Strategic inbound marketing produces undeniable results for B2B manufacturing businesses.
It's not breaking news that we live in an age where people expect instant gratification. Packages are able to be delivered same-day. You can stream your favorite artists' new music the day it's released. You can watch new episodes of your favorite shows on-demand. The virtue of patience is almost non-existent. We're sure you've seen the impacts in your markets, too. Customers want service tickets answered quicker. Clients want direct access to sales information in real-time. And the list goes on.
We understand meeting demands quickly is part of doing business these days, but just because instant gratification is desired doesn't mean it's realistic. Consider inbound marketing, for instance. Inbound marketing doesn't work overnight. It takes time and consistent effort. Knowing how inbound marketing works will help to develop a realistic understanding of its effectiveness and results.
What Is Inbound Marketing, and What’s In An Inbound Marketing Strategy?
If you're new to inbound marketing, hop over to this article for an overview of inbound marketing. For those familiar with inbound marketing, you know it's a less intrusive method of reaching today's buyers. It focuses on creating educational content online that compels people to visit your website to learn how your product solves their problems and addresses their pain points. Inbound marketing not only draws in visitors, but it engages with them through every stage of the buyer's journey, and it continues to delight them even after they become customers.
As an example, let's say a floor cleaning service company is looking for ways to ramp up the number of customers they service a week. They might go to a search engine like Google and type in "how to service more customers," "how can I get more floor cleaning appointments," or "what do I need to scale my cleaning company."
In their search results, they’ll likely find some combination of the following content types:
From there, they'll click the links that seem the most helpful and relevant information. Having an effective inbound marketing strategy could mean you're listed as one of those valuable information resources. And the more information and resources you provide your audiences, the more you're established as an authority in your market. If visitors find your information helpful enough, and you can effectively nurture them through the buyer's journey, they'll easily convert into a customer when they're ready to buy.
We work with B2B manufacturers who rely on inbound marketing to fill their sales funnels. Having experience working with manufacturing businesses, we know there is a balance between tried and true industry best practices and having customized inbound marketing strategies. Regardless of the approach, the goal is always to attract, engage, and delight customers as quickly as possible.
5 Foundational Components of Inbound Marketing
Contacts are people in your database who find you helpful, and you're responsible for providing value. This includes anyone your business markets or sells to. One of the primary goals is to build relationships with this group of people.
It's not enough anymore to have a list of names and phone numbers. Your B2B marketing efforts have to align with your prospects' problems and needs (we'll discuss where these get defined in a minute). To build relationships, you need to know as much as possible about each contact. This enables you to customize communication, so it feels like you understand the challenges they're experiencing.
2. Buyer Personas
It doesn’t matter what your product is — you HAVE to define your ideal customers. This helps focus your efforts, so the right traffic comes to your site. You want the visitors that are the most likely to become customers.
To better understand your ideal customers, develop buyer personas. You can do this by collecting data (leverage your existing customer database) and what you know about who they are, what motivates them, and their goals. Document this information and review it with your sales and marketing teams, so they’re aligned with who you’re trying to reach and convert. Once you’ve fleshed out your personas, you’ll be able to write content that’s customized and targeted to your audience.
Here’s a pro tip — consider your personas’ problems first, then how you can help. It’s easy to get trapped in promoting the solution you provide and what you know about your products. That’s not where this fits in. If you stay focused on the problems that your audience truly cares about, then you’ll have much better frameworks to help them understand your product as the solution.
3. Buyer’s Journey
When creating and executing your inbound marketing strategy, it's important to create content and resources related to the prospect's stage in the buyer's journey. If they don't find value in what you're providing or think the content is irrelevant to them, they will not engage with it. There are many tactics you can employ to make sure your prospects are served the right content at the right time, but to do that, you have to have content created for these stages.
It’s essential to consider how you’re providing the content to your audience. You can accomplish this through blog posts, infographics, videos, tutorials, whitepapers, podcasts, case studies, website content, webinars, etc. Understanding how your audiences prefer to consume content will only increase your chances of them viewing it.
We consistently preach at TANK the need for goals and tracking. If you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter what path you take, and there’s no way to analyze which tactics make the most sense for your B2B marketing strategies.
There’s always a metric or result you’re looking to achieve. Whether big or small, it’s important to define this upfront and set timeframes with deadlines at regular intervals. This gives everyone on your team a push to keep the schedule to drive results.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From An Inbound Marketing Strategy?
As a reminder, I'll start by saying that anything of worth takes time and investment. And I promise we're not dodging this question, but often the answer to how long inbound marketing takes before seeing results isn't black and white. There are so many factors that can influence the outcomes.
It's important to remember where you started. If you don't have any data or insight driving your inbound marketing strategy, you may need baseline data first. This can take a few months. After six months, we suggest a check-in to see if you notice any changes.
But, inbound marketing is a long-term strategy. That's why it's a perfect fit for helping drive business growth — it's the ability to provide consistency in your marketing efforts. After working with a shed manufacturing client for several years, the owner had this revelation about his inbound marketing strategy: "After about five years of working with [TANK New Media], it finally clicked — the difference between successful and unsuccessful marketing is the continual, ongoing effort. I can't help but think of a quote I heard, 'The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people do consistently what unsuccessful people do periodically.'"
Inbound marketing results often depend on how much effort and investment you can put into the strategy (how often you publish new content — blog posts, videos, webinars, articles, etc.). Each of them is a unique opportunity that, when optimized correctly, increases the likelihood of ranking in Google.
Like I mentioned before, many influences can affect the outcome of your B2B marketing strategy, so we don’t like to say there’s a set timeframe for results. However, we typically see substantial growth in attracting, engaging, and delighting customers within a year of typical and effective inbound marketing. But, that said, nothing is static. User behaviors, interests, and problems evolve with time, which means your marketing has to as well. As you continue to build your B2B marketing strategy, be sure you’re constantly analyzing results, adjusting tactics, and maximizing your efforts.