Earlier this month I learned I know next-to-nothing about paid inbound marketing. This includes ad funnels, landing pages, and boosted social posts. So I did a little research and put together a post about the basics of inbound marketing, how it works for B2B companies, and how to implement a B2B inbound marketing strategy.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing uses a combination of organic and paid strategy via content marketing, social media, SEO, PPC, blogs, events, and webinars. Whereas outbound marketing reaches out to target clients, inbound marketing brings clients to you.
For example, if someone searches for a great remote work resource, Remote.co and NODESK come up on the first page of organic results in Google. These two companies created valuable content, and are reaping the rewards of good SEO and smart inbound marketing.
Here’s a useful chart from Marketo that demonstrates the power of inbound marketing, so your brand can join the race during your prospects’ decision-making process.
Inbound marketing puts the choice in the consumers’ hands, and empowers them to make informed decisions about which businesses to support. It even helps non-ideal potential clients self-qualify themselves, so you don’t have to waste time on poor leads.
Whether this is in a B2B or B2C relationship, it’s vital for generating long-term business with the right audience.
Paid B2B inbound marketing
Paid search is a tactic of paid inbound marketing that displays your website on the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for a certain set of keywords or phrases. The fee is calculated by the number of times someone clicks on one of your paid search results (ads), which is where PPC (pay-per-click) comes from.
One of the most popular tools for PPC is Google AdWords. You only pay a fee when someone clicks through to your website, and you can determine whatever budget you want to spend. For example, you can allocate $50/month to PPC marketing, and once that $50 is reached Google AdWords will stop displaying your ad.
2 ways to use PPC for B2B marketing
1) Find new keywords
You may not start your PPC campaigns with a perfected set of keywords, but you should be able to refine your list as it goes. For example, if the traffic coming from a certain keyword isn’t converting well, remove that keyword from your targeted search terms list.
Google AdWords will also put together a list of recommended keywords and phrases to include in your list, as well as their click-through-rates (CTR) and conversions. If you see one with a high CTR and conversion rate, consider adding it to your PPC campaigns and focusing more organic SEO efforts on it.
2) Optimize your landing pages
Set up different landing pages for your target customer. Use paid search ads to send traffic to different variations of your landing page, and measure which performs best.
Be sure to test small changes, one at a time. For example, test header copy or the call-to-action (CTA) button color, but not both (since you won’t be certain what difference drove higher conversions). You should also let your tests run long enough to get significant results. CrazyEgg shares how to calculate needed sample size and when to stop an A/B test to declare a winner.
Implement whichever landing page variations perform best in your paid search campaign as a permanent installation.
Steps for a B2B inbound marketing strategy
Here’s a sample B2B inbound marketing process, including both organic and paid efforts.
1) Identify your clients
Who are your clients? What are their motivations? Put together your ideal clients’ buyer persona and map out their buyer journey, from “unaware of your brand” to “brand advocate.”
In this stage, you’ll want to map out your content strategy and determine what type of content you want to create for each stage of the buyer journey.
Here is HubSpot’s breakdown of the buyer’s journey and the content you should be creating for each step.
2) Build your assets
Create relevant, valuable, well-written, and beautifully designed content that your target clients will love. Use the content mapping you did in the step above to determine what you need to prioritize, and, if needed, recruit freelancers to complete deliverables.
3) Help your clients find you
Here is where the tactics and execution come in. Use social media, blogging, SEO, and PPC (discussed above) to get clients on your website.
4) Generate leads
Once your visitors are on your site, turn them into leads by enticing them to exchange their contact information for something they want. This could be an eBook you created as an asset, offered via an optimized landing page with a dazzling CTA.
Get them to sign up for an email course or your email newsletter with the promise of excellent content delivered straight to their inboxes.
5) Turn leads into customers
Now you have their attention and permission to contact them further. Personalize their experience to ensure you only deliver content they want. Aim to teach them something of value with each email.
Nurture your leads and turn them into customers by understanding exactly where they are in the buyer’s journey and when to pitch different types of content.
6) Measure and repeat
Finally, measure your analytics and optimize your process. Build sequences and templates based on what has worked best in your strategy, to make things quicker and more streamlined the next time around. Here’s a quick overview of basic metrics in Google Analytics.