To create or improve your B2B inbound marketing strategy, here we offer principles for lead generation in 2023 and beyond. These are relevant to service providers and traditionally offline businesses, as well as ecommerce companies.
It is estimated that global B2B sales has exceeded $25 Trillion, with around 27% of the transations completed online. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic may have reduced that total somewhat. However, the proportion of commerce going online has certainly increased dramatically.
Building B2B sales funnels with inbound marketing offers one of the most comprehensive and long term solutions for allowing your business to compete. Diligently building out buyer personas, researching your immediate competition, creating a scheduled content calendar and a number of mini campaigns to increase leads all form part of the process.
The challenge for B2B product or service providers is to accumulate a steady stream of leads both on and offline, depending on the business model.
Buyers are researching more and more of the information they need to make decisions before speaking to salespeople – it’s estimated around 60% of the buying decision process is completed before first contact.
This often means extensive digital research via search engines like Google, Bing etc when it comes to B2B (more than likely, you haven’t used the Yellow Pages for a while…). They’re also not looking to be sold to. They’re looking to be further educated and to see that you understand their market and challenges.
B2B Lead Generation & Sales Funnels
When it comes to B2B lead generation to get potential customers into your sales funnel, there’s often the temptation to get as many people into the top. This is in the hope / expectation that some of those will then stick.
The problems with that approach include:
- Focus on quantity over quality means that you might miss out on getting seen by those perfect customers. You might neglect those of the right size, in the right sector, with the right need – especially those actively in buyer mode. You just don’t create the content to bring them in
- You get too busy following up all the leads. So you don’t get the time to segment them and give adequate attention to those most likely to convert into paying customers
- Your salespeople get disillusioned by junk leads so they lose interest when the right leads do come in. They are too jaded to follow up with the vigour and enthusiasm they deserve.
The way to avoid that mistake is to really dig deep into the attributes of your best customers. Align those with topics for your inbound marketing content calendar. These topics will include keywords for SEO. Use hashtags when sharing on social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps Facebook and others.
Customer Education & Targeting
So the major factors for effective customer education and targeting are:
- How to “educate” buyers around the brand without selling to them:
Changing a companies ethos from a sales focus to education isn’t always easy. Many ask “why we would do this instead of increasing PPC (Pay Per Click marketing) or adding more sales personnel?” Education breeds trust, trust builds familiarity, and familiarity should lead to an increase in sales. Content based strategies allow potential customers to engage in a non-sales based environment. This allows you to demonstrate authority in your field and increase trust.
- Determine the right voice and content:
Determine your voice and content by creating effective buyer personas. These are generic “my persona is a small company looking for legal services”. That persona won’t win you any awards or increase sales. Develop far more in-depth personas and you can talk the right language to your perfect customer.
- How to continually optimise the messaging:
To continually optimise your messaging you need feedback that includes data / statistics. There is a huge range of analytics tools and website plugins available to do this. However, you also need to understand what’s important so that you don’t get sucked into chasing the biggest, flashiest numbers. Don’t make the same mistake as 99% of your competitors!
Want some help with your B2B inbound marketing in 2023?
* Frost & Sullivan research into the Global B2B market