Five Steps to Creating a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Co-Founder, #ARM Worldwide, CEO - PR and content marketing
B2B is the modern shorthand for carrying out long time sales known as business-to-business. Primarily this practice targets companies and bulk buyers, while transactions that target individuals are recognized as B2C (business-to-customer). In the B2C system, a consumer selects products/services based on price, status, popularity or personal choice, whereas B2B make buying decision considering solely price and profit potential.
One of the major reasons for B2B sales popularity is its nature of sheer volume. For example, a national chain of shoes or clothing will order 10,000 pairs of shoes and 5,000 denim pants at a stretch; wherein an individual shopper may only order 2 pairs of denim and one pair of shoes. Manufacturers and companies would have lost a very lucrative sales pattern if B2B never existed. This is why B2B marketing option is usually offered to companies along with B2C on their outlets or website.
B2B communication is the key to B2B marketing. Often without providing proper information on product details such as price, offers or delivery schedule, a great opportunity to push business-to-business sale is lost. This is where content marketing comes in. B2B content marketing in simple terms is an art of developing and distributing curated, relevant and valuable content to attract companies and wholesale buyers. But, content marketing B2B isn't an easy task, it requires a strategic approach.
Five Steps to Creating B2B Content Marketing Strategy:
Set Content Marketing Objectives
Why do you want to develop content? In what ways can content help your organization/company in generating leads and increasing customer base? Attract new prospects and share new business ideas? Create brand awareness or improve loyalty? Or it should just be fulfilling your SEO goals. These are few questions that need to be answered before you even think of starting a content marketing strategy. Typically, a B2B organization uses a content marketing plan to build an audience, push profit, lower costs or to retain the customer. Here are some more why brands should invest in content marketing:
According to HubSpot, on an average, a company that regularly uploads blog content generates 55% more website visitors, 97% higher inbound links, and 434% higher indexed pages.Content+ says it helps you become an authority in a specific niche. One of the 3 top reasons that prompt people to follow a brand on a social media channel is "interesting content".TMG Custom Media found that custom content is believed to be useful for 90% of online consumers.HubSpot also reviewed the conversion rates, which is 14.6% close rate for organic searches and 1.7% close rate for outbound marketing.
The list is long and will continue to benefit the marketers. So, once you have understood the objectives behind what content will be doing for you and how much time you should be investing in it, it is time to create and document your strategy.
Identify and Understand your Audience
For B2B marketing, the core idea is to build a valuable relationship with the audience that leads to lasting customers. That makes identifying and understanding your audience vital. When it comes to developing a great content marketing strategy, what matters is thinking in the minds of the target audience instead of your experience. Ideas that are clear for you may not make sense to your audience. So, to avoid knowledge biases, start by asking the customer service desk to understand what is more often a customer is confused about. Further, you can make use of these awesome tools to identify and understand your audience:
Google Keyword Tool - It's a most widely used tool to peruse common and favourable words search by buyers on a frequent basis.Google Search Console - The tool helps you analyze activities carried on each page of your site such as crawlers, queries, indexes etc.Google Analytics - It gives your complete details on who visits your website, where they come from, and how they got there.
Next best things to understand your audience better is to create a buyer's Persona. A detailed description such as gender, age, location, hobbies, activities etc. of your targeted audience is what defines a buyer persona. Crafting buyer personas well will classify your target customer and allow you to tailor your marketing strategy to people wanting to buy your products/service. You can use buyer personas tools from HubSpot, Personapp, and Streamliner to begin with.
Develop Valuable, Relevant and Consistent Copy
If you wish your targeted audience sees, likes, and shares your content, then it has to be valuable and relevant. Locate a middle route between what your organization wants to publish for maximum impact and what your audience wants to view. Here are some tips:
Your content needs to be visually appealing, valuable and relevant to the audience along with preset length and schedule.Include special offers, giveaways, and discounts in your B2B content marketing strategy - this will entice the audience to act and encourage them to share further.Be creative and experiment new directions for surprisingly great results.
If it is not possible to be creative every time when developing content, then recycle previously worked well contents to video, Infographics, GIFs, Podcasts or eBook.
Don't forget to add "call to action" in each of your content copy for converting your audience into a customer.Include guest blogging in the strategy format, which helps to improve company's position among search engines.
Developing white papers are probably the strongest element for B2B marketing strategies that can in-detail explain cost, features and other syndication your buyers might require.
Send newsletter once a week to newly signed prospects to build trust.
Create content for retargeting people who did not complete a purchase. Just a reminder email or special offer will help to bring back customers.Add success stories, news, trends, tips, and polls to attract an audience.
Finally, know that content marketing for B2B is a long-term investment, which requires dedicated work. 85% of most successful marketers publish content copies consistently, join them and raise the percentage.
Content Distribution Strategy
The bitterest fact about content marketing is that today without a well-planned content distribution strategy, even the most creative and pioneer idea may not be discovered over the web. Apart from pushing your content high in search engine ranking, an effective content distribution strategy can also help you meet your business goals. Every organization will have different distribution strategy based on content, goals, reach, analysis and SEO. Here are some excellent ways to content distribution:
Paid Content Distribution: Paid distribution can be used when launching a new campaign or hosting a special event and wanting to target fresh leads. Remember, paid content distribution works best when you have reliable traffic coming from a search engine. Ad Networks such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter are the best example of paid distribution.
Paid Social - Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram allow companies to run ads for the targeted audience. Such paid social distribution can be very pricey but also effective so craft a highly-innovative ad tailored to your organization's goals.
Branded Content - Branded content or Native Advertising is best for B2B marketing wherein a company's content goes live on publisher's website for targeting audiences. However, remember that native advertising is a long-term practice and results can be seen only after running live content for 3 to 12 months.
Organic Distribution - Promoting contents without paying via social media channels, emails, and content distribution platform is called organic distribution.
Crowdsourcing - Sharing content among fans is understood as the most valuable distribution form. By inviting and rewarding loyal fans to share content will lead to some strong results such as creating awareness, building brand and improve credibility.
5. Measure and Analyse Results - 88% of top performing companies/organizations regularly track their content marketing progress and ROI, compared to only 56% of their least successful peers. That means measuring and analyzing results of your strategy will help you identify what's working and where you need to improve. And, thanks to content marketing measuring tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, Followerwonk etc. that every piece you write and publish can be tracked and measured.
There is no one-size-fits-all content marketing strategy, in fact, there is a unique strategy each brand can come up with and follow to drive sales. So go ahead and experiment with what's working best for your organization.