Why Inbound Marketing Works: A Guide for B2B Companies

By Sarah Asp Olson

why inbound marketing works cover

Picture a rushing river. Your company is on one side, and potential customers are on the other. 

How do you reach them?  

In outbound marketing (traditional advertising), you’d stand on the bank, waving and shouting, trying to grab the attention of anyone on the other side. If you can shout loud enough, jump high enough or wear bold, bright colors, you just might attract some attention. 

Inbound marketing takes a different approach. It’s like building a bridge. Each piece of valuable content you create and share is one plank. As people engage with your content, they see that your construction is solid and you won’t let them fall. They start to trust you. By the time they reach the opposite bank, you’ve earned their businesses. 

Of course, bridge building takes time and effort. But the result is a solid and lasting connection between you and your customers that’s built on trust and credibility. 

Let’s discuss the value of bridge-building for B2B companies, including:  

  • What inbound marketing is
  • How inbound marketing works 
  • Why inbound marketing is especially effective for B2B companies 

And, before the end, we’ll give you some examples that you can start incorporating into your inbound marketing strategy. Are your hard hats ready? Let’s build. 

What Is Inbound Marketing? 

Inbound marketing is a methodology that aims to attract customers to your business by providing valuable content. Here’s how our friends at HubSpot put it: 

“The inbound methodology is the method of growing your organization by building meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers, prospects and customers. It’s about valuing and empowering these people to reach their goals at any stage in their journey with you. Why? Because when your customers succeed, you succeed.”

In fact, according to Gartner, a properly executed inbound marketing strategy is 10 times more effective for lead conversion than outbound. 

inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Why Inbound Works for B2B

The core principles of inbound marketing include providing value, building trust and creating lasting customer relationships. This aligns well with how many B2B companies operate. 

  • It’s permission-based vs. interruption-based. Inbound marketing enables B2B companies to engage with their target buyers via their preferred communication medium without interrupting their lives. When you focus on creating valuable content that addresses your buyers’ primary pain points and anticipates their issues, you’re far less likely to annoy potential customers.
  • It’s cost-effective. Demand Metric found that inbound marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing. And according to HubSpot, the cost of acquiring an inbound lead is about 67% less.
  • It attracts higher-quality leads. Inbound strategies not only generate more leads but also attract higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers. In fact, leads gained through SEO have a 14.6% close rate compared to only 1.7% for outbound leads.

Inbound Marketing for the B2B Buyer’s Journey

The B2B buyer’s journey is typically longer and more complex than the B2C buying process, as there are usually multiple decision-makers involved and a greater emphasis on ROI. A successful inbound marketing strategy will address the needs and behaviors of buyers at each stage of the journey. 

Awareness. During this stage, buyers begin to recognize they have a problem that needs a solution. When buyers become aware of a problem, they turn to internet research. In fact, 67% of a B2B buyer’s journey is now done online. And 62% of B2B buyers say a web search was one of the first three resources they use to learn about a solution. Your goal as a B2B marketer is to create awareness and generate interest in your product or service through thorough and thoughtful content that is optimized for search and answers the questions potential buyers are most likely to ask. 

Awareness stage content can include informative blog posts or e-books that help buyers identify exactly what they need. 

Fast Fact: 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Worldwide Business Research)

Consideration. During the consideration stage, buyers are actively researching and comparing potential solutions. Your goal is to position yourself as a trusted expert resource and continue to nurture your relationship. Consideration content is more targeted and showcases how your product or service can solve specific challenges. This can include case studies, customer testimonials and product demos that highlight the benefits and features of the product. Additionally, hosting webinars or live events that allow potential customers to learn more about the product or service and ask questions in real time can help build trust and establish a relationship with potential customers.

Decision. In this stage, buyers know what they need and are focused on who can best provide it. This is where having an ongoing relationship pays off. You already know this buyer and can provide highly personalized proposals, along with demos, case studies, FAQs, product landing pages, reviews and testimonials that demonstrate why your company is the best one to meet the buyer’s needs. 

Examples of Inbound Marketing Techniques

Some of the key components of inbound marketing include: 

Content creation. Inbound marketing relies on creating high-quality, valuable content that connects with your audience at specific points along the buyer’s journey. Content can be anything from blog posts and e-books to videos and webinars. For every form of content, the primary goal is to educate and inform potential customers. 

Fast Fact: 56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it’s effective, and 10% say it generates the biggest return on investment. 

Keep Reading: 5 Types of Blogs That Will Drive Traffic to Your Site

Search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your content for search is one of the best ways to help future customers find your awesome content. SEO involves using keywords and backlinks while ensuring your website is clear and easy to navigate. 

Social media. In 2022, social media was the No. 1 marketing channel across B2B and B2C businesses. That means socials are no longer optional; they are a critical part of your inbound marketing strategy. It’s also a great tool to help you engage with your target audience and share more of that awesome content.  

Email marketing. If creating a social post is like making a public announcement, emailing is akin to a face-to-face conversation. Using automation tools, you can create personalized and relevant campaigns that nurture leads and keep customers engaged. Despite the vast array of digital platforms, 95% of marketers say their email efforts were effective in 2021. 

The overall goal of inbound marketing is to create a valuable experience for potential and existing customers. As you lay each plank, you build a bridge of authority that eventually turns leads into customers and, ultimately, into loyal brand advocates. 

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Sarah Asp Olson

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