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Complete Guide to Inbound Lead Generation for B2B Technology

Changing B2B buyer behavior calls for a change in marketing tactics as well. In this guide, learn how you can use inbound marketing to generate leads for your B2B technology products and services.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a targeted approach that draws potential buyers in by appealing to them with content that they actually want. Whereas traditional marketing is “outbound,” for example, using ads that interrupt buyers in the middle of what they’re reading, cold calls, or email blasts that may not even be relevant, inbound marketing takes a less intrusive approach.

It’s been proven to be effective. Companies using Hubspot’s inbound marketing techniques increased their leads by 250% over one year.

From the beginning, inbound marketing identifies the type of buyer that would be interested in the product. Content is created related to that buyer’s specific needs, answering the kinds of questions that the buyer is asking rather than pushing a product immediately.

Inbound marketing ensures that you attract qualified leads, not just any leads that might not pan out. This makes it more cost-effective because a higher percentage of leads actually turn into sales.

Providing valuable information also builds trust as buyers come to see your company as a source of expert advice. In addition, it educates buyers about your product and related issues which is especially important for technical products. Buyers need to understand the product before they’ll consider purchasing it, and with a complex product, reaching this understanding takes time.

Now that you know what inbound marketing is and how it can benefit your business, let’s look at how to get your inbound marketing program set up and start generating leads!

How to Set Up an Inbound Marketing Program to Generate Leads

Leads by definition are anyone who has shown an interest in your product or service, usually by filling in a form or through some other means of communication. More qualified leads are more likely to make a purchase.

Identify Buyer Personas

The first step to getting more qualified leads is to identify your buyer personas or target buyers. Determine what type of buyer would be interested in your product or service and what their biggest problems or pain points are.

If your product or service has several different use cases across roles or even across industries, you may have a few unique personas. For example, a wireless modem could be used in a factory, a school, or an office building. While its basic purpose of providing or enhancing communication is the same, the buyers’ more specific problems will vary.

You’ll also need to consider that you’re probably not just selling to one person. For B2B products, 79% of buyers prefer to make decisions in a group or team. While there may only be one person on that team doing the majority of research, that person has to convince the whole group, and they need to be equipped to do that.

The buyer making the case to the committee is known as the “buying champion,” so it’s especially important to figure out what this person’s goals are and also what objections he might face when making a case for the product.

Outline of woman and man buyers illustrating the buyer personas of decision maker and buying champion.

Here’s an example of what buyer personas would look like. Fill in the blanks for each category for every persona you have. In this example, the IT director might be the one interested in an innovative tech solution, and he has to convince the CFO that it’s worth the cost.

Understand the Buyer’s Journey

After you identify the buyer personas, you need to understand the journey that they take to make a purchase. It is often broadly defined into the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.

The awareness stage is when the buyer is just beginning to recognize and define a problem, for example, outdated equipment. The first signs of the problem might be general inefficiency or incompatibility with new technology. The buyer then begins to do further research to pinpoint the problem and find possible solutions.

In the consideration stage, the buyer is aware that there are solutions and begins doing research, listing requirements, and considering suppliers. This may be done by one individual or by a group. This process is often not straightforward and may involve circling back to previous steps before a decision is finally reached.

If one person is doing the research, they need to convince a committee to make a decision and overcome objections. If multiple people are doing the research, they may come up with conflicting results as they have different roles and motivations.

It’s important to have clear, helpful information available for each persona at every stage of the journey to point buyers in the right direction so they reach the final stage more quickly.

A flowchart of Gartner’s B2B buying journey taken from The B2B Buying Journey report.
Source: Gartner
Gartner’s The B2B Buying Journey states that the buying journey is not linear; as a marketer, it is important that you deliver the most optimal experience at every stage.

Develop a Content Plan

The next step is to develop a content plan that’s targeted at your buyer personas and helps them along their journey. This will include a range of content like e-books, white papers, infographics, checklists, reports, and webinars.

To make sure your content is relevant, find the questions that your buyers are asking, based on their pain points, and answer those questions in an informative, credible way, without pushing your product overtly.

For example, if buyers are using an inefficient manual system to complete tasks, you could create a guide on how to complete those tasks more efficiently, with your solution as one of the possible options. Or, if buyers are concerned about switching to new technology, you could produce an e-book educating them about the technology and its possible use cases.

Ensure That You Get Found through SEO

Once you’ve developed your content, how can you make sure the right people see it? It’s crucial to optimize your content for SEO so that it easily shows up. This involves using the right keywords, adding meta descriptions, and raising your site’s reputation and authority.

As a start, you can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to get ideas of which terms your buyers are searching for. Paid tools like Moz or Semrush give you more detailed information about how popular search terms are and how hard it is to rank for them. You’d want to aim for terms that strike a balance–not too competitive to rank for, but not too easy, because if it’s too easy to rank for, no one’s looking for it. Remember not to just repeat keywords to the point of sounding unnatural.

The quality and reputation of what you produce are just as important as using the right keywords. This is determined by many factors, from how long people spend on your site to which sites link to you. Make sure you write relevant titles and meta descriptions to attract readers. A meta description is the paragraph that the reader sees under the title that should give them a good idea of what the content is about and make them want to read more.

screenshot of meta-description
Write a meta description to grab readers’ attention.

Create Content That’s Worth Reading

It’s not enough to produce content on a popular topic if it lacks depth or originality. To convince potential buyers to provide their contact information and to continue to build trust with them, establish your business as a thought leader in the industry.

While not all lead generation content has to be thought leadership, building up resources in this category boosts your reputation. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of decision-makers say that an organization’s thought leadership quality gives them a more reliable view of its abilities than its other marketing materials do. Even if people aren’t familiar with the technical specifications of your business, they’ll be more likely to consider the equipment or service if it’s produced by a company that’s recognized as one of the most knowledgeable in the industry.

Examples of Content that Demonstrates Thought Leadership
White papers and e-books In-depth, well-researched white papers and e-books enhance your credibility and can serve as evergreen lead magnets on your website.
Reports Reports with statistics on your industry and solutions related to yours not only showcase your expertise, but also provide supporting material for when the buyer is making a case for your product.
Webinars Webinars are becoming increasingly popular in this time of digital transformation, with 81% of professionals preferring webinars over other forms of content.

This gives you a great opportunity as you have more time to address key issues in your industry with an interested audience.

Podcasts Becoming a guest on a podcast allows you to reach out to the community of different organizations and become known as a respected expert.

While podcasts won’t be focused on your product, you can promote your lead-generation content or direct listeners to your website.

Amplify Your Content

While being found organically through SEO and gaining a following as a thought leader gradually increases your reach, it takes time to move up the ranks. Making use of social media channels and boosting your content with targeted digital advertising is a worthwhile investment if planned correctly.

Find out which social media channels your target buyers are most active in. LinkedIn is the most common place to target professionals, but certain industry groups may have more active communities on Facebook. Join groups to learn more about buyers’ concerns and interests and contribute where you see an opening (as long as your comment is helpful and not solely about your product). Keep your pages active and encourage engagement. However, to quickly gain the most visibility, paid advertising is necessary.

Social media ads allow you to easily target any audience and track who’s viewed or clicked on an ad but hasn’t yet filled out a form, so you can retarget them. Google Ads helps you get to the top of search results when buyers look for certain terms so you can be sure of being seen before you start to build up organic results. You can set these up on your own, but marketing automation software makes it easier to track and follow up when your ads begin bringing in results.

How to Nurture Leads into Conversions

If you follow these steps, you should start generating some quality leads. But most leads aren’t ready to buy yet. To develop a relationship with your new leads and guide them along their buying journey, you have to keep nurturing them. Nurturing leads has been shown to increase conversion rates 2-3x. You can do this through email marketing and remarketing, streamlining the process with marketing automation.

Email Marketing

Email marketing has a high return on investment, bringing in $38 for every $1 spent! Once you’ve collected email addresses from content forms, you can use them to continuously follow up. To conduct a successful email marketing campaign, group customers into segments to make sure that they’re getting relevant content.

For example, after someone has downloaded an e-book, send them an email to follow up with further information they might be interested in. Contacts who downloaded a resource from a different campaign would get a different follow-up email tailored to them. If you’re selling your product or service to those from a range of industries, prepare tailored emails for each industry.

Remarketing

Another way of lead nurturing is running remarketing ads to those who have visited your website or social media pages. They may not have filled in a form or taken a download offer, but with analytics, you can see who has shown interest and target them again.

For example, you can regularly retarget ads at everyone who has clicked on your Facebook ad for an e-book but hasn’t taken up the offer yet. This could mean showing them the same ad again to encourage them to make a decision or other ads related to the same topic.

Screenshot of setting up Facebook retargeting ads
Set up a custom audience to remarket to those who have interacted with your content in any way, even if they haven’t given you their contact information.

Marketing Automation

Email marketing and remarketing are made much easier with marketing automation. If you’re just getting started, you should at least begin with email automation. This will give you the ability to nurture potential buyers towards evaluation, purchase, and upsell/cross-sell. Basic email automation software like MailChimp allows you to segment and manage your list and automatically sends emails when a contact performs a certain action.

Full automation like Hubspot gives you further control over what happens in your lead generation and lead-nurturing process, allowing you to set up multiple automatic triggers to make sure leads receive targeted content in a timely manner.

Meeting Your Buyers’ Needs Successfully

We’ve given you all the steps you need to take to set up an inbound lead generation strategy for your B2B technology business.

A successfully executed plan will allow you to reach out to new audiences, attracting them by appealing to their key needs and directing them along their buying journey. You’ll need to take into account SEO so you get found, and make sure that your content stands out from the rest, building a reputation for thought leadership. Amplify your content with social media and digital advertising to exponentially extend your reach and keep nurturing leads as they begin to come in.

All of this requires time, expertise, and manpower, which you might not have available. Many B2B technology businesses find that it’s more efficient to hire a marketing-as-a-service agency to handle this for them. If you decide to hire an agency, it’s important to choose one that aligns with your goals and has experience marketing highly technical products.

Brighttail can offer you a free inbound marketing assessment to evaluate your current website and content and help you identify how you can extend your reach and draw in new leads and sales. Contact us about it today!

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