A B2B marketers' life is tough! Keeping up in an industry where 'so many tactics and not enough resources' is the constant catch cry, can be extremely challenging. When we speak to our B2B marketing clients their problems often come from having inadequate resources to implement their marketing strategy effectively. However, when we dig below the surface, it's more about a lack of time and experience in integrating inbound and outbound marketing tactics.
What do we mean by inbound and outbound? A snippet of this infographic comparing the two explains it best:
The new age of marketing demands that marketers learn the art of integration by thinking carefully about what works best at what stage of their buyer's journey. At the top of the funnel, inbound marketing is increasingly dominant. This is because buying lists for outbound email is expensive, inaccurate, low return, (and in some countries, even illegal). It's much better to go where your buyers go to educate themselves. However, once you have "earned" that relationship and they move to the middle of the funnel, the style of your content and contact can change.
An Econsultancy survey by Marketing Charts found that 73% of company respondents and 75% of agency respondents noted that their clients will be using a more cross-channel marketing strategy this year. The mix of tactics and content needs to change as your buyer moves through the funnel. Here's one way it might work.
Top of funnel
A buyer finds your site, indicates their interest in a problem you're great at solving, because you have invested appropriately in search engine optimisation and social media to drive the right type of buyer to your site. Once they have reached your site you must convert their casual interest into specific interest via well placed calls to action and compelling content. You might then contact them using automated emails; new blog posts (for those who subscribed to your blog) or confirmation emails to remind them that they decided to connect with you (for those who downloaded some form of content you placed behind a form, like an article on industry trends).
Middle of funnel
You might then nurture their interest using (typically) automated emails combined with content offers that progressively educates and informs them about your offer. Keep addressing their pain points and give them the more detailed resources they need (like case studies, webinars, trials and demos) to help them make up their mind. It's critical to get your marketing tactics right so that the transition to sales is a smooth one. To avoid bombarding your prospects, map out your campaign strategy so you know you're allowing enough time between emails. If your database is large enough, segment your email lists to ensure you're sending the most relevant emails to the right people. Remember that in B2B there are many different influencers in a sale. Your content and distribution plan must speak to them all.
Bottom of funnel
The end of your nurture campaign might then lead to an offline event to which you invite them. Perhaps a breakfast briefing or large industry show. Now is the time to engage with them one on one, listening carefully to how they express their problems and responding at the right time with product sheets and customer testimonials, for example. Remember to integrate social media by generating buzz before, during, and after the event. Also remember to create a hashtag for it to link to every tweet you post about it on Twitter.
As each company is unique, you need to make sure it works for you. That's why we can't stress enough the final piece of the puzzle; analytics, to determine:
- the most effective channels at initially bringing customers to you (look for ones with the highest consistent conversion rates and focus your efforts on them)
- the journey your customer took to conversion (and when each step occurred)
- the content and distribution tactic that had the most effective conversion combination
Experience has taught us that inbound tactics work like a charm at the top of the funnel, but once you establish a relationship with that individual (when they convert from visitor to lead), a blend of outbound and inbound marketing tactics work best, leading to higher quality sales-ready leads.
If you would like to learn more about inbound marketing, please download our free eBook:
Do you agree that integration is key? Do you focus on mainly outbound or inbound marketing tactics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.