1) Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication. An individual or small business might have this publishing process:
- Brainstorm content ideas to publish, where to publish, and when to publish
- Write each piece of content based on the publication schedule
- Edit each piece of content
- Publish each piece of content
- Brand awareness
- Lead nurturing
- Improving SEO
- Thought leadership
- Customer engagement
- Engaging with influencers.
Content buckets that can achieve these key objectives
When it came to choosing the content type that marketers felt would be indispensable to them in 2016, blogs hit the top spot (20%), emailers fell in significance (13%); and videos rose in prominence from 9% (2015) to 16% (2016), according to the Regalix survey. The Conductor survey ( check the image below) also found that blogs in one of the top 3 B2B content types produced.
Blogs help a B2B brand in many ways - the No 1 being SEO. According to a study by Google, 90% of online B2B researchers use search specifically to research on business purchases. Write blogs that'll help users and yes, keywords are important ( great writers & search marketers know the secret of balancing consumer-focussed content & SEO). According to Demand Gen Report’s B2B 2016 Content Preferences Survey, 51% of B2B buyers said they depend more on content now to research their buying decisions than they did a year ago.
- Videos ( & Who Says B2B Videos Can’t Be Funny)
- Case studies
Case studies are great way to show how you can solve your customers’ pain-points. Most of the B2B case studies are lengthy & complex, and readers lose concentration midway. So, how do you make your case studies easy to read, scanable & actionable ? Here we discuss a few points on how to write long form content.
2) Focus On Mobile Content
Let's first break the myth that B2B researchers don't use mobile. According to the study, The Changing Face of B2B Marketing by ThinkwithGoogle, 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process. However, in a survey by McKinsey & Company it was found that fewer than 10% of B2B marketers have an effective mobile strategy in place. Also in terms of B2B mobile content, the situation doesn't look optimistic either, as per the survey by Regalix.
It's not that B2B buyers are going mobile. They've already gone mobile and want mobile-optimized content. According to 2016 Content Preferences Survey by DemandGen 86% of B2B buyers want mobile-friendly content from marketers. Right from emails, blogs to whitepapers & infographics - B2B buyers want their content to fit the size of their mobile device. Check Google's Guide before chalking out a mobile friendly website content strategy.
Mobile apps as branded content strategy work good. Better personalization ( you can target audience with location-specific & real-time messages), more engagement & better customer service are some of the benefits that mobile apps offer a B2B business.
3) Target Your Audience
- Website analysis
- Keyword research
- Social media listening
- Competitive analysis
- A/B testing
- Customer feedback
- Employee feedback
- Database analysis
- Customer surveys.
One of the greatest examples of targeted B2B content marketing is a video by Live Vault, a provider of data backup services, featuring John Cleese narrating the hazards of tape backup in an incredible funny way. The video was sent by email to 150,000 recipients (mostly IT managers), it got a 20% CTR. It generated 250,000 downloads within the first couple of months; a 500% increase in leads and a tenfold increase in site traffic.
4) Prioritize Social Media
a) Marketers are enthusiastic about social media
Firstly let's break this myth that social media works only for fashion & beauty industries. It doesn't work for "boring companies". GE is one such B2B company that breaks this conception.
GE has built a strong presence across all social media channels from Facebook to Pinterest as it knows B2B buyers are increasingly relying on social media when making purchasing decisions. One of the reasons why GE is rocking social media is humanization. According to Linda Boff, CMO at GE
We show up on social media the way a person would. We don't want to be considered 'corporate.' We have successfully turned to platforms that are visual. For example, Instagram has shown the industrial beauty of our products, while podcasting and virtual reality has offered us a different approach to storytelling.
b) Customer service & social media
In his book Hug Your Haters, Jay Baer says "answering a complaint on social media increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%." Here're some more telling stats that emphasize the need for empathetic listening to customer queries on social media. Check these stats on social listening & customer service
Here we discuss data-backed ways to listen on social media . IBM's Twitter profile is a great example of using social media to interact with users.
5) Email Still Rules
According to the Content Preferences Survey Report by DemandGen, email is still the most preferred channel for sharing business related content. And the primary reason is ROI:
According to Campaign Monitor, “Even with the explosion of new technology, marketers keep coming back to email. The reason is clear -- for 10 years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.”
Other reasons why B2B marketers prefer emails are -
- Cost-effective way to reach prospects and customers
- You can use it for numerous reasons - from discount alerts to informative content
- You can track important KPIs - Delivery rate, open rate, CTR, user demographics, bounce rate , unsubscribe rate, people who reported spam, leads, & referrals
- It's personal.
One example of a B2B company doing email marketing right is HP. Its Technology at Work e-newsletter generated 300% higher open rates and 600% higher clickthrough. According to Cathy Howard, eMarketing Program Manager, Corporate Marketing, Hewlett-Packard, "We are very careful not to spam subscribers, and very careful not to inundate them with emails that are just broad-based messaging. We want it to be an experience that is relevant and something that would be engaging to that subscriber."
6) B2B Buying Is Not All Logic
It's a commonly held view that B2B buyers make purchasing decisions solely on logic. However, research published by The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) partnered with Google, proves otherwise. A greater proportion of B2B buyers are emotionally attached to the brand they purchased than B2C buyers.
According to the researchers "When we overlay suppliers’ messaging strategies onto this emotional journey, we see suppliers potentially exacerbating the problem. Suppliers use emotion to catch buyers’ attention early on, but they switch to rational, business value-oriented messages in the nurturing phases (i.e., when buyer enthusiasm dips) and only provide a personal touch at the end of the process—typically through sales interactions (i.e., when buyer enthusiasm jumps again). To minimize drop-off during the middle of the purchase process, which we have come to describe as the “Unhappy Valley,” marketers should use emotional, personal value messaging throughout, not just at the start and end. To do so, marketers should exploit video and social media channels. Our research found that customers who engaged this way were up to 20% more likely to purchase at any given purchase stage."
Over to you - What according to you is the most effective way of doing B2B content marketing? Share with us.