2021 Guide: Inbound Marketing for B2B Tech Companies
According to marketing software company Pardot, around 82% of B2B buyers will start their purchase journey using a search engine like Google, and 89% of B2C customers do the same thing. That is why it’s vital that B2B technology companies selling to other businesses master the art of inbound marketing.
Failure to do so could mean your brand loses out to the competition and never reaches its sales goals. Without an effective inbound marketing strategy, it is almost impossible to stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of relevant buyers and researchers.
Considering that, this article will explain all the ins and outs of inbound marketing for tech companies in a format that everyone can understand. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in the industry or you’ve been growing your brand for the last couple of years, the tips and tricks mentioned within this post should help to point you in the right direction and ensure your marketing team leaves no stone unturned on the journey towards industry success.
Facts and stats tech marketers can’t ignore:
- Content marketing can generate three times as many leads as traditional marketing methods, and it costs 62% less.
- Websites that focus on content marketing can receive six times more conversions than those that use alternative strategies.
- More than 46% of B2B marketers claim that inbound marketing produces a higher ROI than outbound methods.
- Inbound marketing results in higher quality sales leads according to 59% of professionals.
- The most productive marketing experts claim they spend around 39% of their total promotional budgets on content.
- Demand for infographics has increased by a staggering 800% in recent times.
What is Inbound Marketing?
So what actually is inbound marketing?
Inbound Marketing is a methodology based on the idea of drawing in potential customers, as opposed to you having to push your brand or business out there. The end goal of Inbound Marketing is that you generate more leads.
Inbound Marketing is a content led strategy, that relies on providing genuinely useful and helpful content that educates and makes people’s lives easier. By attracting users to your website through useful and quality content, you engage with them and paint a picture of how you can deliver them ongoing value. Lastly you delight users by serving as a trusted partner with a long term interest in their success whilst building your position in the marketplace as an expert. Throughout the customer journey, the goal of inbound is to add value.
The content led nature of Inbound Marketing can not only boost SEO and organic traffic acquisition, but it can help to build trust and credibility of your brand by positioning the business as thought leaders in its market.
The term Inbound Marketing was created by HubSpot and their own Inbound Marketing flywheel can be seen below, along with some of the ‘tools’ and ‘channels’ that can form part of an ongoing approach to Inbound Marketing.
The concept of the flywheel is important: Inbound Marketing is about continued momentum, rather than just a simple linear journey.
Top-Performing Inbound Marketing Strategies
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of inbound marketing strategies, all marketers will benefit from taking a brief look at some of the methods that tend to work well for other tech companies looking to make headway and secure more leads for their organisations. In this section, we’ll skim over some of the most effective ways to achieve your sales and conversion goals using inbound marketing. Ideally, tech brands need to use a mixture of all the methods outlined below.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Making sure your website and content ranks for the most relevant keywords within Google search is vital if you want to beat the competition and steal the lion’s share of your market. Effective keyword research is essential because that is how you work out what people are typing into the search when they’re looking for the types of product or software you supply.
There are a few options on the table when it comes to B2B SEO. Companies can either manage the process in-house or outsource it to one of the many search engine optimisation agencies that focus solely on that task.
The decision is down to you, but it’s usually wise to assign the matter to your marketing team if they have the expertise. That ensures your business retains as much control as possible, and you never have to rely on others to help achieve success within the marketplace. Still, outsourcing is a popular choice for start-up brands that do not have the finances to employ an expert SEO team in their office.
Landing pages can assist in reducing your tech brand’s marketing spend and boosting conversions. As part of a wider inbound marketing strategy, the use of landing pages tends to be more effective than sending potential clients and customers straight to your homepage.
You can develop informative landing pages that will hook the visitor and provide them with the details they wished to uncover when making a search engine query. That helps to increase conversions and sales because it eliminates any distractions and takes the researcher straight to the content they want to read. If you impress the visitor enough with your landing page, there is a reasonable chance they will hang around and take a look at the rest of your website.
Landing pages can also serve up gated content, behind a download form that captures information and therefore acting as a top of funnel first interaction.
Content marketing includes all manner of different content types your tech brand can use to promote services and products to new potential clients. We’ll go into a LOT more detail about these methods in a short while, but for now, it’s critical that you consider using the following as part of your inbound marketing strategy:
- News & Blog posts
- Articles & Thought Leadership
- Email Newsletters
- Case studies
- Slides & Presentations
- Social media
We're definitely seeing video as being a format that is on the rise in the B2B space, with HubSpot having produced a great video below on how video has changed and how it now forms a part of a successful strategy:
Common mistakes all tech companies should avoid:
Even some of the most experienced inbound marketing professionals make these mistakes from time to time, and so you should take a quick read about each of these errors now in the hope of saving your tech company a lot of time and money in the future.
Not aligning your content with the buyer’s journey
Tech companies that want to improve inbound marketing results need to ensure the content they produce is personalised and in-line with the buyer’s journey. You must make sure the message on each landing page matches the requirements and needs of the person visiting. That is why it is vital to build detailed buyer personas that include:
- Clear identifiers for desirable buyers
- Challenges faced by those buyers
- The buyers top priorities
- Questions the buyer will seek to answer
When your marketing team understands all that information, it is much easier for them to create content that will impress a visitor and increase the chance of their click converting into a sale.
Not using an effective lead nurturing strategy
Marketing guru Seth Godin often claims that gaining attention from a target market is the holy grail for brands looking to make an impact. However, tech companies that do not have an effective lead nurturing strategy in place could still struggle to boost conversions and sales, even if they manage to drive lots of relevant traffic to their content.
You need to understand that most people landing on your web pages, articles, or blogs reach those URLs in the search for information rather than a desire to spend money. So, a suitable lead nurturing strategy will provide those visitors with the info they require, help them to understand their issues, and then provide them with clear and concise facts explaining the value your tech services or products can create.
Not using research and data to plan for the future
Inbound marketing strategies can provide tech companies with a wealth of essential data they should use to plan and improve their approach for the future. The issue is that most brands fail to use that information effectively, and so they never create the optimum results from their promotional efforts.
Be sure to track the progress of all your content, blogs, landing pages, and anything else you use at least once each month to work out where your priorities should lie. Key information you need to consider includes:
- The number of visitors to each page
- The number of conversions from each inbound strategy
- The ratio of traffic vs conversions
If you have website pages or blogs that gain a lot of visitors but have low conversions; you’ll need to work out why that happens and attempt to tip the scales of balance. Perhaps you have pages with high conversions but not much traffic? In that instance, your marketing team should focus on boosting visits to those URLs. You’re getting the idea now, right?
Advantages of Inbound Marketing for B2B Tech Companies
While outbound marketing and traditional advertising means still have a place within a wider marketing strategy, there is no ignoring the fact that inbound methods will help to strengthen the backbone of your success in the tech industry. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the main advantages technology brands will encounter with effective inbound marketing.
Thought leadership through quality informative content
Through the use of informative blog posts, articles, videos, and other inbound strategies, it is possible to establish your brand as an industry authority. Your company can become the go-to business within your field of expertise. That will assist with building trust, and it should also increase leads, conversions, and sales.
Opportunities for post-conversion success
Many tech marketing teams seem to think their work is done when a potential client converts and they make a sale. However, those professionals aren’t thinking about the bigger picture. Inbound marketing strategies allow a company to repeat the process with the same customer time and time again and ensure they keep coming back for more. That is achievable through:
- Sale announcements
- New product recommendations
- Requests for feedback, reviews, and social shares
- Coupon and discount codes
Ability to integrate free trials
It’s possible to increase conversions and boost sales by giving new clients and customers free trials of your tech products. Sometimes new leads will benefit from a “try before you buy” scenario that allows them to see the value of your technology product or service first hand. If the product or service meets the requirements of the researcher and assists them in saving either time or money; those people are much more likely to invest.
Improved search engine rankings
With an effective SEO strategy and quality content that encourages backlinks and other forms of attention online, tech companies can use inbound marketing to ensure they rank in suitable positions within search engine results for their chosen keywords. That should lead to increased leads from within your target market.
Increased conversions and sales
All those new and relevant leads coming in from your inbound marketing strategy will boost both conversions and sales if your marketing team uses effective landing pages that contain clear and concise calls to action. However, it is vital that your tech company uses all the most recent landing page best practices to ensure optimum results.
Promoting brand awareness
A tech company could have the best and most innovative new product in the world, but the organisation will never become an industry-leading brand if its target market doesn’t know it exists. Inbound marketing strategies have many advantages as you’ve seen in this section, but one of the most important is brand awareness. Creative content enables your marketing team to introduce your business to the world and explain the ins and outs of the operation. It’s also the best way to showcase new products and services while highlighting their value to the customer or client.
Targeting niche markets
There is no getting away from the fact that inbound marketing is the most effective means of targeting niche markets online these days. While tech companies will often promote to broad groups in the hope at least some of them will take the bait, it’s also vital to focus on small niches where conversion rates will be much higher. As any fisherman will tell you, catching carp in a three-feet by two-feet tank is much easier than doing the same thing when sat on the banks of a free-flowing river.
Essential Inbound Marketing Methods for Tech Companies
We’re now going to take an indepth look at how tech brands can succeed with some of the most fruitful inbound marketing methods at their disposal today. Again, it is crucial that your brand uses a combination of all these tactics to ensure your promotional efforts cover every angle. You can assess the results from each and then develop and improve your approach for the future.
The importance of blogging:
- 53% of marketers claim blogging is their top content priority
- 66% of marketing teams use blogs as part of their social media content
- Websites that contain a blog usually have 434% more indexed pages within search engines
- 47% of buyers view more than two pieces of blog content before engaging with a sales team
When it comes to blogging about your tech products or services, there are two main options on the table. Firstly, your marketing team can produce posts for publishing on your website that contain a wealth of information for visitors. Secondly, it is possible to use the technique of guest blogging to arrange for articles to appear on external sites that contain backlinks to your domain. Both are vital for success, and the latter will also help to boost search engine rankings.
Why use blogging as part of your inbound strategy?
Blogging works best for in-depth material.
Long-form content (much like this post) of more than 2000 words tends to perform well, and as Google states, more than 10% of a web user’s information requests each day will revolve around broad subject matter that requires lengthy articles.
Internet users trust the content they find on blogs
Writing blog posts enables your tech company to reach out to new clients and customers on a human level. Your website can sometimes make your brand appear like a faceless corporation. It can seem robotic and sterile, but adding some carefully-worded blog posts will give your brand a much-needed personal touch and ensure you have an opportunity to explain the value of your products and services.
Blogging drives a LOT of traffic
Research shows that around 75% of people who search using Google will never click past the first page of results. Blogging enables your tech brand to create content surrounding your most relevant keywords and ensure your platform stands the best chance of being featured as close to the number one spot as possible.
The importance of social media:
A vital part of any tech company’s inbound marketing strategy is the process of attracting new and existing customers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn are excellent tools for achieving that ambition.
- Brands with 100 Twitter followers can generate 106% more traffic to their websites than those with 25 or less
- 87% of B2B marketers use social media channels in one form or another
- Social media improves a company’s lead to sale ratio by no less than 100%
Why use social media as part of your inbound strategy?
Attracting new readers and visitors to your website
There are an estimated 2.6 billion people active on Facebook at the moment according to the latest statistics. Where else do you have the opportunity to put your tech brand before so many internet users for free? Nowhere! Updating your social media pages regularly and posting links to blog posts and other content will draw new potential customers and clients from all over the world towards your tech brand.
Interacting with potential customers
Social media platforms are the ideal place to converse and interact with potential customers before turning them into leads and conversions. Tech marketing teams have the ability to answer questions, provide information, and spark up conversations with real people who may or may not decide to invest in their products and services in the future. That is also an excellent method for building brand authority.
Ability to run paid ads carefully targeted towards relevant groups
All of the top social media platforms now offer the ability to run paid ads with an incredible number of different targeting options. There is no minimum investment, and so it is possible for tech brands to play around with different strategies with low-cost campaigns until they find something that works.
The importance Marketing Automation:
Marketing automation is an incredibly powerful way of achieving efficiencies and scale across your marketing efforts.
Not only can it save you time, but the insights and data that tools such as HubSpot can provide can empower marketing and sales teams with actionable insights and data that can drive real results.
- Over the next two years, an additional 21% of Marketing Leaders plan to use a Marketing Automation Platform.
- 30% of companies find automation of the lead generation process a critical challenge to lead generation success.
- 45% of agencies rely on marketing automation platforms to show ROI and 42% use marketing automation to measure performance.
- 60% of B2B marketers say they’ve been more focused on improving audience segmentation and personas over the past 18 months.
Why use marketing automation?
Marketing automation, when used properly, can drive serious results at a scale way beyond what you might be able to on your own.
Improve marketing & sales alignment
Birds eye view reporting of your company sales and marketing data can bring better alignment between your marketing and sales teams.
Refine your processes
Birds eye view reporting of your company sales and marketing data can bring better alignment between your marketing and sales teams. The power of sales and marketing talking to one another and improving each other’s processes
Become more targeted
Marketing automation can provide efficiencies that allow you to become hyper focused in how you do marketing and sales. With tactics such as Account Based Marketing (ABM) on the rise and marketing become more focused, you could start seeing some great ROI from marketing.
The importance of SEO:
Search engine optimisation will ensure your tech website and its content appears in the best positions within Google and other search engine rankings for your chosen keywords. An effective SEO strategy will not only help to boost brand awareness, but it will also increase traffic and ensure more website visits come from people within your target market.
- Organic search makes up more than 94% of all web traffic
- Links that rank in the first position on Google search have around a 35% higher click-through rate than others listed on the first page
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine like Google
- Internet users perform 6,586,013,574 searches each day across the world
Why use SEO as part of your inbound strategy?
SEO is considered paramount for inbound marketing because it is the main method used to ensure new potential customers and clients discover and share your content. Without an effective SEO strategy, it is possible that your articles, blog posts, videos, and anything else you create will not get the attention it deserves.
Increasing website traffic
Technology companies that follow SEO best practices will notice a vast increase in website traffic within only a few short weeks. Not only will you get more visitors landing on your pages, but those people should also have a genuine interest in the products, services, or information your brand provides. More relevant traffic leads to better lead and conversion rates.
A cost effective method
SEO can be a cost effective in most instances because your company will actively target people who are already in the market for your products or services. Outbound strategies such as cold calling cost a fortune and tend to have a low hit rate.
Improving the usability of your website
Following SEO best practices will ensure search engine trawlers find it easy to navigate and understand your online platform. However, it should also mean you simplify the process of navigating your website and making purchases for any real people who discover your brand.
The importance of email:
Creating mailing lists made-up of details supplied by leads is essential for inbound marketing. It is possible to drive traffic to your website, alert existing customers about new products or news, and reach out to people on a human level.
- 59% of marketers claim email is the most efficient tool for revenue generation
- 320% more revenue is generated from welcome emails than other promotional messages
- Customers and clients who make purchases off the back of emails spend 138% more on average
- 80% of retailers say that email is the best driver for customer retention
Why use email marketing as part of your inbound strategy?
Easy to measure your results
Email marketing is an analysts dream because it allows you to measure an incredible number of different metrics. It’s possible to assess everything from delivery and open rates to clicks and subscriptions with ease. Judging the effectiveness of each email is child’s play, and your market team can use that data to make improvements for the future.
Potential for fast outcomes
One of the best things about sending marketing emails to leads is the potential for speedy results. Most people check their emails multiple times every day, and so tech companies can create an almost instant spike in relevant traffic.
Use a tool like Google Analytics to determine how many visitors landed on your website after following links from each email you send.
Targeting specific buyer groups
Filtering your email marketing list by different personas and targeting niches offers the opportunity for your brand to send messages to specific buyer groups most likely to take interest in the content.
How to Optimise Blog Content for Inbound Marketing
While blogging is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies, it’s essential that your tech company works hard to optimise everything that appears on your website and ensure the efforts of your marketing team result in the desired outcomes. In this section, we’ll spend some time discussing what you need to do to ensure each blog post has the biggest impact possible.
Understanding your target market
Before tech companies can optimise their blog content, it is vital they gain as much insight as possible into the people who make up their target market. At the very least, you need to understand:
- Demographics including age, sex, location, employment
- Psychographics including attitudes and aspirations
- Current customer or client base
- Groups targeted by competitors
Hooking the reader
As psychologists have claimed for years, human beings form their first impression of something new within a matter of seconds. It is then incredibly difficult for anyone to alter that perception without a staggering amount of time and effort. For that reason, blog posts must hook the reader within the first couple of sentences if they are to keep visitors on the web page and ensure they read most, if not all, of the content.
Using SEO-friendly content
Optimising blog posts for SEO is crucial for tech companies that wish to drive as much traffic as possible to their content. Failure to do that could mean articles that would have otherwise gained a lot of attention disappear into obscurity. By using basic SEO principles such as the use of keywords, it is possible to ensure blog posts continue to attract new relevant visitors for many months, or even years to come.
Remember to update old articles that perform well as new information surfaces to ensure they remain relevant to the audience. Again, that will also help with search engine rankings, and it could help to push your link even further towards the top of the results for your chosen keywords.
Adding visual content
There are more than 2 million blog posts published online every single day. Visual content like striking imagery, informative videos, and infographics can help your articles to stand out from the crowd. Indeed, studies show that most people remember around 65% of all visual content they encounter for more than two days. Also, people share infographics and other types of visual content around 3 times more than plain written text. (source)
If you plan to produce video content, be sure to upload it to popular streaming services like YouTube and Vimeo as well as your website or wherever you post blog articles. You have the opportunity to include information and links in the description, and you can even add some pop-ups directing people to your domain or other content you wish them to see.
Headers are an excellent way to keep readers interested and ensure they don’t leave the blog page without first uncovering their desired information. Up to 43% of internet users claim they skim-read articles, and headers make that process much easier. They also help to breakdown complex subjects into manageable chunks that don’t seem too overwhelming. (source)
Adding a call to action
The last thing every tech marketing team should consider before publishing their blog posts is adding a suitable call to action. Providing lots of information to your audience is fantastic because it helps to build trust and establish your brand as an authority. However, turning those readers into leads and sales is the end goal of the process, and you’ve achieved little if you don’t focus on making that happen.
Regardless of whether you want to point people in the direction of a product, get them to sign up to your mailing list, or anything else; it is critical that you include a clear call to action somewhere within your post.
Here are some ideas your tech company might want to consider when including a call to action:
- Use persuasive text that explains the value of your product or services
- Use contrasting colours to ensure your call to action stands out against everything else on the page
- Use relatable images (e.g. people sat smiling using computers if you sell software)
- Use forms on the same page right next to your call to action so users don’t have to go anywhere
- Use more than one call to action. Ensure the first points to user towards something free, and another that takes them in the direction of a paid product or service
Tips for Improving Inbound Marketing Results
Now you have a basic understanding of different inbound marketing methods and how they can drive traffic, increase leads, and boost conversions, it’s time to take a look at some tips and tricks that could take your efforts to the next level and blow your competition out of the water.
Depending on the nature of your tech company and the products or services you supply, it’s sensible to tailor this advice with your brand and operation in mind. Still, all of the tops and tricks mentioned below work exceptionally well for other organisations, and so there is no reason they won’t produce excellent results for your company too.
Releasing free ebooks
Writing and releasing free relevant ebooks for your audience is a great way to build brand authority, increase traffic, and gather hundreds, if not thousands of new leads. People love getting something for free, and so long as you produce publications that offer something valuable to the reader, ebooks could become the holy grail for your inbound marketing efforts.
Make sure you instruct your marketing and web design teams to work together to ensure the ebooks generate as many leads as possible. Asking downloaders to supply their email address and some basic information in return for the content is usually the best strategy.
Creating podcasts and other downloadable content
There are around 550,000 podcasts (source) currently available for download from iTunes as you read this article, and there are plenty more available from alternative platforms too. Whether you decide to create podcasts that meet the criteria for inclusion in iTunes or not, audio content is an ever improving method for reaching new customers and clients.
Around 90% (source) of adults in the UK listen to radio shows every week alone, and a significant portion of the younger market most interested in tech products now choose podcasts over traditional radio shows. So, if you can create recordings that subtly advertise your brand while offering interesting content based around broader technology subjects, there is a reasonable chance your tech company could make significant headway.
Using advanced SEO strategies
We’ve already discussed some basic SEO methods within this post, but it’s always possible to go a little further. Using some advanced strategies could help your tech brand to rank even higher within lists of relevant search results, and so, if you have the time, money, and inclination, it’s worth taking a look at:
- Crawl budget optimisation
- Content re-optimisation
- Featured snippet optimisation
- Ranking for long-tail keywords
- Relationship-driven link-building
Determining the most effective email collection methods
As mentioned previously, collecting emails is one of the most fruitful lead generation methods. However, your tech company’s approach to the process could make or break your campaign. Here are some suggestions that could assist you in encouraging relevant internet users and other business owners to hand over their information:
- Give them something of value but never spam
- Use Facebook ads
- Offer free tutorials
- Promote your newsletter signup
- Use pop-ups
- Host contents or competitions
- Use motion to catch the eye of the visitor
- Offer content upgrades
Answering burning questions
When creating buyer personas, your tech marketing team will learn about aspirations, attitudes, and any issues affecting those within your target market. Be sure to use that information to identify lists of questions those people are most likely to ask, and then include all the most relevant answers within your content.
Staying ahead of the game is critical, and if you can accurately predict the queries that will arise in the minds of your audience, it’s possible to satisfy those readers and assert your expertise at the same time. You should also notice that your customer service team deals with fewer requests for the same information if you get that process right.
Anticipate the things people want to know, and you’ll save everyone a lot of time and effort while also boosting leads and conversions.
Making the content easily shareable
The last point we need to make here is that inbound marketing through content like blog posts only works if you make it possible for internet users to share your articles and increase the size of your audience. It would take forever to reach hundreds of thousands of readers if you didn’t hand at least some of the reins over to your visitors.
With that in mind, include social share buttons at the top, bottom, and even the sides of your blog posts if your web design allows.
Groupings of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media share icons at the side of your posts that move as people scroll usually work best. They remain on the screen no matter how far down the person might read, and so there is constant encouragement to share the post to social network accounts.
Let's get inbound!
Now you know almost everything there is to know about inbound marketing for tech companies, it’s time to get your marketing team to start working on your next campaign. Use the tips and advice from this post to ensure they cover all the bases and stand the best chance of gaining the winning edge over the competition in 2019.