The Forward Observer > Marketing For The Front Line of Sales

The 5 Steps To Achieving B2B Inbound Marketing Nirvana

Written by Douglas Burdett | Oct 17, 2013 8:39:00 PM

Inbound marketing is not an effortless journey, but for marketers who focus on the five most important steps, the rewards can be transformative.


The marketing world continues to change because the way people buy keeps changing.

For the longest time, B2B buyers doing research had to contact the seller early in the process to get product information. Now, according to the Corporate Executive Board, buyers are fully 57% through their purchase before they first contact the seller.

According to eMarketer, 88% of US Internet users will browse or research products online.

As a result, websites are transforming into revenue generating assets by generating an increasing number of visitors, and then converting those visitors into leads and then customers.

This is also known as inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing has many, interrelated parts that must work together to be effective.

All the elements of inbound marketing can seem overwhelming and complicated to business owners or marketers who are more familiar with traditional marketing. However, there are just five areas that are crucial for success.

And, all aspects of inbound marketing can be grouped into one of these five areas.

1. Goal Setting

This brings to mind baseball great Yogi Berra’s quote,

“If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

The same is true with inbound marketing. Inbound marketing goals, to be effective, should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

What are your businesses short- and long-term goals? What are your goals for website visitors, leads and customers? 

2. Traffic Generation

The key to generating more visits from the right people is your content. Examples of content include blog articles, videos, data and images.

At the heart of your content should be the notion of educating your prospects. The more that you are able to teach your prospects, the more successful you will be at selling to them.

The very best single content item to increase your site traffic is your blog. Each blog article is like buying another ticket in the search engine lottery, except your chances of success in search rankings are MUCH better than in a lottery.

When blogging, remember to keep it to one topic per article, and focus on long-tail keywords that describe a problem for which people search the Internet for a solution. And the more you blog on a consistent basis, the more successful you will be at generating more site traffic

When you have a solid content effort underway, that’s when social media really shines. Jay Baer likes to explain the relationship between content and social media this way: “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” Social media is excellent for extending the reach of your content and getting it shared.

Which social media should you use? Think like a customer. What are your prospects using? And don’t share just your content. At most, your social media messaging should be no more than 50% of your own content. Your prospects will appreciate information from a variety of sources and it will make your company look more like a confident expert.

3. Conversion

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re not converting visitors into leads, everything before and after this step is for naught.

Essentially, you get lead conversions by offering valuable information to visitors in return for information about themselves. If the content is something they’d be willing to pay for or at least thank you for, your content will be successful.

The main elements of lead generation include calls to action (CTA), landing pages and thank you pages. The CTAs are normally in the form of a button that entices the visitor with the offer and invites them to click on it. Once the CTA is clicked it takes them to a landing page that collects the information. When the form is complete, the visitor is then taken to a thank you page where they are able to download the premium content.

Different from a blog article, lead generation content that resides behind a landing page for registration often includes white papers, eBooks, presentations, webinars, kits and guides.

What kind of content should be produced and offered? Think about your prospect’s buying process, and try to break it down into three steps: 1) performing research, 2) establishing buying criteria, and 3) evaluating vendors. Try to have at least three pieces of content for each stage of the buying process.

4. Nurturing

So, you've successfully obtained a lead. Now the real work begins. For some B2B sales, there is a lot of ground (and time) to cover between when someone becomes a lead and when they are ready to take the next step toward possibly becoming a customer.

Studies show that 75-98% of B2B website visitors are performing research. They are looking for content or information to solve a problem or fulfill a need, but THEY ARE NOT READY TO BUY.

The most important thing to do now is to segment your leads so that you can send relevant information via email. Examples of segmentation include by geography, job title, industry or what content they’ve previously downloaded.

By personalizing your lead nurturing, you can build trust by sending the right information at the right time.

5. Analyzing

That which can be measured can be improved! With inbound marketing, data is the path to more visitors, leads and customers. It is like a crystal ball that you can use to make smarter decisions.

Every month (or more frequently), analyze things like your goals, conversion rates, visitors, leads and customers. Then re-prioritize and do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working.

What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc // Graphics courtesy of HubSpot