Is your B2B content marketing strategy successful? Or do you at times feel like your strategy needs a facelift? According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders. So what sets these two groups apart, and how can you boost your content strategy to generate that kind of success?
The answer may lie in your B2B blog content.
If you're on the fence about whether B2B content actually works, let's look at a few facts that can help you pick a side.
When asked about the future of their marketing efforts, another 52% of B2B marketers admitted that they expect blogging to be their most critical tactic for success in the coming year.
It's obvious that content marketing is an essential part of a successful strategy. But before we get into just how to escalate your content marketing efforts, let's look at what exactly it is.
A Reliable B2B Content Marketing Definition
With so much buzz around content marketing, let's make sure we're on the same page in terms of an accurate B2B content marketing definition.
Content marketing for B2B companies involves creating content, such as B2B articles, blogs, videos, and ebooks, that attracts potential customers to your website.
But this is not just content for content sake. Great content marketing should do the following:
- Provide answers to your audience's questions.
- Provide value to your audience.
- Build a relationship of trust between your brand and audience.
Nail Patel, one of the leading experts in the field of content marketing, describes content marketing as "a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your target audience, by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis."
Many companies might shy away from this marketing tactic because they simply don't have the time to dedicate to regularly creating content for their audience. If this describes your situation, there are ways around it. There are many companies that offer B2B content marketing services, including Marx Communications (shameless plug). These companies know the ins and outs of content marketing, and can help you get the results you want.
Let's now look at 8 definitive ways you can embrace this growing trend and fire up your own content strategy -- with palpable results.
How to Improve Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy For Success
1. Invest In Storytelling
So-so content marketing is based around a company’s product or service -- but great, inspiring content marketing is built around storytelling. In fact, 55% of professionals said that a great story keeps them engaged in the content that they're reading.
As humans, our motivations are tied to compelling and relatable stories. No matter how old we are, a well-told story can move us to take a positive action.
Take this example from New Relic, a company that helps businesses to sift through and decipher the meaning of their data. Normally, this company’s product might sound as exciting as watching paint dry. But through a story of a company’s journey and its desire for understanding, New Relic takes a dry subject matter and makes it appealing. Instead of thinking of data, customers think, “I would love to be able to understand my business more clearly.” That’s the beauty of storytelling.
2. Choose Quality Over Quantity
With such a big push toward filling that content calendar, the quality of B2B blogs and other content can quickly go downhill. While it’s important to keep your content flowing, don't lose sight of the quality of your content. Don’t give prospects a reason to seek content from your competitors -- always strive to produce consistently high-quality content that keeps them coming back for more.
Keep your content marketing strategies fresh with the latest content trends. For example, video -- especially live video -- is projected to represent 79% of global web traffic by the year 2020. Look for innovative ways to incorporate video into your strategy, perhaps with tutorials or interviews.
3. Create It with a Purpose
What is your company’s purpose? This is the first and most important question you need to ask yourself before any content is created. If you don’t have a clear purpose or goal, your content will appear haphazard and your readers will have no reason to return.
Avoid content that is merely self-promotional. The number one goal of content marketing is to help your audience and gain their trust. Blog posts or ebooks about the benefits of your products will most likely drive away potential buyers. Instead, balance your content with the "Rule of Seven," in which your audience has seven interactions with your brand before you promote your products or services.
4. Make It Personal
Nobody likes to be addressed in generalities -- to be just another face in the crowd. We all want to feel special. That’s why you likely program you phone with your personal data -- so you're greeted by name, given your local weather, and even recognized by your fingerprint.
In content marketing B2B, we need to personalize our approach if we want to succeed. Many effective marketers have already begun to do this.
To personalize your B2B content marketing in 2019 effectively, you will need to first segment your audience. This means take the data you have about your audience, and use it to segment them. This could be based on age, gender, location, and a person's position within a company.
This segmentation will help you to create B2B articles and other content that hit the specific pain points of each group. Beyond simple blog posts, use audience data to individualize your messaging within CTAs and landing pages targeted towards specific groups of your audience.
A study published by Forrester Consulting and Persado revealed that 69% of marketers used data from loyalty and customer value programs to determine what offers would appeal to certain individuals. Another 67% of marketers used behavioral data to create the right content based on insights and emotions. Could you leverage this kind of data in your marketing strategy?
5. Become a News Source
One way to become an authority is to generate data people will cite. Conduct your own research, distribute your own surveys, and then leverage the valuable information you collect. In addition to external use, consider sharing it internally, for employee recruitment, or customer service.
Meanwhile, those in your industry will find it valuable. Create reports, articles, presentations and white papers citing your date. Promote it in social media and direct people to a digest where they can get the full report in exchange for an email address. This has the additional benefit of boosting your SEO ranking.
6. Put on a Live Event
67% of B2B marketers say that live events are one of the most effective strategies. Events get people talking about your brand, lets you bond with potential and current customers, and gives your company a more human feel.
Another great benefit of a live event is that it can live on long after the event ends. Create video snippets of your live event to use in your marketing. Do video interviews with attendees to make it more engaging and encourage attendees to stay connected.
Ask people at the event to follow you on social media. Create a special, event-specific hashtag that you can use to track feedback from the event and promote the event before, during and afterwards.
GE mastered these promotional tactics for its Healthymagination event, part of an initiative to bring affordable healthcare to developing countries and promote its health care technology. GE created movie-set areas at the event where industry professionals could share their stories. The content generated at this event was highlighted by GE to further promote its cause.
7. Give It a Leg Up
While B2B blogs in general have a shelf life, this can be extended in multiple ways. Some blog topics are evergreen in nature, and naturally give you more traffic. There’s also a lot you can do to keep a truly great blog post going long after that first wave of readers dies down.
One way to prolong your content’s shelf life is to turn it into paid media. This boosts your owned or shared media because it reaches beyond your current audience. And by methodically choosing high-quality content, you put your best foot forward for first-time clickers while extending the life of your well-written and carefully prepared content.
You can also take an outstanding blog post and update it with new information. It looks fresh to your audience, but doesn’t involve a lot of extra work on your part.
8. Create In-Depth Content
While a regular content marketing blog has a place within your strategy, don't neglect readers who are further along in the buyer's journey. These individuals are looking for in-depth B2B articles and other content that deals with specific industry problems.
In addition to shorter blog posts on generalized industry topics, create content designed for those who want a little more meat on the bone. This might include a few long-form blog posts (upwards of 2,000 words), a ebook, a white paper, or B2B content marketing case study.
One piece of content that is getting a lot of love from audiences is webinars -- in one study, a whopping 91% of B2B professionals say that webinars are their content type of choice. So look for topics within your industry where you can provide in-depth information and teach your audience within a webinar environment.
These longer content pieces not only help your audience with specific problems they face, but also build your industry authority.
9. Promote It
Once you've created quality content, it's time to amplify it. You want it to be seen by as many people as possible.
Some possible ways you can amplify your content include:
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Paid advertising
- Employee promotion
All these methods help you to reach a wider audience than you can on your own. They not only get people see your content, but also build brand awareness and trust that will undoubtedly pay off when people are ready to make a purchase decision.
10. Test Everything
Why does it seem that some sites have all the success, while others have some sad content fails? Luck doesn’t enter into the equation -- a lot of it comes down to testing.
In fact, 75% of content marketers reported using technology to gain insight into their content strategy and find ways to improve it.
Use a measurement program to help you access exact numbers that will guide your future efforts. Google Analytics is a great free choice. If you're looking for one with more meat to it, consider Mention or Kissmetrics.
Here are a few basic metrics that you should keep an eye on:
- Leads -- How many quality leads does your content generate? Use CTAs throughout your content and monitor how many people click. Of that number, how many people actually fill out your form and submit it? That tells you how many people are motivated to become leads through your content.
- Email Subscribers -- While this may seem a basic number, it tells you something very important. Those that subscribe to your newsletter are committed to your brand and are on their way to becoming leads and customers. When your number of subscribers picks up, can you link it to a particular piece of content? That can help you determine what kinds of content are most motivating.
- Open Rates and Click Through Rates -- This refers to your email marketing, which is an important part of your content marketing strategy. See how many open your emails and, of that number, how many engage with it. You'll learn if you need to work on your titles or send times, or whether you should work to improve the actual content of your email.
- Time on Page -- How much time do people actual spend on your pages? This tells you whether they're committed to reading your content, merely skimming it, or exiting out at the first opportunity. The longer the time, the better. If you find your time on page is low, look for ways to add engagement to your content, such as visuals, videos, or shorter, easier-to-digest paragraphs.
Content marketing is not an exact audience. A lot of it depends on your industry and target audience. But these general tips will help you to energize your content and get better results for your effort.