Inbound marketing to generate demand for your product is a crucial strategy for any B2B SaaS company. These methodologies can be used to create an environment that is conducive to your customers’ needs.
It will also help you gain credibility and establish yourself as an expert in your niche. In this post, we’ll show you how to use SEO and content marketing strategies on your website so that customers are able to find out about all of the great features offered by your company!
Why Inbound Marketing For Demand Generation?
B2B Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting and encouraging potential customers to engage with your business by providing them with a resource (typically in the form of content).
This could be a whitepaper, tool, consultation, blog post, case study, etc.
The core benefit of inbound marketing is that your target buyer is coming to you to solve their problem. This has a clear benefit over the old model of reaching out to strangers and trying to convince them (sometimes against their will) to do business with you. Inbound leads convert at a higher rate because they sought you out, inherently indicating a need and thus, prequalifying themselves.
Inbound B2B marketing is the polite way to promote your services online. It doesn’t involve unsolicited emails, loud commercials, cold calls, or anything else B2B clients hate.
SEO and Content Marketing
A well planned and strategically implemented SEO and content strategy can pay huge dividends for your products over time.
The key is that you must take all of the best practices into consideration and have the patience to stick with the plan over time before you see results.
This is a long term play so you have to be willing to plant a lot of seeds before the harvest.
Here’s a high-level breakdown of each strategy.
SEO. Search Engine Optimization. Chasing Google around with flowers and chocolates begging them to take you back.
This practice has gotten a lot of attention over the years for different reasons. When used properly, it can send thousands of pre qualified potential customers directly to your doorstep. When used improperly, it can penalize your brand [link here] and get your website traffic taken away overnight.
In a nutshell, SEO is a mixture of different strategies and marketing disciplines designed to get more people to visit your website after they perform a search. This is done by getting your site to the top pages of the SERPS (search engine results pages) for a given keyword or phrase.
Better keyword rankings > more users to your website > more qualified leads > more deals.
Here are the four major foundational components of any successful SEO campaign:
Keyword research is the foundation of any great SEO campaign. In this phase you are gathering keyword data from as many sources as possible.
- Your own website’s keyword data coming in through Google Search Console.
- Looking at keyword usage on competitors websites through a Keyword Gap Analysis.
- Brainstorming commonly used product names, features, and language used by your customers.
Technical Audit & Related Implementation
Technical SEO is important because at the end of the day, if the search engines can’t find or adequately understand your web pages, they won’t reward you with high rankings or traffic. Technical SEO factors include:
- Indexation issues (Follow vs no follow directives, 404 not found, robots.txt)
- Pagespeed and overall website load performance
- SSL security certificate set up
- Structured data
- Duplicate content
- Mobile website / mobile user experience friendliness
- XML sitemap set up
Internal and External Link Building
As Google has stated many times, links are one of the top 3 most important considerations for how they judge your website for a given keyword. They are describing the links that another website points towards your domain. However, equally as important in some cases, are the links you use on your own website between two internal web pages.
- These links and the anchor text you use (the words used for the link) communicate crucial information to search engines about the page that is being linked to, the piece of content that the link came from, as well as the specific anchor text used.
- The more relevant the content where the links are coming from and the stronger the page authority, the more likely Google is to reward the target page.
On page optimization
“On page” optimizations are important ranking factors to google, but are also pieces of content that your users will interact with.
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- H1-H6 tags
- Keyword usage in content
The key here is to strike the perfect balance between strategic keyword usage in each of these factors so that you will rank favorably, but also to not alienate your users by sounding overly robotic and confusing.
Content marketing is a term that many throw around from local business radio commercials, SEO agencies, to freelance copywriters. At the end of the day, despite the confusion, content marketing is any tactic that involves creating and distributing content to attract, engage, and retain prospective clients.
However, a successful b2b content marketing strategy is more than just generating articles, blog posts, and videos. It’s about creating a cohesive narrative that will resonate with your target customer and inspire them to action.
As a b2b software company, content marketing is essential. Only 24 percent of Saas companies utilize a blog, which means that the content competition is less threatening than other industries.
With 67% of the b2b buyer’s journey done digitally, it’s important that you create content to answer their questions in order to build trust and further them along in their buying journey while on your site.
There are four major buckets of content that you should create in order to move potential customers through their buying decision making process:
Awareness. These are your classic blog posts, guides, podcasts, facebook posts, etc that inform potential customers on commonly asked questions, answers to pain points, or information about your industry.
Consideration. These users are looking to make a decision about whether or not your specific solution is right for them. Case studies, product feature landing pages, competitor comparisons, free tools, etc will help give them buying confidence.
Purchase. This user knows they have a problem, knows that your solution could help, but needs help crossing over the finish line. They will need a consultation, free trial, or similar offer to get them there.
Retention. These are customers who you want to increase the lifetime value of. You can keep them around by offering support documentation, live chat support, integrations with related tutorials, etc.
How To Build A Campaign
1. Define Goals.
Every successful campaign starts with defining a clear objective. Once you know what your goal is, you and your team can reverse engineer that goal into action steps.
Here’s how to plan the perfect goal:
- Figure out your most important channels; ones that your target buyers will likely be utilizing
- Figure out the gaps the gaps in your existing efforts
- Perform an analysis of how much performance improvement you need to hit business goals
- Use those performance improvement numbers to forecast how long those improvements should take based on historical data
- Write your goal down, discuss with your team, and get feedback on it’s plausibility
An example of a content marketing campaign goal is: “We will achieve a 170% net increase of organic website traffic by the end of our 9 month content marketing campaign in order to have a 9% increase in monthly MQLs.”
2. Define Target Audience.
Who are you wanting to consume your content and ultimate reach out to or purchase from you?
Since search data on your product can be limited in the B2B SaaS space, it’s crucial for your content and messaging that you know exactly who you’re targeting.
When defining a target audience, it’s important to not only consider surface demographic information, but also other aspects of the human being that is ideally making the purchase.
Questions for consideration:
- What do they hate about work?
- What do they use to make their lives easier?
- What articles are they already consuming?
- What channels do they use most?
- Do they prefer email, blog content, social media, or texting?
It’s best to build these personas out, write down specific information about them, and refer back to them when creating content. Hubspot has a great persona building tool to help out.
3. Research Competition and Opportunities
One of the most important aspects in an inbound marketing campaign for B2B SaaS companies is competitive analysis. Find out about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses so you can learn from their efforts, find gaps in your own strategy, and address them with your own strengths.
When it comes to inbound, there are a few key areas that you should study in your analysis:
- Keyword rankings. Use tools like SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, etc to understand what terms your competitors are ranking for.
- Content. What kinds of topics are they writing about? What type of content are they producing? All of these factors should be taken into consideration.
- Site structure. What links do they have in their primary navigation menu? Do they segment organic landing pages by topic, solution, use case, persona?
- User experience. Does their website load quickly? Do they have content behind a paywall? What CMS system are they using? Is their website designed specifically for mobile usage?
Here are some great frameworks for inbound competitive analysis:
- Ahref competitive analysis for SEO
- Ecommerce / product based competitive analysis from shopify
- Moz competitor analysis
- Single Grain marketing competitive analysis
Create and Implement
Now for the hard part, doing the actual work. Implementation is key to an effective inbound marketing campaign. You’ve got to make sure that all of the suggested improvements are checked against your findings but also done with best practices in mind.
The best way to ensure this gets done efficiently is through a prioritization system. You use a sheet with columns for:
- Name of task
- Priority of task (scale of 1-10)
- Technical / resource requirements (developer, software needed)
- Hours needed to complete task
Once you add each task, map out each of these fields and then filter by any dimension that makes the most sense to your business and team. Perhaps you want to start with the highest priority and most important tasks. Or it’s possible that your development team is doing a sprint so you want to get those tasks prioritized first.
Promote and Distribute
If you’re producing content that no one sees or consumes, it’s worthless. You should have a distribution channel in mind for every piece of content you create before it’s created.
A good distribution strategy for your content includes using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as email lists for those who want updates on your business without having to follow you on social media.
There are also many tools that you can use to amplify and distribute your content even further. To name a few:
- Medium – Repost content from your website to capture another audience not always on social media sites.
- Slideshare – Package your content up into a deck and post on slideshare to be used by the rest of the world.
- Outbrain – Automatically share your content on premium websites.
- PR Newswire – Use this if you have news or company update related content to get it featured on hundreds of sites.
- Facebook or twitter ads – Only for your top content, but if it’s good, sometimes it pays to play.
And here is a comprehensive list of all the promotion tools you could ever want.
Measure and Iterate
Last but not least, after you’ve successfully implemented your strategy, you’ve got to be able to objectively measure its effectiveness.
To start, that involves setting up analytics. For inbound marketing, these are the must haves:
- Google analytics set up guide to track website visitors + conversions on your site (demos, sign ups, etc) – https://moz.com/blog/absolute-beginners-guide-to-google-analytics
- A tool to help you see what keywords people used to find your website – https://yoast.com/beginners-guide-to-google-search-console/
- Free technical seo related tool to crawl your site like google – https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/
- Reasonably priced keyword tracking tool – https://nightwatch.io/pricing
In the beginning, you should be doing the following on a monthly basis:
- Reviewing keyword rankings and related content that is driving those rankings.
- Diving into analytics and looking at overall user engagement metrics on the site (new users, sessions, top pages) for all of your pages
- Reviewing conversion metrics or purchases
- Updating your content or SEO related content factors based on KPIs from the above listed tools.
As long as you keep your nose in the data and use it to inform regular updates based on that feedback, your inbound program will start generating the demand your product deserves in no time.
A Case Study Of Success
This was a B2B SaaS company with a website less than 2 years old. They are in a space where they sell to mature and enterprise level businesses. Focused on IT.
They had no existing content strategy or SEO strategy. They did build their website, but it had little focus or intentional targeting to speak of. Even the analytics program wasn’t built out to fully track campaign progress.
What Was Done
- On page SEO related optimizations
- Aggressive link building strategy to their best content
- Regular resource content creation for the blog
- Competitive analysis to determine which content we should create and what links to build
These results speak for themselves. This straightforward but powerful campaign led to:
- First 5 months
- 234% net increase in organic monthly website users
- 644% net increase in total ranking keywords
- 145% net increase in domain authority
About the Author:
Ken Marshall is the CGO and Partner at RevenueZen. He’s been doing some version of digital marketing for the past 7 years and has shifted his focus to all things SEO and inbound for the last 5. Husband, Mini Australian Shepherd puppy dad, and serial entrepreneur (mostly failures, lots of lessons).