What is driving the popularity of B2B Inbound Marketing
When considering what is driving the move towards inbound (and away from outbound) marketing in B2B markets it is wise to consider both the recent history of search engine marketing and the changes in B2B buyer behaviour.
Recent Changes To Search Engine Marketing.
Three years ago it was possible to build a site with minimal content, stuff what content there was with the chosen keyword, build a high quantity of incoming links with little to no relevance to the site subject and rank at a high position on the search engines as a result. Did that approach deliver a relevant search engine experience to the masses? Did it bring in relevant prospects to the website?
The search engines companies’ prime focus is to deliver a relevant search experience hence they updated their algorithms to give sites using bad practices a much lower chance of ranking in a high position. First to be hit was keyword stuffing then low quality linking practices. However, at this point it was still possible to rank a site using higher quality (some may say still a little Grey Hat) back linking strategies.
Over the past 18 months things have changed dramatically with the introduction of the Penguin 1 and 2 and Panda algorithm updates. These focussed on content, relevance and social signals more than ever before and took a particularly hard line on dubious back linking strategies.
Why Inbound Marketing
As a result so called content marketing has risen in popularity as a major component of best inbound marketing practice. Distributing, relevant, helpful, high quality content is now said to be the key to generating high quality sales leads and improving the rank of a particular website.
Inbound marketing is becoming popular in B2B markets were the old style push marketing techniques are less and less effective. Buyers and members of the decision making team are now much more likely to seek out the information they need (pull) rather than wait for it to be pushed their way.
There is however a problem that is rarely mentioned. Inbound, and in particular content marketing, is time consuming and it only really works with the active participation of the business. The old ways, when back links were all important, meant it was possible for a business to hire a SEM agency and simply leave them to get on with the job. That is no longer possible, and for many small and medium sized businesses that is a problem.
Many businesses are simply too busy or lack the skills to develop and run an inbound marketing process. Outsourcing to a external marketing agency is an option but not as a hire and forget situation. The best way forward for businesses with limited time and appropriate skills is often a partnership between an inbound marketing agency and the business.