If your industrial company’s traditional marketing approaches no longer work the way they once did, then you need to consider inbound marketing. But all the associated jargon can be confusing.
You may have heard of “inbound marketing” as something your industrial company should be doing in the digital age. But what exactly is it? According to HubSpot, “Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
As a manufacturer or distributor of durable products you may be somewhat skeptical of this whole promotional area and all its snazzy terminology. Perhaps you believe your business and your customers are “old school” and they don’t read blogs or go on Youtube for answers to their questions? Actually, over 90% of industrial buyers begin their research with a Google search, so that’s just old school thinking.
The point is, your prospects and customers have problems and they go online to find answers; it’s your job to show up on their short list as a credible expert and the answer to their problems. Inbound marketing through blog posts, newsletters, white papers or relevant social media posts allow you to showcase your solutions.
This means your company website should be your main lead generator, but for this to happen it needs to be chalk full of content and resources that appeal to your targeted audience.
Now that you’re ready to roll up your inbound sleeves, below are some definitions to help you navigate.
Content marketing is a major subset of Inbound Marketing. It involves producing and distributing content in order to attract your target audience and engage with them in a way that persuades them to take positive action. This means creating content that addresses their needs and answers their questions and then distributing it through multiple channels. Examples include web pages, blog posts, videos, how-to articles (just like this one), product reviews, e-books, case studies, white papers, newsletters, webinars, tutorials, testimonials and relevant social media posts.
These are any leads that you send or receive electronically. They include e-newsletters, e-books, and social media traffic but the most common e-lead generating tool is good old fashioned email.
This is the best way to attract visitors to your website. In fact, B2B companies who blog create 67% more leads each month than those who do not. But you must create blog posts that address prospects’ needs and gain their interest and trust. Blogs bring in more organic traffic because the search engines love them.
Your content should be tailored to meet the profiles of your various buyer personas. As you learn more about your lead types, you can better gear your content messaging to their specific needs.
Tools for creating and publishing content and others such as Google Analytics should all work together so that you’re publishing the right content at the best time using the proper platforms.
A CTA is a button that encourages web visitors to take beneficial action based on an enticing offer. Examples include downloadable content such as e-Books, white papers, newsletters or an invitation to attend a webinar. Helping visitors make provisional decisions result in more solid leads. CTAs are an essential component of inbound marketing and should be part of all your content marketing efforts.
A visitor who clicks on a CTA should be sent to a landing page, which is where the offer is fulfilled and where you obtain email addresses and contact information.
An autoresponder sends automatic follow-up emails to visitors who have used a CTA button. The emails serve to maintain contact and bring engaged users back to your site through useful and actionable information. Your sales team can subsequently begin a conversation with new contacts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Your company needs to appear prominently on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) for key phrases that your prospects and customers are typing into search engines. SEO involves editing page content and coding to increase the relevance of these keywords while removing obstacles to search engine indexing. It begins with a careful analysis of the key phrases people use in searches for your products and services. Listening to the words that your prospects and customers use to describe their challenges and solutions will help you choose the keywords to go after. This is followed by the continual creation of original content using these and other relevant keywords.
SEO also involves promoting your site by obtaining back links from other websites and social media sources. This creates signals to the search engines that your site has authority compared to others in your niche, which drives up your search rankings.
The careful and selective use of social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Company Facebook Pages) means you can share valuable information by engaging with your ideal prospects and customers on the social networks where they spend their time.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems manage all your customer interactions by tracking the details of your contacts and where they are in the buying cycle so you can easily reach them at the right time with the correct information.
Closed loop reporting involves sales teams reporting to marketing about the status of their leads, thus helping coordinate these two departments. This is data driven marketing and usually involves connecting marketing analytics software with CRM software. Thus your marketing folks can plan more strategically by concentrating on the most promising leads.
Inbound marketing is all about making your business highly visible online by engaging with your dream prospects and customers.
It is especially effective for B2B businesses that deal with long research cycles and higher costs per purchase. It is there that prospects are more likely to seek information, become informed and then buy from a company that demonstrates expertise.