What are inbound marketing channels?
Inbound marketing channels are the ways you can connect with prospective customers by helping them to find you.
Inbound marketing earns the attention of the audience, by positioning your company in the right place, to the right people, at the right time. In comparison, outbound marketing uses outreach tactics that demand the attention of the audience, like cold calls and emails.
Earning the attention of your prospects through inbound marketing channels bodes well for the rest of the buying journey, as their relationship with your brand starts on a positive note.
When your favourite YouTuber’s new video is interrupted by an unskippable ad trying to sell you something, your response is probably pure frustration! Whereas if you were to stumble across a brand after actively researching a problem, their product is not a frustration but a solution.
As prospects give their attention, they are both showcasing and building upon their trust of your brand. Building trust is key to maintaining a strong relationship with and retaining loyalty from your customers.
Let’s look at 5 inbound marketing channels you should consider utilising for an inbound marketing strategy:
- Social media
- Landing pages
Inbound marketing channel 1
A blog – Giving your prospects immediate value
In a digital B2B landscape, your website is the home of your business and the main source of connection between you and your prospects as they move through their buyer journey.
A blog is an effective tool to attract leads to your website by offering immediate value as an educational resource that caters to their industry, interests and challenges.
Someone who comes across your blog should unlock a plethora of information, knowledge, insights and tips to strengthen their skill sets, solve their challenges and expand their career. What a great value add! The customer will certainly take note of your logo now. They might even click to other pages on your website.
A “call to action” button or a content recommendation tool at the bottom of your blog post could direct the reader to a post you did last week. This gives them added value and increases the likelihood of the reader turning into a lead. A link in the middle of your blog post could send them to a relevant product or service that you offer.
HubSpot is the perfect example of a B2B company that has leveraged the power of blogging. So much so that if you Google any marketing term, their website will most likely be one of the first results. As a tool for inbound marketers, their blog proves the very benefits of their platform. To learn how HubSpot did this and get a few insights on how to build your own media engine from HubSpot themselves, check out this FINITE podcast episode with their SVP of Marketing, Kieran Flanagan.
It has been proven that companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog, and 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than advertisements.
Blog posts are a great way to attract the right audience to your website, while offering immediate value to turn visitors into leads. However, you could write consistent masterpieces and never gain traction without the use of SEO.
Inbound marketing channel 2
SEO – Getting to the top of your target persona’s Google results
90% of pages get no organic search traffic from Google! Do you want your website to be a part of this frightening stat? Search Engine Optimisation is the key to getting your blog and your website on the first page of search, making sure your target audience is able to come across your content.
To get started with SEO:
- Identify the challenges of your prospects by asking them about their pain points, or by reviewing their industry’s online conversation. These will help you to identify the keywords that should focus your blog posts.
- Do keyword research to see how difficult certain keywords will be to rank highly on Google. Free keyword tools such as ubersuggest also provide suggested keywords that you can centre your blog posts around.
- Try a free beginner SEO course to learn about how page structure, headings, cluster content and more, affect how your pages rank in results.
One thing to watch out for when implementing B2B SEO is keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when keywords are stuffed in the keyword stuffing parts of sentences where the keywords shouldn’t be stuffed. In other words, you should always write naturally, by using keywords where they would be used regardless of SEO value.
The most important rule of SEO is to maintain a high quality of writing that engages the reader and leaves them with a positive impression. If in doubt, it’s worth engaging with a B2B SEO agency with a strong track record in delivering results.
Inbound marketing channel 3
Social media – Creating a space for a more personal, direct connection with your B2B customer
Social media is becoming more and more integrated into everyday life. It is no longer just a place to chat to your friends and see photos of their summer holiday. Social media is now being used to read the news, go shopping, entertain and learn new skills. It is rapidly replacing traditional media outlets such as broadcast television.
Evidence shows 76% of B2B tech companies are using social media to drive results. This is evidence that the expansion of social media is overlapping with B2B buyer habits.
As a B2B inbound marketing channel, social media takes advantage of the blend between work and life; a line that is only becoming more blurry as people work from home.
Social media allows for a two way conversation between businesses and buyers, with the customer behind the steering wheel. In discovering your company through social media, they open a door for communication in a personal way.
Choosing the right social media channel to connect with prospects and customers is critical. Are they using LinkedIn to talk about their work life? How about Twitter? Think Instagram is only for beauty influencers and dance clips? Think again! 90% of user accounts follow a business on Instagram.
Start your social media strategy by:
- Creating a visual identity and tone of messaging that fits your brand. Great designs can easily be achieved with free tools like Canva.
- Post regularly and track days and times to see when your posts receive the most engagement.
- Use hashtags relevant to your industry so that social media users can find you if they search for a term.
- Do thorough competitor research to find out what works and what doesn’t for other companies in your category.
Inbound marketing channel 4
Podcast – Becoming a thought leader
Producing a podcast is a strategy that will position your B2B company as a thought leader within your field. If you are the source of information on trends, challenges, predictions and new research, your customers will feel like they have to listen to you if they want to grow in their career.
Unlike a blog reader who might skim a page to find their answer, podcast listeners are more engaged with your content. They are more connected to the host and are more likely to be influenced by what that host says.
Monthly podcast listeners have grown 54% in the past 3 years in the US, so there’s no doubting that podcasts have a place in a modern marketing strategy.
The podcast market is becoming saturated, with lots of new podcasts entering the market. The key to being successful is paying attention to your niche and format:
The first step to podcasting is deciding your niche. With so many podcasts being released every day, niching down allows you to target a particular audience in a personal way and you won’t have to compete with existing podcasts that already have loyal listeners. Decide your niche by looking at specific areas within the industry of your ideal buyer.
The next step is to decide on a format. Your format needs to be attention-grabbing and unique, to give you an edge over other podcasts. You could host interviews with top influencers within your niche. You could make bite sized, three minute episodes with daily updates on industry news. You could even find a host to take the reins themselves, by creating a series of ‘how tos’ and top tips from their own knowledge.
Podcasts allow you to become a part of your target customer’s daily routine. In listening to your podcast they are engaged, ready to learn and are more likely to be influenced by the content.
Inbound marketing channel 5
Landing pages – Turning visitors into leads
Visitors to your website can quickly turn into leads through a landing page. With a lead capture form, landing page users should give you their personal contact information in exchange for an immediate value-add, such as a free trial or whitepaper.
The more landing pages you have on your website, the better! Customise a unique landing page for each segment of customers, for each value you have to offer, and for each deal they will receive. With customised designs and content, a visitor is more likely to give you their personal details and turn into a lead.
Once a user has entered their information, follow up with a thank you page or an automated email to let them know that a relationship has been initiated.
Having demographic information about your customers allows you to personalise your marketing efforts. Detailed data also suggests who you should try to reach. With data stored, you can see which prospects are more engaged with your communications through inbound marketing tools like Marketo.
Striking the perfect combination
As with any marketing strategy, multiple efforts are always more effective than just one. Creating touch points for customers through many inbound marketing channels gives them increased familiarity with your brand as they discover your product or service in multiple ways.
Whichever inbound marketing channels you choose, they should reflect the needs of your target audience. You need to think about where they hang out online, where they’ll be able to find you, and where they’ll look for you.
Would a CEO check every email they receive? Where do accountants go to find new accounting software? How do marketers find ways to innovate their strategies?
In utilising these inbound marketing channels, you will set up your B2B marketing funnel for success.