Data-guided Ways For B2B Businesses To Do Content Marketing

 Did you know that 59% of B2B marketers have no clarity on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like? If you’re a B2B marketer then these 6 data-backed tips will help you keep confusion away from your content marketing strategy.  

 (Source: B2B 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America By Content Marketing Institute) 

1) Editorial Calendar 

According to the Conductor survey(B2B Content Marketing: What Content Marketers are Doing Now) 6 out of 10 B2B content marketers have a regular content calendar.  

 Still asking – what’s the need of an editorial calendar? The answer is simple – you don’t produce great content by fluke.  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 

Source: Wikipedia Let’s dig deeper into the purpose and content buckets of a B2B editorial calendar.  According to the survey State of B2B Content Marketing 2016 by Regalix, the key objective of B2B content marketing programs is lead generation.  

 Apart from lead generation other important objectives content marketing can do for you are – 

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead nurturing
  • Improving SEO
  • Thought leadership
  • Customer engagement
  • Engaging with influencers.

Content buckets that can achieve these key objectives 

  • Blogs

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) 

In this hilarious take on misinformed marketing decisions, this Adobe commercial shows you what happens when assumptions, not analytics & data, is at the core of a company’s marketing endeavors.

  • 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

  • Whitepapers

Here we check out a few informative & interesting B2B whitepapers 

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 

Every piece of content that you create must have a purpose & should be targeted to the buyer’s journey or buyer’s persona. But, sadly 2 out of 5 B2B marketers aren’t targeting their content.  

 A B2B consumer gathers relevant information be it about the company, its products/services, reviews, and pricing from different channels at his own time & convenience. We’re increasingly seeing that the B2B buyers aren’t looking for information in a simple linear path ( the old sales funnel). Instead it’s a convoluted path; they enter the sales funnel at any stage, they jump stages while simultaneously switching from one channel to other and one device to another.  

 For B2B marketers to be effective in their content marketing efforts, they need a deeper understanding of the consumer buying journey to identify the stages where they can successfully influence the decision makers.  Tools to help B2B marketers gain these insights to help them target their content at the right stage at the right time include –  

  • 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. 

Searching for an effective B2B Digital Marketing MixGet in touch with us. One of our exceutives will contact you.