Short-term vs Long-term Success of Inbound Marketing
It's easy to see how inbound marketing tools like social media marketing and search engine optimization are valuable for B2C businesses, since most consumers turn to those avenues when researching companies. B2B marketers, especially in detail-oriented industries like manufacturing, sometimes have more trouble seeing that value at first glance. Many assume that in B2B marketing, when you are targeting well-educated, experienced business-people, the prospects you seek won't be using Google or Facebook. The reality is that those well-educated, experienced prospects are just as likely to use a search engine or social media as anyone else.
Benefits of Inbound Marketing in the Short Term
Increased visibility is perhaps the cornerstone to a successful inbound marketing plan. That's why tools like SEO and quality content creation are so important. Basically, you want to be found where people are most likely to be looking. A high search engine ranking or a valuable piece of content that is shared among industry insiders are both great ways to get your foot in the door, when it comes to marketing.
Once people are able to find you easily, inbound marketing allows you to begin creating relationships. Remember that piece of content that was shared among manufacturing industry insiders? In addition to increasing visibility, that content establishes trust in the eyes of potential prospects, especially if it was passed on by a trustworthy expert. Sales has always been about creating relationships with customers, and inbound marketing at its most basic level is still about the same thing, just through more modern methods.
Long-term Benefits of Inbound Marketing
While an immediate bump in visibility and a new way to create relationships are both important, the real value of inbound marketing shows it self over the long term. The best leads are the most qualified leads, right? Inbound marketing allows you to generate qualified leads with less legwork than ever before.
Perhaps the best way to explain this process is with a quick example. Let's say that a person in charge of purchasing for another business finds your company when searching for a niche manufacturing product online. They click through to your website, where they find valuable content explaining your product in great detail. At the end of that content, a call-to-action gently urges them to sign up for your email list, in exchange for further content on the same subject. They then continue to receive content, further engage your company, and a mutually beneficial relationship grows.
Even this simple summary highlights a few key benefits. First, the customer is able to find your business easily, in the place they are most likely to look. After that, the quality of your website demonstrates your professionalism, and the quality of your content demonstrates your expertise. This immediately builds trust in the prospect's eyes. That trust continues to build, and the resulting relationship allows you to better understand the prospect and choose just the right time to move firmly toward a sale.
The specific ins and outs of inbound marketing are important, too, but the first step is identifying the value in the process itself. While it may seem at first glance like inbound strategies wouldn't be as beneficial in B2B settings as they are in B2C, the reality is that the internet is the first research choice for complex B2B customers, just as it is for common B2C consumers. It's often been said that if you want the same results, continue using the same process, and that if you want to change the results, change the process. That axiom could not be more true, when it comes to modern marketing.
For another post about inbound marketing, check out:
3 Elements of Inbound Marketing