Does Inbound Marketing Only Work for B2B Companies?
It’s no secret that inbound marketing is one of the best digital marketing practices employed by B2B (business-to-business) companies. But does inbound marketing only work for B2B companies? What about B2C (business-to-consumer) companies that want to stand out of the crowd and get an edge in their niches? Even if B2B companies operate differently and have different goals than B2Cs, the main focus of both types of businesses is to generate leads and increase awareness of their brand – and isn’t that what inbound marketing is all about?
Debunking the Myth
There is a myth surrounding inbound marketing that it really only works well for B2B companies, that B2C companies have shorter sales cycles and leads who aren’t looking for information, so much as the bottom line. In reality, regardless of sales cycle or the a lead’s wants and needs, inbound marketing is about H2H -human-to-human – relationships. It’s about attracting new customers, establishing long-term connections with people and building trust around your brand. Isn’t that what all businesses want?
Inbound Marketing and H2H
H2H relationships are the most important aspect of any marketing strategy, whether it is initiated by a B2B or a B2C business. Inbound marketing capitalizes on the H2H factor in the following ways:
- Persona-based: The first step to successful inbound marketing is to create fictional representations of your ideal customers. Use them to remind you that each piece of content you create should attract these specific people – your emails, blog posts, website content, etc. should address their needs and pain points, take into account their habits and demographics. Don’t focus merely on selling them your services, but give them solutions tailored specifically to their unique situations.
- Social media: Social platforms are not just channels to push your brand message on potential customers and promote your products or services, but rather a means to establish strong connections with people who want to be connected with you through sharing educational and inspiring content and engaging in discussion and dialogue with followers.
- Analytics: Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the quantifiable results and the metrics for ROI associated with inbound marketing. Just remember that these analytics help you to better connect with your customers by seeing what’s working and what’s not and course correcting to deliver a delightful experience.
B2B and B2C – Inbound Marketing Approaches
Even though inbound marketing focuses on H2H relationships, inbound marketing for B2B and and inbound marketing for B2C take different approaches to developing those relationships. With B2C, the goal is to sell your specific products to customers, often appealing to a broad audience and concerned with satisfying their immediate needs. While B2B’s goal is to sell products to a more targeted group of customers, usually with the expectation of them needing your products continually over a long period of time.
It’s true that many B2C companies have shorter sales cycles than B2Bs, so the lead-nurturing strategies of both will look different. Because of the longer sales cycle, B2B companies can more earnestly go after a potential lead without driving them away, and they often need to actively keep in touch with its customers after the deal has been sealed, sending out periodic updates, reminders and gifts. A B2C company needs to be aware that while persistance is effective at keeping your brand top-of-mind, it can also be a turn off if your messages are too insistent.
Regardless of B2B or B2C, both types of companies should focus on these inbound marketing best practices for increasing visibility, traffic, conversions and sales. SEO, paid search, remarketing, geotagging and more can help increase visibility and give you an edge over your competition. Creating videos, blogs, podcasts and other attractive content will drive people to your site. And offering premium content like e-books, case studies and webinars allows more interested prospects to convert into leads. Nurturing those leads through the buying process through the use of marketing automation and emails helps convert those leads into customers. And “customers” is the name of any business’s game.