Home Digital Marketing As Tech Advances, Inbound Strategies Must Shift

As Tech Advances, Inbound Strategies Must Shift

Founder & CEO of 42DM, a B2B digital marketing agency for tech companies.

To build successful marketing campaigns that yield results, it’s crucial to deeply understand one thing: how people search for solutions to their problems. From research through physical documents to online searches in Google, major technological innovations have catalyzed changes in search behavior.

This fundamental concept of Google as the primary search point has largely shaped modern marketing. HubSpot’s founders were among the first to recognize this shift in search behavior and used this insight to develop inbound marketing methodology for B2B tech growth.

Why is inbound marketing so effective? Because it facilitates the connections people are seeking and addresses existing problems rather than interrupting the audience with unwanted content, as outbound marketing often does. As a HubSpot partner, my agency and I have been implementing inbound marketing for our clients for seven years. It has proven to be a highly successful solution, despite the gradual changes in buyer behavior due to the rise of social networks—until now.

What has changed? The AI boom in 2023 has acted as a catalyst, reinforcing the idea that traditional inbound marketing is no longer sufficient. This trend didn’t happen overnight; it evolved gradually as market behavior shifted with the advent of social media and AI tools. ChatGPT in particular has played a pivotal role, and search behavior has evolved.

In addition to ChatGPT, TikTok has garnered considerable attention as a platform for awareness-level search, driven by the generational patterns of Gen Z. For example, 58% of Gen Z TikTok users leverage the platform to learn more about new products or brands, while 60% of Gen Z TikTok users have bought a product because they saw it on the app.

The buyer’s journey has become more intricate and has undoubtedly evolved. In addition, budgets are now tighter, and decision-making processes have lengthened due to the ongoing crisis. One of the central insights at the Inbound 2023 Conference in Boston, which I attended last month, was that people no longer wish to read websites; they desire immediate answers to their questions. Users prefer real-time, concrete conversations, even with AI, over navigating lengthy texts. Consequently, our beloved inbound marketing must adapt as well. But how?

The New Inbound Marketing

There is a clear necessity to adapt inbound marketing to address current market challenges. To achieve this, I propose an evolved version of this strategy: Inbound Marketing 2.0.

What we’re doing is taking the three traditional stages of inbound marketing—attract, engage, delight—and tailoring them to meet the demands of the fragmented inbound landscape and the intricate decision-making processes within the B2B tech market.

Inbound marketing 2.0 combines the art of attracting customers through the creation of valuable, tailored content and experiences, while seamlessly integrating into the information sphere and decision-making environment at all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Stage 1: Attract

The goal: Attracting the target audience(s) across all relevant channels (i.e., social media, websites, events) during their research process.

Traditionally: Drive more traffic to the website.

New strategy: Focus on ideal customer profiles (ICP) and buyer persona pains and adjust them to the nature and purpose of the channel.

Channels & Tactics

• TikTok, where users search for simplified answers even for complex questions.

• YouTube, to publish videos that humanize brands.

• LinkedIn for thought leadership, to increase the visibility and role of experts, and build brand trust.

• Quora, where huge B2B companies can uncover their potential to empower those at the awareness stage.

• Generative AI, for new opportunities for brand visibility.

• SEO and SEM, which are still important for overall reach no matter the demand redistribution.

Metrics

• Engagement rate.

• Followers.

• Organic traffic.

An illustration of an adapted Attract stage is Salesforce’s EinsteinGPT. To raise awareness, the company employs a multichannel approach. Salesforce initiates the journey by using TikTok to educate users about the fundamentals of generative AI, making it accessible to beginners. Next, they transition to LinkedIn to emphasize the business value of AI implementation, demonstrating how EinsteinGPT can benefit businesses. Finally, on their website, they delve into in-depth product features and present user testimonials, providing advanced product information.

Stage 2: Engage

The goal: Optimize for a multichannel conversion path to grow the community and increase sales.

Traditionally: Convert users through the funnel and acquire more customers.

New strategy: Improve campaign cost-efficiency through personalization. Develop the community and then integrate martech and advanced analytics to convert where the audience is.

Channels & Tactics

• LinkedIn to convert C-level decision-makers through deep personalized insights.

• Quora, Reddit and Slack to develop a strong community by highlighting common pain points and providing solutions to them.

• Chatbots for personalized experiences.

• Re-marketing efforts to consistently convey your messages.

• Lead nurturing and email marketing.

• Marketplaces, for a boost in targeted traffic among consideration and decision stage users.

• Thought leadership content to establish expertise and build brand trust.

Metrics Subscribers.

• Open Rate.

• Leads.

• MQLs.

• SQLs.

• Opportunities.

Stage 3: Delight

The goal: Go beyond the lifetime value (LTV) and reviews to strategize customer advocacy.

Traditionally: Enhance LTV and garner more positive reviews.

New strategy: Foster a happy community that contributes to future growth.

Channels & Tactics

• Email nurturing to foster relations.

• Social media to share success cases and company news.

• Chatbot for a personalized experience.

• Self-serve knowledge base for easy navigation with the service/product.

• On-page support widget for easy problem-solving.

Metrics

• Reviews.

• Brand mentions.

• LTV.

• New users.

• CAC (customer acquisition cost).

Сonclusion

Things are changing faster than ever, presenting a challenge to marketing agencies. However, we can definitely see the positives in this. As marketers, we should now focus on revising the process of strategizing, going from a yearly or biyearly event to an ongoing iterative, keeping your business flexible and best-placed to deal with any shifts in the market landscape.

Real-time data can feed your decisions, and employees can then benefit from all the amazing developments that technology presents. So let’s start implementing inbound marketing 2.0 together to grow in 2023-2024!


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