B2B inbound marketing refers to all the strategies a company uses to attract more business customers—whether small local businesses or global enterprises.
Unlike outbound marketing (which interrupts your target audience with ads and unwanted emails), inbound marketing seeks to assist people with their real and immediate needs.
A prospective customer might be searching for the answer to a question, looking for a tutorial, or hunting for a useful template. If your brand can satisfy that need, there's a higher chance that the person will trust your brand when they're ready to make a purchase.
But which strategies work? Below, we've rounded up the best of the best. With these 15 actionable strategies, you can attract and retain leads with both timeliness and relevance.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the more lucrative inbound marketing strategies. That's because it can drive mass amounts of traffic.
You can generate thousands of hits to your website daily for highly relevant keyphrases across your entire B2B content funnel.
- Top-of-funnel keyphrases: Definitions, listicles, common questions
- Middle-of-funnel keyphrases: Products, solutions, services
- Bottom-of-funnel keyphrases: Vetting criteria, competitor comparisons
Lucidchart’s inbound marketing approach relies heavily on SEO. Here's a snapshot of just a few of the hundreds of thousands of keyphrases that they rank for:
If you're new to SEO and unsure where to begin, start by researching your competitors’ rankings. Up your competitors’ URLs into a tool like uber suggest or Ahrefs to generate a list of the keyphrases they are ranking for. Then, copy the key phrases that are relevant to your target audience and product or service into your own research spreadsheet.
Next, create optimized blog posts and landing pages for unique keyphrases. Check out our article on SEO content optimization to guide your writing.
2. Lead magnets and free resources
One of the best ways attract more inbound leads is with free resources. You can create lead magnets like ebooks, templates, quizzes, and calculators and then promote them through other strategies on our list (like SEO and social media).
For example, DesignFiles offers a full year of social media post prompts for their target audience of interior designers. There are 104 prompts across 12 months, each prompt assigned to one of five content categories (Showcase Your Work, Own Your Design Perspective, Educate Your Future Clients, Call Your Followers to Action, Build Your Personal Brand)
This is a great example for several reasons:
- Solves a pain point - This Trello board serves an important purpose. Interior designers struggle to know what to post on social media to promote their business, especially when they're so busy with client work.
- High quality - The lead magnet is organized in an interesting and helpful format. It’s also valuable enough to pay for and matches the quality of something designers might receive in a coaching program or course.
- Educational - By using five content categories, the list offers an educational element and helps designers understand the strategy behind the prompts. This way, designers are better equipped to make the prompts their own and will know how to create their own social content strategy in the future.
If you make sure that your lead magnets hit on all three points above, you can't go too far wrong.
3. Email nurture sequences
Once you've collected leads with your lead magnets, you must nurture them. The best way to do this is to create an email nurture sequence.
Here's an example email that TravelPerk sends after someone downloads their ebook on how to choose a business travel management solution.
This email hits on the pain points of not using dedicated business travel software. Then, it presents the benefits of using centralized travel software for three different user segments (travel managers, finance managers, and business travelers).
This is a great example of how you can simplify a complicated offering.
Start by strategizing a list of pain points and benefits that you want to cover. Then organize them into 3 - 10 different emails that will follow a download.
4. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is a potent inbound marketing strategy that should find its place in your digital marketing toolkit. When done right, it can drive organic traffic, enhance your SEO efforts, and establish your authority within your niche.
Guest blogging isn't just about churning out content for the sake of backlinks. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The essence of guest blogging lies in producing high-quality, informative, and engaging content that resonates with your target audience. When you contribute well-crafted articles to reputable websites in your industry, you're not only showcasing your expertise but also reaching a broader audience.
One of the undeniable perks of guest blogging is the potential to enhance your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. When you publish content on authoritative websites with backlinks to your own, you're sending a signal to search engines that your site is credible and worth ranking higher in search results.
5. Account based marketing (ABM)
Account based marketing (ABM) includes any marketing strategy you use to target specific companies instead of a target audience.
Drift has 250 target accounts at any given time. They use a variety of strategies to target them, including small virtual events like wine tasting, personalized content recommendations, and live chat conversations with account executives.
They also create dedicated landing pages for each account. Here's an example page for investment company AllianceBernstein.
These landing pages can be used in various inbound ABM campaigns so that no matter where the traffic is coming from, the lead always sees a fully personalized landing page that invites them to book a demo call with their AE.
By catering to your ideal clients with personalization, you can improve the success of many of your inbound channels.
6. Virtual events
One B2B inbound marketing strategy that's grown increasingly popular lately is virtual events. The virtual event industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4% from 2022 to 2030.
B2B companies like putting on virtual events because they're far more affordable than in-person conferences and meetups. And attendees appreciate the convenience of joining from anywhere and not traveling to learn new information and engage with people in their field.
But because virtual events are so easy to put on, there are a plethora of them. B2B buyers are inundated with invites.
To make your virtual events stand out and improve your registration and attendance rates, try one of these tactics:
- Invite leaders from companies your audience trusts - Invite keynote speakers and panelists from great companies in your industry so that people are more likely to attend.
- Offer opportunities for networking - With breakout sessions and virtual networking features, many virtual event software platforms offer some way for people to connect. Use these features to your advantage to make your events more valuable.
- Cover a concept they won't hear anywhere else - Introduce a proprietary concept or strategy or dive into an advanced topic that isn't commonly taught.
For example, virtual event management platform Airmeet is hosting an upcoming event to discuss their concept of event-led growth and how it relates to content marketing.
7. Influencer marketing
With influencer marketing, you pay to leverage existing social media audiences. Typically, you agree on a price for a certain number of posts upfront. For instance, you might pay $400 an influencer to create two Reels about your service and publish them on their Instagram account within a month.
While influencer marketing is super popular in the e-commerce space, it isn't just for B2C companies.
B2B companies have a lot to gain from this strategy as well. And because very few B2B companies are doing it, it's somewhat of a blue ocean.
In this example, a creator is posting a sponsored ad for Canva and teaching people how to use the design platform:
Make sure that you’re only partnering with influencers whose audience aligns with yours. If your B2B audience includes small business owners and creators, you can partner with Instagram and TikTok influencers. But if your audience consists mostly of professionals, you might have better luck on LinkedIn and Twitter.
8. How-tos and tutorials
As part of your B2B inbound marketing strategy, you should survey your audience to find out what sorts of how-to guides and tutorials they’re desperate for.
What do they want to learn? What are they struggling with on their own?
Every professional and business owner needs help fulfilling the responsibilities of their role.
Becoming a go-to source for tutorials can help you attract and convert leads.
Tutorial content can be in the format of SEO-optimized blog posts, SEO-optimized YouTube videos, courses, or live workshops. You'll need to experiment with different formats and measure engagement to decide what works best for your audience.
In this example, EasyBooks offers steps that business owners need to take to DIY their bookkeeping. There are also definitions of common bookkeeping terms to eliminate confusion.
Make sure that you are creating tutorials for your target audience. Depending on your target market, basic steps like the example above might attract the wrong sort of customers. Instead, you might want to create expert-level content that helps professionals gain cutting-edge skills.
So kick off this strategy with solid customer research (including surveys, interviews, or social listening).
9. Employee advocacy
Employee advocacy is one of the more affordable B2B inbound marketing strategies.
Leverage the social audiences of your employees to gain more awareness and leads for your brand.
In this example, the head of content for Lavender (an AI-powered tool for writing sales emails) talks about the core value of the tool.
The writing style and message of the LinkedIn post are so good that the post comes across as helpful and interesting instead of overly promotional.
Copy this style by coming up with your own controversial post. We don't mean controversial in the typical sense of the word but rather that you are contradicting a common saying or belief. This is a surefire way to get more engagement.
10. Affiliate marketing
You can also drive more inbound leads with affiliate marketing. You might provide a commission of 15 o3t0% for sales, or a flat rate fee for new leads.
Affiliates will promote your links in all kinds of ways. They might write comparison articles like this one for two different graphic design services:
Or, they might include their affiliate links in social media posts and email newsletters. In the B2B world, it's also common for consultants to send affiliate links directly to their clients to get a commission for the products and services they recommend.
To maximize these opportunities:
- Set up an affiliate program with software that will automatically attribute referrals and payout affiliates.
- Create resources and templates to help affiliates sell your product or service.
- Offer customer support and troubleshooting to your affiliates. Let them know that you want their feedback on the program and resources provided.
And if you're a content marketer looking for a great program to join, check out StoryChief's affiliate program.
11. Proprietary research studies
Conducting your own research can be a really smart marketing strategy.
Proprietary research studies offer a ton of benefits:
- High-value inbound content that your audience will love
- Potential for building backlinks to proprietary statistics
- Potential for industry press coverage
- Lots of inspiration for content based on your findings
- Potential for sharing and virality
You can use a survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to send your research questions to your customers and others in your industry. Or, you can analyze user data from your software the way that Proposify does with their State of Proposals report every year.
But just creating a study isn't enough, of course. You'll also want to promote it. Check out this killer email from ResumeLab. It offers tons of insights in a well-formatted, detailed email.
This example also shows that sometimes it takes an outbound push to get those inbound leads going. So don't be afraid to use outbound promotion methods like direct emails and ads to get traffic to your inbound content.
12. Product-led growth (PLG)
Product-led growth (PLG) is the term that describes free trials and freemium business models. B2B SaaS companies use PLG to get new users in the door and then convert them through user activation and onboarding.
Marketing teams can support PLG efforts by driving traffic to optimized signup flows.
For example, take a look at this HubSpot landing page optimized for the keyphrase “free CRM software.”
Not only does it bring in traffic from search, but HubSpots marketing team links to it from a variety of inbound assets to convert website visitors into free users.
While this strategy is designed for software companies, other B2B companies can find a way to utilize it. For instance, a marketing agency might offer a free audit or a free account to a whitelabel software they use to manage client campaigns.
The overall point is to give the potential client a taste of what it would be like to work with you for free, using that offer to drive more leads, and then gradually converting those leads into paying clients.
13. Native social media content
Too many B2B companies are just using their social media accounts to share links to content on their website—instead of also creating native content in the formats that perform best in algorithms.
Unless a post with a link gets a lot of immediate reactions, the Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook algorithms will quickly kill it because these platforms want people to stay where they are, not click links and leave.
By creating more native content, you can get more visibility and engagement. This will keep your brand top of mind and can indirectly lead to more website traffic, as social media users visit your profile and then click on the links in your profile.
Simple, this LinkedIn post from gong got quite a lot of interaction:
The post kicks things off with a great hook, then provides examples of what not to do before wrapping it up with an actionable tip.
Try that framework as a template for your own native content, and watch your engagement soar.
14. Podcast tours
Hosting and producing a podcast is a lot of work. While it can be a great strategy for some B2B companies, it's not for everyone. It can be hard to prioritize growing an audience for your podcast when struggling to grow your main audience.
However, going on a podcast tour is a B2B inbound marketing strategy everyone can benefit from.
Here's how it works: come up with a tip or idea to share. This tip should not be super popular or overdone. It must relate to your product or service, so that interested listeners are naturally encouraged to check out your business.
15. Content repurposing
Every great B2B inbound marketer should be repurposing their content (turning one piece of content into many, especially in different formats).
Content repurposing offers:
- Higher ROI from investments in content creation
- More views and engagement for an important concept or launch
- Content in a variety of learning styles and accessibility requirements to satisfy audience needs
- Faster and easier creation for content marketers
For example, Bonjoro teaches users and prospective customers alike about their custom message templates in several formats: a helpdesk article, blog post announcement, master class lesson, YouTube video, and plenty more.
If you have a great feature, strategy, or tip to share, don't just talk about it one time in one way.
Take that concept and repurpose it across all of your B2B inbound marketing channels so you ensure that the maximum amount of your audience understands it, while reinforcing your brand’s value.
Launch your B2B inbound marketing with StoryChief
For successful B2B inbound marketing, you need the right tools. Without a centralized platform, assets and team members spread everywhere—leading to confusion and slow campaign launch speeds.
With StoryChief’s content operations platform, you can:
- Write articles faster with the help of AI
- Get SEO and readability suggestions to improve your content
- Manage content feedback and approval workflows
- Publish content to your website, social platforms, advocates & subscribers