When we talk about inbound marketing, what immediately springs to mind? Blogging.
This may have been true a few years ago. But the truth is that inbound marketing has moved beyond this practice as its sole source of leads. As you can see from the chart below, the phrase “corporate blogging” exploded onto the scene in April 2005, peaked in November that same year, then went into steady decline.
Why? Because, without decent content to back it up, blogging only gets you so far. Conversely, interest in Inbound Marketing looks like it’s on the rise.
Those of you who have read my previous articles on great content, a proven structure and CTA focus know that I’m going to take a look this topic as it applies to business-to-business marketing. However, I’m sure the professional in you will recognize how to apply these tips elsewhere.
So, what is Inbound Marketing?
Online, Inbound Marketing now includes everything from webinars, white papers and infographics through to social media and—you guessed it—good old-fashioned email newsletters.
Inbound marketing may encompass a wide range of material, but they all have two things in common:
- they offer value to the reader
- they feature your company name, logo and contact details so your audience can find you
What does inbound marketing do?
In the article “Five Critical Components: Building Successful B2B Demand Generation Plays for Channel Partners“, Elastic Digital identified the key performance indicators that differentiate effective inbound marketing material and activities from other promotional efforts.
- Content attracts visitor attention
- Information converts visitors into leads
- Sales converts leads into customers
- Content converts customers into repeat, high-margin customers
- Process enables analysis for continuous improvement
In B2B marketing, the practice of inbound marketing may take a slightly different angle than those used in more consumer-oriented channels, but the premise remains the same. Use interesting content to attract targeted attention, establish thought leadership and make it easy for potential customers to find your business.
Ideally, you should develop your inbound marketing program around a core pathway that arrives at one outcome—using content to drive better sales more often.
This process lines up very closely with the outcomes attributed to channel marketing:
- Drive specific visitors to partner websites
- Convert specific visitors into leads
- Convert validated leads into customers
Where B2B marketing diverges is that it relies on channel partners to convert current customers into repeat-purchase, high-margin stakeholders. This means you need to get your channel partners involved, while maintaining some control over your marketing messages.
Take social media as an example. You know how to position your solution in the market. You have messages and landing pages to drive interest in specific market segments, and you make these professional assets available to your partners to generate leads.
But, you have no direct control over how these assets are used—or over the message your partners actually deliver.
Keeping your message consistent is crucial
Without a unified selling proposition, your partners cannot leverage the power of your brand name in a coherent manner. This break in cohesion can disrupt the value presented by your inbound marketing, making it harder to generate better sales.
You need a dedicated platform
I think it’s fair to say that what you really need is a one-stop-shop for all things inbound-marketing. A tool that binds together every element in your campaign—emails, micro sites, downloadable resources and social media messages—and makes them available in one place.
Not only does this make controlling your inbound marketing message easier, it streamlines delivery for your partners, making it simpler than ever to get the word out quickly.
The way forward?
You may already have an online platform that brings all these elements together. You may even have a creative team on board that delivers decades of experience in digital design and crafting compelling online copy.
If that’s the case, well, I salute you.
Elastic Digital’s answer to these challenges is Grid Social. This feature gives your channel partners a simple-as-pie way to share their new campaigns with the world, while automatically installing social media sharing on your co-branded micro sites.
This way, your carefully crafted content gets promoted directly to interested parties, who can share it with ease. This drives interest in your solutions, and promotes your channel partners all at the same time.
Yup, inbound marketing sure has come a long way since the humble corporate blog.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how a dedicated, partner-friendly platform can boost the adoption and performance of your b2b channel marketing campaigns.