Marketing 2.0 is well underway in the business-to-business world, and many B2B companies are actively seeking to build that “Inbound Pipeline” of high-quality sales leads.
How close is your company to taking advantage of this accelerating shift to Inbound Marketing? And what is required to turn your existing website into an effective Inbound Marketing Website?
Before we cover the step-by-step process, let’s review what your Inbound Marketing Website has to accomplish:
- Attract: Your goal is not to create traffic for traffic’s sake, but to attract a stream of highly relevant prospects to your site.
- Engage: Once these prospects arrive on your site, your Inbound Marketing Website must immediately engage these visitors with great content so that they stick, explore your site, and ideally bookmark and refer your site to other prospects/stakeholders in your b2b industry.
- Convert: Finally, your Inbound Marketing Website must convert these visitors to actual prospects, by providing you with their contact and profile information. Without conversion, your prospect come and leave, nameless and faceless, and continue their sales cycle without you.
In building your Inbound Marketing Website, a common mistake is to jump right in and SEO your existing website for better SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings to attract more prospects, without first strengthening your online content. But it makes no sense to increase relevant traffic to your website if the content does not sufficiently engage them, because the visitors you’ve worked so hard to attract will bounce right off.
So your best first step is to make sure your website is worth a visit.
Step 1: Strengthen your website with unique, valuable, relevant Content.
The idea is not just to add hundreds of pages of product descriptions and specs to build your Inbound Marketing Website, but to add “thought-leadership” content to assist your b2b prospect in becoming a more informed buyer. Remember that most b2b prospects use the web as an educational tool to research products, solutions and suppliers. Make it easy for them to complete that research on your website, instead of your competitors. And keep your content as generic as possible. If your content too blatantly pushes your solution, in too “salesy” a way, you will undermine the credibility of your message.
To gauge your website’s content readiness for Inbound Marketing, use this checklist:
- Amount of Content: Google considers even a 300 page website a small site. If you are looking for the best ways to add great content to your Inbound Marketing Website, check out our post on How to build great online content for B2B Markets.
- Availability of Content: Does your website’s architecture make it easy for the prospect to quickly find the content he or she is looking for? All key content on your website, for example, should be available with 2 clicks from the home page.
- Variety of Content: Do you have content on your website to guide prospects through your entire b2b sales cycle? Prospects early in the sales cycle will look for a high-level overview that describes the dynamics of the industry, and the key features and benefits of your solutions. Prospects later in the sales cycle will likely be already quite informed on the industry, and will look for more specific content on your particular solution to help them narrow down their short list of suppliers.
- Alignment of Content: The content of your Inbound Marketing Website must be aligned with your company’s chosen keyword identity on the web – keywords that you can successfully compete on for organic traffic, including primary keywords, secondary keywords, and long-tail keywords.
Step 2: Attract relevant traffic to your Inbound Marketing Website with SEO, PPC, and Social Media
Armed with great content, now you are ready to promote your website to the online world by using SEO to increase organic traffic, PPC to increase paid traffic, and Social Media Campaigns to increase referral traffic.
How do you rate your current website’s ability to attract traffic? There are many good tools out there, but my favourite is Hubspot’s free Website Grader. Sure it doesn’t cover all the angles, and it doesn’t really go very deep into SEO issues, but it will give you a reasonable snapshot. From our experience working with a variety of B2B clients, if your website scores anything below a 75%, you have some major work to do before proceeding to step 3.
Step 3: Add automation tools to convert, qualify, and nurture prospects.
If you’ve successfully completed steps 1 & 2, you are now ready to harness the benefits of marketing automation with tools like demand generation software. Many b2b marketers are eager to add this “wiz-bang” technology right away to their website, skipping steps 1 & 2, but are quickly disappointed with the results, putting the entire Inbound Marketing initiative at risk. Likewise, don’t let demand generation tool suppliers lure you into this step too early, unless they can help you successfully navigate steps 1 & 2 first. What’s the point of investing in automation if you’re not able to attract and engage sufficient volume of prospects to automate?
If you are looking for a supplier to help you through this process to build your Inbound Marketing Website, pick a partner that has demonstrated clear competency in all 3 steps, and will provide the services and automation technology to take you end-to-end. That way you get single-source responsibility.
So that’s the 3 step process to build your Inbound Marketing Website. Implement the process out of sequence and you’re heading for trouble. Do it right, and you can sit back and watch your Inbound Marketing Website churn away 24/7, generating high-quality sales leads at lower cost than possible through any traditional marketing methods.
Until next time – Axel