How to Adapt to the Future of B2B Inbound Marketing

B2B inbound marketing started some 10 years ago in response to growing frustration with traditional, outbound marketing tactics. What started as the runt of the litter has grown into a must-have for many businesses.

Meanwhile, the methods and priorities of b2b marketing strategies grow and evolve. It is our job to grow with them. Otherwise, we face the dim prospect of being left behind. With that in mind, every year Hubspot releases its State of Inbound report, which monitors the changes facing inbound.

Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report delves into the details of inbound marketing, ferreting out the details of 6,000 marketers, including both inbound and outbound marketers, who were polled.

Every year, the priorities of the inbound strategy evolve. It is our job to grow with it.

6 Important Changes to B2B Inbound Marketing and B2B Marketing Strategies You Don’t Want to Miss

1. Clearer Communication Between Executives and Marketers is a Must

There’s a disconnect between how C-level executives and marketers view the efficiency of their marketing strategy. 69% of C-levels said that their marketing strategy was effective, while only 55% of marketers agreed.

This could mean that senior level executives are getting results that they do not share with their staff — leading others to believe the strategy is not effective. On the flip side, it could mean that the strategy is not meeting established goals, but that the C-level execs are unaware of it.

Whatever the case, this disconnect needs to be addressed. It is crucial for the whole team — from C-level to marketer — be on the same page when it comes to its marketing strategy, and how it works. Without clear communication and alignment, a company will struggle to build strong and lasting relationships with its customers.

2. Inbound is (Not Surprisingly) on the Rise

Although it’s still in its infancy, inbound marketing is quickly taking the lead when it comes to effective B2B marketing strategies. 68% of those whose organizations use inbound marketing think that their strategy is effective.

Hubspot State of Inbound 2017 -- Inbound vs. Outbound

On the other hand, the majority (52%) of those whose organizations use outbound marketing do not think their marketing strategy is effective. Clearly, inbound marketing is poised to become a staple in many B2B marketing strategies. Because of its clear benefits, we can see more organizations adopting this marketing strategy in the future.

Inbound marketing is poised to become a staple in many marketing strategies.

3. Companies Need to Experiment to Find Out Which Channels are Best

In the beginning of the inbound marketing revolution, blog content and websites were the primary focus — and that worked well. But as other channels have developed and grown, marketers have branched out into other channels such as video, mobile and social media.

Social media in particular can be a fickle mistress — the playing field seems to change on a daily basis. New networks pop up left and right, and older ones are in a state of flux. The tried-and-true trio of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn seem to be a solid choice, but there’s a question of what other networks will catch up. Right now experimentation is the best method for finding the right channels.

Forty eight percent of marketers surveyed plan to incorporate Youtube into their content distribution channels, and another 24% said they want use more messenger apps, such as WhatsApp. The bottom line is that it’s important to test different channels. What works for one company may not work for yours.

While some channels have been around for years, others are still fairly new. It’s still a guess what channels will prove useful in the future — but for now, it would be smart not to count any of them out.


4. Focus Shifts Even More from Print to Online

This one comes as no surprise. For the past few years, traditional marketing tactics (broadcast, print) have been declining while newer, online tactics are quickly proving their worth. As proof, 32% of those polled rated traditional media as the most overrated marketing tactic.

When asked what their overall inbound marketing priorities were, 61% of marketers said “Growing SEO or organic presence.” Another 53% answered, “Blog content creation,” with 47% saying “content distribution or amplification.”

Hubspot State of Inbound 2017 -- Inbound Marketing Priorities

Content creation, and all of its rippling effects, are on everyone’s minds. The constant changes to Google’s search algorithms keep everyone on their toes. It is important for businesses to zero in on perfecting their online presence, creating more SEO-focused B2B blog content, and branching out into other forms of content.


5. Video Takes the Lead, Under Protest

Many recognize that video is surging into the spotlight as the leading means of cultivating relationships with and educating customers. But others fear this progression, since it means a downscale of B2B blog content.

Now is the best time to get on board with video and other visual content. Get in on it while it is still in its early stages, and you will be able to fully utilize its power on the marketing scene.

At the same time, video should not be viewed as a “one size fits all” solution. Look at areas within your company where video will be effective — but don’t let it be your only focus. Maintain other forms of content — blogs, infographics, and white papers — in the mix.


6. Customers Prefer Online Purchases Rather Than In-Person

Many in the 2017 report noted a shift away from salespeople and brick-and-mortar businesses, toward a self-help online experience.

Customers typically wish to bypass the traditional sales process in favor of a more digital experience. Even B2B buyers are looking for a more mainstreamed, online purchasing experience.

It seems that the role of the salesperson is shifting towards that of advisor or concierge rather than seller. It is important that businesses adapt to this change, and make their sales process less complicated and more educational.

Key Points to Remember…

  • It is crucial that C-level executives and marketers be on the same page when it comes to their B2B marketing strategies.
  • There are constantly new online channels, and businesses should experiment to find out which one works best for them.
  • Online content creation — such as B2B blogs, videos, and SEO-driven content — is becoming more important than traditional methods.
  • Buyers want a more independent sales experience, and the sales team needs to adapt.

Changes are inevitable — and B2B inbound marketing is not exempt. As the face of marketing changes, we need to change with it. Otherwise, we will be left behind. What marketing changes are you looking forward to in the future?