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B2B Social Media – Making a Case for Content Marketing

Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.” – Seth Godin

Well, when it comes from one of the most prominent names in marketing, you cannot ignore it. I am sure you have heard a lot about the importance and relevance of content marketing. Let us look at some holistic stats on content marketing –

  • If you create more customized content, 78% of consumers will trust your brand
  • According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
  • As per the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016.
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. –Stratabeat

While all these stats look amazing and enough to convince any B2B business to adopt content marketing, more often than not, there is a bit of hesitance, ignorance, and skepticism – possibly because of the lack of understanding on how exactly to proceed on that. However, when done right, it can result in more traffic to your website, more conversions, and improved search rankings for your site.

In this blog post, I try to cover the why and how of B2B content marketing and also share some tips to help you make your B2B content marketing program more successful.

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing Institute gives a very nice definition of Content marketing –

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To understand content marketing better – let us understand the role it plays in the buying cycle. A typical buying cycle includes Awareness (Making the customers aware that a solution to their need exists), Consideration (Customer does the research and starts comparing different solutions), and Purchase (Customer makes the decision and the transaction happens).

Traditionally, all the stages were heavily driven by sales. Today, the buyer is more informed than before. The buyers do their own research, find the content that answers their questions, and if they find value in the content, they approach the vendor directly. Now, two things have changed here: one, the buyers are not engaging in any sales tactics since the beginning and two, they have already made up their mind before they even contact the vendor.

Content marketing, thus, plays a vital role in the awareness and consideration stages of the buying cycle.

How is B2B Content Marketing Different than B2C Content Marketing?

Now that we understand that content marketing is important and critical, let us understand how content marketing is different for B2B businesses –

  • B2B sales cycle is complex and involves multiple decision makers. Therefore, it becomes very important to create the content which talks to specific category of decision makers and answers their questions. This also means that you need to create various different types of content to address the questions of various decision makers.
  • B2B content requires understanding of the specific product and service. Therefore, the B2B content writers need to closely interact and work with the subject matter experts to create the valuable content.
  • The content you create cannot be about your product or service – it needs to provide answers to the questions of your target audience. Before writing the content, it, therefore, is important that you know their questions and needs.
  • One of the prime objectives of the B2B content is to build value and trust – hence, it cannot be promotional.
  • B2B content should help in building the thought leadership of the brand –therefore, the content needs to have a lot of maturity and depth.
  • B2B content marketing also requires a closer alignment with the sales and should help in generating leads for the sales teams.

Guide to Defining the Content Strategy

Your content marketing strategy should include the following steps

  • Define the target audiences, goals, and buying stages – your content needs to address all these points.
  • Identify the SEO keywords and phrases – if you want your content marketing strategy to help in your site ranking, it is advisable that you identify a list of keywords and phrases which are used by your buyers and use those judiciously within your content pieces. Of course, be careful about not stuffing your content pieces with keywords – that does not work anymore.
  • Define and stick to editorial calendars outlining the content pieces, objectives of those pieces, target audience, timelines, formats etc. This will help you streamline your efforts for maximum results. It will also help you in content reuse.

Traits of B2B Content Writer

Considering the fact that B2B content marketing is quite different than B2C content marketing, when you build your B2B content writing team, you need to look for specific traits. Apart from their writing talents, you need to also check their storytelling skills, they ability to connect and capture information from the subject matter experts, and their understanding of social media and various tools and technologies. I have written more in detail on this topic in a separate blog post.

Types of B2B Content

Here is a quick list of various types of content which you can create –

  •  Blog articles – Blog articles are the most common form of content which you can create. The articles reside on your website and help in enhancing the search ranking of the site. Typically, the articles should be in the range of 800-1000 words, should include images and provide answer to specific questions of your target audience. Blogs which provide educational content are excellent for establishing thought leadership.
  •  Whitepapers and eBooks – Whitepapers and eBooks are more in-depth form of content and more authoritative reports than blogs. Typically, whitepapers and eBooks address specific business issues in more depth. These are excellent resources for demonstrating technical or business knowledge. You can make these available on request and use these as weapons for your specific lead generation campaigns.
  •  Infographics – Since infographics are highly visual in nature and need to be very well researched, these form a good resource for establishing your thought leadership. You can use these to create awareness and drive traffic to your website.
  •  Webinar and Podcasts – I would term these as secret weapons of your marketing. Since webinars and podcasts offer a great opportunity to learn from experts, these are preferred a lot by various buyers during their research phase. You can use webinars to share your expertise and experiences. These are brilliant avenues to generate qualified leads and move the prospects up in the interest ladder.

I will soon write a more detailed post on various types of content to be used in B2B.

Closing Thoughts

Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign” – Jon Buscall

I think this quote summarizes the essence of content marketing. You need to have a long-term strategy, meticulous planning, flawless execution, and continuous monitoring to make sure that your content marketing efforts are successful.

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