Long gone are those days, when the search engine marketers used to publish a single content on multiple platforms to gain visibility for the target keywords. Today, Google is no less than a human editor in filtering through bad content and highlighting the good ones. However, most content marketers and writers fail to realize what is good content, thus giving way to inevitably creating repetitive or poor-quality content, which is automatically rejected by Google.
Yes! Google can do that.
No matter how much money you spend on your content marketing endeavors, if you are unable to convince Google that the content will provide the audience with some value, everything goes waste. As Google is the number one search engine in the world, it will never compromise on its quality and accuracy, and there is no way around this fact. If you wish to make your content marketing endeavor a success, you have to develop content with the readers in mind.
In other words, writing content for humans and not focusing on writing content for search engines.
The marketing gurus may create a row over the aforementioned statement. They may raise a lot of questions regarding the importance of keyword density, content optimization, keyword proximity, long tail, and short-tail keywords, and more in any given content.
No! They are not wrong either.
These perimeters also affect the ranking of your page apart from the value its content provides your target audience with. However, what we want to say here is, these are not the only factors that affect your rank. You should never compromise on the readers’ expectations to get the ranks you want because ultimately, you won’t be able to reach there if you do.
Let us discuss this more in detail.
Content Marketing: Who should be your primary target?
What most SEO content writing practices fail to emphasize are the readers’ expectations. The SEO experts may argue that keywords define what readers are looking for and focusing on those can help you achieve ranks. But this is a deceptive statement. Keywords may determine what the users are searching for on Google, but they will never be able to guess why they are looking up those keywords on the search engines in the first place.
Therefore, most successful content marketing strategies focus on research and development more than actually writing the content. The efficient content marketers, who understand the need of the hour, conduct research on similar topics and try to understand what the readers are actually looking for. You can use social listening to get an idea about the readers’ expectations before you actually start developing the content from scratch.
Once you develop unique content that will be of some value to the readers, they will flock to your website, thus notifying Google that your content is one of those few good ones, which needs to be ranked at the top. Hence, your primary target is definitely your readers (your target audience), without whom, you may not survive in the cutthroat competition of the moment.
A few effective tips to provide more value to your readers
While expecting to get your content get ranked higher on Google, you need to keep the readers in mind. An effective way of doing that has already been mentioned above, but it is not the only way. Go through the following suggestions to know how you can develop content based on users’ expectations as well as search engine metrics:
Main Objective: Why are you creating the content? What key message do you want to deliver? It is advisable not to deviate from the main objective while creating keyword-rich SEO content.
Authority: Any good content is the one, which is authoritative and evokes trust. And authority can be established only when you provide some unique perspective and real value to the readers. Try providing answers to their questions. Provide useful information. Help them in solving their problems. Don’t focus just on selling your products and services.
Uniqueness: Previous digital content marketing practices included paraphrasing, or simply changing an already existing content in a clever way to trick the Copyscape or other plagiarism checkers into passing the same as new content. However, the search algorithms have changed drastically over the years, making such practices obsolete. Today, if you wish to provide value and rank well, you have to develop content that provides a unique point of view and real value to the readers.
Mention Sources: Always mention the sources you get all crucial information from. Give credits and Google will love it.
Keywords: Well, no matter how much they irritate you, you have to make peace with them for the sake of ranking your page higher in the search engine results. However, make sure you do not focus only on inserting the target keywords but also on modifying the content around them so that it looks natural and not forced.
Google Analytics: As mentioned earlier, use behavior goes a long way to help you develop content that ranks higher besides providing valuable information to the readers. Conduct thorough research on the conversion rates for your website and check which parts of your website are preferred more by the visitors than the rest. This will undoubtedly give you an idea about what information your users seek more.
Some of the most effective content marketing strategies that have stood the test of time focus on developing content for the people, and search engine results follow automatically. Be it social media content, blogs, articles, newsletters, or content for any website, the rule is simple – You have to provide some value to the readers, otherwise, everything will be in vain.
Are you ready to embrace the evolution of content marketing practices in 2021?
Companies with blogs see 67% more leads every month than those which do not have blogs (Source)
But B2B companies are often have several questions about content marketing
What type of content should we create?
How often should we create blogs?
Is social media content essential?
What can we expect as the outcome?
Who should we create the content for?
It is important to remember B2B companies need to leverage the power of content marketing to support their buyers through all the stages of their buying cycle. For each stage, the type of content different. Here is how your content marketing funnel can look like
In our previous blog, we discussed some actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies could implement in 2021.
The good part about these trends is that companies don’t have to invest heavily in marketing. All that’s required is the right strategy, the right tools, and the right resources to implement it.
In this blog, we will go a step ahead and share some easy-to-implement strategies that technology companies can use to grow their business.
Getting Started with B2B Marketing Strategies
B2B buyers on average read 13 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Hence, technology companies need to create high-value content that can address their questions. There should be some form of content to guide the customer through the complete buyer’s journey. The tone of the content should appear more educational and less like a sales pitch. Some of the common forms of content include – website content, blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers.
How to get started?
Before developing the content, determine its objective. Is it to create awareness, is it to explain the value proposition of the content, is it to onboard new customers?
Choose a topic. The topic could be an opinion piece on the industry trends or a how-to-article or an article that addresses the common challenges faced by the customer. Ensure that the content is written for humans and not the search engines. Do in-depth research and back the content with examples, quotes, statistics, etc. Provide backlinks to the source wherever necessary. There are debates on the average length of a content piece. For example, some will say that the average word count of a blog should be 2000 words; some will argue that it should be up to 500-600 words. We would recommend not obsessing about the word count and instead focusing on generating informative and easy to grasp.
Once the content is developed, do a basic grammar and spell check to avoid glaring errors. Finally, upload and share the content everywhere for people to see.
According to a report, 93% of companies use Twitter, and 91% use LinkedIn to create brand awareness, generate leads, engage with customers, and do promotions. It is tempting to create accounts on different channels such as Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok. However, you should select the social channel where your target audience is and not necessarily the channel with the most users. Based on our experience, for B2B technology companies, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to be the most relevant platforms.
How to get started?
Create easy-to-remember or easy-to-find accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Fill in all the company details, such as company location, offerings, company size, etc. Remember to add the company website’s link in the bio to garner traffic. Twitter, for example, drives third-most referral traffic.
Post frequently and ask employees to share them to increase the impressions. The posts could be a link to a blog, eBook, a landing page, or link to an article of an external publication. It could also be other updates – such as the latest wins of the company, a client testimonial, or an important update relevant to the industry. Use relevant hashtags to get noticed. Creating a social media calendar would help the social media team to streamline the process.
Respond to users who take efforts to engage with the content, so they feel encouraged to engage more. Have conversations with the audience, so they feel heard.
Look for positive and negative feedback and address customer queries as early as possible. Set SLAs for the team, so they respond to the queries and messages within a stipulated time.
Measure the efforts to understand what kind of content appeals the most to the target audience. That will help in developing future content.
Thought Leadership / Educational Webinars
The one thing that became a buzzword in 2020 was Webinar. A webinar is the web version of seminars and live shows. Due to the social distancing norms and the travel bans imposed worldwide, technology companies started conducting webinars to create brand awareness, educate prospects, and generate leads. However, webinars were being used as a part of content marketing strategy even before the pandemic. 73% of B2B marketers admitted that the webinar was the best way to gain high-quality leads.
How to get started?
Choose a topic that would interest the prospect and align with the company’s offerings. Get an expert speaker on board.
Develop the content for the webinar. Ensure that it is relevant to the prospect and does not look like a sales pitch.
Decide on the date, time, the platform that will be used to host the webinar. Choose a day and time when most people have lesser work commitments and can attend the webinar.
Promote the webinar on social media and website. Create a landing page so people can sign up for it easily.
Create an email workflow, such as sending a confirmation email after sign up, a reminder email before the webinar begins, and a thank you email with contact details and the recording after it runs.
Do a dry run with the team a day before the webinar to ensure that the logistics are in place.
Follow-up with the leads after the webinar.
B2B customers want to know if the company has the expertise and knowledge before engaging with them. Case studies offer validation and evidence to the customers. They act as social proof for the company.
How to get started?
Seek approval from existing or former customers if they would be comfortable with their case study published on the website and social media channels. Some customers may prefer their names to be masked.
Determine the format of the case study. It could be a video testimonial from the customer or a short interview with them or a case study in text format.
Follow the problem-solution-results format for the case study. Be specific about the solutions offered and add the right numbers in the results. Do not exaggerate, make tall claims, or add any content that could mislead a potential customer. Make the case study clear and concise, so the impact is clear to the prospects.
Get it reviewed by the customer if required, and publish it on the website and social media. It can also be used in email marketing.
While websites offer general information about the overall company, a landing page is more product-focused or industry-specific. Its purpose is to drive conversions. So, the content has to appear different from -website content.
How to get started?
Determine the purpose of the landing page. Is it to drive conversions or ask the prospect to download a whitepaper or sign up for a webinar? Write the content accordingly.
Make the content as concise and clear as possible. It should lead the prospect to take action. Ensure that they don’t have to search for the click on the call-to-action. It should be visible on the page. The navigation, the content, and the design of the landing page must be simple and effective enough to drive conversions.
If the audience is different, create different landing pages for different segments to add value. Segment them, so the right email is sent to the right audience.
If the landing page is being used for paid ads, ensure that it aligns with the landing page’s message.
Add social proof such as reviews and testimonials to add value to the page.
Do A/B testing to know which one works better.
Personal Branding of the CXOs
Gone are those days when CXOs were elusive and almost unreachable. Today’s CXOs are more social and approachable. They are active on Twitter and LinkedIn and even respond to people’s comments. Having a personal brand helps CXOs establish themselves as an authority in their industry and build trust among prospective customers. They can also leverage their network to stay connected with ex-customers, the existing ones, and the prospects.
How to get started?
Create a profile on Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Ensure that the profile is completely updated with a bio, recent photograph, professional and education experience, and other necessary details.
Post regularly. The posts could be important news related to the company or a personal opinion on the trends that dominate the industry, or links to the blogs or other company content.
Write a guest blog or guest article for third-party websites related to the industry to get established as a thought leader.
Network with peers and engage with prospects to establish a relationship. Ensure that the opinions are aligned with the values of the company.
The sales cycle of B2B marketing is longer than B2C. A single deal could take as much as 9 months to get closed. An average of 7 people is involved in making buying decisions. It can be particularly difficult for technology companies as they have no tangible evidence of their offerings. So, companies should not expect overnight or quick results from B2B marketing. Patience, consistent marketing efforts, and continuous measurement of its effectiveness are necessary. Companies must use a combination of the above strategies and wait for some months to see results. However, merely implementing all the above strategies without a concrete plan will be a futile exercise. Here are the next steps to get a positive outcome:
Set goals – it could be creating awareness or converting leads into customers. Set SMART goals, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, so it’s easy to implement them.
Set the budget and seek permission from the management– This will help plan the strategies accordingly.
Understand the customers – Understand their business challenge, decision-making process, the solution they seek, and accordingly plan the strategy. Be where the customer is!
Test and measure the outcome – Test different forms of content and different channels. Measure the results and decide what works best for the business.
Align sales with marketing – Working in collaboration will help in closing deals faster.
Need help in planning and implementing the B2B strategy for 2021? We can help.
2020 may have been a rough year for all of us, but technology companies did a great job at continuing the business even through the peak of the pandemic.
2020 was the year when technology companies looked beyond networking at events or getting recommendations from someone and embraced B2B marketing willingly. According to a LinkedIn report, 76% of marketers were compelled to change their key objectives to align with the current situation.
As an agency that has supported B2B-focused mid-sized technology companies in establishing themselves as thought leaders of their industry for the last ten years, we believe that now is the right time to invest time and efforts into B2B marketing.
When it comes to B2B marketing, let’s take a look at some of the unique challenges of mid-sized technology companies, especially those which are just starting with their marketing efforts.
Don’t have big budgets for ads: It is natural to do paid ads to get more leads. While it might work for B2C, it might not necessarily work well for B2B companies. A mid-sized company may have a limited budget, while a single ad campaign could cost the company $1000-$2000 per month for ads. The returns are low too, with the CTR being as low as 3.10%. Even those clicks may not necessarily convert as the sales cycle in B2B is longer than B2C. That apart, unless the company has first established a strong online presence, spending on ads would not lead to any benefits. Hence, they need to think of alternatives to get more leads.
Creating multiple content formats is not always possible: It is tempting to create various content formats to gain diversified traffic. However, companies must remember creating multiple formats such as videos and podcasts can be time-consuming, expensive, and require people with specific skillsets. Companies that are just starting with their online marketing efforts need to prioritize where they want to spend their energies.
They need focused marketing efforts: Mid-sized companies need to start with specific marketing goals, so that they can focus their marketing efforts on achieving them instead of trying everything and seeing no results in the end.
Marketing needs to support sales efforts: Marketing and sales can no longer work in silos – especially for B2B companies. They have to help each other to drive business and revenue growth. 57% of companies believe that collaboration between marketing and sales will advance marketing’s contribution to sales success and generate more ROI.
CXO’s personal network plays a critical role: A CXO of a mid-sized technology company would have a strong network with other C-level executives of other companies. They can tap on this gold mine by posting their views and news on social media and interacting with other peers actively. Building a personal brand is imperative for creating a positive impact.
Marketing needs to be a self-running effort: With limited bandwidth, time, and budget, mid-sized technology companies may face challenges in running campaigns and achieving marketing goals. They need to, therefore, focus on creating a self-sustainable marketing plan that can run with minimal effort and resources.
Now that we have set the ground rules, let’s look at the actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies can implement easily.
B2B Marketing Trends in 2021 For Mid-sized Technology Companies
80% of decision-makers prefer to get information from an article instead of an ad.
Hence, technology companies must focus on developing high-value content such as whitepapers, eBooks, and blogs. Cover topics such as the latest trends and industry news with unique take from experts, solution-specific content that addresses the company’s pain points, principal content such as prominent use cases or latest product updates, etc. Whitepapers are also a great way to launch email campaigns.
While creating high-value, evidence-based, and research-backed content is important, it is also equally important to create content regularly. Developing a content calendar and planning content distribution is the best way to ensure that content is published periodically. Publishing regularly will help the company to create brand awareness and also increase organic traffic to the website over a period. Ensure that there is content available at every stage of the customer journey such as attraction, consideration, and conversion, so the decision-makers are guided through the process.
Robust social media presence
According to the Harvard Business Review, 90% of C-level executives ignore cold outreach. So, those cold sales calls and emails will no longer help in generating leads.
Instead, marketers and the sales team must focus on social selling. 84% of C-level and VP-level customers use social media to make purchase decisions. Posting on social media regularly will help technology companies to create brand awareness, network with prospects in an organic manner, and humanize the brand. Some types of posts that work well on social media include – posts from C-level executives, trends and challenges related to the industry or target customers, regular product principal content updates, new releases or wins, etc.
Plan your blogging and social media posts using a social media calendar and regular schedule to strengthen its presence. Monitor its outcome regularly to know what works and what doesn’t and use those insights to create a solid social media strategy.
Webinars or live events on social media
Typically, technology companies leverage trade shows and industry conferences to network and get leads for their company. However, last year, it took a beating with most trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences getting canceled due to the pandemic.
Companies can now conduct webinars and live events on social media to create awareness of their offering and generate leads. 46.5% of companies confirmed an increase in webinar hosting during the pandemic. Webinars are cost-effective, remove geographical barriers, and it’s easy to get the best speakers to speak to prospects across the world. Most importantly, webinars are generally attended by prospects who are in the consideration stage. So, the chances of conversions are high after the webinar is completed.
Focus on personal branding
We cannot stress enough about the importance of personal branding.
82% of people are more likely to trust a company whose leadership is active on social media.
Encourage the C-level executives to actively post on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It will not just give a face to the company, but it will also help gain the attention of customers and investors. The best part is the leaders do not have to do anything elaborate to build their personal brand. Even small efforts such as sharing a personal opinion on the trends taking place in the industry, sharing personal or professional anecdotes and lessons learned from it, and writing an authoritative piece of article can help the leader establish their reputation as a thought leader.
Read more about personal branding in our previous blog here
Build credibility with social proof
According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Survey, 70% of respondents said that trust is more important for them when dealing with brands. To gain the trust of prospects, technology companies will have to show social proof to back themselves as experts in the industry. These social proofs could be in the form of client testimonials, case studies, or industry-recognized certifications. These will enable companies to demonstrate their expertise and impact on prospects. Ensure that the feedback and ratings are collected from customers regularly and publish them on the website and social media to show value and build trust.
2021 – The Road Ahead
There are so many things that companies can do to build their brand and get more leads. But with limited time, bandwidth, and budget, mid-sized technology companies must focus on getting their foundation strategy right before experimenting with other trending tactics. We would recommend beginning with these three actionable tactics:
Write high-value content regularly
Establish a strong presence on social media
Empower the C-level executives to share their opinion on social media and leverage their network
We have created a post-pandemic marketing plan – it outlines a rescue recipe for all kinds of mid-sized technology companies. Read it here
These tactics will take time to show results. But our experience of working with some of the best mid-sized technology companies has demonstrated that with consistency and quality content, companies can even supersede their goals and build a long-term relationship with their customers at a fraction of costs and efforts.
Mid-sized technology product and services companies have always been somewhat more focused on sales than marketing. And B2B tech marketing has never been easy.
Business leaders and marketers in technology companies have to juggle between several platforms, ensure a meaningful omnichannel presence and do everything in the book and yet there’s always room for improvement in how they market their products and services.
Conventionally, B2B technology companies were largely dependent on the word-of-mouth recommendations passed on by clients to their peers and others in the network, the powerful network of the founders, and CXOs who are most likely alumni of prestigious universities and B-schools or the good old outbound route.
Gradually, targeted email campaigns, presence at tech events, expos, and sponsoring tech conferences were also brought into practice to reach out to new potential customers. The mid-size tech companies with potential clients located primarily in the USA and other English-speaking geographies were pursuing all of these, in tandem to attract new customers. Of course, all that was supplemented by a hefty focus on travel by the sales pros and key executives.
The pandemic, however, has changed everything.
We’ve put together this handy guide for B2B tech companies who are wondering what to do to get their marketing game on. The question on their minds is, whether or not to focus on marketing during this time. (the answer is, Yes)
This guide is for every B2B technology company that is striving to tap into new customers, is eager to retain the existing ones, and does not want to get washed off by the competition.
This guide can help B2B technology businesses direct their content marketing efforts to survive the pandemic and thrive in the situations that will abide after.
This guide covers
Changing Dynamics of B2B Tech Sales
Why now is the time to do marketing
An “all bases covered” playbook covering content, social media and personal branding of founders
The ROI – What you will get
Changing Dynamics of B2B Tech Sales
At the onset of the pandemic, B2B technology businesses weren’t directly impacted. But this gradually manifested into a considerable hurdle. IT sales is faced with obstacles all around. Suddenly, every potential customer of the B2B tech companies had a fully remote team, operations were shifted online, processes were overhauled and person to person contact became very different.
With severe restrictions on travel, sales reps could no longer travel for meetings. As things stand, even after travel restrictions are lifted, things won’t return to normalcy soon, and even for the local clients, setting up face-to-face meetings in the times of social distancing is going to be quite impossible. Moreover, all events and conferences for the entire year are canceled or moved online, nullifying the prospect of meeting potential clients, networking, and meeting new people. Tech companies can, obviously, no longer get the visibility they otherwise would.
The traditional sales channels are being constrained even more than usual (which were already getting outdated – who answers cold calls made to the office landline when everyone is practically working from home?) and other outbound methods such as email marketing are facing too much competition (you don’t want to spend your marketing efforts simply adding to the pile of emails your client receives each day), a fresh approach towards marketing is the need of the hour.
Obviously, doing nothing is not an option. Clearly, the pandemic demands B2B tech companies push their boundaries and think outside the box to nail marketing now to outlast the tough times.
Why NOW is the time to do marketing
Unfortunately, the first expense item to take a hit during the pandemic was the marketing budget. ‘If customers aren’t buying, why to spend on marketing?’ was the impulsive call that several business leaders and marketers took in the first half of 2020.
But this approach WILL prove absolutely fatal to B2B tech companies.
The big economic numbers might be slowing down, but that absolutely doesn’t mean that your potential clients do not need a solution for their pressing business problems. In fact, with events canceling, even these clients are exploring other avenues to find solutions that are the right problem-solution fit for their needs.
Now is the right time to become visible in their eye line with valuable content that focuses on solving the business problems that plague your customers. ‘Out of sight is out of my mind’ and you don’t want to be out of the eye-line of your customers at this crucial time.
Of course, you have to be empathetic, and hard-selling like before seems a little out of place but there couldn’t be a better time to grow the top of the funnel and to nurture your audience with value-adding content.
In fact, with no commute and people -including business leaders and decision-makers working from home, there has been a significant rise in the time spent online. People are consuming content online, the only question is, whose content is it?
Sooner or later, your clients are going to be looking around for the right solution and this is when you want to be top-of-the-mind. Now is the time to invest in creating customer-focused content that can prove your authority and expertise and ensure your offering appears to be the most viable option for your target audience.
Once you decide you want to leverage the situation and direct your content marketing efforts other questions will arise. Which channels are to be explored? What type of content should be created? How often should the social media posts go live? Who should your target?
Let’s explore each in detail!
An “all bases covered” playbook
Let’s talk about content
It is needless to say that in the era of screen fixation, remote working, and fewer avenues to strike a face-to-face conversation with your potential clients, digital content is truly the king. Investing in content creation at this stage will not only help you come into the much-needed spotlight but also help you in the long run, especially if you choose to create timeless content pieces that are going to be valuable today and in the future.
Let us have a look at the type of content B2B tech companies should be creating right now!
Nothing makes your content more worthwhile than true utility to your audience. Irrespective of where your customer is in the buyer’s journey, you should have relevant, valuable, and highly informative content to offer. This content should not only be engaging to read with extremely accurate information but should also have key takeaways that can help your readers solve their real-world problems. The content need not necessarily lead to a conversion, at least not through the first piece your readers consume. But it should be worth remembering, useful, practical, and authentic enough to build trust with your users while also resonating with their problems and challenges.
Focus on creating content pieces that have actionable insights, especially in times like these where your customers are anxious and are quite frankly looking for solutions, not stories.
Another excellent example is the blogs from construction technology services company Virtualize Services. They have very cleverly created content that amalgamates their service areas with the newly required mandates and changes the construction sector is going through in the USA.
Content riding on current topics
Staying relevant is crucial for making any marketing activity, a success, especially in times like this. Ghosting the current topics is obviously not an ideal route. Your audience needs to know, in their unique context, how your company, its products, and services are relevant to them in the current times. Hence it is extremely important to create content that rides on current topics. This content might not be usable once the trend subsides but, it is worth the effort for the contextual impact.
Aroscop, an ad-tech company has put together several articles around the changing dynamics of consumer behavior and digital ad rate trends due to COVID-19 which are also a fine example of writing about current topics while continuing to focus on the key concerns of your target audience.
Content demonstrating business as usual
With uncertain times, it is quite natural that your potential customers (or the existing ones) are anxious. And while being empathetic is important, the real challenge is that no one really knows what to do next. Hence, creating handy guides that can help in getting back to business or preparing their businesses once the ‘new normal’ sets in can be impactful.
Not enough can be emphasized about how remote working has impacted several businesses. For most businesses, this entire remote working wave was unexpected, and the transition hasn’t really been a cakewalk. Especially since remote working looks like it is here to stay, businesses are clueless and do not know how to go about remote hiring, onboarding, and employee engagement while everyone works remotely.
The job market has been merciless and as per the experts, with the approaching recession, it is only going to get worse. But companies are still going to hire high-quality people. This is why writing about your company culture around hiring is important. It not only helps you put the best foot forward as a brand but also helps in attracting rich talent to your organization, in times of uncertainty.
It is important to consider the possibility of having an audience that doesn’t consume a lot of textual content. It is about time to get creative and present diverse content types so that you don’t miss out on anyone on the radar! Especially if your past marketing experience for a particular niche in B2B tech has been driven by diversified content types, you should actively focus on creating more.
For example, TruckX Inc has been creating highly engaging visual content that focuses on the trucking companies that are their customers and truckers who are their end-users for promoting their products.
This could also be a good time to release podcasts or host webinars since a lot of people are working towards upskilling. Presenting your customers or your internal thought leaders could be a very important move for your branding efforts.
Let’s talk about social media
Unlike B2C companies, B2B companies seldom fully acknowledge the power of social media. The perception that social media presence works more for B2C companies has sometimes made B2B tech companies stay away from social media marketing. Most companies, especially the small or midsize ones, have almost no presence on social media and look at it as an unnecessary effort. They simply post links to their new content pieces or to announce new collaborations or major updates. They have no expectations from the efforts and those expectations are met!
If you are not actively engaging on social media platforms, you should start now. And here’s what you should post on social media, apart from sharing links to your content such as blogs, whitepapers, and ebooks.
Hiring related updates
Speak, scream, and tell the world if you are hiring during the pandemic. Not just job seekers, but your customers will also have a newfound respect for you once they learn you are hiring in these tough times. Because it simply means- your business is up, running, and doing well, you have future plans put together, you have enough projects lined up which basically means you know what you are doing and this is exactly the type of company anyone would want to do business with!
Relevant content – tips and tricks
You can’t expect each of your potential clients to read through the detailed content that you create and hence your company page should be alternating between sharing links to content and sharing tips and tricks as a post on social media. These not only provide quick assistance to the ones who are looking for it but also serve as a great engagement engine. Especially if the tips and tricks you share are new, experience-based, or unique, you can expect users to engage on the post, which essentially helps in increasing the reach of your post and ultimately your brand.
Let’s talk about Personal Branding of founders
Founders are invariably the face of the company and play a huge role in establishing the brand of the company. Especially for the small, midsize companies and B2B tech startups that do not have the cash flow to invest in full-blown advertising, the company branding is subtly established via the founders. When it comes to cracking large value deals, clients look for companies that have trustworthy founders who they’ve read about or seen and interacted with on social media.
If you are a founder of a B2B company that is looking to establish itself during these changing times, there couldn’t be a better time to build your personal brand. B2B tech founders have a great deal of industry experience, good references, and knowledge of the ecosystem. Creating content to focus on personal branding aligned to the company’s brand can be the key to engage customers, leave a long-lasting mark in the mind of the audience as well as attract new talent to fill in key positions in the company. Being social-media shy is not ideal. Today, there is no excuse to have dormant LinkedIn profiles or be invisible on other platforms such as twitter. People need to know the face behind an organization, especially when it comes to small and mid-size companies.
Here’s how you can get started with founders’ personal branding:
It could be personal growth experiences of the founder or their take on anything they hold an expertise in. Founders of tech companies are tech leaders in their respective fields and over the years have garnered tons of experience. This could be not only an interesting read but also create thought leadership. Founders can share their interesting perspectives, opinions, and their personal journeys to create a bond with your readers along with amplifying the company branding.
Here are a few examples of how founders can share stories, opinions, and experiences:
Resonating with your audience and exhibiting your expertise is commendable, but what makes your potential customers take the leap of faith are your success stories. You can share your success stories, client testimonials or peculiar experiences of solving challenging business challenges and those will usher in a direct impact. Since these are the stories your potential clients are going to read and relate to and they are a data-backed proof of your expertise and efficiency as an organization.
For sure, be careful that your story doesn’t brag, overpromise, and is not salesy. Think of it as a candid exchange between your network and remember a little goes a long way.
Here are a few great samples:
Founders who want to take up personal branding seriously need to remember that this activity is not short-term and needs a lot of nurturing, just like real-world relationships. And hence, if you are only going to be talking about your journey, your products, and your experiences, you are going to be uninteresting for your reader. It is important that you write about current topics, share your opinions on how it will impact the space your customers care about. It’s also ok to be controversial if you can justify your stand.
You can check out how these founders have spoken about current issues which have helped them stay relevant within their network:
The ROI – What you will get
As we reiterate whenever the discussion of B2B marketing picks up, we firmly believe that strategic B2B marketing should be done with the intention of gaining brand visibility to the right set of audience in exactly the right context.
Putting in efforts and investment in building a comprehensive marketing strategy based on all the points mentioned in this guide can yield that brand visibility.
You can create a positive impression of your brand in the minds of your target audience.
You will be more visible. You will be understood better.
Your target audience will be able to place you in the right frame in light of exactly what you can do for them.
Then, you will see them reaching out to you when they feel motivated enough to want to solve those specific business problems.
You will be the frontrunner in that race, maybe even the only runner. There will be a number of signs along the way that this is working.
You will see a noticeable difference in connection/follow requests for your founders’ social media pages, improved web traffic, and a warmer response to your sales outreach since your customers already know about you!
Maintaining the consistency and context with your content is the bottom line. Traffic, engagements, and leads will follow suit. That’s the way to beat the COVID-induced slowdown.
“The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered”. – Michael Brenner
Buying can be out of the question at this moment, but providing value was, is, and will always be the priority.
The last few months have been a roller-coaster ride for many businesses. With all the plans and strategies of the year gone for a toss, business owners are left with nothing but assumptions of what will serve best for the business right now. Many companies have been hit directly by the pandemic, bringing sales down, but this is not the time to sit idle and let the storm pass.
Instead, forward-thinking businesses have started concentrating on gaining the trust of their customers by helping them overcome the crisis and enhancing brand visibility. And what another way to do that than developing a robust content marketing strategy?
A report by Siege Media revealed that 92% of marketers consider content as a significant business asset, and 56% of companies want to increase their content creation budget.
With the pandemic, it may seem that everything has become blurry and indefinite, and businesses might be feeling clueless about how to go ahead with their marketing plans.
Well, we have a solution to that.
While content is still the most important avenue to increase your reach and engage with your potential customers, you need to improvise your content marketing strategies to increase their relevance in the current situation.
Let’s give you an idea about the types of content you can create at this time to enhance your visibility without sounding like a salesman.
User stories – Something more than testimonials and less than case studies
Create relevant stories from the perspective of your target audience, and the less you make it about your brand, the better. These stories shouldn’t be all about something that you did, but what your users were experiencing and how ‘they’ managed to resolve it with little help from you. ‘You’ should be the secondary factor in these stories, aiming to provide confidence and motivation to your target audience. Make the reader feel connected with the user in the story. Thus, the content should focus more on how you helped the users achieve their objectives without undermining their contribution or fight against the problems. This will provide you with the validation and appreciation of being the ‘people’s company.
Entertainment – Something to make them happier about their lives
Everyone is going through a tough phase, and this is not the right time to hard-sell your products/services. While it’s always important to create content relevant to your business, you can improvise the same to incorporate some humor and entertainment for your users to enjoy the essence of it while also connecting with your brand.
Of course, it’s not that every B2B business can possibly produce content on how to go on a date during the lockdown or how amazing your pets can be, you can always think out-of-the-box to improve the entertainment quotient in your blogs, videos or infographics. Providing valuable information on a lighter note is the key to achieving the results you seek.
Some of the ways to do this could be to use expressive images that evoke emotion, use funny videos, use puns in writing, and whenever possible, adapt informal writing style.
Informative content – Something to help them overcome their current problems
In the #NewNormal, businesses have been facing new challenges that they were not prepared to deal with. If your company offers solutions to help them address such ‘new’ challenges, you can develop content that focuses on these and how to deal with them. You can make sure to let your target audience know that you are sensitive to their problems, and are there to help, in case they need any.
Keep in mind two things while developing informative content around the ‘new’ problems that your target audience are facing. One is, the content should resonate with your business, and secondly, it shouldn’t necessarily exude fear. It should alert the users about something that they may need to be prepared for in the coming days. There’s a difference. If you try to feed on their fears, they will get repulsed by you. On the contrary, if you can make them believe that they can rely on your services for solving those issues, you’ll get the engagement you’re looking for.
For example, when, worldwide, people started working remotely, Zoom, the well-known video conferencing tool, created an in-depth COVID-19 resource to help people across various use cases such as remote working, online teaching, etc. The resource contains useful material for various such user segments and helps them with the ‘new’ challenges.
Useful content – Something to help them get answers to their questions
B2B events and conferences used to the occasions for sellers to connect their potential buyers and present their solutions. For the buyers as well, events were useful for knowing about the latest offerings, find solutions to their problems, and connect with new people. Obviously, with events getting canceled, this opportunity is no longer available. Social distancing is also making sales meetings impossible.
However, it does not mean that companies no longer have business problems to solve. Your B2B buyers have now turned online looking for solutions to their problems. They are searching for answers to their questions. If you help them with those answers, propose solutions, and appear as experts, it is very likely that they will consider you as a knowledge partner rather than just another vendor.
It is obvious that this is not the time to sell. This is time to nurture. Conversions will help you garner the visibility that your brand needs in the cut-throat competition of tomorrow. If you’re on the list of your target audience, they will seek you out when the first phase of the crisis gets over. So, develop content that they can relate to and not the ones that you need to push down their throats to sell your services/products.
“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good.” – Seth Godin
But, how can you be better than good with your existing B2B marketing strategies?
You have to always be on your A-game in your marketing department so that you do not lose ground to the competition. This involves cash -B2B companies invest about 25% of their budget in their marketing. The effort is also high – founders and CEOs worry themselves sick to come up with ideas that will improve the age-old ways of promoting their business on social media platforms.
The question arises,
Do you really need to spend that time and effort to market your business or you should hire someone with the expertise and experience to handle that department?
Given that you are a founder or the CEO of a company, you will have a lot on your plate. You do need help.
So, should you hire an in-house team? Or appoint a reliable social media agency to take care of your marketing endeavours? Nowadays, when telecommuting or remote working has become quite a trend, you could also opt for freelancers to manage specific elements of your B2B marketing.
This post may help you determine the best possible choice by carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each.
Creating an In-House Marketing Department
In many cases, creating an in-house marketing department to handle your B2B marketing needs seems to be the best possible option you have.
Why is it so?
The main reason for hiring an in-house marketing team is sustained accessibility. You can turn to them as and when you please, get updates regularly, issue suggestions and hold discussions without any difficulty. While these are the ready advantages of an in-house team, some of the cons of hiring one are given below:
Hiring expert marketers and building a team of skilled people requires a lot of time and investment.
You have to take care of their needs and demands, manage them, sustain them, and keep them challenged and engaged. Most importantly, you will have to keep them busy at all times.
The amount of financial investment will increase when you expand the team and include senior executives.
The cost will keep escalating as from time and again, you have to think about promotions and increments, especially if your team turns out to be the best and are successful in taking the business to the next level.
Hiring an in-house marketing team will increase the operating expenses.
Lastly, there’s no real guarantee that you will be able to hire the best in each functional area. That means your marketing efforts may end up being only as good as the weakest link.
If you think you can manage the time and financial investment of building your own marketing team, and that you will always have enough work to keep those dedicated people well and good! However, if you have your doubts, you can always hire the best social media marketing agency instead.
Hiring a Social Media Marketing Agency
Now, if you hire a social media agency, you will not have to deal with the issues highlighted above. You can tap into their specific areas of expertise, according to your unique B2B marketing requirements. You can take their help to define a robust strategy that includes the latest and most innovative methods. Once you agree on the way forward, you can leave the rest of the task to them. However, you do need to maintain a regular connect with the agency to keep track of progress.
When you appoint a social media agency to take care of your B2B marketing needs, you will rest assured that your business is in expert hands.
If you think that a marketing agency is not being able to deliver according to your expectations, you can always opt for the next best one in the industry. It is way easier than dissolving your entire in-house marketing department to create a new one.
Most of the time, outsourcing your marketing endeavours results in pulling together a group of experienced people, who are experts in their fields and are capable of improving areas you may never have thought of.
No training is required to make them understand your needs. Their discovery processes will ensure they capture the most relevant information.
The best social media marketing agencies have the latest tools at their own disposal, which they will use while handling your B2B marketing
You have to hunt down the best possible social media agency from among the various options available. It’s sometimes hard to know which agency has real skills and which is just talking a good game.
It may not always be possible to build a partner relationship within your budget.
You will need to give the agency some time to understand your specific needs as well as your market niche.
Accessibility becomes an issue at times when you need to make an urgent connection but you find that you are unable to reach your partner.
In the case of hiring a reliable social media agency to handle your company’s marketing responsibilities, the inherent benefits, of course, outweigh the cons if your need is to drive a contained but high-quality and sustained marketing strategy.
Hiring a Freelancer for Your B2B Marketing Needs
Most of the time, a company will hire a freelancer to handle specific elements of B2B marketing, if it is new and in no condition to invest realistically in promotion and marketing. Hiring freelancers is often more inexpensive than hiring a social media marketing agency. Generally, start-ups and mid-level organisations will opt for a freelancer, or a group of individuals working as freelancers, to handle their marketing needs -often to get things off the ground.
The freelancers are always on their toes to impress you and get your feedback, which they may be able to use to expand their network.
They are way less expensive than reputable marketing agencies
In the case of a single freelancer, communication gets easier, as you have to contact only one person for all your needs.
If there is any issue, only one person will be accountable for the same, and amendment will be easier.
Freelancers are not bound to anyone or any particular company. They have a number of clients to attend to, and you may not be their only focus area.
You cannot blame a freelancer entirely, as they have no contractual agreement with you. They are sometimes hard to pin down and it’s not unknown for freelancers to vanish halfway through the effort.
Communication can get difficult if the particular individual is unprofessional, ill-equipped or dishonest. They may only concentrate on taking your money without providing results.
Therefore, if you wish to hire a freelancer, you should do considerable background research on the person before letting him/her in on your marketing team. That will help you filter out cheats and frauds to some extent.
In short, the choice that you have to make solely depends on your business needs, and your budget. Of course, if marketing is strategic for your organisation, you should probably hire a social media agency to handle all business to business marketing needs of your company. In case you are an early-stage start-up, get a freelancer to work for your initial needs. However, if you believe that the volume of work will be large enough, you can create an in-house marketing team. It’s what works for you that matters!
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