By Chris Ripley – original article here on LinkedIn.com
Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing uses many of the same principles as business-to-consumer (B2C) strategies but with a few key differences. Honing in on these differences can ensure that your B2B marketing strategies remain relevant and effective in our ever-evolving business climate.
In fact, your B2B content marketing strategy will include several “must have” components. Without them, your ability to generate leads, convert those leads, and retain existing customers could suffer greatly. With these “must haves,” you can increase your chances of success and ensure that your content marketing campaigns follow all of the latest recommended best practices.
So, to help you improve your B2B content marketing strategy to be as effective as possible, here are the six “musts” you need in place.
Have a Documented Content Strategy
There’s power in the simple act of writing things down, yet so many B2B companies neglect to document their content marketing strategy! In fact, in a recent survey shows just 37% of all B2B companies said that they had a documented content marketing strategy at all.
Looking at just the B2B companies finding the most success with content marketing, only 62% said they had a documented content marketing strategy. This, despite the fact that they dedicated 40% of their total marketing budget to content marketing on average.
The danger in not having a documented strategy is that important details are left up in the air. You may not realize there is a gap in how your content strategy is able to nurture late stage buyers to an actual purchase. Or, you may fail to define your specific content marketing goals, leading to campaigns that are poorly optimized.
Most worrisome, not having documentation leaves critical parts of your content marketing campaigns open to interpretation. A writer may create content with a completely different audience in mind than your target personas, and without documentation there is no way for them to know otherwise.
Every person involved in creating content should have the same intent and abide by all of the necessary markers of quality, so the content you create is consistent and up to your expectations.
Define your content goals. Outline your expectations for each piece created. Ensure that your content marketing campaigns account for your buyer personas during key stages in their journey. Getting all of these things down in writing can help you have more precise control over your results, while achieving quality more in line with your expectations.
Conduct Original Research and Publish It
Your B2B company can survive by simply regurgitating and repackaging information obtained by others, but it will face stiff competition from those that publish their own research.
According to one survey, half of B2B companies say that their original research reports generate leads that have the highest conversion rates. This makes them the most effective form of content, beating out video, webinars, case studies, white papers, and social media content.
Conducting your own research can be tough, but the efforts pay off. People will share and cite your information readily, as long as it provides current information that answers an important business question. Your research can also earn you a top spot on search engine results if it covers an important topic, follows SEO guidelines, and earns shares from websites with high domain authority.
Aim for Content Downloads, Which Correlate to the Highest Customer Conversion Rates
B2B companies don’t just want engagement or occasional readers. They want paying customers. Therefore, they should seek out the content marketing methods most likely to earn them a customer conversion out of their sales leads.
Surprisingly, content downloads had the highest conversion rate according to the same survey cited above. 66% of companies listed them as the asset with the best conversion rate. Webinars came in second, which seems counterintuitive given how much of a time investment registering and attending one can be. Equally surprising – demo requests came in third.
Nevertheless, creating premium content and requiring a download seems to be the most effective content marketing tactic for generating qualified leads and converting them to completed sales. Consider this as you determine which types of content are priorities and most deserving of your time, money and effort.
Tap Subject Matter Experts and Industry Influencers to Gain More Traction
The right input from the right source can make a huge difference in the perceived value B2B marketing content offers. By crowdsourcing information, ideas, and quotable phrases from recognizable names in your industry, you can amplify the authority your content projects while making it more appealing.
One company revealed to Forbes that onboarding influencers was a game changer for their content marketing effectiveness. They switched from a focus of educating target audiences to engaging them in discussions. The topics they covered had no right answers, making them more interesting to explore and contribute to. Having influencers submit their own input completed the package and helped the content have broader appeal.
Using this strategy, the company was able to earn seven times the amount of impressions and 160% more engagement compared to their average post before the switch.
When seeking out influencers to contribute, make the process of responding as simple as possible. Ask one direct, easy-to-grasp question, and let them know exactly what the intended guidelines are. If you can reduce the effort required to contribute to the project, you can improve your response rate and get more people to contribute their valuable input.
Don’t Neglect Video and Visuals
Visuals help “sell” content and make it into a much more appealing package. When you have the resources, make sure to pull important quotes and statistics from your content and repurpose them into easy-to-read graphics.
These graphics will undoubtedly get more visual attention and shares compared to text-only options. They also make for impactful assets any time you want to promote your content on social media. Don’t be surprised if many people seem to just read the photos and not really dig into the article itself!
If you want even better engagement, video content is where the industry is headed these days. Four times as many people say they would prefer to watch a video about a product or service compared to reading about it.
Key decision makers in particular are busy and enjoy having information compacted into a format that combines audio and visual information. 75% of executives claim that they watch branded video content related to their industry at least weekly, and 65% say that they later visit the website of the brand that created the video.
Like graphics, video combines well with other content and can also be a great way to repurpose it. Creating an executive summary of a research report can encourage downloads, for instance, while providing a more appealing and easily shareable format to earn more impressions.
Remember B2B Content Marketing Is for Retention and Not Just New Leads
B2B content marketing is one of the most effective methods at getting past customers to return to the buying cycle. Unfortunately, many B2B companies neglect this fact and only create content with new leads in mind. Remember that it costs a fifth as much on average to convert past customers into repeat buyers compared to converting new sales leads.
Offering content for those in the post-purchase phase can enhance their buyer satisfaction while keeping your business top-of-mind. Your content can also help turn them into brand evangelists by giving them information they’d be excitedly willing to share with their friends, colleagues, and social media followers.
Because of these benefits, make sure to account for repeat buyers’ needs within your persona and your B2B content strategy in general.
Ready to Start Selling More? Get Help Creating and Optimizing Your B2B Content Strategy
The path to success for B2B content marketing is never easy nor obvious, and it must be customized to fit the unique needs of your particular company and your target personas.
Get help forming a strategy that accounts for all of the above “must haves,” while increasing your chances of meeting or even exceeding your marketing goals. Contact us today to find out how!