What Is Inbound Marketing?

18 July 2022

Do you hate inbound marketing? Think it takes too long, can’t be measured, or it drives crappy leads? 

Or maybe you think inbound marketing is a good idea, but don't know where to get started. 

Either way, you're in the right place. 

Inbound marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic, leads, and revenue for B2B companies. 

But, (You knew there'd be a but, didn't you?) it isn't easy to track. This is not to say it's impossible—just a little more difficult. 

Today we'll talk about what inbound marketing is (and what it isn't), share a few inbound strategies that work well for B2B, and show you how to track your efforts. 

Leadfeeder is a website identification tool that helps B2B businesses drive growth. Sign up for a free two-week trial and see what companies visit your site. 👀

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing, also called "pull marketing" focuses on attracting customers to your business by offering valuable content and resources. 

Common examples of inbound marketing include: 

  • Creating blog posts and ebooks that educate your audience about a topic important in your industries. 

  • Creating tools and knowledge bases that offer value. 

  • Hosting a podcast, where you interview people in your industry. 

  • Using SEO to ensure your website is easy to find when users search keywords important in your industry 

  • Opt-in email marketing campaigns, where users give you permission to send them marketing messages. 

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing 

An inbound marketing definition isn't quite enough to understand how it works. Because there's another half to inbound marketing—called outbound marking. They're kinda like the yin and yang of marketing.  

Here's the difference: 

Inbound marketing is about drawing people into your website before making contact.

Outbound marketing is about reaching out to customers first and initiating the conversation. 

Let's look at a few examples: 

  • You post a blog. Customers come to your site, read your post, maybe click on another link. You drew them in, so it's inbound marketing. 

  • You run a direct mail campaign to a list of target accounts that you haven’t spoken with before. You reached out to them first, so it's outbound marketing. 

Other examples of outbound marketing include cold calling, social media advertising, or cold emailing a list of purchased addresses (😱please don't do that.)

B2B inbound marketing strategies to drive revenue, not just leads 

Building an inbound marketing strategy for B2B is a little different than B2C. You can't slap up a few blogs and call it a day. 

I mean. You could, but it won't get you anywhere. 

But all the inbound tools and strategies, guides, and whitepapers—it can get overwhelming. 

Below, I'll share some of the inbound marketing strategies the Leadfeeder team leveraged to grow from a three-person team to a leading B2B business intelligence data company. 

As a bonus, I'll share how Leadfeeder can improve your inbound marketing efforts.  

Write more blogs. But also better blogs. 

Some B2B companies write off blogs. "We sell dohickeys for industrial doodads, no one wants to read blog posts about that!" 

Maybe not—but your customers all have a problem they want to solve. There is some reason they are looking for your product, and you can offer a solution. 

Why might someone be looking for new dohickeys for industrial doodads? 

Is their current provider going under? Have prices skyrocketed? Are a large portion of the dohickeys they get damaged? 

You could write blogs about why prices are going up, how some cost cutting measures can be dangerous, or how testing packaging methods resulted in a 25% decrease in damaged parts. 

Other topics that even the most "boring" companies could write about include: 

  • Health and safety information

  • Industry news and updates 

  • Reviews of the best/worst doodads related to your industry (these don't have to be products you sell, but ones your customers are likely to use. 

  • Hiring or managing best practices in your industry. 

  • Case studies showing you you've helped other companies succeed

Remember, the point is to offer value, not make a sale. So don't focus so much on how these customers convert on first click. We'll get to that later. :) 

Get active on social media 

If you're in B2B, TikTok might not be your jam. I get it. 

However, social media is one of the most popular online activities, with more than 3.6 billion users worldwide.

Your audience is on social media somewhere— you just have to find them. 

Get granular about your ideal customer profile and see where they hang out. It might be LinkedIn, Reddit, or even Facebook. 

When you post, focus on offering value. What can you do for them? Can you be funny like Semrush

Inbound marketing example from SEMrush

Semrush sells analytics software—but they know their clients are mostly digital marketers who struggle with clients with grandiose expectations, so this post hits home. 

Inbound marketing isn't about selling, so feel free to be funny and let your corporate hair down a little if it makes sense for your brand. 

Build an email list 

Your email list is one of your most powerful B2B marketing assets. That's because these are people who work for companies that are likely to be interested in what you offer — and they actually want you to reach out! 

Capturing email addresses starts by offering something of value, such as: 

  • Long-form guides, like whitepapers or books. 

  • Tools or templates, like our cost per lead calculator 

  • Webinars 

  • Chatbots that answer FAQs or direct them to resources (these can qualify leads, too 🙌)

Once you build an email list, you can segment it by where they are in the funnel, buyer persona and ideal customer persona, or the type of content they're interested in. 

Optimize your website for search 

SEO is the OG of inbound marketing. 

It's all about making sure your website shows up in search results for the keywords your audience is likely to search for. 

While it's too complicated to outline all the things you need to do for B2B SEO, here's a few tips to get you started: 

Blogging can also help with SEO, so make sure content marketing is part of your inbound marketing plan. 

3 ways Leadfeeder can help drive your inbound marketing strategy 

Every good inbound marketing strategy starts with data—and that's just what Leadfeeder delivers. 

Here are three ways you can leverage the data and insights Leadfeeder delivers to build and test your inbound marketing strategy. 

Identify website visitors even if they don't fill out a form 

Does inbound marketing make you want to bang your head on your desk?

There's a good chance it's because you don't know how to track what inbound strategies actually work. 

Here's the thing—not every lead that visits your site will fill out a form, sign up for your email list, or reach out to sales. 

So how do you know if inbound works? 

With Leadfeeder. 

Simply install our tracker on your site and sit back and relax. 

We'll track what companies visit your site, what pages they view, and even what content, campaign, or channel brought them to your website. 

We'll also show you: 

  • Company data, like location, website, industry, and company size 

  • Lead quality 

  • How many visitors came to your site 

  • When they last visited your site 

  • The best person to reach out to at that company 

Plus, you'll see their onsite activity, such as if they came via an email campaign, what pages they visited, how many pages they visited, and the total time visited. 

If you've been struggling to see the fruits of your inbound labor, this is the solution. 

Track which emails drive traffic using Leadfeeder's acquisitions filter 

Want to see which of your email campaigns drive traffic to your site? Create a filter to see which companies came to your site using our acquisitions filter. 

Click +Create Custom Feed, then choose Acquisitions from the drop-down menu.  

inbound marketing email acquisition feed

From there, you can choose to track by campaign, UTM, referring URL, or source. Choose the one that fits your current strategy, then click Add. 

You'll see which leads came to your site from email. You can then choose to sort leads further based on company size, behavior, etc. 

Pro tip: You can do this for other inbound efforts as well, such as social media. 

See what type of blog content drives the most deals 

Using a similar filter, you can see which leads visit specific content and use that to power your blogging strategy. 

Just like before, you'll tap +Create a Custom Feed, then select Behavior. After "is," add the URL you want to track. 

You'll get a list of all the companies that visited that URL. Do they match your ICP? Have those companies converted? 

Is there anything else you notice about the people coming to your website? 

Leverage that data to create better blog content. 

Do your biggest clients all read content on a similar topic? You should probably write more about that topic! 

Think you can't track inbound marketing efforts? Think again. 

If you're struggling to prove the ROI of inbound marketing, we can help. 

Leadfeeder makes it easy to track your site visitors—even if they don't fill out a form, drop their name, or sign up for an email list. 

Even better? You can try us for free.

Sign up for a free two-week trial of Leadfeeder and start seeing hidden leads today.

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Leadfeeder is a tool that shows you companies that visit your website. Leadfeeder generates new leads, offers insight on your customers and can help you increase your marketing ROI.

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