Many technology company business leaders think inbound marketing is just about generating leads. While lead generation is one of the principle reasons businesses use inbound marketing, it's just the tip of the iceberg. The best technology marketing uses inbound marketing in just about all phases of its business.
Before we get into the reasons technology companies use inbound marketing, let's define what inbound marketing is. Inbound marketing is a series of processes designed to match the way customers buy. Think about it. How do you research a potential B2B purchase? According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research.
Inbound marketing uses helpful content about the problems you help customers solve to educate your target audience, generate new business and promote your brand.
- Social media promotion and search engine optimization help your content (and you) get found when buyers are researching purchases.
- Premium content like eBooks, webinars, free trials and consultations convert website visitors to leads and attract them into your sales process.
- Email marketing nurtures leads and helps you close deals.
- Marketing analytics provide marketplace feedback that allows you to optimize your inbound marketing processes.
But as we said earlier, the top-tier technology company inbound marketers do all that and more. Here are 7 compelling reasons technology companies use inbound marketing.
1. Generating leads and closing sales
This is pretty obvious, so we won't spend a lot of time talking about this. The trick is to use inbound marketing to make sure you get found when buyers are researching purchases. But getting found isn't enough! Your content needs to be helpful and position you as someone who can solve your buyers problem.
This get you on their short list and in the game. A good inbound marketing process will nurture the lead and develop sales opportunities for your sales team. Unless you're an e-commerce company, the relationship will need to move from online to a person-to-person interaction in order for a sale to close.
Now let's move to what separates the wheat from the chaff.
2. Use Inbound marketing to qualify leads
Successful technology companies define their ideal customers and pursue them relentlessy. They also don't waste precious time and sales resources on prospects that don't fit their ideal customer profile.
The best technology companies use marketing automation to qualify leads. In the lead generation process, a website visitor exchanges contact information for the premium content offer. On your lead generation forms, ask your leads to define demographic characteristics that help you determine if they are a good fit for your sales process.
You can ask them things like:
- What's your industry?
- What's your role in the company?
- What's your company size?
Make it easy for your visitors, let them answer the questions via a drop-down so they can quickly choose the category that best describe them. For an example of how this is done, look at the Your Role and Your Industry fields in the lead generation form at the bottom of this post. A bonus of this approach is that it lets you segment your leads into meaningful groups so that you can provide them with content that is useful to their particular demographic and needs.
3. Use inbound marketing to help you secure financing
VCs and angel investors are like anybody else, they search the internet to research investment opportunities. A good inbound marketing program will help potential investors find you and showcase why you would be a good investment for them.
It will also show potential investors that you have a plan in place to generate revenue and are serious about growing your business. After all, they're not charities. They're looking for investment opportunities that will pay off. If you're not thinking about how will generate revenue, they're not going to be interested in investing in your company.
4. Use inbound marketing to find teaming partners
Many of the large technology companies that sell to the federal government need to find partners to help them fulfill contractual obligations to have percentages of their contracts handled by small businesses, women-owned businesses, disabled veterans and the like.
There are also partnering opportunities for commercial technology companies. Consider the case of a data analytics consultant that needs a software partner to help them serve their customers.
A good inbound marketer identifies these opportunities and creates content to help potential partners find them. Many software companies have partner distribution channels that make up a significant portion of their total revenue.
HubSpot is a great example of a software company that effectively uses a partner distribution channel. As a HubSpot Silver Certified Agency Partner, I know that they actively search for agency partners on the web.
5. Use inbound marketing to get found by potential M&A partners
Many owners of technology companies have an end-game in mind from the very beginning. The desired endgame is often to be acquired by a larger company or to go public by means of an IPO.
Again, a good inbound marketing program will get you found by companies looking to grow by acquisition. And a good inbound marketing program will show the potential acquiring company that you have a lead generation program in place that goes beyond the personal network of the company principals.
By having a solid sales pipeline in place, you maximize your valuation in both the M&A and IPO marketplaces.
6. Use inbound marketing content to generate outbound leads
Most businesses can't survive on inbound marketing alone. As an inbound marketing agency, we absolutely use outbound marketing to generate leads and business.
Rather than harass people with unwanted telemarketing, consider using outbound email prospecting that uses your helpful inbound marketing content to generate leads. Case studies and content that helps your target audience solve common problems will help your email stand out from the avalanche of self-centered marketing that we all deal with every day.
Be respectful in your outbound marketing. Be brief and provide value. No one cares about how great your technology is - they care about how your technology can help them solve a problem.
7. Use inbound marketing to recruit employees
Recruiting talented employees is crucial to the long-term success of any technology company. And talented technology employees like data scientists, software engineers and coders are in high demand.
Inbound marketing can both highlight your technology and how it helps people as well as promote your company's values. Some technology companies even have blogs for the specific purpose of recruiting employees.
Keep your recruiting needs and challenges in mind as you develop your inbound marketing strategy.
Many business leaders look to inbound marketing as a quick fix to spark lead generation. They are often disappointed because inbound marketing takes time to develop an organic source of traffic and leads. While you can use search engine advertising and social media advertising to move the needle as you build an organic audience, it's important to view inbound marketing as an essential part of your long-term business strategy. That's why we recommend that you use inbound marketing for more than just lead generation.