Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing isn’t drastically different from business-to-consumer (B2C) content marketing, but it does have some nuances that you will need to grasp in order to do it effectively.
Let’s take a look at six key elements of good B2B content marketing that you need to run a productive strategy.
Write Down Your Content Strategy
Such a simple step that you would think every business does it, but you’d be wrong. A recent survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by brightcove found that a mere 37% of B2B companies polled actually had a documented content marketing strategy. Another 38% were performing content marketing, but were just winging it without a documented strategy. (The other 25% did not do content marketing at the time.)
If you only consider the B2B companies from that survey who are having the most success with their content marketing, just 62% of them said they had a documented strategy even though they dedicated 40% of their marketing budget on average to it. Can you imagine spending 40% of your budget on something without a plan?
So, what’s the big deal with having a plan, anyway?
We’re glad you asked.
The big danger is that crucial details may be overlooked. Without a plan to follow, you also won’t be able to reference it to see where there might be gaps in it. Without a strategy, you probably don’t have clearly defined goals, meaning your campaigns won’t be optimized as much as they should be.
Perhaps worst of all, if you don’t have a strategy, you don’t have a reference point for everyone involved to consult and that leaves everything open to interpretation. A writer who you’ve hired may be writing content for an entirely different audience than you are trying to target. If you had a strategy written down that included your audience personas, than you could point to that and show the writer and more easily brainstorm content to appeal to those personas.
Every person involved in your content marketing should be able to look at this reference material to orient themselves if they are not sure about something so you can keep your efforts consistent and pointing in the same direction.
Set your goals, outline expectations for each piece of content created, make sure they are targeted at your buyer personas for the correct stage of their buyer’s journey and have it all in writing so anyone can quickly reference it.
Conduct and Publish Original Research
It’s possible to just use other people’s research in your content, but you know what’s even better? Doing your own research.
VisitorTrack and Ascend2 conducted a survey that found half of B2B companies say their original research reports generated leads with the highest conversion rates, making original research the most effective way to conduct content marketing when it comes to lead generation.
It may not be easy to conduct your own research, but you can partner with a research company to help you. If your research is done well and offers truly helpful insights, it will help establish your company as a thought leader in your industry.
You can see it at work right here in this blog post. Remember a couple of paragraphs ago when we cited that VisitorTrack and Ascend2 survey? Here’s a screenshot of it:
That’s original research performed by those companies and cited by us, helping them look like experts when it comes to content marketing.
Research can also help your SEO by shooting to the top of search engine results if it covers an important topic and a lot of websites with high domain authority link to it.
Provide Content Downloads
Content downloads provided the highest conversion rate according to the VisitorTrack/Ascend2 survey, with 66% of businesses polled listing them as the content marketing asset with the best conversions. Webinars came in second and demo requests followed up at third.
Whether it’s research, a recorded webinar or some other type of content, putting up a registration gate is a proven tactic for generating qualified leads and ushering them along to paying customer status.
Decide what you can create and offer for download that will attract quality leads.
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Engage Industry Experts and Influencers
Identify experts in your field and use them in your content to make it even more authoritative. To really maximize their effectiveness, try to engage these experts in discussions that relate to your industry. Solicit input and opinions from them and put it together in a crowdsourced post that your audience will find valuable.
Video conferencing company BlueJeans switched their content marketing strategy from educating their audience to engaging them in discussions and found that their crowdsourced paper featuring influencers in their industry garnered seven times more impressions and 1.6 times more engagement than their average posts when they promoted the paper via organic social.
When you look for experts and influencers to contribute to your content, ask one simple question and let them know exactly what you intend to do with the information they provide you. HARO is a valuable tool for reaching out to experts or you could dig a little deeper and approach them personally on a one-to-one basis.
Use Video and Visuals
People are visual creatures, so having top-notch visuals is important. Pull good quotes from your written content and slap them on a striking photo or put all the valuable data you’ve gathered into colorful graphs or a shareable infographic.
These visuals are good for social media and will draw eyeballs much easier than text-only content marketing assets.
And, obviously, you have to have video. You just have to. Forty-three percent of people say they want to see more video from marketers in the future and four times as many people would rather watch a video about a product than read something about it.
People who need to make key decisions in companies are busy and they especially like to have information delivered in easy-to-understand formats that can pack a lot of data into a short, visual and audio package.
Video can be used in conjunction with your other content marketing assets. For example, creating a video of the executive summary of a research paper or report can prompt people to download the full version of it.
Animated explainer videos are especially good at conveying B2B information, as you would expect.
Focus on Retention
With all the focus on getting new leads, it can be easy to forget that content marketing is also incredibly effective at welcoming past customers back into the buying cycle. This is important because it costs just one-fifth as much, on average, to convert a past customer than it does to convert a new sales lead.
To reach out to these past customers, try offering content that addresses people in the post-purchase phase. This can help turn them from customers to unofficial brand spokespeople. Post-purchase content can take the form of information about how to use your products in unconventional ways that they might not has considered or content that is exclusive to past customers to make it seem extra special.
We can help you with the video part of your B2B content marketing strategy. You will, of course, want to know how much this will cost you and we’ve got you covered there. Click here to use our price estimation calculator to see approximately how much your video will cost.