The purpose of the inbound marketing methodology is to attract, engage, and delight website visitors and offer helpful content at every phase of the buyer’s journey — ultimately transforming prospects into customers and promoters of your brand. Inbound marketing tactics can build upon one another to achieve this goal, but whether for lack of a marketing budget or lack of understanding for each component’s value in an inbound marketing strategy, many companies don’t commit to a full inbound marketing program.
Before you launch your inbound program, it’s essential to put in place a clear strategy that will drive your tactics. In fact, it’s so important, that if you haven’t yet done the foundational work to develop a strategy that outlines your program goals, competitive baseline, target personas, positioning and messaging, SEO opportunities, and more I recommend you read this article first: 10 Key Components of a B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy.
But what does an inbound marketing plan look like in execution? Your selection of marketing methods will be as individual as your business and your customers — so it’s important to understand that you may need to adjust your tactics from time to time based on performance, business goals, and your quarterly roadmap priorities. We’ll discuss why the following 10 tactics are crucial and how they work together to execute your inbound marketing strategy to help your company reach its marketing goals.
- Advanced Content Creation
- Video Content
- Content Distribution and Promotion
- Email Marketing
- Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing Workflows
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Growth Driven Design (GDD) Approach for Your Website
- Implement a Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) Program
- Sales Enablement
Blogging is the foundational element of a B2B inbound marketing plan. Helpful, relevant blog articles should address your target personas’ pain points. These pieces play a major role in attracting leads and helping boost organic traffic to your website, and a few important best practices can help you write well-structured, helpful posts that attract and engage visitors on your company website.
It’s important to understand, however, that results won’t come overnight. At a rate of one blog article per week (the minimum we recommend), it typically takes 12 to 18 months before companies see exponential traffic growth. Google rewards consistency, so with a dedicated publishing schedule of at least one article per week, you can expect to see exponential traffic growth after around 55-70 articles, followed by steady growth as you continue to publish with consistency.
2. Advanced Content Creation
Advanced content offers not only generate new contacts but can also guide existing contacts and draw them deeper into your sales funnel. Advanced content comes in many forms, but some of the most common types include eBooks, tip sheets, whitepapers, how-to guides, and interactive calculators. Check out this infographic for a more extensive list, and to consider which pieces are a fit for your business and target audience. These content offers typically take a deeper dive into topics than blog articles, or provide the next logical step for the visitor to take in their buyer’s journey, and are ideal for promotion at the end of blog articles as a call-to-action (CTA).
We strongly recommend that our clients produce one advanced content piece each month, especially in the early stages of an inbound program, as it is an outstanding tool for capturing leads (turning unknown visitors into known contacts) and demonstrating expertise on topics you know your prospects are interested in.
3. Video Content
We could categorize video content under a broader category called “content publishing,” but like blogging and advanced content, video deserves a category all its own. Online video content has exploded, and it’s estimated that video traffic will make up roughly 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2021! There’s simply no better time than right now to use video as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
In the industrial manufacturing space, there’s a wide array of video content that can spark the interest of your prospects, including customer testimonials, product demos, capability demos, case studies, and video blogs. The key is educating your audience on the value of your products or services.
Searching for inspiration? See this article for four industrial companies that are using video to their advantage and check out our complete library of video marketing how-to's below:
4. Content Distribution and Promotion
So, you set your strategy and developed all this great content — now what do you do with it? For starters, following a few best practices can help ensure that your hard work on content creation is rewarded:
- Understand who your audience is
- Discover where they’re finding and sharing content
- Learn what types of content they find valuable and shareable
- Explore creative topic discovery and capture attention with eye-catching content
- Build and maintain relationships
- Get involved in conversations and be part of your industry community
- Remember to write like a human, for humans
Distribution: Obviously, you want to foster a dedicated following of subscribers to your own blog, but if readers find their valuable content elsewhere, consider guest blogging on other sites to gain exposure and authority in your industry.
Your sales team is another great distribution channel for your content. If you maintain a content portfolio for each stage of the buyer’s journey, your sales reps can easily choose and distribute helpful, relevant content directly to their prospects in the context of their conversations.
Promotion: This requires a full team approach. It’s not just sharing content offers via social media posts with easy click-throughs on your company page. All of your team members should be sharing your content on the platforms your prospects use most often. Paid ads are also a good tool to boost promotion in cases such as events or product launches, or a significant new content offer you’re seeking to generate leads from.
What good are high-quality blog articles if they’re never seen? While quality content will certainly be rewarded over time by Google in organic search, it’s important for companies and their employees to promote blog articles on social media immediately. We recommend sharing blog articles on company profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, and also encouraging staff to share these articles with their own social networks and industry communities.
Sharing older company articles, relevant third-party content, and posts promoting company culture can also go a long way toward building your company’s brand on social media. In time, you’ll have measurable ROI from these activities.
For more ideas on content distribution and promotion, check out this article by Neil Patel.
5. Email Marketing
A well-crafted email marketing strategy is crucial for providing prospects with the right content at the right time. Email marketing allows you to promote new blog articles to subscribers, recommend new advanced content pieces to those who have opted in to email communications, and develop an automated workflow strategy. When you send targeted content to specific contact lists, you help them progress through the sales funnel.
Here are a few relevant statistics about email marketing for 2020:
- 81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
- 16% of all emails never make it into the inbox. (Email Tool Tester, 2019)
- 87% of B2B marketers say email is one of their top free organic distribution channels. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
- 90% of content marketers say email engagement is the top metric they track to measure content performance. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
For tips on making your email marketing successful, checkout our free guide:
6. Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing Workflows
According to HubSpot, 67% of marketers are using automation. At the same time, 70% of companies that automate report a benefit of better-targeted customer communication. Marketing automation can help you achieve many objectives; among its benefits is the ability to automate and scale lead nurturing workflows that promote your content in alignment with the buyer’s journey and prospect behaviors. The HubSpot platform allows users to apply logic and behavior to develop targeted, effective automated workflows.
With automation in place, companies often find their sales teams become more successful and satisfied, as they can connect from the outset with warmer leads who have already been nurtured with relevant content.
Use of marketing automation is expected to increase, and businesses can emulate tactics deployed by the most successful market leaders to achieve similar success. Automation essentially replaces the cold call with contextual marketing, serving as a win-win for prospects and your sales team.
7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
We’ve talked about the importance of blogging and advanced content, but without a search engine optimization strategy, this content might never be found organically in the first place. In fact, SEO is integral to almost every part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Quality SEO starts with keyword research and a well-defined keyword strategy that homes in on words and phrases your target personas are likely to be searching — those that address their pain points.
For example, if you’re an original equipment manufacturer that understands prospects are struggling with the cost of your equipment versus alternatives, writing an article on “5 Reasons Why The Cost of X is So High” will provide honest answers and explain the value of your product to prospects while also targeting keywords that are likely to attract volume in your industry.
While there are many other factors that influence SEO, including website user experience (e.g., mobile-first design and website security), it all starts with finding the best keywords based on your potential buyers and creating highly targeted content around them.
8. Growth Driven Design (GDD) Approach for Your Website
Websites of old required tons of time dedicated to planning and launching the website, only to let the website sit unchanged until it became obsolete again within a few years. Growth Driven Design flips this old practice on its head by taking an iterative, user-centric, data-driven approach to website improvement. A GDD approach requires regular analysis of user behavior on your website, which informs the areas of improvement and updates that will enhance user experience and drive users toward the content they’re interested in most.
One significant benefit our clients experience when they implement a GDD approach to their website is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). By analyzing user behavior and data on forms pages and making design changes to improve user experience, we’ve achieved lower form abandonment rates and better data collection.
9. Implement a Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) Program
Now that you’ve leveraged your helpful, contextual content to nurture prospects along through the flywheel and convert them into customers, your entire team should focus on delighting those customers — as they can be sources of the most powerful content: testimonials. Implementing a VOC program allows you to gather the stories of how your prospects became customers, learn where you can improve as a business, and leverage that great experience into content.
In order to access that trove of treasured knowledge, you first need to access those customers. That’s where your VOC program comes in. You’ll need to consider what touchpoints and mediums make sense to tap into your customers for insight. You may choose to contact customers individually and ask them questions face to face, or it may be more efficient and scalable to use a survey or form on your website or emails — or a combination of these methods.
Either way, the insight you gain through your VOC program is for much more than marketing content — it’s about business growth opportunities. You’ll learn about the areas where you excel and where you can improve. You can identify gaps in your service delivery or potential new product ideas. Just as important, you’ll make it clear to your customers that you value their feedback just as much as they value your expertise. A well-defined VOC program helps continue to align your marketing and sales, improve existing processes, and delight both prospects and customers.
10. Sales Enablement
When we talk about B2B inbound marketing strategy, we stress the importance of aligning your marketing and sales teams in order for inbound to work well for your organization. On the tactical side, this takes the form of sales enablement. In a nutshell, by ensuring your sales team has access to the optimal tools and resources they need, you make it that much easier for them to close more deals.
This is yet another reason we love using HubSpot Sales and CRM software. It’s loaded with easy-to-use tools, like the Documents tool, which keeps an up-to-date library of content pieces organized and at their fingertips. Email Templates save vast amounts of time, Sequences help streamline communication with leads, and Snippets simplify response efforts. The Meetings tool syncs with calendars to make it easy for prospects to book face-to-face time. Our favorite features help our client's sales teams do their best work.
So Where do I Start?
By now, you’ve seen the value of each of these inbound marketing tactics and how each component of your inbound program interconnects and depends upon the rest for success. Your inbound program is going to evolve and change over time, so it’s essential to commit to not only your inbound strategy, but also to measuring and evaluating your program’s effectiveness to adapt tactics when needed. Ready to leverage the power of inbound marketing? Read our Step-By-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing get started!