Lets face it, sales is getting harder. Consumers now go through about 57 percent of the purchasing process before ever talking to a sales person. The question that most sales teams are asking themselves is, “How do we influence 50 percent of the process and lead the consumer to us?” The answer, at least for most B2B companies is simple: inbound marketing.

 What Does Inbound Marketing Look Like in 2014?

path to purchaseContent marketing and social media have gained a lot of traction for inbound marketing in 2014. According to a survey by Moz, the demand for content creation among marketers increased almost 72 percent at the end of 2013.

Obviously SEO and paid search remain prominent digital marketing strategies for successful inbound campaigns, however, demand for certain strategies is decreasing. For instance, link building tactics decreased 20.2 percent in terms of demand, while email marketing, keyword research and link removal saw decreases of 12.06 percent, 11.03 percent and 10.87 percent, respectively.

These days, the path to purchase looks more like a country line dance than a straight-forward march with consumers going back and forth between brands, products, reviews and research before converting. It has become more important than ever to provide optimal user experience and engage target audiences with brand storytelling and valuable content in order to reach each demographic in a different phase of the purchase process.

What You Can Do to Beat the Competition

In order to get ahead of your competitors all your business needs to do is assess current inbound marketing strategies, looking for areas where the integration of different tactics would be the most effective and find gaps where inconsistencies exist. The next step after that is to build out a content strategy and make use of the resources you already have to create valuable content for your audience.

Studies have shown that, per dollar, content marketing produces three times more leads than other inbound tactics, while the cost per lead drops 80 percent within six months.

I hear your concerns, “But producing content is time consuming and there are so many options. How do we know what to do?” The truth is, you already have amazing people in your organization (you did hire them after all) and they should be your first resource for producing content for your company as well as your industry.

For instance, Moz found that 94 percent of marketers use blogs as the first go-to source for the latest industry trends, followed by social media and online guides. While this is just an example from one industry, imagine the number of potential leads you could be missing out on by not investing in content.

Producing quality content is not something that should be taken lightly. When you look at it as a low cost driving force for leads then it should be one of your top priorities. If your customers are spending over half of the sales process reading about your product or service then doesn’t it make sense for them to be reading content that you arecontent and purchase process providing them?

The point is that your SEO and SEM strategy can get you ranked number one on Google all day, BUT if you don’t have quality content on your site when the prospect arrives then you won’t be able to engage them long enough to garner any kind of qualified lead. Adopting an inbound strategy doubles average website conversion rates from 6 percent to 12 percent.

Ideas for Getting Started

So, lets talk options. Does your company have a website that talks about how great you are? Of course it does. Does it have a blog where your employees can write about the amazing things they are doing for your consumers? If not then you are missing out. Big.

Blogging gives websites 434 percent more indexed pages and 97 percent more indexed links. For those of you keeping score, that’s an SEO dream.

Don’t have time to create a blog? What about a video testimonial from your top customers? Or a webinar showing how to use your product? Or if marketing isn’t your thing, maybe it’s time to consider partnering up with a digital marketing agency.

Already on the path to implementing an effective inbound marketing strategy? What have you found that works for your brand? Or, what have you found that hasn’t worked?