Inbound marketing is the top focus of B2B brand marketers who are increasing brand spending, according to Spencer Brenneman’s 2017 study The B2B Brand Strategy. While outbound marketing was also among the top four focus areas, inbound marketing was a more common choice by a full seven percentage points.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
What is outbound marketing’s role in B2B? To understand its importance, you must first understand the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is the distribution of product-related information to a large group with the hope of convincing a small fraction of them to buy products. Examples of outbound marketing include the distribution of blast emails, the mailing of catalogs and the publishing of product-focused advertisements.
Inbound marketing is the leveraging of useful, non-product-related content and the search engine optimization of that content with the hope of attracting the attention and trust of a smaller, more targeted group of potential customers. Examples of inbound marketing include the insertion of popular search terms into company web pages and the online publication of blogs, whitepapers and other content useful to the target audience.
The importance of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing has become much more important in the B2B realm over the past 25 years as the growing accessibility and popularity of the internet has given customers more control over purchasing decisions.
In the pre-internet age, customers had few resources upon which to base purchasing decisions, and had little choice but to trust the messages they received from outbound marketers. Today, customers use the internet to actively research and pursue products that interest them, shifting the mechanism for customer influence away from contrived marketing messages toward objective information.
Google and other search engines make it easy for people to find all kinds of product information, including features, pricing and reviews. Marketers that understand how seach engines work can use this situation to their advantage by creating content that their target customers are looking for and making sure search engines can find that content.
Companies that practice inbound marketing over time can build an engaged, trusting audience made up of businesses who are looking for what they have to sell. What more could you ask of a marketing strategy?