How Content Marketing Benefits B2B Companies (& Where to Start)
There is a more cost-effective strategy for attracting customers that you may not be using yet. Traditional outbound marketing methods include buying magazine ads, cold calling, purchasing email lists, or running commercials in local markets. These interruptive approaches are often expensive and can be rather off-putting for potential customers.
Alternatively, B2B inbound marketing has evolved throughout the past decade as a more effective, relationship-based methodology that provides value to potential customers early on—long before they even consider purchasing your products or services.
If your company hasn’t already shifted toward content-based inbound marketing, it should.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing provides helpful information to potential customers at the right place and right time. Rather than yelling to get them to buy what you’re offering, it prioritizes them, recognizes their fears and hopes, and utilizes empathy to supply answers to their many questions—in the form of blog posts, podcasts, videos, ebooks, and emails.
Inbound distinguishes itself from traditional outbound marketing by making such remedies available and easily accessible—when potential customers need them the most. Instead of shouting into a megaphone, this growth strategy capitalizes on the inclination of most people to seek out solutions when they’re trying to solve a problem. Inbound marketing largely relies on the power of search engines to help these potential customers—whether individual consumers or business owners— organically find the answers they’re after.
According to marketing research and digital trends hub ‘Think with Google,’ 49% of users say they utilize Google searches to discover or learn about a new product. If your business isn’t creating content that resolves their questions, then you can be pretty certain others already are. Any company can benefit from inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing and sales platform Hubspot’s 2021 “Not Another State of Marketing Report” reveals 82% of companies are investing in content marketing, while online visibility management SaaS platform SEMrush notes in its analysis “Content Marketing Statistics You Need to Know” that 76% of companies have a team of one-to-three content specialists.
And the trend doesn’t seem to be going away.
Why Does Inbound Marketing Matter for Businesses?
A 2021 study by digital marketing firm DemandGen indicates 44% of B2B customers consume three to five pieces of content before they’re willing to engage with a sales rep. If this is the case, you are going to miss out on many potential clients until you develop a successful inbound marketing strategy.
So, what exactly are the benefits of B2B inbound marketing and why might it be right for your business?
7 Benefits of B2B Inbound Marketing
- Incredibly Cost-Effective, Saving Time & Money: Consider how much it costs to produce and publish a blog post as compared to buying an email list or paying to speak at a trade show. Not only is it less expensive, but content, including a whitepaper, landing page, or a web graphic, can be evergreen, available to anybody with access to a search engine.
- Boosts Brand Awareness: If you can create high-quality content for people that is available when they are ready and looking for you, you’ll quickly become a known resource within your industry. Given the perennial nature of digital content, not only does it exist seemingly forever, but it has the ability to go viral, and spread across digital platforms with little to no additional cost once published. This means you can expect your brand awareness to expand organically and without having to prod others. If your content is good enough, other people will share it for you!
- Generates Quality Leads & Increases Traffic: Rather than taking a scattershot approach and hoping those you target through disruptive marketing will want what you have to offer, content-based strategies enable leads to tell you precisely what they are after. By analyzing which type of content they’ve already engaged with, you can continue to provide them with more valuable content until they are ready to become a customer. Having the right marketing automation tools and software make this even easier.
- Sustainably Grow Over Time: While traditional marketing methods tend to run for a brief duration, B2B inbound marketing means creating content that is available across multiple channels, 24/7. Note it requires time for your content to be indexed by Google and to take root digitally, but once it does, it will continue to grow and expand your reach. The more you contribute to this by linking new content to other valuable content, the more success you’ll find. Search engines will steadily tend to serve your content if you plant the proper seeds in the proper places.
- Unifies & Focuses Marketing & Sales Efforts: B2B inbound marketing is well suited for aligning marketing and sales efforts, bringing these two often-siloed teams together to create meaningful content for customers. Instead of working in isolation, members of each team use their unique insights to address the same problem—providing answers to clients’ questions in the right place at the right time.
- Fosters Trust & Establishes You as an Expert: Demonstrating to potential clients and customers that you’re not only knowledgeable about your particular field, but willing to help them free of charge (at least, in their eyes!), goes a long way in establishing your brand as trustworthy. People tend to come back to those who have already helped them. Each piece of content they engage with is an opportunity for you to delight and benefit somebody who will become increasingly more likely to reach out to you when they have a problem they can’t fix on their own.
- Helps Build & Maintain Meaningful Relationships With Clients: - Nurturing strong B2B relationships is central to inbound marketing. We don’t enjoy feeling like a number or being marketed to, which is often the case with many outbound efforts when we don’t provide leads with anything valuable. On the other hand, inbound marketing grows the relationship every step of the way; that is, if you are creating reliable and useful content for your potential customers.
Starting a Content Marketing Strategy
You’re not going to find an inbound content marketing strategy that works well for all businesses, but there are several features that effective strategies have in common.
In simple terms, your strategy should be built around attracting, engaging, and delighting customers in organic ways. This is well captured by HubSpot’s flywheel, which contrasts with more linear models, such as conversion funnels. The flywheel connotes the ongoing and dynamic nature of inbound marketing. As with any relationship, you always need to be nurturing and attending to it.
Let’s look at what each of these flywheel phases represent.
In order to attract consumers or leads, your content needs to be in front of their eyes, and that takes a solid SEO strategy, with carefully selected words and phrases associated with your business that are likely to be searched. The goal is to get as much of your content as possible to appear on the first page of search engines, and by producing content about those topics, people will naturally find you.
You’ll want to include attention-grabbing visuals that display well on various social media platforms and devices and make it easy for people to access your content (fewer clicks is usually better).
You need to be confident the content you plan on creating will appeal to the exact type of person that will become a customer. Content needs to be valuable and delivered in appealing ways. It should not only answer potential customers’ questions, but present info in a way that gets them to click.
Think seriously about the specific questions people will ask about your industry or products. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this in the dark. There are keyword tools, such as SEMrush, which help you use analytics to identify which terms are most heavily searched or relevant to your business.
Regularly find ways to help and support leads or customers, adding value at every interaction. Without being nagging, send follow-up emails with relevant content offerings, create content that entertains and educates, and utilize well-timed feedback surveys to gather more information for how you can better serve your customers. Deliver content that really wows them.
You should have valuable content for customers along every step of their buyer’s journey that attracts, engages, and delights.
When you develop a content plan, you’ll want to consider including case studies, pillar pages, calls-to-action (CTAs), webinars, podcasts, blog posts, white papers, and ebooks. You don’t need to utilize all of these, however, employing a combination will ensure you captivate a wide range of leads’ communication preferences.
Admittedly, creating a content marketing strategy can be daunting, which is why many businesses enlist an inbound marketing agency to help them develop and execute it. Some agencies will even teach you how to do it yourself once they’ve set you up with the proper tools.
Just Answer the Question
At the end of the day, B2B inbound marketing doesn’t have to be your only growth strategy. (There is still a place for outbound marketing.) However, if your company is hoping to expand its reach, increase brand awareness, identify high-quality leads, and most importantly, improve the lives of potential clients and customers, then inbound marketing should play a prominent role in your business strategy.
There’s an extensive pool of people out there struggling with questions. Will your company be the one to answer them?
Morey Creative Studios specializes in B2B inbound marketing for your business. Contact our team today to develop an effective inbound marketing strategy and maximize results.