Inbound marketing has become a preferred marketing method for many B2B companies due to the high success rate and low cost compared to other marketing methods. Inbound offers a range of tactics that work with a variety of marketing channels. Like other types of marketing, inbound tactics can be run one-at-a-time or simultaneously with ongoing testing available to tweak campaigns for effectiveness. Inbound marketing has a step-by-step strategy that is easy to follow once you understand how it works.

All marketing works best when a clear-cut strategy is followed. This fact is no different for inbound marketing.

In fact, inbound allows for metrics to be gathered throughout the process to help hone the marketing strategy and individual campaigns for effectiveness and efficiency. If you don’t pursue a strategy, inbound marketing is less effective and it is harder to track results. The ultimate point of the strategy is to align all of your marketing channels to focus on one message and then drive prospects through your marketing funnel.

1. Lead Generation

Most B2B businesses have longer sales cycles because their products or services are custom-designed investments. Therefore, the marketing process starts by driving high-quality leads. Inbound marketing begins with a strategic piece of content that is valuable to your target audience. This content should answer questions that your prospects typically ask. Content can be presented in a variety of ways including reports, eBooks, videos, presentations and events.

At this point in the process, the goal is conversion, getting the lead to give you contact information in return for the content. One idea is to offer an eBook in return for a name, phone number and email address. The conversion occurs when the lead clicks a link to a landing page where they can request the eBook.

2. Nurturing Leads

Once you have the lead, the next step is nurturing it. Depending on how you have your funnel set up, nurturing may include adding them to an email list, calling them, or inviting them to an event. It is a best practice to contact them immediately with information about your company, and offer to provide them with any information they require. B2B companies often have strategic automated emails that go out to prospects based on previous interactions.

As the prospects continue down the funnel, you can offer them educational content about the product or service they are considering. The content can be in the form of videos, white papers, reports or even free courses.

3. Convert Leads

When nurturing leads, the ultimate goal is converting them into customers. As prospects become more interested, you can offer in-person demonstrations or consultations. These interactions with prospects give you opportunities to learn more about them and create a profile of their needs. By the time you sit down with them for an in-person meeting, you have the tools to offer customised products or services. Prospects are prioritised based on their interactions and interest.

For prospects that stall mid-funnel or are lower priority, retargeting is effective. Retargeting can reintroduce products or offer related variations depending on a prospect’s previous actions. Retargeting is also used after customers make a purchase to invite them back for add-on sales.

4. Customer Retention

Once your customer is onboard, keeping them there is the highest priority. You can offer customers an in-depth insight into your business and welcome them with preferential treatment so they know that they are appreciated. At this time, you can introduce new customers to the service department and how to get questions answered. Good support is a key to retaining these customers.

Keeping customers happy will result in repeat business and building a relationship that spreads to a wider use of your products or services. Therefore, offering pro tips through newsletters or periodic phone calls or emails and reminding them about important accessories or maintenance products will help in this regard. Throughout this process, you can use your metrics to analyse how to handle each lead, prospect and customer. By gathering data, you will deepen your understanding of your customers and how you can best match their needs.