I'm going to assume you want your website to drive leads and sales. Your strategy (or lack thereof) will determine whether you grow exponentially or merely tread water.
Let's take a look at some common approaches and how an inbound marketing strategy works.
What Are We Optimizing for And Why?
Optimizing your B2B website is a great idea! That is, unless you are unclear on what specifically you're optimizing and why. At first blush, most website owners start with the basics like
These are the most obvious things to optimize. The belief is that those items will bring more visitors to your B2B website, resulting in more contact form submissions.
While more traffic is never a bad thing, you need to take a closer look at the end result you're really trying to achieve.
Ultimately, you're after new leads and sales.
With that in mind, you should be optimizing your site for lead generation and nurturing leads into sales. To do that, you must first accept the fact that today's buyer has changed. To reach them, you need to communicate on their turf and their terms.
If You Want Leads and Sales, a Contact or RFQ Form Isn't the Answer
Don't get me wrong. You should most certainly have both a contact form and an RFQ form on your B2B website. However, they should NOT be your website's only lead generating mechanisms. Here's why...
As I mentioned above, today's buyer is a self-researching machine. They walk into the appliance store ready to buy. That means, they don't have a "go-to" appliance store that always helps them make an informed purchase. They tend to look around and shop on price once they've determined what they want.
Your B2B buyers will do the same darn thing, if you let them! They'll devour educational content across multiple websites, including your competitors, only to buy from a completely different company. Especially if none of those educational resources were using an expert inbound marketing strategy.
THEY WILL NOT CONTACT YOU OR REQUEST A QUOTE UNTIL THE END OF THEIR BUYING PROCESS.
YES, I'm yelling this!
Even if a prospect lands on your B2B website, they will not contact you UNLESS they're nearing the end of their buyer journey. If they're any earlier in the process, you'll never see this prospect again. They're gone. A shadow in the night that will never return. A lost opportunity.
Stop Losing Those Prospects!
Your website needs different lead generation mechanisms that are better suited to today's buyer.
If today's buyer wants to be educated, then you need to be the one educating them. Your educational content is an opportunity to convert them into leads. Higher value, educational content helps them make a better buying decision (the decision to buy from you).
Enter an Inbound Marketing Strategy
The fundamental methodology of Inbound Marketing looks like this:
At a 10,000 foot view, an inbound strategy will optimize multiple areas of your site to
- Attract your ideal buyers to your site and other online properties,
- Convert these prospects into leads using great content that resonates with them,
- Close the leads into sales by nurturing them and being a valuable resource through their whole process,
- Delight these new customers by continuing to provide exceptional support and education after the sale.
Strategy Before Tactics ALWAYS
An expert inbound marketing strategy will ALWAYS focus on the strategy before executing tactics. This is so important. Without a plan to capitalize on each tactic in a more cohesive way, you're shooting from the hip and getting a tiny sliver of each tactic's value.
One-off tactics like:
don't usually produce results when used independently without a strategy. More often than not, that means you abandon the tactic entirely.
How an Expert Inbound Marketing Strategy Orchestrates Lead Generation
While I've touched on some of this above, I want to lay out how an inbound marketing strategy orchestrates website lead generation.
If Inbound Marketing is going to work, you MUST get your persona development right. We have a ton of resources on our site about personas. Here's a great place to start:
Think of your buyer persona(s) as your ideal buyer:
- The buyer you look forward to working with
- The buyer that truly values what you do for them
- The buyer that you'd love to get 10 of so you could part ways with 10 bad ones.
I'm not talking about your "target market" profile. I'm talking about understanding what makes them tick. What are their motivations, frustrations, likes, and dislikes?
To make inbound work for generating leads and sales, you need to build great buyer personas. The guide above is your best bet.
Today's buyer going through a different buying process. That process is their buyer's journey. Like personas, we have some great resources on our site and blog about the buyer's journey.
Your strategy's success relies on your understanding of the journey. Content must resonate with your persona at each stage of their journey.
Without content, there is no inbound marketing strategy.
Content comes in all shapes and sizes - from blog posts and emails to ebooks and infographics. The aim of the content is to speak to your persona's pain points and questions, as well as educate them through their buyer's journey. All the while, you're building rapport and trust with this prospect.
Attracting your personas to your site relies heavily on your blog. They'll find you in Google, social media, and industry-specific sites. Once you get the prospect to your site, you use premium content like eBooks and webinars to entice them to exchange their contact info for that content.
Ta-Da! You have a lead! And they didn't fill out your contact form or request a quote.
When a lead is generated, your strategy should guide what steps to take to nurture them with marketing automation and your CRM. The steps you take will be different for each persona and each stage of the journey.
Ultimately, you want to use more great content to help them progress through their journey and close into a sale.
Your inbound strategy should layout SMART goals and metrics to determine its effectiveness.
Data availability is one of the biggest advantages of inbound marketing. Numbers don't lie, and it's clear when something is working and when something needs further optimization.
Optimize Your B2B Website to Generate Leads With Inbound Marketing
Remember, optimizing for more traffic is never a bad thing. But, if you don't also optimize your site for conversion/lead generation, the traffic increase will be for nothing.