Why your B2B inbound marketing isn’t working like it used to
You’ve spent so much time building your inbound marketing strategy and generating tons of content, but the organic visits and conversions to contact are just not what they used to be? Let's face it, so much has changed on the inbound and digital marketing front since ~15 years ago when the term was at its infancy. The way your prospects (re)search, buy and use products and services has evolved and your inbound strategy had better evolve at that pace, or faster!
It’s high time to bid farewell to some old inbound marketing tactics that are about as effective as dial-up internet. Worry not, we’re here to help.
What inbound marketing is (and isn't)
Inbound marketing is the art of wooing and pulling in your target audience towards you/your product as opposed to pushing ads and pop-ups at them to grab their attention. It’s done by creating valuable content and experiences tailored exactly to their needs.
Traditionally, this involved investment in SEO, content marketing, social media, and email campaigns to draw prospects in, we’ve covered each of these in more detail here. However, there’s so much crappy content out there today and it’s so easily available, that getting the visibility you’re after, reaching the right audience and, most importantly, successfully converting, has become much, much harder. Worry not, there are some tips and tricks to get your content back on track and we’ll get to them in a minute.
Inbound marketing is not a magic wand that instantly generates leads without much effort or strategy. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, not a shortcut to succeed overnight, not a single tactic that’ll bring immediate results. Inbound marketing is a patient but deliberate process that requires consistency and a deep understanding of your audience needs. Think of it not as a sprint, but a marathon that demands your dedication, adaptability and commitment to providing genuine value at every step of the customer journey, not just spamming your audience with unsolicited messages or bombarding them with irrelevant content.
Why your inbound marketing activities aren’t working anymore
If you’ve worked on inbound marketing for a few years, but the content you’re generating isn’t receiving as much attention as it used to, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong and should throw the whole plan out of the window. It may be that you haven’t noticed the shift that’s been happening in the inbound world:
- Search behavior has evolved - it’s about both why and how people search online that’s changed (and changing). Your prospects want to get familiar with your brand and they’ll use voice and regular search to send the query. They want to compare your product against your competitors and they’ll scroll your website on their mobiles.
Chances are they’ll also do their own research about your company and products everywhere but on your website and long before they engage with you, which is exactly why you need to broaden your activities to make sure your company’s also visible outside of your own platforms.
- The power of word of mouth and peer review sites - following on from the above, it’s time to… go backwards. Your brand trust and influence is no longer measured by fancy marketing campaigns that, let’s be honest, don’t always tell the whole truth. People want to know what they’re getting and will rely more on their peers rather than on your sales team, they’ll trust review sites like G2 or Peerspot over your digital activities, however impressive.
- The demise of top of the funnel content - competition for share of voice has exploded. In 2010 businesses were still undecided about investing in a blog. Within a decade, there’s so much top of the funnel content out there and most of it is so rubbish, that it’s almost impossible to rank high for SEO. This and the fact that your prospects are now much more informed and selective, often entering the funnel at various touch points rather than starting from the top, leave you with two options: you might either take your chances and deliver top of the funnel content of absolutely excellent quality and highly relevant, or focus on solid middle- and bottom of the funnel content.
How you can fix your inbound marketing
- (Even more) personalized content - generic outreach is out, period. People don’t want to be spammed by emails, attacked by pop-ups or called by your lovely and polite SDR. They also don’t want to read about, “this digital age…”. Understand your audience's pain points, and address them directly, creating a connection that goes beyond the generic B2B pitch. If you can, rely on data to tailor your content and communications to your target audience. In short, you want your inbound to work? Deliver value.
- Mix of content types - the days when a whitepaper and a couple of demo ads were enough to woo your audience are long gone. In order to have a chance for a successful campaign you need to have a content mix that is built on multiple assets and channels. Spice things up with blogs, engaging webinars, interactive infographics, or even a podcast series. This does not mean you should be active on every platform available or use every content type out there, but we recommend mixing up a cocktail of your core content and testing out new things to see what truly resonates with your audience. Importantly, be consistent in content production and distribution. Don’t bang out tons of content in Q1 and then go silent in Q2. Dictate a pace that you can keep up with.
- Video content - and just a heads-up, video content is here to stay whether we like it or not, so the faster you integrate video into your strategy, whether it's explainer videos, product demos, or thought leadership pieces, the better.
- Generic Keywords & Voice search optimization - it’s no longer "I'll Google it", now’s the time for "Hey Siri, find me the best B2B tech solutions." Voice searches are on the rise, and your content needs to be voice-search-friendly.
Move beyond generic keywords to strategic, industry-specific terms; beyond specific keywords to measuring clusters; beyond broad searches to long tail searches. There’s really no point in trying to rank for ‘cloud cybersecurity solutions’, but you can try and aim for ‘cloud cybersecurity solutions in Boston’ or ‘cloud cybersecurity solutions for specific vendors’ instead.
Ask your sales team for their top FAQs during the sale process and use those to create content. Regularly update and refresh your content to ensure it remains relevant and ranks higher in search engine results.
- Mobile friendliness - as more searches occur on mobile devices, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Responsive design not only improves user experience but also positively influences search engine rankings.
- Fix social media engagement - social media is a powerful tool, but engagement is the new name of the game. When was the last time that YOU engaged with a company page on Facebook or Linkedin? Your company page won’t attract as much traction as your leadership team will on their personal profiles.
P2P is the new (old) name of the game where your leadership team can engage in conversations, respond to comments, and actively participate in industry discussions to make the content you create matter. So, your CEO doesn’t need to start sitting down to write Linkedin posts or to comment on Reddit, but it should be someone’s job to do it for her.
To wrap things up, if you’ve been feeling a bit let down by your go-to strategies, fear not – you’re not alone in this journey! The world of inbound marketing is undergoing a makeover, the landscape is shifting, the customers are changing their tunes and it’s high time we join the party.
Need help in learning the steps? We’re here to chat.