Lots of B2B companies struggle with content marketing. Having helped quite a few to succeed, here are my top tips for getting results from B2B content marketing.
The history of B2B marketing is not an illustrious one. Most companies have relied on simply pushing out information (in rather boring formats), advertising or attending trade shows to attract new customers. For anyone seeking to take advantage of the phenomenal reach that online marketing now offers, this approach simply won’t cut it. Here’s my advice on how to make the switch to content marketing…
1) If you have a strategy, you’re already winning
According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report (whose excellent statistics I quote several times in this post) only 35% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 48% have an ‘undocumented’ strategy, so if you’ve got one, you’re already ahead of the game.
A strategy might take the form of a ‘cascade’ – where content is created, broken down and then re-used across multiple channels (including social media and advertising), or a one-off content campaign, promoted through advertising and search marketing (SEM). Chances are you’ll want tie it closely to your email marketing and CRM, using marketing automation techniques to draw potential leads to engage with further content, or simply sign up/enquire. Whatever your strategy, write it down, test it and refine it.
2) e-books? Slideshare? Mix up your formats
If you aren’t getting results from blog posts, LinkedIn or downloads, have you tried webinars, Google Hangouts, Slideshare presentations, infographics, videos, micro-sites or e-books? Converting one format into another can be cost-effective and give a new lease of life to a great piece of content. Bear in mind you’ll need a healthy mixture of content repositories (e.g. landing pages, blog, Slideshare) and communication channels (e.g. Twitter, ads, LinkedIn).
3) We don’t like them, but infographics work
There’s no doubt about it, lots of marketers are bored of infogaphics. The fact remains though, they are still great for raising awareness and getting exposure. 62% of B2B marketers say they use infographics (up from 51% in 2014). We’ve created some brilliant infographics over the years – many that still rank highly for their search terms – and I’m still a massive fan of the format. A well-designed infographic can also be broken down into Twitter images, LinkedIn posts etc. It’s a gift that just keeps giving.
4) Make LinkedIn your very best friend
As a B2B marketer, you obviously can’t ignore the largest business network in the world (there are now more LinkedIn members here in the UK than there are pensioners). Sure enough, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to share content, making it he most popular B2B social media platform. LinkedIn’s targeted advertising, Pages, blogs and even Groups (although they appear to be somewhat in decline) offer excellent content marketing opportunities.
5) Amplify your content with search marketing
While content and social media work really well together, if your content is on landing pages or a blog, most of your web traffic is likely to be coming via search (paid or organic), so integrating your strategies should be a key consideration. For one of our B2B clients, 80% of their web traffic now comes from blog posts that are older than 3 months and, in a given month, 10-18% of the visitors to their landing pages via the blog sign up for more information (via a download or webinar). Of course, paid search marketing can be expensive, but even so, 58% of B2B marketers say they use SEM, in spite of the costs.
6) Content quantity does matter
70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago. Amazingly, even those who don’t have a strategy and don’t know if their content marketing is working are still creating more content! The downside of this is that there’s a lot of dross out there for potential customers to wade through before they see your content – but the reasons for it are plain: businesses that blog 20 times a month attract, on average, 5 times more traffic and 4 times more leads than those that blog just 4 times a month.
7) Content quality matters more
While many of us are creating more content, only a few are creating high quality content – and that creates an opportunity for those willing to invest in planning, researching and designing their content, to deliver a better experience. High quality content continues to generate traffic and leads for months, or even years. Low grade content might deliver a ‘long tail’, but ask yourself: is this going convince our audience that we’re the best at what we do?
8) Value your content skills
The gold rush towards content marketing has left many industries with a skills gap: 32% of B2B marketers say they are already challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals. Of course, there are hundreds of talented copywriters, video editors and designers out there, but only a few understand how to create shareable, optimised content that can easily be produced in multiple formats.
Our Social Times helps lots of companies to get results from B2B content marketing and social media. If you’d like to chat about your particular needs, please get in touch.