Inbound Marketing Guide For B2B SaaS and Tech companies

What do marketing and technology have in common? They both focus on creation, innovation, and growth. When they join forces, they get the right businesses at the right time to solve their specific challenges.
 
Today's B2B buyers rely more on online information than salespeople when looking for solutions. Since the importance of this buying reality continues to grow, B2B marketing should focus on solutions instead of products to provide value and build trust at any stage of the buyer's journey.
 
The key to building trust and lasting relationships with your buyers is implementing an inbound marketing strategy. It's an affordable and effective way to create and capture demand without investing thousands of dollars into outbound marketing efforts.

Inbound Marketing Fundamentals

Why Does B2B Inbound Marketing Matter?

 

The inbound marketing strategy focuses on creating long-lasting business relationships. It's a strong foundation for building an online brand reputation and achieving your B2B goals by being human and helpful.

Behind every business are people who want to make well-informed decisions. They're looking for solutions and connections on different sites, platforms, and networks.

Inbound marketing can create awareness and draw potential customers through helpful and educational content tailored to them instead of pushing your business. As a result, you can become the trusted friend they seek advice when they have a challenge.

The more you try to understand buyers and make them feel valued, the closer you'll get to their business.

The Meaning of Inbound

Inbound is as much a mindset as it is a business strategy that you can apply to your business if you focus on these three principles: 

  1. Awareness stage: attract your ideal customers with relevant and helpful content. Deliver it through the proper channels and at the right time. Make your business stand out and earn their attention.

  2. Consideration stage: engage and guide your prospects along their journey to become customers. Gather the correct information and track their engagement level to create personalized experiences. Use tailored content to highlight pain points that your product solves. Build trust by helping them make well-informed purchasing decisions.

  3. Decision stage: delight your customers with an outstanding experience. Help them succeed with your product. Exceed their expectations to make them promoters of your brand.
 

The Flywheel Concept

 
The flywheel concept, coined by Jim Collins, is one of the ways good companies become great. He elaborated on that concept by applying it to Amazon's business model in 2019. How do companies transform from Good to Great?
 
They keep the customer experience at the core of everything they do. Every decision, action, connection, and response keeps the wheel moving or slows it down. That affects the customer experience and your business. 
 
The three principles mentioned above are part of HubSpot's flywheel for growth. Marketing plays a significant role in this concept. It's usually the first impression a company leaves before sales or customer service get involved.

Buyer Personas

 

B2B buyer personas are detailed profiles of your ideal customers based on your efforts to understand them through accurate data and market research.

The insights from 15 000+ global consumers and business buyers show that 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. 

To create buyer personas imagine you have to create the LinkedIn profiles of your ideal customers. Here is what you should consider: 

  • Demographics: gender, job title, company, industry, location, educational level.
     
  • Motivations and goals:  What motivates your customers? What’s their end game?
     
  • Interests: the topics they are interested in, the community groups, industry leaders, and influencers they follow.

  • Behavior - What are they writing about, and are they engaging with other accounts? 

The better you know whom you are marketing to, the better your messaging will resonate with them. The same applies to your negative buyer personas.

 

How to define a buyer persona Demographics, motivations and goals, interests and behavior  (2)

The Buyer's Journey

 

Understanding who your ideal customers are was just the beginning. The next important thing is understanding their buying journey. 
 
The buyer's journey is the path someone goes through with your business to accomplish their goals, leading to a purchase. 84% of business buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company that understands their business goals.
 
The buyer's journey to a long-lasting business relationship with your brand can look like this:
 
1. Attract strangers to your website with valuable content.
2. Convert visitors into leads through forms.
3. Engage leads and nurture them to build trust.
4. Close leads to customers by solving their challenges with your product.
5. Delight customers by empowering them to find success with your products.
The Buyers Journey attract, convert, engage, close, delight (1)

B2B Inbound Marketing Goals

 

It's crucial to direct your inbound marketing efforts toward relevant activities that fulfill your purpose. One way to set your direction is to define your inbound marketing goals.

There are different techniques for setting goals with clear focus and direction, and one of them is the PACT technique:

  • Purposeful. Choose a meaningful goal for your long-term purpose of building valuable business relationships instead of sacrificing your business reputation for a quick win.

  • Actionable. A good goal focuses on outputs and actions you can take and control to achieve it. It should inspire action, so the team knows where to focus and what to do to achieve the desired outcomes.

  • Continuous. Take continuous actions that help you achieve your goal. It encourages constant improvement rather than reaching a supposed end goal. 

  • Trackable. Track the progress of your activities towards the larger goal and whether or not you've completed them. 
PACT - a goal setting technique  Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, Trackable (1024 × 700 px)-1

The 8 Best B2B Inbound Marketing Strategies

 

1. Content Marketing

 

According to SEMRush 2021 global research, 97% of businesses include content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. 

Quality content is the main responsible driver of inbound marketing success. Your content marketing strategy should focus on creating and distributing content for the B2B buyer personas you've previously defined and at different stages of their buyer's journey. One powerful way to improve the quality of your content is to create an emotional connection with your audience through storytelling. 

Content marketing formats blog, landing page, e-book, free trial, video, infographics, podcast, pillar page

The 8 most popular types of content marketing formats:

  1. Blog - to increase leads, search engine rankings, awareness, and credibility of your business. 56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it's effective, and 10% say it generates the most significant return on investment. 

  2. Landing page - increase the number of leads through a website page that offers visitors valuable content in exchange for their information.

  3. E-book - allows you to show your authority on a subject and go more in-depth than you would with a blog post.

  4. Free trial - lets your customers see what they're getting before they commit to making a purchase. 

  5. Video marketing is becoming one of the top marketing strategies for B2B companies. 87% of video marketers  say video gives them a good return on their investment.

  6. Infographics are a powerful tool that allows your audience to process information through statistics, visual data, and charts.
     
  7. Podcasts - These long-form audio programs are a growing market, and it's the perfect time to add them to your content strategy if you're looking to reach a new audience. 49% of global marketers said they plan to increase their spending on podcasts over the next year.

  8. Pillar page - broadly overviews a central topic and links to other articles covering specific subtopics in depth.

 

Content distribution channels

Additionally, it's crucial to include a content distribution plan to share, publish and promote your content through various channels to reach your audience. The three main groups of content distribution channels are: owned, earned, and paid.

Content distribution channels 1. Owned blog, website, landing pages, social media profiles 2. Paid PPC, social media ads, influencer campaigns, sponsored content 3. Earned shares, reviews, mentions, gust posts (3)

2. SEO Optimization


The SEO strategy helps your content rank higher on search engines like Google. Google algorithms consider a wide range of ranking factors to decide how well a page ranks, with the ultimate goal to feature content that fulfills user search needs. 

Search engine optimization expands the online visibility of your business in organic search results and improves the quality of traffic to your website. As a result, it can bring you more conversions, win more customers and increase revenue.

SEO is an effective marketing strategy that includes on-page and off-page best practices to bring your content to the right audience.

Some of the factors that influence the success of your SEO efforts are valuable content, internal linking, site security, user-friendliness, page speed, quality backlinks, site authority, and mobile-friendliness.

Some of the factors that influence the success of your SEO efforts: valuable content, internal linking,  site security,  user-friendliness, page speed, quality backlinks, site authority, mobile-friendliness

3. Email Marketing



Email marketing from the inbound perspective is about sending the appropriate email at the right time to the right person. In other words, knowing your buyer personas and at which stage of the buyer's journey they are to send them the appropriate email. 

Segmentation plays a big part in the success of an email marketing strategy because it helps to send the most contextual messages to smaller groups of similar profiles. It is also an essential component of behavioral marketing that targets audiences based on their behavior, interests, intentions, geolocation, and other metrics.

The other two big players in the effective email marketing strategy are personalization and data-driven analysis. The goal is to collect more data, segment your contacts into groups and nurture them by creating highly personalized experiences.

If you’re wondering what good click-through rates for the tech industry are, here are some email benchmarks you should consider:  22.7% open rates, 2.0% click-through rates, and 9.8% click-to-open rates.

22.7% open rates
2.0% click-through rates
9.8% click-to-open rates
Email benchmarks for the Tech industry 22,7% open rates, 2.0% click-through rates, 9,8% click-to-open rates (2)

4. Social Media Marketing

 

Social media enables you to build brand awareness and connect with your ideal audience by taking advantage of the social media platforms they already use. It gives your content more chances to spread and be seen by a broad audience.

To build a social media strategy aligned with your business objectives, you'll need to: 

  • Decide which social media channels you will focus on based on your buyer's persona preferences. 

  • Perform social listening to develop new ideas based on industry trends and create content that's interesting for your followers.

  • Create a social media content strategy for different platforms.

  • Identify the right KPIs that support your business objectives and are crucial to understanding the success of your digital efforts.

  • Integrate social media into other inbound efforts, including your website, conversations, and blog posts.
Free Inbound Marketing Checklist A88Lab.
Inbound Marketing Campaign Checklist

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5. Marketing Automation

 

Marketing automation helps you manage processes across multiple channels and complete repetitive tasks faster and more accurately. It allows you to target prospects and customers with automated messages according to instructions called workflows. This way, you achieve more efficient interactions and better results.

For example, a customer can receive a follow-up email immediately after requesting information rather than waiting for someone to reply manually.

In 2021, HubSpot reported that 76% of companies use automation. It increases operational efficiency and grows revenue faster as a more straightforward way of completing time-consuming responsibilities.

 
Marketing automation can simplify: segmentation and targeting, lead nurturing and scoring, customer loyalty and retention programs, analytics and reporting, AB testing, etc.
Marketing automation can simplify 1. segmentation and targeting 2. lead nurturing and scoring 3.customer loyalty and retention programs 4. analytics and reporting 5. AB testing

6. Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

 

John McCarthy is considered one of the "founding fathers" of artificial intelligence. He presented his definition of AI as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines" at the founding event of AI on the campus of Dartmouth College in 1956.  According to McCarthy, a system has AI if it performs actions considered intelligent if performed by humans.  

Gartner defines artificial intelligence (AI) as a technology that applies advanced analysis to interpret events, support and automate decisions, and take actions. It can make your marketing automation more intelligent and positively impact your business outcomes.

AI is a powerful marketing solution that gathers data and adapts to improve the customer journey, delivering a personalized experience. With AI, you can boost marketing campaigns' ROI by interpreting user behavior and generating hyper-personalized digital ads.

According to Forbes, 70% of millennials feel frustrated when companies send irrelevant emails, and 74% feel frustrated when the website's content is not personalized.
 
The 3 forces that govern AI in marketing are algorithms, data, and networks.

 

The 3 forces that govern AI in marketing algorithms, data and networks

7. Growth-Driven Website Design

 

A Stanford study found that judgments on a company's credibility are 75% based on the company's website design. 

Since your website is responsible for your company's credibility, it should not be a final product. Instead, it should be a foundation you constantly build and optimize to increase your business growth. Here is where Growth-Driven Design (GDD) can contribute to reaching your goals.

GDD is a more innovative approach to web design that drives optimal results by learning about your visitors through data and continually improving the site's performance. It reduces the frustration and risk of traditional web design and doesn't require an up-front investment.

According to HubSpot, here is what 350 agencies from more than 40 countries reported seeing six months after launching a website using Growth-Driven Design: 14% more website traffic, 16.9% more leads, and 11.2% more revenue.

14% more website traffic
16.9% more leads
11.2% more revenue
Results for 350 agencies six months after launching  a website using Growth-Driven Design 14% more website traffic, 16.9% more leads, 11.2% more revenue (1) (2)

8. Sales and Marketing Alignment

 

According to a study by WorkBoard, 69% of high-performing companies say that the most important and effective way to build a high-performing team is to communicate business goals company-wide.

The best opportunity for improving business performance is having a clear revenue goal aligned with roles, systems, and technology. Sales and marketing teams should align and make an SLA agreement to accomplish that. 

With an SLA agreement, the marketing team promises to deliver a certain number of leads to sales, and the sales team promises to contact them within a specific timeframe. 

 

 

Marketing Analytics and Reporting

Before purchasing, buyers engage with brands via multiple touchpoints, and marketers need to understand which channels generate leads and convert customers most successfully. 
 
With the digital marketing analytics strategy, you can structure a business goal into outcomes based on three broad categories: 
 
  1. The relationship between different marketing channels.

  2. People-centric data on the buyer's journey.

  3. Revenue attributed to specific marketing efforts.
 
Since we live in a data-driven world, your organization should use accurate data to control your processes, reach conclusions, and improve. The first step leading to control and improvement is measurement. 
 
As a marketer, you can prove the impact of marketing on business goals by using the suitable marketing attribution model that focuses on the metrics relevant to the C-suite rather than vanity metrics.
 
For instance, with HubSpot's Multi-touch attribution reporting, you can find out which channels and content help you meet your goals. You can set up parameters and assign credit to various teams for the relevant interactions from your buyers' journey.
 
In HubSpot, you can choose between seven attribution models to assign revenue credits for the relevant touchpoints: first interaction, last interaction, U-shaped, W-shaped, linear, and full-path.
Attribution models to assign revenue credits for the relevant touchpoints full path, first interaction, U-shaped, linear, W-shaped, time-decay, and last interaction

Conclusion

We covered how inbound marketing can help you achieve your business goals and grow better by creating meaningful business relationships.

There are business problems that your B2B tech company can solve, and you deserve to be found by those businesses, at the right time and with the appropriate content. That's why implementing an inbound marketing strategy is the right choice

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