There’s no question that B2B marketers understand the value of great content: 93% of all marketers are currently using content marketing. However, only 30% of B2B marketers consider their approach effective—a discrepancy that begs the question: how do you build a content marketing strategy that drives meaningful business results?
In a previous post, we introduced the Content Marketing Matrix for mapping appropriate content to each stage of your buyer’s decision-making journey. To create and deliver content that attracts and retains customers, you need a tactical approach to developing content resources can address a prospect’s needs as they travel through the sales funnel.
Let’s get into some of the specifics of what that content is, the way it works, and how you can use it most effectively in your B2B marketing.
Blog articles sit squarely between educate and entertain on the Content Marketing Matrix. That’s because the best ones are a mix of both: content that engages the reader while also compelling them to act. An active blog offers you the opportunity to promote news, findings, trends, industry happenings—all with personality that traditional formal public relations efforts can’t give you. Blog content is controlled internally which lets you give an unfiltered voice to your people, your process and your purpose.
Blog articles can also be used across other platforms to drive traffic back to your website. An e-newsletter, for example, can serves as an external delivery tool for sharing content with your database in order to bring them to your website. Using relevant blog articles or video content (see below) throughout your marketing strategy allows you to identify and engage with people who are already actively seeking your information.
We like to think of White Papers as the “granddaddy” of content. The tactic has been around for a while but can still be extremely effective. In the 2015 B2B Marketing Report, CMI listed White Papers as one of the 10 most effective B2B marketing tactics. What better way to draw potential customers to you then to provide them with a document in the format of a white paper: a guide with facts and figures, to supplement their research and ultimately inform their purchasing decision.
Falling between “Educate” and “Convince” on the content marketing matrix, white papers are more in-depth pieces of content that offer in-depth analysis of a topic of interest. These reports, typically 8–12 pages in length, allow you to demonstrate your expertise on relevant issues and win the trust of a skeptical audience. Due to the greater perceived value these pieces, recipients should be required to provide contact information in order to receive free access to the content.
Case studies are a long-time staple of B2B marketing, particularly in the tech industry. Linkedin’s 2013 survey of B2B marketers indicated that customer testimonials and case studies are considered the two most effective content marketing tactics when it comes to lead generation. Case studies are a great resource for your sales team because can speak to specific buyers and industries. A case study of a client within that same industry as a prospect can give them a better idea of how your product would work for them.
With practical, real-world application evidence from a variety of your clients, case studies identify and explain key successes, report on the outcomes of groups who have used your products. Once opportunities exist, case studies provide your potential customers with proof that your company gets results. Case Studies can become a featured portion of your website, and a confidence-building aid for prospects and casual web visitors.
According to Software Advice, a company that reviews marketing automation systems like these, 76% of B2B marketers are already using videos—and with good reason. Web pages with video content are proven to have higher engagement and lower bounce rates than simple text pages. In our own experience, we’ve found that lead generation emails have higher click-through rates when they link to a video. Research shows that emails with videos have up to 96% higher engagement than those without videos.
Adding a video asset to your arsenal is a terrific way to feed your content pipeline. So how do you do it? Incorporate videos in your email marketing, include them in your blog posts, share them on your social channels, and create sector-specific landing pages to address specific needs and language of different targets. Other video opportunities can include product demonstrations, video case studies and client testimonials, and sector videos.
Although often underutilized by B2B companies, social media marketing is an essential activity. Leveraging select social media platforms can help spread generated content (like blogs, white papers, and case studies) and increase awareness and interactions with followers, colleagues, prospects, and the media. It can also be a great place to share creative and compelling graphics such as infographics that explain and entertain.
Linkedin, the leading professional networking platform, keeps you in front of targeted decision-makers, clients and prospects. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, making it the most-used and (according to this report) the most effective. Twitter is a great tool for keeping up-to-date with industry news, sharing knowledge, building community and generating leads. In the tech startup space, many investors, entrepreneurs, and mentors use Twitter to push blog content and converse about conferences. According to the “Tweets in Action: Mobile/Tech” survey, 59% of people who have seen a tweet from a B2B technology company have visited the company’s website, as compared to 40% of Internet users who have not seen a tweet.
Try out some of these tactics and see what works for your business. Keep in mind that, when it comes to content marketing, consistency is key. A simple editorial calendar with information about topical events, news, and resources will make it easy to deliver valuable, relevant content to your followers.