Living in a period of constant and inevitable changes we can’t help but observe how fast new trends replace each other. Most companies used to think that the message had to be pushed in order to attract customers and make them want to buy their products. This very approach is called “outbound” marketing. However, shopping habits have changed, and the outbound approach has become no longer effective for the purpose of building brand awareness. Instead, a new “inbound” approach took over a place and transformed the holistic thinking of how marketing activities should be performed.
Authors: Elizaveta Popova and Marja Viljanen
Inbound marketing approach
The term Inbound Marketing was introduced by the developer of software products for marketing, HubSpot, and was defined as a method of attracting, engaging and delighting buyers to make the business grow and build customer loyalty. (HubSpot 2019.) The inbound marketing approach can be shown through a set of stages which forms an inbound marketing methodology. According to this methodology, before a buyer makes a purchase, they should go through certain phases from being random strangers towards becoming brand´s promoters. (Bezovski 2015.)
Figure 1. Inbound marketing methodology (Hubspot 2019)
The inbound methodology includes four stages: “attract”, “convert”, “close” and “delight”. At the “attract” stage a company makes the first impression on its website to turn a sudden stranger into a regular visitor. To reach this goal, a company has to be active in social media, incorporate ads and content marketing to be able to demonstrate value to a visitor. At the next, “convert” stage, the visitor turns into a lead. This is particularly important for the B2B business as at this stage the company collects customer data to perform a lead analysis. At this phase, a company has to make sure that the website works well, and all landing pages are optimized according to SEO parameters. The lead then turns into a customer at the “close” stage. This stage defines the level of potentiality of the lead. It is essential to use lead scoring tools to identify the quality of the lead and decide whether it is worth taking over this lead or not. The final and the most important phase is ”delight” as there is an opportunity to get more out of the deal. By enforcing more targeted social media and newsletters campaigns, and actively engaging with customers, the company provides additional value and makes customers delighted enough to be willing to share their experience with others. (Lam 2018.)
Besides high cost-efficiency, sophisticated algorithms used in inbound marketing help to process better customer data and discover the proper type of advertising and make targeting process much easier. In the long run, the pull approach facilitates raising brand awareness and increasing the company’s sales by building a long-term inbound marketing strategy. (Expert journal of Marketing 2015.)
How to apply inbound marketing for B2B sales in Russia?
Russian market presents a rich export area with high consumer demand for foreign products. In order to understand what inbound marketing tools a B2B company could apply to this market, the case company research was conducted. The company under research was a Finnish company operating in several export markets including Russia. The study involved interviews with the company’s employees in the Russian offices. It turned out that basic tools used in inbound marketing would present a solution for the company´s business in Russia. The staff expressed the need to optimize SEO and integrate CRM tools to manage customer data. All interviewers also agreed that active social media presence is highly needed. Based on the statement that most of their customers mainly use Facebook and Instagram, it was rational to assume that starting points would be putting the efforts on starting social media campaigns on these platforms. (Popova 2019.)
In terms of Internet usage, Russia occupies seventh place in the ranking of Internet usage with almost 110 million online users (Viunova 2018). Based on these numbers it can be concluded that the Internet is a good platform for marketers to demonstrate and sell companies’ products and services. Pulling B2B customers in, of course, presents a challenge as they are more demanding and selective about how they are willing to engage with companies. (Chaffey & Smith 2017, 9.) However, by keeping up with the latest consumer trends, a business can stay at the front line. Speaking of Russia, it is important to follow the common trends and also adjust to country specifics. To name some trends, video content takes 75% traffic on the Russian Internet arena thus it can be a handy tool for B2B company to showcase their products. Face-to-face communication is also highly important that is why combining offline/online marketing is necessary. Language is another factor that influences customer decision. It is essential to keep the conversation and provide online content in the Russian language. (Viunova 2018.)
Since inbound marketing does not focus only on digital activities it is important to remember that standard sales procedures play an important part at each stage of the inbound approach. Combining them all would facilitate the sales work and increase brand awareness by not only offering good service but also engaging with a customer even in the post-deal period. The best way to implement inbound marketing is to build an easily-integrated plan which would involve the combination of online and physical marketing activities. By these means, the company will attract more quality leads, trigger a sales growth and raise overall brand awareness on the market.
Bezovski, Z. 2015. Inbound marketing-a new concept in digital business. SELTH 2015 – International Scientific Conference of the Romanian-German University of Sibiu. [cited 13 Feb 2019]. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291833697_Inbound_Marketing_-_A_New_Concept_in_Digital_Business
Chaffey, D. & Smith P. 2017. Digital marketing excellence. 5th edition. New York: Routledge.
Expert journal of marketing 2015. A new development in online marketing: introducing digital inbound marketing. [cited 13 Feb 2019]. Available at: http://marketing.expertjournals.com/23446773-305/
Hubspot 2019. What is inbound marketing? [cited 14 Feb 2019]. Available at: https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing
Lam, A. 2018. What does inbound mean? A comprehensive guide to the inbound marketing funnel. Responsify. [cited 13 Feb 2019]. Available at: https://www.responsify.com/what-does-inbound-mean-inbound-marketing-funnel/
Popova, E. 2019. Raising brand awareness through inbound marketing in b2b sales on the Russian market. Bachelor Thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Business Administration. Lahti. [cited 26 May 2019]. Available at: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2019060414796
Viunova, O. 2018. Marketing trends in Russia and abroad. Young scientist. [cited 12 Mar 2019]. Available at: https://moluch.ru/archive/209/51258/
Elizaveta Popova graduated from the Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and received a BBA degree in International Business on June 20, 2019.
Marja Viljanen is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.
Illustration: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/758989 (CC0)
Reference to this publication
Popova, E. & Viljanen, M. 2019. How to raise brand awareness using Inbound Marketing. LAMK Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: http://www.lamkpub.fi/2019/06/10/how-to-raise-brand-awareness-using-inbound-marketing/