactic will be effective without a solid marketing plan supporting them every step of the way.
This is where Inbound Marketing is able to show its true value - it provides a road map for you to follow, tells you precisely what you should be doing, lets you know when things should be done and precisely measures the results to help you make improvements and generate greater returns.
If your competitors haven't yet made the switch to Inbound Marketing, it's only a matter of time. The sooner you start switching to this strategy, the sooner you'll be attracting more visitors, converting more leads, and closing more new business. The data doesn't lie - Inbound Marketing is by far the best thing you could be doing with your marketing budget, so forget about the old, expensive, and under-performing techniques that no longer work and are not sustainable.
Oh, and one more thing: When done right, Inbound Marketing is truly a Juggernaut, slow to start, but nearly-unstoppable once it gets integrated into your B2B marketing strategy.