This post is part two of a series discussing what B2B marketers need to do to build efficient inbound marketing machines. Today, we'll discuss content promotion, influencer outreach, lead nurturing, marketing and sale alignment and reporting.
In part one, we dove into goal setting, buyer-persona development and content creation. If you want to give that a read, you can find that post here. Without further ado, let's get to it. We have a lot to cover!
The many levers that will get your B2B inbound marketing machine humming
Creating great content is only the first part of the inbound marketing battle. Once content is produced, successful distribution of your content is a crucial piece of an inbound marketer's job. We asked Nick Lucs of When I Work for his thoughts on content promotion, and he came through with a couple great tips:
- Content promotion begins the minute you finalize your topic and/or title
- Be strategic when you're outlining your post and deciding who you want to mention
- Focus on people that can help you out the minute you publish
- Look to Product Hunt—a lot of the companies on there are just as hungry for attention as you are
The key takeaway here is that content promotion can't be an afterthought. In fact, it's just as core to your content strategy as SEO. As a content producer, you should be thinking strategically not just about what keywords you're targeting, but also who you're mentioning in your posts or linking to.
With the production complete, promotion then turns to the different channels and promotion strategies that can be used to put your content in front of your target audience.
Remember those buyer personas we talked about in part one of this series? Now that we know where they find their information online, you should share your content there. These channels might vary depending on the space that you're in, but the core B2B distribution channels are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Promotion to these channels can be handled effectively by creating an editorial cadence to promote your posts, it might look something like this:
Another great way to share and repurpose your content is to post it to different online communities. For example, in the marketing and sales space this could take the shape of posting content to Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, Reddit and OnStartups. When doing this, don't just promote your own content. You can also build your profile and trust by sharing, upvoting and commenting on the content of others. This takes time, but can lead to both steady referral traffic as well as large spikes if one of your posts hits the trending page. For example, we saw a huge spike in traffic when one of our posts trended on GrowthHackers.
Quora can be another effective channel. Find questions that are similar to what you addressed in your blog post. Then you'll have a great jumping-off point to leave a thorough and in-depth answer as well as a transparent link back to your post. In a similar vein, blog posts can also be turned into presentations and posted to community sites such as SlideShare.
According to McKinsey, marketing-inspired word of mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising, along with customers that demonstrate a 37-percent higher retention rate. One of the best ways to get your content in front of a larger audience is through influencers. These are the people who are trusted leaders in your space and have established large followings themselves. If they share your content, it not only helps establish your company as a credible source of information, but also allows you to expand your reach quickly. This is where inbound becomes, "all about the hustle," if you will. You need to create relationships with these people.
Wondering where to get started with your influencer strategy? I recommend starting with this post from ContentMarketer.io.
As the content-marketing space has become increasingly crowded over the past few years, we've seen the rise of paid content promotion in the form of sponsored content and native advertising. These channels offer great ways to give your content a boost and reach a targeted audiences.
LinkedIn is one of our preferred channels for B2B sponsored content becuase it allows you to be incredibly targeted, all the way down to company, category, industry size, job title and seniority. According to LinkedIn, after Adobe started sponsoring posts, its audience was 50 percent more likely to agree that, "Adobe is shaping the future of content marketing."
Of course, LinkedIn won't be the right channel for every business, so assess your options and make an educated hypothesis that you can test when you start to promote your content. This way you can see an appropriate return on your ad spends.
Lead nurturing is incredibly important for a couple reasons. Inbound marketing is very different than traditional marketing in that your content will likely attract an audience that has a similar pain that you're addressing, but may not actually be a good fit for your business.
Lead nurturing is important here because it allows you to profile your leads over time and ensure that only leads that are a good fit are passed off to your sales team. The other reason is that lead nurturing is so important is that nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
At New Breed, we like to break lead nurturing into two distinct types that we call speed one and speed two marketing, a term coined by Jake Sorofman of Gartner. "Speed one" refers to time-sensitive, product-focused campaigns with the goal of driving qualified prospects through the funnel as quickly as possible. "Speed two," is a broader content strategy that nurtures leads who are not yet ready to buy.
It's during these speed-two campaigns where your inbound strategy will make the most impact and your content can be used to build trust and engagement with your prospects over time. This is best done by creating nurture streams targeted toward each of your buyer personas to illustrate your value proposition and present them with options to re-engage. In some instances, these campaigns can even run for a full year, with an email cadence at 1, 4, 7, 14, 21, 30, and 45 days, and then every two weeks after that.
Marketing and sales alignment
It's been illustrated again and again that businesses that have aligned marketing and sales teams generate more revenue and see a larger ROI on their marketing and sales investment. This was most recently seen in HubSpot's State of Inbound report:
So what does this mean for your inbound marketing machine? It means that you need to build a strong marketing and sales operations infrastructure and align goals across teams, essentially sales team becomes marketing's newest and most important customer, or that a revenue team is formed.
Start by creating a service-level agreement between marketing and sales team that will dictate exactly when a lead will be passed to the sales team, how leads will be qualified, when they will be contacted and how many contact attempts must be made. Then implement a marketing-qualifed lead workflow to manage this handoff, and ensure that your sales team is trained on how to follow up with these inbound leads.
Next, create the ability for feedback to be passed back and forth across teams, ensuring that sales has the opportunity to explain why leads have been disqualified and the sales-enablement tools that help progress the sale. This can take place in formal meetings between teams and also documented as properties within your CRM and marketing automation platforms.
Now that your inbound marketing and sales machine is humming along, you want to be sure you can carefully measure its performance and fine tune the engine. The State of Pipeline Marketing report shows that "opportunities sourced" is the primary success metric for B2B marketers. This is because these bottom-of-funnel metrics provide a more accurate look into the true contribution of the marketing team than vanity or top-of-funnel metrics alone.
With opportunities sourced as your end goal, it's important to select which attribution model will allow you to best measure the success of the tactics you're executing on. This will allow you to measure exactly which tactics, channels and campaigns are driving the best results.
Give us a shout if you're looking to build an inbound marketing machine at your business in 2016. Leave a comment below if there are any strategies or elements that we haven't discussed in this series that have led to success at your company.
If you want to go back and review part 1 of this series, you can find that post here.