Business marketing is undergoing a revolution. The Internet has empowered consumers and changed people’s buying habits. More & more of the things buyers used to do offline, like researching products and getting news, they now do online.
Rather than open a phone book or call for quotes, 44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine, according to a survey by Interconnected World. The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people find, discover, share, shop, and connect. B2B marketers must adapt the way that they connect with prospective customers.
Changing Consumer Trends
This product research goes beyond getting recommendations for a plumber or comparing features of a new car. Take for example, the way we consume TV shows and movies. Popular TV series can be downloaded or watched online whenever and wherever the viewer chooses. Digital video recorders and video on-demand allows viewers to block out, or fast-forward through commercial breaks. Newspaper readership is declining and their advertising revenue models are collapsing as readers consume news online from content providers around the world. And more than two thirds of the US population blocks telemarketing calls by adding their number to the federal “do-not-call” list. These changes in consumer behavior present challenges to marketers who must find new ways to communicate with buyers by attracting their attention, rather than interrupting them.
The fact is, today’s buyers don’t want to be preached at. Traditional advertising is considered an interruption. Shoppers won’t wait for your ad, or rely on a sales person to tell them about your product or service. They do their own research, self-educate online, search websites for information about the stuff they want, and get recommendations from other users. Buyers are continually grazing on information, building their knowledge base and forming their preferences until they’re ready to purchase.
The Shift to Inbound Content Marketing
Effective B2B marketers are refocusing their marketing efforts away from traditional, outbound methods that have become less effective at generating leads. Instead, they’re shifting their budgets toward inbound marketing, attracting buyers with relevant content. Listening to them, rather than preaching at them. Pulling rather than pushing.
In the world of inbound marketing, interest is initiated by the user rather than generated by the business. Buyers want to consume valuable, useful, and typically online content rather than press releases, advertisements and commercials.
Inbound marketing is about matching your business communications to the stages of the buyer’s lifecycle rather than your company’s sales cycle. Where outbound marketing is geared to reach mass markets of thousands, inbound marketing is engineered to reach thousands of markets of one, interested consumer.
As a result, inbound marketing costs up to 62% less per lead than orthodox, old-fashioned advertising, according to inbound marketing software developer, Hubspot.
The Inbound Marketing Process
The case for inbound marketing is clear, but what does it really look like and how can you put it into practice? In order to build a comprehensive inbound marketing machine that produces qualified leads for your sales team, you need four basic components.
Produce Remarkable Content
First, you need to create great content. When it comes to marketing, businesses need to behave like publishers by creating original, remarkable, engaging content.
Your company blog is a perfect way to offer an ongoing stream of relevant content. Research shows that companies that blog get 55% more website traffic than those that don’t. How-to articles, opinion pieces, videos, audio and photos are great ways to position your company as a thought leader and an industry expert. We've written an article with more ideas for how to develop great marketing content.
Convert website traffic to leads
Next, you need to generate traffic and leads. Once you’ve created all this great, interesting content, you need to make sure it can be found by your prospects when they go looking for it on search engines. This includes effective search engine optimization (SEO), as well as social media marketing strategy, promoting your content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to engage interested readers with key bits of information and linking them back to your website.
Consumers buy from people they know, like and trust, so you need to nurture your leads. Follow up with visitors who have downloaded your content and become a trusted advisor by suggesting other content that they might find relevant.
Analyze the results
Finally, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. One of the biggest benefits of inbound marketing is that we’re able to monitor the success of each campaign element and continuously prove and improve the results of one tactic over another.
These 4 components, the content, lead generation, lead nurturing and analysis, form the foundation of your inbound marketing process.
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