B2B content marketing has become a mainstay in many businesses. But many companies are hitting a wall -- not notching all the results that they want. What should they do?
Say you notice a water spot on your ceiling. Would you demand an entire, new roof? Of course not. You would take the time to examine where it's come from and how to patch it. The same can be said of content marketing. Many businesses are noticing issues -- but these issues are easily fixed by examining your strategy and finding ways to improve it.
With that in mind, let's examine content marketing as a whole and see what common mistakes people make and how to address them.
The experts over at Marketing Profs and Content Marketing Institute have joined together in a recent study, entitled, B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. This study dug up some interesting and surprising data about the state of content marketing for B2B and shows us some areas where we can all improve.
Among some of the fascinating data in this report, we discover that 79% of respondents rated their organization's content marketing as extremely or very successful. This is a promising statistic -- after all, just 10 years ago, content marketing was low on the priority list.
But as with most things, there's definitely room for improvement. While the majority of the companies who participated in this study are committed to content marketing and find it successful, the study also revealed that a few areas where help is needed. This reflects the state of content marketing for B2B in general. We pinpoint 5 areas below and show how to fix the issues.
If you're reading this, you most likely already have some kind of content marketing strategy in the works. Let's take a look at 5 important ways in which you can improve your strategy and get the results you want.
5 Ways to Boost Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
1. Develop a Documented Content Strategy
While everybody seems to see the need for content, many people overlook the need to document it. As shown by the MarketingProfs report, only 41% said that they have a documented content strategy.
Why is documenting your strategy important? Because it will help you to work more efficiently. It shows you the big picture -- what is planned every day, what subjects to cover, and potential holes in your content strategy
Now is the best time to put pen to paper or keys to keyboard and document your strategy. Start by outlining your goals -- what you want to create and what metrics you would like to reach.
Then identify who your target audience is. This helps you precision target your content so that it reaches the right eyeballs. Items to analyze include demographic information, keywords used and favorite networks.
Now that these pieces of the puzzle are clear, it's time to lay out your actual plan. This includes what topics to cover and what content formats to use. Outline a clear, day-by-day schedule that will help you visualize where your strategy is headed and keep you on track.
2. Craft Content for All Stage of the Buyer's Journey
Most of the time, content is not a one-size-fits-all. Every person that comes to your business is going to have different needs. Some are doing basic research, while others are looking for a specific solution to a specific problem. We call these basic phases the buyer's journey, and it goes like this...
- Awareness stage: The buyer realizes he or she has a problem.
- Consideration stage: The buyer knows what the problem is and researches potential solutions.
- Decision stage: The buyer is ready to make a decision.
Despite the importance of this buyer's journey, only 48% of all respondents in the MarketingProfs study have created content designed for each stage of the buyer's journey -- leaving holes where leads can fall through
The study from MarketingProfs also highlights that successful content marketers use different content formats depending on their goals. For instance, those eager to raise brand awareness create blog posts and content for social media posts. Those gung-ho for more leads create webinars, ebooks, and use in-person events. And those aiming to nurture leads use email newsletters and blog posts.
So what can you do to ensure you reach all phases of the buyer's journey? First, review your and determine which phase it speaks to most. Next, consider areas where you need to create more content and determine what goals that content must accomplish. Finally, decide on the best content formats based on which phase of the buyer's journey you want to address.
3. Create an Email Marketing Strategy
Despite the fact that email is one of the leading B2B content marketing strategies, the MarketingProfs study showed that only 45% use content marketing to build a subscribed audience -- which is crucial to email marketing.
Why is this so important? Another study noted that 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention. And another 59% noted that email marketing influences their purchase decisions. So if you do not collect emails, you are essentially forfeiting all this potential.
How can you collect email leads through your content marketing?
First, create a call to action (CTA) on your blog posts that invites people to sign up for your newsletter. This can be a static CTA at the bottom of your post or a pop-up that allows your audience to input their email information directly into a form.
Don't limit yourself to your blog. Include newsletter sign up options at the bottom of your email signature, on social media profiles, and promote it at in-person events.
Another great way to collect email addresses is to use a lead magnet, such as an ebook or white paper. Serious potential leads will view it the magnet as valuable enough to exchange their info for it. Promote that valuable content and gate it with a landing page and form that people will fill out before accessing the content as a download.
These are just a few ways that you can turn your content into a lead generation machine -- always working to bring you a larger subscribed audience.
4. Prove Content Marketing ROI
According to the study from MarketingProfs, while many measured their content marketing strategy, only 43% of respondents reported specifically measuring content marketing ROI.
Why is content marketing ROI important to your business? Many content marketers find it easier to secure budgets when they can prove ROI. If executives within your brand can't directly see how much ROI they receive from their investment in content marketing, they might hesitate to invest more in the future.
To get a good picture of ROI, track the activity on your website from your content marketing efforts. Use landing pages and shortened tracking codes to understand how many people are converting into leads on your site.
As you nurture leads with such content as email marketing and webinars, track how many people eventually become customers.
Proving content marketing ROI is possible if you're willing to put in the effort. And that effort will pay off with increased confidence in your content marketing strategy.
5. Gather a Content Marketing Team
Of all the respondents to the MarketingProfs study, only 25% reported having a dedicated content marketing team.
Having a team in place to create and implement your content helps in a number of ways. For starters, it streamlines the process and makes the quality and quantity of your content more consistent. Plus, when you have a team working closely with you, they get to know your brand better, which improves the content they create.
Keep in mind that this doesn't have to be a large team. For a smaller business, this might mean a team of 1-2 people who can create content and steer the strategy int he direction where it needs to go.
If your brand is larger and has the goals of creating more in-depth content, you'll want to scale your team to match it.
3 B2B Content Marketing Examples Worthy of Imitation
LinkedIn is a veritable fountain of information -- constantly creating new guides to help its audience, as well as how-to blog posts to encourage visitors to excel on the platform. All this content has made LinkedIn a go-to authority on content marketing. Check out this example of its latest LinkedIn Content Marketing Tactical Plan
Hootsuite does a great job creating content that speaks to its audience, often plugging into what is on the minds of its audience.
In that same spirit, Hootsuite created a video that hopped on the Game of Thrones craze from a few years ago. It's rather simple -- no words are spoken -- but it gets the point across and sticks with audiences long after they view it.
Shutterstock has provided visual graphics for hundreds of thousands of businesses. This business goes beyond being a simple hub for image downloads and really engages its audience with helpful content. A great example is its yearly Creative Trends Report. Check out this one from 2019, complete with fun imagery, interactive segments and important statistics. It makes Shutterstock an unbeatable authority in its industry year after year.
We hope these B2B content marketing examples and recommendations help you to create a rock solid B2B strategy for your brand.
Have other content marketing recommendations? Feel free to share them in the comments below.
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