Industry experts report that B2B marketers are tackling their inbound marketing initiatives with the help of relevant, contextual content to provide B2B buyers the information they need to move along their buying journey. Ultimately, these data-driven clues position B2B sales teams with leads that are most likely to convert.
A recent IDC study
found that 65% of buyers engage with a salesperson only after they've made a purchase decision. This ongoing shift highlights the need for B2B organizations to fully leverage content and data in their inbound marketing initiatives to move prospects through the buyer’s journey.Demand Gen Report
’s 2015 B2B Buyer's Survey Report
also shows the importance of content to the success of inbound marketing. The study notes that 75% of B2B buyers cite thought leadership content among their top pieces of content consumed during a buying process, while content that helps build a business case or shows clear ROI for the purchase was somewhat or very important for 83% of buyers.
B2B companies such as Xirrus WiFi, a WiFi access point manufacturer, are using marketing automation to track the performance of their inbound campaigns and ensure that they are investing in campaigns with the highest potential for conversions.
When it comes to data-driven inbound campaigns, progressive B2B marketers are also turning to interactive content in their inbound efforts to gain better insights into the buyer’s journey. They are using tools such as calculators and assessments to gather behavior metrics and buying intent to enhance nurture messages.
"What's happening now is marketers are using interactive content to get a much clearer picture of a prospects needs and interests," said Jerry Rackley, Chief Analyst at Demand Metric
Rackley noted how a data protection and security software company was able to enhance inbound lead generation and scoring due to the engagement prospects had with interactive elements that were added to white papers, E-books and other content. The company was able to attribute roughly 10% of its total inbound leads to the interactive content.
The pressure for B2B organizations to deliver content that is targeted, timely and contextual has increased, and with it, the expectations for inbound marketing effectiveness , according to Adam Blitzer, SVP and GM forSalesforce Pardot
"Each buyer requires a unique approach," Blitzer added. "It’s vital that sales and marketing teams work together on one system of record to deliver targeted, one-to-one messages at each point of engagement based on data collected throughout their initiatives."
For example, Xirrus WiFi
has balanced its inbound and outbound initiatives to maximize lead generation with quality content campaigns. With Pardot, the company’s conversion rates on MQLs to sales-qualified opportunities increased 18% in the past six months.
"Before Pardot, we would just create one general campaign and throw it out there with a generic enough message that appealed to everyone," said Jillian Mansolf, CMO of Xirrus WiFi. "With [marketing automation], we are able to move much more quickly in creating campaigns allowing us to create many targeted campaigns with the most relevant content."
Mansolf highlighted six tasks B2B companies need to address to enhance inbound initiatives:
- Set Goals. Ensure sales and marketing are in agreement and aligned with the goals of your program and how metrics will be determined and reported.
- Focus On Quality Not Quantity. This can lead to less resources being wasted by marketing and sales teams on leads that could never close.
- Clean Up The Database. An accurate database can help ensure marketing messages are relevant and resonate with target audiences;
- Create Great Content. It’s impossible to have a successful lead generation program without content that is relevant and tailored to pique the interest of your prospects and customers;
- Measure, Analyze And Ask “Why?” Always look at the metrics and ask why the campaign was successful or not and whether or not it met goals; and
- Educate Yourself. Put aside a certain amount of time each week to educate yourself on customer needs and continue to adapt to meet the needs of prospective buyers.
"Creating great-looking, relevant inbound campaigns and launching them quickly is a never ending quest," Mansolf said. "Inbound marketing holds one truth: relevant content leads to higher conversion rates."