As a B2B professional, you’ll have heard all about the value of inbound marketing. The value of drawing prospects in with enticing content that addresses their specific needs. Content that positions your brand as an industry expert that can make your prospects’ working lives easier – and prompt them to hand over those all-important contact details.
But do you know what makes an effective inbound marketing programme?
Nail the Big Four challenges below and marketing will soon be passing on to sales what they crave most – high-quality leads.
1. Refine your strategy (then refine it some more)
Inbound marketing delivers a clear return on investment, so it’s tempting to jump straight in. But like any business initiative, you won’t get far without a clear strategy.
Start by defining your target personas. Work out exactly who in your prospects’ organisations are most likely to buy your product. Then establish exactly what they’re trying to achieve – and what’s stopping them from getting there.
You can do this a number of ways.
Conducting online research and participating in industry forums will reveal the kind of things your prospects are struggling with. And don’t forget to survey or interview your existing clients. But don’t bombard them with too many questions. In fact, a single killer question like “What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing today?” makes things easy for them, and gives you a clear picture of the issues your content should address.
Now you know who to target and what challenges to address, you’re ready to decide the type of content you’re going to create, who should be involved in creating it, and where to place that content so prospects find it.
2. Create content people want to consume (in other words: helpful content)
Let’s get straight to the point. Creating content isn’t about selling. Not explicitly, anyway. It’s about playing the long-game. It’s about building a relationship by saying to prospects: “That thing you’re struggling with – we can help with that.”
And remember, creating high-quality content can’t be down to marketers or your marketing agency alone.
Sure, they’ll play a big part in shaping your programme – like suggesting the kind of topics and formats that’ll resonate with your prospects.
But for your content to really hit home, you’ll need the buy-in of your techies and your C-suite.
Because only by tapping in to their expert insight can you create detail-rich, authoritative content that speaks your prospects’ language – and convinces them you’re a company worth speaking to.
3. Drive traffic to your website – then direct that traffic
There are a lot ways to drive prospects to your website. Social media, ads, video, blogs. Whatever format you use, you can expect a bump in web traffic.
But driving prospects to your website is only half the battle – keeping them there is another challenge.
So, make it easy for each of your target personas to find content that addresses their specific needs. Make sure your proposition is crystal clear. Optimise your most important pages so they show up in search. Pepper your pages with calls-to-action (CTAs) that move your prospects along the conversion path.
Remember, people are time-poor and have little patience. If they can’t find what they came for, there’s every chance they’ll bounce straight off your website (possibly straight into your competitors’ arms).
4. Get sales on board
Before the internet came along, researching a product took a lot of time and effort, which often led to buyers taking a sales rep’s word at face value. But in the digital age, buyers can simply go online to read reviews and compare one product with another.
That shift in power puts the buyer in control of the sales conversation. Which means sales has a different role to play – today, it’s all about being a trusted adviser. Because what buyers are looking for is expert insight to guide them on their buying journey. And this is where high-quality content comes in.
Sales reps need marketing to produce content that arms them with industry knowledge, so they can have well-informed conversations with buyers and advise them on what’s best for their business.
And it’s these conversations that help foster long-term relationships – and ultimately result in sales.
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