6 Essentials for an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy
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.
How to Create a Purposeful Video Marketing Strategy
Your MissionAs with any marketing strategy (or pretty much anything you’re trying to accomplish), you should have a mission statement to help guide you. Not some 500 word creed, but just a one-line statement that covers:
- The type of content you will be creating.
- Mainly educational?
- purely entertaining?
- super artistic?
- A mixture?
- The general tone of your brand and the needs of your audience will help you decide.
- Who you’re making these for.
- Outline your target audience in as much detail as you can muster.
- Having individualized customer personas will help you with this.
- What this audience should get out of your videos.
- What is the value of your videos for the people who watch them?
- What will your videos help your audience do?
[Company name] makes [adjective] video content for [target audience] to help them [what you want your videos to accomplish for your audience].
For example: Company X makes educational and entertaining video content for people who want to listen to their favorite music while living an active lifestyle.Often when companies start using video, it’s not just for sales and marketing. Large enterprises may use them for many reasons across many departments, both internally and externally. You may need multiple mission statements for each department that is going to use them. Obviously, your internal videos for your employees will be for different purposes than your externally facing ones. For example, you may have videos for sales, HR, corporate events, internal communications, products, etc.
Your TopicsOnce you know what you will be using your videos for and you have your mission (or missions) clearly outlined, you should decide what types of stories you will need to tell to fulfill each of these roles. Let’s say that you have the following functions you want to use videos for:
- Human Resources
- Corporate Events
- Recorded webinars
- How-to videos
- Thought leadership interviews
- Product explainers and demos
- FAQ answers
- Behind-the-scenes corporate culture videos
- Customer testimonials
- Documentary-like case studies
- Corporate event recaps
Your CreatorsWho will be making your video content will depend on what kind of production quality you want and how much of a budget you have. If you aren’t that concerned with quality and you are on a shoestring, you may be able to just get away with some phone-shot videos. If you want high production value and you can afford it, you might be able to get your own in-house videographer and some equipment. For maximum flexibility, going with a videography agency is a good call. If you’re going to mix in some animation (and you totally should), it’s probably best to go with an animation agency. (We can recommend a good one.) We’ll just leave this here …
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- Who is responsible for coming up with creative concepts
- Who writes the scripts
- How final approvals are procured
- Who organizes the logistics of video shoots or creation
- How you get feedback for the videos
- Who distributes the videos when they’re complete
Your Content’s HomeAlthough it’s perfectly fine to have a YouTube or Vimeo channel and host your videos there, or upload them straight to Facebook for that platform, you will also want them to live on your site. Like any website, the likes of YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook all want to keep people on their site. That’s not good for you because they can easily get distracted. You need to try and get people onto your site and keep them there. Put links back to your site in your video description boxes and have a landing page ready for people to start them on a content journey where they become increasingly immersed in your branding experience and hopefully end with them converting to a sale. A lot of big brands have entire video sections where they either host their own videos or have their YouTube videos embedded on their sites. You can embed your videos on your site in relevant blog posts to start off and then when you create enough of them, you can create a space on your site, organized by category, where they can all live.
Your PerformanceYour brand isn’t just creating videos for the heck of it. You’re creating them to act as a content gateway for people to draw them into your brand. To see if what you’re doing is working, you need to dig into your analytics and make sure your investment is generating a strong ROI. Look at your video data to see which ones are being watched, how long they’re being watched and what platforms draw the most eyeballs. Some of the more important numbers are:
- Drop-off rates – How much of your audience watches all or or most of your videos?
- Click through rates – How many people click your CTA link at the end of the video?
- Consumption rates – How many of your videos do your individual leads watch in a given time period like a day, week or month?
4 Most Important Metrics to Measure to Gauge the Effectiveness of Your Videos
Your videos are competing with a virtual sea of content from your competitors to the latest viral sensation. If you’ve decided to go with an animated business video, you’ve already made at least one right choice, but even with the best script and the best visuals, you can’t just drop your video on YouTube and hope for the best. You have to have a solid distribution plan, obviously, and you also have to have a way to measure the effectiveness of your video.
When it comes to measuring effectiveness, some metrics are more useful than others when you want to see just how well your video is performing and how well your message is getting out there.
These are the four most important metrics to measure to gauge your video’s effectiveness:
Ascertaining whether people have watched a video isn’t as important as ascertaining whether they’ve taken a specific action after watching the video. You have a specific action you want viewers to perform after they’ve watched the video and that’s what really counts. It’s great if people watch the video, but if they don’t give you their contact info or perform whatever your call to action is, their view is less valuable than someone who did perform your CTA.
You can easily check whether the CTA is being followed by measuring click-through rates or other metrics that will tell you specifically if it’s been followed. These are the measurements that will tell you if your videos are generating the right response from viewers.
Another problem with putting too much emphasis on the view count is that it doesn’t tell you if people watched the entire video. All it tells you is that people watched the video up until the point where the view counter kicked in. The completions counter is a more important indicator of how effective your video is because it tells you if people are watching the whole thing.
Although not everyone who watches your entire video will perform your CTA, it at least shows interest in your product or service and indicates that they may take action at a later date. It can also give you an indication of whether you have an effective CTA. If a lot of people are watching your entire video, but not performing the CTA, that could be an indication that you need to try a new call to action. Ideally, you should have a few to cycle through so you can compare them and see which one works best.
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People have different preferences about how a video should play. Of course, people expect YouTube videos to play automatically when they visit the YouTube page, but they might find that to be a nuisance on your site. You can check the playback function numbers to help you decide if you should have your video autoplay or not. If you have it set to autoplay and an overwhelming number of people are hitting “pause” right away, that probably means you shouldn’t have it autoplaying.
You can also use the playback numbers to tell you where in your video people are losing interest. If it’s a minute long video, but most people are stopping it 20 seconds in, you may want to try a different opening to catch people’s attention. Or, it could be an indication that viewers only need that amount of time to get the gist of your video, meaning you may want to cut down the running time of future videos.
You can introduce your own metric to check in the form of some kind of social engagement CTA like a hashtag. You’ll easily be able to see how much engagement a hashtag is generating and you’ll be able to follow the conversations people are having when they use the hashtag. This can easily tell you if your message is getting out to people.
When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your video, you also must keep ROI in mind, too. It may not be worth it to spend so much money on a video if each lead is costing you exorbitant amounts of money.
Knowing if your video is reaching the right audience and prompting them to take the action you want is a crucial step in perfecting your video marketing strategy. One type of video that has consistently proven to do well with engaging prospects is an animated explainer video. Click here to schedule an appointment with WizMotions to see how we can help you make the perfect business video.
What Goes Into a Creative Brief for an Animated Business Video?
For any creative project you do, you’ll be required to fill out a creative brief. This could be in the form of a questionnaire or maybe an interview, but at some point and in some way you’ll need to tell the people doing the project what you want.
Maybe you have the entire video made in your head and you just want to turn that into reality, but the more likely scenario is that your company has decided that animated video would be a good idea for your business and you want to work with an expert to create a video that will have high ROI, but you’re not exactly sure which direction to go with it.
And that’s where the creative brief comes in.
It’s kind of like the roadmap to get to your destination. Before you start this particular journey, you have to know where you’re going and map out the route. Let’s take a gander at what goes into a creative brief for an animated business video.
The first thing that a creative brief will ask is for a brief description of your business, just to get the basics about your company. But, right after that are the goals of the project. It’s okay to have more than one goal (our creative brief asks you to list your top three), but you have to have at least one goal.
This the purpose of the video, the “why” of it. Is it to raise awareness? Get people to join a cause? Buy something? Do something? Knowing why you’re making the video will help with every decision related with the project, which is the reason it’s one of the first things on the brief.
This, obviously, is the “who” of the project. You need to know who you’re making the video for. Your messaging would be drastically different for highly educated adults than it would be for children, just like if you were talking to a person.
On our creative brief, we specifically ask you to describe your customer avatar. This is basically one fictitious person who perfectly encompasses your average customer. The point of coming up with a single audience member that represents your target audience is that it’s easier to craft a message for one person than for thousands or millions of people. If you talk to this one person instead of trying to talk to thousands of people at once, your message will be clearer and more focused.
And now the “what.” This is what the viewer will gain from watching this video. You want to reach your goals, but the people who view your video should also get something in return. When they’re done watching your video, they should feel like they’ve gained something, an understanding of something they were unaware of or information they can use in some way.
Knowing the consumer benefits will help you understand the other side of the “why” equation, as in why would someone want to watch this video? You might catch their attention with something entertaining, but you’ll need to give them something useful to keep their attention.
We like to know why consumers might not buy your product or service. What objections might they have to it? What are their biggest fears about purchasing it? Knowing why someone won’t do something will help you figure out ways to convince them to want to do it.
Related to this, you should also know who your competitors are and be able to say definitively what makes your offer different and more appealing than theirs. You’ll be able to highlight these differences and demonstrate how your offering is superior.
This refers to what angle you want the script of your video to take. Do you want it to tell a story from a character’s point of view or would it be better to just have a straight-ahead explanation of what you’re offering? If you opt to tell a story, whose point of view would it be best told from?
Whatever angle you decide to take, it’s always a good idea to put the benefits to the consumer first and foremost in the video. Make those benefits shine through regardless of how you decide to do it.
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Call to Action
Of course you don’t just want people to watch the video. It should prompt them to do something. Whether it’s sign up for something, click on a link, use a hashtag or something else, you’ll want to make sure you include an action they can take.
There’s no guarantee they’ll take that action, but it’s guaranteed that they won’t take it if you don’t prompt them to do it. Even something as simple as visiting a website to get more information is preferable to not having a call to action for your video.
This fits in with your audience. At least some of your characters should represent your audience, so what do you want them to look like? Do you want a wide range of ages or do you want most of your characters to be teens or elderly people?
You have to decide what ratio of genders you want, what races to depict if the characters have races, what ages, what type of clothing and anything else you can think of to describe your characters. They don’t necessarily have to be human characters, either. They could be animals or generic cartoons that aren’t really people, they just stand in for people. You’ll have to think about what’s the best way to represent your audience and your brand.
Lastly, you’ll need to think about what tone you want the video to have. Should it be serious, playful or downright zany? Just because the video is animated doesn’t mean it has to necessarily be playful or fun. It can still have a serious tone even with animation.
In fact, it can have any tone you want, but it should match your brand. Whatever you tone you choose can be conveyed through the music, artwork, characters and narration (if you have any).
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Any animation company you work with will have a creative brief to help you along the way. At WizMotions, we get you to fill out our questionnaire and then we talk extensively with you to get a better idea of what you want. Click here to schedule an appointment with WizMotions to see how we can help you make the perfect business video.