As we saw with Maersk Line, it started with the discovery of social media, without having goals defined with figures. Maersk came to social media because of the trend more than for follow a really defined strategy. It is funny to observe that they are currently doing exactly the same with blogging / content creation. On their website Maersklinesocial.com, they say:
» This site has been created in order for Maersk Line to have an actual ‘home’ in social media. According to most recommendations, companies should not rely solely on the third party social media companies, even though that’s where the action – in most instances – takes place. »
It sounds like they are not convinced by their own website. Just like at the beginning of internet, when some companies didn’t feel the need for a website, and some others created ones without being really convinced by its usefulness; the leads generation through internet will comes little by little. It is exactly what Maersk Line did with social networks: companies will discover the interest of online presence step by step.
While a window-shopping website was good enough in past years, it is not relevant anymore. The web is more and more crowded. Companies which want to cut through this clutter will have to be more present.
As Maersk Line, lot of companies invest in only one field on internet (social media, e-commerce, content creation….) but very few have an entire process that drive strangers into customers.
Another reason of this slow evolution is the mentalities of top directors who always performed outbound marketing campaign and don’t catch and/or don’t believe in the potential of these new tools.
None of the companies we saw in this report have an inbound marketing process exactly like it is promoted by Hubspot. However, the philosophy of attracting an audience and convert it is present for some of them. The Hubspot process might be adapted for standard online-based services or products (such as Hubspot software). For FreshBooks, this process is almost fully integrated and is relevant. But for other kind of companies, only an online process isn’t the best practice, and they understood it perfectly. Even Dell, a pure-player, don’t rely only on online tactics.
The Maersk Line case is very representative of the fact that digital marketing success is not proportional to money invested in. With only a full-time employees dedicated to it, and with already produced content (pictures and history), Maersk is now a major hub for the maritime community online. The same amount of audience reached with such regularity would have cost a way more with outbound marketing.
A key success factor of an efficient inbound marketing in BtoB is a close collaboration between marketing and sales team. In this case, the money saved in leads acquisition might be lost if responsibilities are not well defined. It is often the difference between a marketing focused on leads generation and a marketing focused on improving brand awareness.
As we could have been expected, the online pattern promoted by « inbound marketing »‘ creators, isn’t totally relevant for BtoB business working by project. For standard solution, it is easier to implement as the conversion and the nurturing process are focus on one buyer persona at a time, and a limited range of products to sell. With complex and specifically designed solutions, the entire buying process is too much different each time to have a defined buyer person and a lead nurturing process. In these cases, the corporate still can use the inbound marketing partially: by providing useful, technical, and targeted content, they can develop their image as a thought-leader, and as at the state of the art on their field of activity.
Inbound marketing is a trendy expression that, nowadays, is assimilated to online content creation rather than a conversion process. Even some marketing agencies sell « inbound marketing » services as they would sell a product. Moreover, a slightly different concept might emerge and wipe out the « inbound marketing » term, as « inbound marketing » did with « permission marketing ». The general concept is very relevant, and it is highly probably going to be a growing trends in companies, whatever its name.
The process will remain: