You know what they say about those who assume (if you don’t know the answer to this, ask the next thirteen-year-old you see). But let me venture a guess that you fall into a camp of people who are vaguely familiar with inbound marketing but you’re not totally sure how it all works. If in fact you’ve never heard of inbound, stick around, because I’m about to explain what it is and how it applies to the MarTech and AdTech vertical.
Where to begin? Let’s start with traditional marketing.
If we wind back the clock ten years to 2007, cold calling and cold emailing is the norm. The name of the game is to get yourself in front of your customers, smooth talk them through your elevator pitch, and close the deal. But here in 2017, people don’t pick up their phones if the number is unrecognizable and much of the emails we get are spam. Suddenly there’s a need for a different kind of marketing.
While traditional or outbound marketing focuses on getting your brand out there and talking about your company and what it does, inbound marketing turns that model on its head. With inbound, the goal is to drive leads to your brand on their time and create marketing content that speaks to who they are and where they stand in their journey to purchasing a product/service like yours.
There's a good chance that last bit replaces your one question of “what is inbound?” with an assortment of new ones. “How does one drive leads? What does ‘on their time’ mean? What kind of content? How can you write content for everyone? The buyer has a journey? How does this apply for MarTech and AdTech companies specifically?” Great! We’re going to answer all those questions now.
But first, B2B marketing
Before we tackle how inbound can be used to help MarTech and AdTech companies, we first have to zoom out and talk about inbound for B2B companies vs. B2C companies. Remember before when I was talking about the need to understand where prospects are in their journey to purchasing a product? We call that trek the buyer’s journey.
In the case that I go to the mall after work because I feel like my closet could use a makeover, there’s a good chance I’ll walk into an H&M, consider a few options that peak my interest, and head to the register with the item of my choice in less than 30 minutes. Could your prospects beat my time? Probably not.
In both B2C and B2B transactions, buyer’s progress down the same journey. They realize they have a challenge, they consider possible solutions, and finally choose one to solve their needs. It looks like this.
In B2B companies, the journey of awareness (of a challenge), consideration (of solutions), and decision (of a remedy) is the same. The main difference is the time it takes to move from one phase to another and the level of trust required before making a decision. B2B products typically cost more, so naturally, people will be more hesitant and will want to make sure they are choosing the right supplier and that they are in good hands.
Other things that make B2B different:
- With B2B, there’s also more people involved in the decision process.
- B2B companies have a narrower target audience. But more on that later.
- B2B business is not a one and done. You’re (or at least you should be) looking to build lasting relationships with your clients. By delighting them, you turn them from customers into promoters of your brand.
When you’re marketing the inbound way, the buyer’s journey is important, but how can we encourage strangers (who aren’t even aware of your brand) to travel down their journey to decide on your service/product and become lifelong supporters? Welcome to the inbound methodology!
As a B2B business, you should ideally focus on the following:
- Attract - bring people to your website
- Convert - turn casual visitors into leads
- Close - sign on the dotted line and shake hands with your new clients
- Delight - secure clients by offering them perks, transforming them into your advocates
What guides the methodology? Content.
Now that we’ve created the framework, let’s talk about strategy. By offering them content or help for each stage in their journey, you become a mentor that accompanies them throughout. Let’s talk about the different kinds of content that can be created to help prospects at each stage of the process, positioning you as an expert of your vertical (and their challenge).
To do this, I’m going to use a fictional MarTech company I thought up called Landing Pad to use as an example. Landing Pad is a marketing conversion tool that allows companies to convert visitors to leads through unique DIY landing pages. In this scenario, the main buyer persona (or target audience) that Landing Pad is looking to attract to their website are CMOs.
First Landing Pad will need to do some research in order to understand these personas. They’re writing content for them, so it’s important that what their writing speaks to them as people and professionals. They should brainstorm and research the kinds of challenges their buyer personas face as CMOs. Once they figure out what their persona’s main challenges are, they should research what keywords their personas are searching for on Google when trying to find a solution to their challenges. Since 57% of prospects research online before even contacting the supplier, Landing Pad’s goal should be to be there and add value for their future prospects at those early stages of research. Once they’ve done that, they should be ready to create content. With consistent (and frequent) blogging, B2B companies having almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. That being said, there’s no doubt that blog posts should be the front door to Landing Pad’s website.
Watch out: Make sure to keep the buyer’s persona in mind. It’s important to make sure your content is educational, not promotional.
Some examples of blog titles Landing Pad might use for the awareness stage:
- How to increase your landing page conversion rate
- Landing page optimization tips
- How to keep your leads engaged (hint: thank you pages)
- Tips for creating better landing pages
Are any of these blog posts going to talk about Landing Pad? Nope. We’re simply trying to educate Landing Pad’s buyer personas. If Landing Pad bombards visitors with their marketing solution’s features right away, they’ll have jumped the gun and risked scaring them off.
Quite the opposite, this is just the beginning of Landing Pad educating them.
Landing Pad will need to add a CTA (Call-to-Action) at the bottom of each post, inviting readers to download a content offer. That click is going to lead them to (my favorite marketing tool) a landing page! After filling out requested information, readers will receive their offer via email and voila! Landing Pad’s marketing team just got themselves a lead to nurture.
MarTech/ AdTech Tip: Awareness stage content is the hardest to write. You have a tech solution, so it’s hard to think out of the box when all you feel you know is your software, what it does, and how it works. Do research by talking to current clients about their larger marketing strategies to learn more about your vertical and the related challenges that exist in it.
Consideration stage is all about offering solutions. Whether it be more blogs or eBooks or videos, this is your chance to show them what’s out there to meet their challenges and needs.
Going back to Landing Pad, this is the stage of the journey where our CMOs know they have a challenge that is related to landing pages. This is Landing Pad’s chance to educate them on all the options and solutions out there. Sure they should name drop Landing Pad, but it should not be the center of their content. They should make it clear to their prospects that they should find a solution that most suits their needs.
MarTech/ AdTech Tip: When talking about tech, think about your buyer personas. Are they millenials that advocate for new technology and are savvy enough to use it? Are they from an older generation who want more clients and results but can be hesitant to change the existing technology they’ve been using for years. By keeping your personas in mind, you can be sensitive to their personal tech capabilities and adjust your content accordingly. One more thing, offer low-tech options to consider if possible. They’ll appreciate knowing those options exist.
Finally, it’s time to talk about you. Your tech is great, and it’s time to show that off. Content to consider at this stage includes case studies, product comparisons, or live demos. Watch out, it can be tricky to not slip into a business-centric model! Remember that even at the end, this is about them and the tech and support you can offer. When listing what your software can do, be sure you’re giving them benefits over features. If you list a feature that can be responded to with a “so what?”, you’ve missed the opportunity to explain to your prospect how it meets and fulfills their needs.
MarTech/ AdTech Tip: When it comes to tech, it’s important to show your prospects how it works. If you’re running demos (or considering running demos) for your leads, do you have a standard script you use across the board? According to inbound, you have an opportunity to dive deep into the needs of your prospects -- take advantage of it! Uncover challenges they have. They will likely ask, “I really wish we could X, is that something you can help us with? How would we do that using your product?”. From there, you can customize your demo to answer their questions and review other benefits you think will peak their interest. Hint: Using storytelling to aid in making the software walkthrough engaging and practical.
Inbound marketing is the methodology that turns strangers into brand ambassadors by continuously offering personalized content that is helpful and engaging. If you’re in the MarTech and AdTech vertical, what you’re doing is probably really cool. The issue is, techy things like software, data, and coding can be confusing or boring to people. Try to use inbound to connect with who and where your prospects are.
If you're working on an inbound marketing strategy, we've created a blog editorial calendar template which we think just might make your life easier. Click below to download it.