Content marketing is still in its adoption stage, yet it is fast becoming an essential part of the promotion mix, especially for B2B companies. Not too long ago, a content marketing strategy may have been only a few published articles, white papers and case studies; now an effective strategy entails much more.
In fact, your company has a significantly lower chance of success without a viable content marketing strategy. However, what matters most today is not just having a content marketing strategy, but also creating and maintaining one that includes multiple tactics.
The Growth of Content Marketing
Each year the Content Marketing Institute surveys B2B companies of all sizes in many industries. The 2014 report shows just how fast and serious content marketing is growing among B2B companies. Moreover, it shows a distinct difference in results among companies who engage in more content marketing versus those who engage in less. Here are some of the key highlights of the report:
- Strategy matters; 66% of companies that have effective results have a content strategy, whereas only 11% of those without a strategy have effective results.
- 73% of B2B content marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago.
- Companies with effective results spend 2.5 times more on content marketing – about 40% of their budget – compared to companies with ineffective results.
- 80% of the most effective B2B content marketers cite lead generation as a goal, compared with 64% of their least effective peers.
- Brand awareness is their top goal.
- Web traffic and sales lead quality are their top metrics for the last three years
In light of the trends, here are the top thirteen marketing tactics according to effectiveness for B2B marketers. In addition to each tactic presented, there is a strategy suggestion for how you can use it as part of your content marketing plan:
Content Strategy #1: Create a Portfolio of Case Studies
Despite the fast growing trend of content marketing, the tactic B2B marketers find most effective does not involve anything digital. It involves face-to-face marketing at events.
However, when it comes to content marketing, marketers find case studies to be the most effective content marketing tactic. In fact, nearly two out of three marketers find these effective.
Case studies, also called success stories, involve real stories about customers and how your product or service improved their businesses. Everyone loves a good story, according to Robert Bly in his article on case studies that Target Marketing published in 2009.
Case studies are more than just testimonials. They portray how your customer sought a solution to long-held problems, why he or she chose your product or service, and how it resolved the problem.
Case studies engage your audience. They answer questions your audience may have, and they help to facilitate sales. Furthermore, they do not appear promotional like brochures and advertisements. Yet, they build your credibility and at the same time compel your audience to contact you. More than any other tactic, case studies can turn a cold lead into a loyal customer.
A great strategy that may work for you is to create a portfolio of case studies. You can publish these on your website, send them to your contacts by email and induce your followers to promote them through social media. The more case studies you have, the more appealing you’ll make your company among prospective clients.
Content Strategy #2: Create and Publish Videos on Your Website
It should be no surprise to learn that using videos are the second most effective tactic. In fact, 63% of marketers find these effective. The reason is people like stories and moving images. Video conveys emotion more than other types of media.
Videos on your website not only help to convert leads into customers, they also help you increase your search rankings. Google rewards websites that contain videos with higher rankings. Higher rankings increase your ability to generate leads. Recall that many marketers seek to generate leads via content marketing. Video is the perfect solution.
A viable strategy is to create a series of videos that shows your customers using your product or service. If the video contains footage of their testimonial, you have an even more powerful strategy. Publish these videos on your website or on YouTube or Vimeo.
Content Strategy #3: Create Webinars about Problem Solving
Surprisingly, webinars are the third most effective content marketing tactic; 63% of marketers find webinars effective. It’s a surprise because not all companies conduct webinars. However, among the ones that do, webinars generates both leads and sales. The key is to have a compelling presentation and an aggressive promotion plan to get people to attend your webinar and follow up to close sales.
Most B2B companies have problems that they need to solve in order to grow their businesses. That’s why you ought to consider creating a webinar about a new solution to an old nagging problem that many of your customers face. This strategy can help you draw many leads.
Content Strategy #4: Reward Contacts Who Follow Your Blogs
Blogs are very popular, especially with the rapid rise of WordPress websites. The Content Marketing Institute found 62% of marketers find blogs effective. Plus, they found 79% of best-in-class B2B marketers rate blogs as the most effective tactic, whereas only 29% of their least effective peers rate blogs as effective. Although blogs are effective, the downside is they can take a long time to produce results. Nonetheless, blogs can help you produce qualified leads long after you create and publish them. You should look at blogs as a long term investment with a long term return.
A big key to your blog success is to create and sustain a blog following audience. You can do this by rewarding your followers with more content or a free assessment of their businesses as it relates to your product or service.
Content Strategy #5: Bait Prospects to Subscribe to Your eNewsletter
Like the print versions, eNewsletters can be as just as (if not more) effective. The key is to produce consistent, valuable content for your audience. You must know your audience well, including what members want and need regarding information. The frequency of how often you publish your eNewsletter depends on your audience, the relevancy of the information and how often new and valuable information becomes available. Financial newsletters can contain new information each day or week, whereas a newsletter involving a mature industry may only require a monthly version.
The one advantage about eNewsletters over other content strategies is that you send them via email, so you have an opportunity to “piggy-back” a valuable message in each email that contains the attached or linked newsletter.
Your eNewsletter needs an audience, so why not offer a free report as bait to get prospects to subscribe to your eNewsletter? An even better strategy is to reward them with samples of your product or service if they read and share your newsletter with their contacts.
Content Strategy #6: Produce Research Reports that Show How to Reduce Costs
Research reports can contain valuable information about trends in your industry. About 59% of marketers find research reports effective. These reports may be more technical than eNewsletters. Furthermore, you don’t produce these on a frequent scheduled basis as you do with eNewsletters. You can package these reports as incentives for your audience to do certain things like sign up for your webinar or answer a survey. Plus, research reports establish your credibility as the “go-to” expert in your field.
A viable strategy for research reports involves content relevant for a B2B audience. Most, if not all B2B companies involve multiple decision makers for purchases. There is likely to be one or more of these decision makers responsible for the bottom line, including keeping costs down.
Why not produce reports that show your audience members how they can cut costs with the type of products or services you offer? This would surely peak their interest and compel them to contact you.
Content Strategy #7: Produce Whitepapers for Your Best-selling Products and Services
Whitepapers are a type of research report that focusses on one of your products. It is usually between 8 to 10 pages and gives your audience a full understanding of your product features and benefits, the story behind its research and examples of industry applications.
About 59% of marketers find whitepapers to be effective, so cater to your audience by investing in the writing of whitepapers for your top-selling products and services. Be sure to include an economic model in the whitepaper to show them how they can earn a high return on investment with your product.
Content Strategy #8: Publish Articles on Your Website with an Intriguing Ending
Articles are similar to blogs. They both contain educational content that build your credibility. Yet, they may differ in how often and where you publish them. You can publish articles infrequently that you place independent of each other on various sections of your website, whereas you publish blogs regularly in a continuous flow of “blog articles”.
Although 58% of marketers find publishing articles on their websites to be effective,1 they may realize bigger results with a simple strategy. This strategy is to end each report with a question followed by a call to action to contact your company for the answer. People naturally want to answer a question, so if you make them curious enough to want to find the answer, they will call you. When they do, you will have a qualified lead with whom you could close a sale.
Content Strategy #9: Sell eBooks on Your Site with a Credit toward Product Purchase
eBooks are digital publications that are similar in content to a printed book. They can range from 20 to 60 pages or longer. The Content Marketing Institute finds that 57% of marketers believe eBooks are effective. You can distribute eBooks from your website, Amazon or other third party sites. eBooks help you build credibility as an expert in your field.
Free information is valuable in creating qualified leads, but when you place a monetary value on your eBook, you boost the perception of its value. A good strategy is to sell eBooks you write on topics related to your products and services. As an incentive, offer the price of the eBook as a credit toward a purchase of a particular product or service. You’ll know that those who purchase your eBook are highly-qualified leads. Just make sure the information in the eBook is unique and your audience can not find it elsewhere.
Content Strategy #10: Promote Your Content through Social Media
Social media is part of a content marketing strategy. That’s because social media provides the distribution channel for you to promote your content. Plus, with social media people can promote your content to their friends, family and colleagues.
According to The Content Marketing institute, B2B marketers are using social media more frequently than last year. B2B content marketers use an average of six social media platforms, compared to five during last year. Plus, they are using social media more often, especially SlideShare, Google+, and Instagram.
A strategy you should incorporate into your marketing is to promote each new type of content you create and publish to your social media contacts. For example, after you create your blog or case study, go ahead and promote it to your LinkedIn contacts.
Content Strategy #11: Create an Infographic about How You Help Your Customers Make Money
Infographics are a new and hot trend right now. You can distribute infographics from your website, in your blogs or through social media. About 51% of B2B marketers use infographics this year compared to 38% last year, according to the Content Marketing Institute. In fact, this trend makes infographics the tactic with the largest increase from last year.
A unique strategy is to create an infographic on how your customers can make money when using your product or service. After viewing this type of information, your audience will be more likely to be interested in your product or service.
Content Strategy #12: Create a Microsite for Each of Your Top-Selling Products
Microsites are small websites, such as landing pages, on which you can create content to promote your products or services. These are especially useful if you conduct eCommerce. They can also be useful for educational content about a specific subject.
Your main website may dilute the content related to your top selling products, so why not also create a microsite for each of these products?
Content Strategy #13: Mobile Apps
The usage of mobile devices and applications is growing very fast. Many B2B companies are creating mobile sites or responsive sites that mobile users can view.
Nonetheless, one way to attract and retain a B2B audience is to develop and promote a mobile app for your business. A mobile app is application software that runs on mobile devices. There are three main requirements for time and money when pursuing mobile apps according to a report by Chief Marketer in 2014. These include development, deployment and maintenance and updating. Plus, the more interactive you make your app, the higher the likelihood is that you will engage your audience.
To stay competitive in today’s B2B world you must have a content marketing strategy. However, the top challenges that B2B marketers face is producing enough engaging content. To execute your strategy, you must have writers and designers to create your content. The Content Marketing Institute says large B2B companies outsource content creation more frequently than small companies, particularly writing and design. Whether it be in-house or outsourced, make it your priority to bring more content creators on your team this year.