More and more B2B companies are adopting inbound marketing as a business strategy, to promote online growth, attract and engage with more leads, and ultimately create a sustainable, measurable profit. However, it’s easy to have some reservations about inbound. Many marketers might see it as a strategy for smaller companies, or believe that inbound is simply too much work to take on. This isn’t necessarily the case - it’s important to make sure that you not only understand what inbound is but also how it might be able to help your business grow.
So how do you know if inbound marketing is right for you?
Your ideal buyers are online
First things first - inbound is about online. If your typical customer is more the type to walk into a shop or pick up their phone before hitting the internet, then inbound might not be the right strategy for you. 94% of buyers use online research at some point in the buying process, and reaching these buyers is what inbound is all about.
Online isn’t just limited to search engines either - if your buyers are on social media, contributing in forums, or members of online groups, they’re still reachable using inbound. You just have to find the right way to reach them, in a way that is more friendly and helpful than traditional outbound marketing. For every inbound marketing strategy, we recommend mapping out detailed buyer personas to figure out the best ways to reach them.
Your customers are asking questions
Do you often find your sales teams answering the same questions again and again? This can get old quickly, and uses valuable time. If your prospects are repeatedly asking the same questions, it might be worth looking into a content strategy that answers them. Inbound isn’t just about attracting the customers you want, it’s also about ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are perfectly aligned. If you create content for every stage of the funnel, then marketing is easier, sales are speedier, and customers are happier!
The value of your customers warrants the marketing investment
Inbound isn’t cheap - it’s a full strategy that covers every aspect of your business, creating content, analysing figures, and adapting to scale as time goes on. It’s not just content either - your inbound strategy could include social media, paid advertising, CRO, website redevelopment, and more.
For this reason, you need to weigh up the value of your customers against the potential marketing investment that inbound could be. If you’re selling a product or service that has a low profit per month, it’s going to be more difficult to justify your marketing budget. If you’re selling software, technology, or work in a larger manufacturing company, you may be looking at each sale being worth thousands - this means that you can cover the costs of inbound with fewer customers (and the longer sales cycle is very suited to inbound).
You're getting leads, but not enough are becoming customers
We’ve all been there - the leads are coming in, but they’re just not turning into customers. It might be that they aren’t the right fit, or that they’re not quite ready to purchase, and it's extremely frustrating. Inbound is a way to combat this - the focus is on nurturing your leads, not just calling them out of the blue. If your prospect isn’t quite at the point of purchase but has engaged with your business, inbound can help to guide them along the journey until they are ready.
Marketing automation software and a solid strategy for lead nurturing is the secret weapon of an inbound marketer. You shouldn’t just be prepared to pick up the phone and speak to leads - you should also be prepared for all of the leads that come in in the future, no matter where they are on the buyer’s journey. With the help of marketing automation, you can set up a system that nurtures your prospects into customers, with minimal effort from the sales team.
Your outbound initiatives no longer work
If you’re still using cold calling, print and magazine adverts, or trade shows and exhibitions for the majority of your lead generation activities, you may have noticed that they just aren’t working as well as they used to. This is because the modern buyer has changed. Outbound marketing is often seen as interruptive, and the days where the salesman was king are long gone. Modern marketing means convincing your customers to come to you, and there’s no more effective way to do this than through inbound marketing. There’s no need to completely give up on your current marketing activities, but splitting your time between inbound and outbound methods can hugely pay off in the long run.
Your competitors outrank you for important keywords
If you were to do a quick search for your products or services on Google, would you see your website? Or someone else’s? SEO should be a huge part of any marketing strategy, and can have a huge impact on the number of leads coming to your website. Having a foolproof SEO strategy as part of your inbound marketing also means that your website is set up to keep generating leads in the future - it’s a long term strategy that helps your site gain more traction as time goes on. Creating valuable, searchable content doesn’t just intrigue your prospects now - it’s an investment in the future of your business.
You're unsure where your marketing investment is going, what's working and what isn't
If you’re still relying on traditional marketing methods, there’s a good chance that you don’t know where your leads are coming from. You might be drowning in spreadsheets, or explanatory emails, without being able to attribute revenue to one particular channel. It’s difficult to manage your budget, or invest more into one specific method if you don’t know which aspect of your marketing is providing the best ROI.
Inbound is different. Although your full marketing strategy is made up of many parts, one of the main features of inbound marketing is the consistent analysis and improvement of your processes and efforts. With the right strategy and software to manage it, you can track how your leads have found your business, and what led them to ultimately become customers. Inbound isn’t just understanding which method attracts the highest amount of leads, it’s detailed enough that you can attribute revenue to a single blog post.
Your customers aren't aware of all your products or services
Relying on your sales team to effectively upsell isn’t always a winning game. Consumers are getting savvier , and realise when they are being sold to! With inbound, you can make prospects aware of the full range of your products or services, without having to push the hard sell. Inbound marketing is about providing solutions to the issues that your prospects are having - by giving helpful, useful advice, you can turn the sales process on its head. By adopting an inbound methodology, you’re no longer the interruptive salesperson, but are instead listening to and resolving problems. Upselling isn’t upselling any more - it’s just providing the best option for your prospects at the time. Thinking of selling in this way means that no product or service goes unnoticed, and your prospects are educated on your service offering.
Still unsure? We know that going inbound is a big commitment, and that often it takes time to understand whether it can really work for you. It works as a combination of methods, covering different sources, personas, and questions that your prospects may be asking, and can all be confusing. We’ve created a free downloadable resource so you can figure out exactly what inbound is about, and how it can help you. Take a look, and start creating marketing campaigns that are designed to grow your business, and create customers more effectively.
This blog was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in 2020 for correctness and quality.