Can AI Write B2B How-To Guides? Findings from Our Experiment Suggest Otherwise

There seems to be a stark divide in the content community in response to the soaring success of ChatGPT.

Some say that ChatGPT isn’t at all viable for use. Others are quick to point out that this technology will replace writers. Well, if there’s any truth to these viewpoints, it sits at the intersection. Neither is ChatGPT useless nor is it a replacement.

It’s a great tool (much like the host of AI tools out there) that can help with writing inspiration, testing ideas, and even seeking novel ideas. I’ve been using GPT-4 (ChatGPT Plus) for the past two days now, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a better writing companion. It’s that good! One might even think that it’s conscious, but that’s a debate for another day – although Sam Altman will outright deny the claim. 🙂 It’s still a question as to how he knows what “conscious” means and if AI has achieved it.

Today, we’re going to look at a very specific long-form use case of how-to guides against the growing prominence of AI Writers. 

Are AI Writers Good at Writing How-To Guides?

Contrary to the popular belief, how-to guides are one of the most difficult forms of content to conceptualize for two reasons:

  • They have to be exceptionally simple in their articulation. After all, easy reading is damn hard writing.
  • They must be factually relevant and recent to help the user navigate the path they’re seeking answers to. The need for “recency” can vary based on the subject under question. For example, there’s hardly any relationship between time and playing chess.

But, here’s a concern – Is “how to play chess” similar in complexity to “how can CIOs harness the power of quantum computing for breakthrough innovations in B2B applications”?

You’d notice that the AI writing segment focuses on very generic use cases when it comes to marketing or demo videos. They would exhibit AI answering queries that are too broad to befit any robust content strategy. 

In fact, the tools are inherently much more capable when it comes to elaborating the steps to achieve something. That’s precisely the hypothesis we laid out for further investigating the viability of AI writers for long-form B2B content – especially how-to guides. 

The Results from Our Experimentation

We tested the top AI writers and AI writing assistants to help us craft how-to articles like:

  • How to leverage metaverse technologies for B2B collaboration?
  • How to validate and review data annotations?
  • How to leverage swarm intelligence and distributed robotics for industrial applications?

We limited the article length to 500-600 word range. The results were satisfactory at best. 

It took more than 3 hours to pen factually and conceptually correct articles. Only journalistic & opinionated articles took more time. 

Highly technical guides were largely difficult to pen because AI would often hallucinate. So, the human writer had to intervene after every few words to check for fallacies and make the necessary improvements.

Access our full research report here.

What Does This Mean Going Forward?

Should you not leverage the capabilities of AI tools? You definitely should! And AI is going to evolve, so you can expect it to comprehensively help with moderately technical articles, if not highly technical ones.

Read More: 4 Areas AI Writers Excel at for B2B Tech Content Writing

But as someone leading a B2B enterprise, you must also understand that there’s a lot of data associated with your projects, functions, workflows, etc., at your disposal. If you can inspire your narratives based on this data, you’d be looking at a thought leadership piece that’s authentic and, most importantly, credible for users. 

This would be in alignment with Google’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) principles and provide much more impetus for the articles to rank on the SERP against websites with high domain authority.

More to come in this series around AI writers’ viability for other content types. Stay tuned!

Apart from the above, what more would you like to know? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Beyond the Hype: 4 Areas Where AI Writers Fall Short for B2B Tech Content Writing

Google Is Freaking Out About ChatGPT (The Verge, Jan 2023)

The ChatGPT AI Hype Cycle Is Peaking, but Even Tech Skeptics Don’t Expect a Bust (CNBC, Feb 2023)

The Inside Story of How ChatGPT Was Built From the People Who Made It (MIT Review, March 2023)

All these are headlines reflecting upon the fact that ChatGPT has had the best Public Beta of all time. 

Every nook and corner of search engines and social media has been flooded with narratives – some hyping it even more, others talking about the possible improvements, and a few informing how it has taken human jobs already.

But while a lot of ChatGPT text-generation use cases and applications have surfaced over the past few months (thanks to excellent prompt engineering), there are big question marks around AI’s viability to create long-form content – especially for a B2B audience.

Is AI Any Good for Long-form B2B Tech Content? (Our Research Attempted to Answer This)

The argument for writing articles and blogs using AI goes back to Q1 2021 when GPT-3 AI tools were being rolled out one after another.

In October 2022 (before the launch of ChatGPT), we started testing the top GPT-3 tools to understand how well they do for B2B articles. We tested them across major technology themes (like cloud, data analytics, cybersecurity, etc.), and here’s what we observed:

  • AI writers contributed (in terms of text used for the final article) less than 50% for more than 55% of the articles.
  • Less than 30% of the text was contributed by AI for 20% of the articles that were highly technical.
  • Surprisingly, listicles weren’t easy to create with AI – with 600 words articles taking more than 2 hours of continuous work on average. In fact, How-to guides and journalistic articles took more than 3 hours.

Here’s the full research report.

Of course, these results can be a bit biased in a sense that:

  • We focused on creating high-quality consumer-facing content based on our decade-long experience writing for the B2B audience. And so, we scrutinized and edited the AI outputs significantly before considering them.
  • We tested both technical and highly technical articles, which weren’t presumably in the purview of AI with respect to factual and conceptual accuracy. 

But that’s the thing. When we’re talking about consumer-facing content, there’s no room or excuse for compromising the quality. And so, the question pops up – Why exactly are we using AI writers?

Is it because human writers aren’t adept? (Surely, that isn’t the case)

Is it to increase the frequency of publishing content?

Is it to lower the costs of content creation?

Is it to increase productivity?

The reasons could be manifold. But they often get obscure when riding the hype train. So, almost every answer will include the umbrella terms “productivity” and “cost.” And that’s understandable since these are integral to a business’s bottom line. 

But then, what exactly does productivity entail here? How is it being defined? And how are the cost advantages being realized? 

One explanation could be amping up a writer’s workflow – equipping them with an AI tool that reduces their cognitive load. So, with relatively lesser cognitive input, they would be able to create a similar-sounding output. 

In fact, AI writers accrue several benefits for inspiring ideas, removing writer’s block, and helping with lo-fi content outlines. We’ve compiled the good things here.

But a lot of the presumable capabilities fall flat when it comes to creating long-form B2B tech content. Why’s that the case? Let’s discuss.

1. Original Content

Before getting into the granularities of B2B-esque content creation, let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? 

Although duplicate content (or plagiarism as it’s called in academic circles) isn’t always penalized by Google, it’s still an aspect of content creation that must be avoided. At the end of the day, search engines (especially Google) want original, helpful content to come up.

However, often, AI is very standardized in pushing out answers to your queries. Here’s an example. I asked ChatGPT – what is low-code development? But I did that three times – at different times. The answers, albeit quite relevant, overlap both structurally and linguistically. 

All these explanations start with a definition, transition into the goals, approach the benefits, and outline the applications. From the looks of it, that’s an ideal, all-encompassing explanation – but only for the purpose of learning and not creating original content. 

Notice the repeated keyphrases across definitions and the astonishingly similar sentence structure accommodating them. Even if you change the prompt to, let’s say – “explain” or “define” low-code development, the language used is similar.

These are just three queries from a single account. Imagine how many people will be asking the same questions. So, even if you structurally refine the content, you’re still leaving much to be desired when it comes to originality.

A possible and reasonable refutation to the same can be put forth in the name of prompt engineering. What if you give highly-specific, example-laden prompts and probe the AI until it gives you a quality output? Well, that’s surely opportune. However, that will also involve structural overlap in how the prompts are created. Why? Because the entire field is based on formulaic frameworks – much like you keep seeing on LinkedIn these days. So, it’s highly likely that the most relevant prompts are exceptionally similar.

2. Service/Capability-Oriented Writing

A good B2B content strategy supports a mix of informational and promotional content. The latter is concerned with reflecting upon a business’s capabilities to potential leads. This can be realized via:

  • Showing how the products or services can benefit the potential businesses. Case studies, for instance, help build awareness around how you can help and encourage businesses to move forward.
  • Showing how your product or service fits into a business’s current strategy. Most businesses, especially smaller ones, aren’t often looking to overhaul their entire strategies — they’re looking for incremental improvement and performance by integrating your product or service into what they’ve already put in place.
  • Elaborating on the differences between your product/service and the competitors’ — to help businesses identify the value of your offering over theirs. Comparison landing pages, for example, are a great way to show how your product or service stacks up against the competition in terms of the quality of your product, the value of your service, and how the business would benefit from a switch.
  • Putting out thought leadership content that drives business owners to think about their current practices, the industry as a whole, and your offering in relation to both.

Besides, a host of B2B businesses help implement products from global vendors. For example, IBM, ServiceNow, Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon, SAP, and Google have product and service implementation partners (the B2B businesses) helping spread the word about their products and lowering the entry barrier to their adoption. Such businesses center their content around the capabilities of these vendors, and understandably so.

Why isn’t AI a good fit here?

For one, GPT-3 powered tools cannot scrape data from the web as per a business’s specific preferences. In general, they can control the subject-related output from a technical standpoint using certain parameters like temperature, top p, frequency penalty, presence penalty, and more. These parameters work to increase the creativity, originality, and recency of the outputs. As such, a lot of AI writing tools allow users to tweak the creativity levels of the text.

However, stringently controlling the output to talk accurately in terms of business offerings is a whole different ball game and certainly something that hasn’t been accomplished – at least until now. It’s even more challenging when we consider unique offerings from small businesses – a capability that the B2B SaaS landscape thrives on.

And this is also where the problem of emulating a brand’s voice comes to the fore. But can’t you have an editor refine that? Certainly! Humans working through AI outputs would only do good to the final outcome. 

However, we’re talking about substantial edits in the case of promotional writing. And we’re giving more than the required control to the robot since the rough draft would be created by it. So, eventually, the output would still be inferior. This brings us to the question asked earlier – Why exactly are we using AI writers? Because this workflow certainly doesn’t sound productive.

A refutation to the brand’s voice facet could be AI tools that can help maintain consistency in the tone and voice – much like Grammarly Business which features a Tone Detector and Company Style Guide. With the help of these features, businesses can fixate their terminology and tone and align the content according to it. But then again, this needs substantial due diligence on the part of humans to set everything up. And the writing is manual.

3. Time-Bound Content

“Recency” is the hallmark of the B2B SaaS landscape. And why go far to understand that? The topic we’re addressing in this article serves as a great example. 

Back in May 2022, Rob Toews wrote on Forbes that “a wave of billion-dollar language AI startups is coming.” Safe to say, it’s already here.

VC investments in Generative AI increased by 425% between 2020 and 2022. In 2023, this is the number one funding area. Out of 183 startups in Y Combinator’s first 2023 batch, 51 are AI startups, and 32 are explicitly into Generative AI. 

As a result, AI and specifically GPT-3 is now powering apps for multiple use cases. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Workflow productivity
  • Content and copywriting
  • Image and video generation
  • Text to speech
  • Health monitoring
  • Virtual assistance
  • Programming 

Such quick evolution of the space demands that the content that’s being pushed out:

  • Concretely outlines the “evolving” consumer pain points
  • Presents the product as a solution to those problems
  • Differentiates the brand from competitors
  • Evolves as the product landscape evolves

So, a good portion of such content is time-bound — i.e., it draws upon the recent assessment of the market, the experiences of CxOs in navigating the complexities of such market, the evaluation of the product itself, and the ongoing developments in the space. This differs from the B2C space, where products have a set description. This description remains independent from the next version of the product. For example, you wouldn’t have to tweak iPhone 14’s product description when iPhone 15 comes out.

In the B2B world, however, even the products or services that don’t serve a market as aggressive as AI entail a more rigorous process of iteration and refinement. As a result, the content that’s being put out needs to be time-bound. 

Does that mean that every write-up should completely build on recency? Definitely Not! For example, HubSpot’s compilation of templates for sales, resumes, copywriting frameworks, etc., would work well for a long time. 

However, it’s highly likely that a good portion of your content strategy is centered on weaving in recency to accommodate “relevance.” Even the most basic of articles – like XYZ trends about a [technology] in the [industry] space would warrant a B2B-centric focus on recency. 

Why isn’t AI a good fit here?

One explanation is the dated data set that the AI is trained on. For example, ChatGPT inspires answers from its knowledge base, which is limited to 2021. 

Even if the data corpus is updated in real-time, factual and conceptual discrepancies are likely to pop up. That might be due to the limited amount of data these tools have at their disposal regarding recent developments. Further, it’s just not possible to source statistics or facts. There’s a very high probability that the stats laid out by AI are fabricated and fictional.

Cuing back to our four-month-long research; throughout the process of testing GPT-3 AI writing tools, we observed that the articles involving the time element were almost impossible to create without successive interventions. These interventions were associated with:

  • Tweaking the direction that AI was taking
  • Manually including research and statistics to provide context
  • Ensuring that the text generated was factually on-point.

These articles ranged from exploring technological developments to how-to guides for explaining the best practices going forward. 

On average, we could only let the AI write the next 9-10 words before we intervened. 

4. Personality

“Computers have never been instruments of reason that can solve matters of human concern; they’re just apparatuses that structure human experience through a very particular, extremely powerful method of symbol manipulation.” — Ian Bogost, The Atlantic.

Structuring “human experience through a very particular, extremely powerful method of symbol manipulation” — this is perhaps the aptest and most concise way to sum up the personality argument. 

Going back to the example shared earlier about low-code development, did you notice how standardized the response was? Now, such standardization still works well for definitions. But what if it encompasses every nook and corner of your narrative?

For one, it wouldn’t engage people; it wouldn’t draw them in. Second, it wouldn’t support the brand voice a business wants to realize. Most importantly, it wouldn’t do justice to the solution under consideration. 

For example, I asked ChatGPT to create four introductions for a topic – each following a particular tone descriptor (Professional, Upbeat, Conversational, and Authoritative). While there are subtle distinctions in the sentence structure, they all read the same from an emotional standpoint. Conversational sounds a bit different, but it’s more casual than it’s conversational. 

It’s still possible to sell a bad product through good marketing. But when the marketing’s bad, it doesn’t matter how good the product or service is. 

In the B2B space, personality is even more critical. Your audience is most likely educated on the service/product they’re seeking. If not as well informed, they’re at least quite aware of what it takes to deliver on the promise and understand the level of expertise they’re seeking to navigate complex problems. In that light, the personality of your narrative and self-expression matters a lot. And this is reflected in the long-form content that builds the platform for a product or service to succeed.

The Bottom Line

While aesthetically pleasing, it’s one thing to integrate AI into your workflow and completely another to be persuaded by the guise of its grammatically sound articulation. No doubt, the lexical aptness gives AI writers remarkable fluency in their arguments. However, their storytelling capabilities are not to be mistaken as excellent. 

Use them to increase the quality of your narrative, not to define it.

More to come in this series around AI content detection and whether AI writers are good for listicles and how-to guides.

Stay tuned! 

Besides the above, what more would you like to know? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. 

4 Areas AI Writers Excel at for B2B Tech Content Writing

Probabilistic determination of the next best possible word – that’s certainly the essence of AI writing tools powered by the famous language models GPT-3 and now GPT-3.5.

It’s all computation, and it’s reasonable when people point out – well, where’s the personality in writing? Where’s the technical nuance? These questions reflect legit objections. In fact, our months-long research outlined how:

  • AI writers contributed less than 30% (in terms of text used for the final write-up) for highly technical B2B articles.
  • The articles where AI writers contributed more than 70% were extremely basic, definition-oriented, and moderately or non-technical.

But why these questions in the first place? 

Possibly because people are being led to believe that AI writers are the be-all and end-all. But if we closely monitor the LLM (large language model) space over the last three years, even the most prominent AI writing tools out there recommend refining content using human expertise.

Truth be told, AI writers aren’t exactly a replacement for humans. They are, instead, immensely viable for augmenting a writer’s capabilities. When we look at them from that perspective, we can outline the many benefits they can accrue for long-form content creation in the B2B space. And that’s what we’re going to do here.

For ease of illustration, we’ll use outputs from ChatGPT for this article.

1. Providing Writing Inspiration That Isn’t “Time” Bound

If there’s one thing that’s constant in the B2B space – it’s “change.” Technologies constantly evolve, vendors accommodate such evolutions, businesses invest in the new roll-outs, and the entire vertical goes through a metamorphosis. 

The same is reflected in writing. Even the most generic of narratives want to weave in innovations and recent trends. It’s through those that they can truly reflect upon the “value” being added in the “present” context – via a service or a product.

But this doesn’t detract from the fact that AI can lower the entry barrier to basic business or technology-related ideas or perhaps add to the ideas that you’ve already laid out. 

Let’s say you are creating a guide titled – “Best Practices to Create a Fintech Mobile App.” ChatGPT can come in handy to get the gist of the potential user pain points that must be considered. 

For example, let’s ask ChatGPT to give us three user personas for a fintech mobile app. 

The response is not bad. It provides potentially useful information that could fit our narrative. But since we aim to outline the pain points, let’s probe the response further to understand each persona’s challenges. 

Not bad at all! We could now use these to substantiate what we already know and develop an example-laden, all-encompassing article around the best practices. 

2. Helping Write Templatized Content Elements

Meta descriptions, SEO titles, email subject lines, image captions, confirmation messages – a host of content elements fall within the purview of frameworks. SEO titles and meta descriptions, for example, must adhere to a certain character limit, and it bodes well if they include the targeted keyword. 

Let’s ask ChatGPT to create a title and meta description for the aforementioned article – “Best Practices to Create a Fintech Mobile App.”

Not the best, but it lays the groundwork. It can be refined more based on the article’s content.

Likewise, let’s use ChatGPT to create a catchy headline for this article.

Not bad! Can these be improved? Certainly! But again, these preliminary recommendations provide much to go about and save time.

Note: Understanding what you want to write about, what’s your business focus, and how you want to tell the story is critical before using AI to generate recommendations. Because this knowledge is what’s going to help discern if what you’re looking at is worthy of including in your process. Don’t be blindsided by the guise of immaculate articulation. It’s not that ideal – not more than your experience-led story.

3. Creating Lo-Fi Article Outlines

AI writers aren’t well-suited for consumer-facing B2B content. For one, the output can be factually and conceptually incorrect. Second, the content is exceptionally standardized – lacking personality, vision, and the ability to emulate a brand’s voice and tone.

But this utter standardization, i.e., lexical and structural exactness of GPT-powered textual output, makes AI writers well-suited for a basic content flow. 

Let us call this flow a “low-fidelity content outline” or “lo-fi” outline.

Let us ask ChatGPT to create an outline for one of the blog titles that it previously suggested. 

“5 Proven Strategies for Creating a Top-Performing Fintech Mobile App in 2023”


The response is basic at best. Perhaps more probing would result in a more profound outcome. But we can still outline a few key things. For example:

  • Personalization and customization can create an opportunity to discuss SaaS capabilities like data analytics, business intelligence, rewards and loyalty programs, and more. 
  • The content can be segregated across two major themes – design and technology. Design can cover UX/UI design and content design. Technology can cover security, integrations, analytics, and more.

All in all, a comprehensive content brief can come to life in relatively less time.

4. Taking Good to Excellent

All these capabilities suggest one thing – that AI writers can help human writers. And this can be realized in terms of:

  • Speeding up research
  • Speeding up writing
  • Including analogies and examples
  • Reducing cognitive fatigue

This can speed up the entire content generation workflow and open opportunities for scalability. 

But the “quality” of the output would still depend on human competence. 

More to come in this series around:

  • Things that AI’s Bad at
  • How can you detect AI content?
  • Why AI fails at writing thought leadership content? (and why you shouldn’t opt for it in the first place)
  • Why AI fails at writing good listicles
  • Why AI is making us mentally obese

Stay tuned! 

Besides the above, what more would you like to know? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. 

Post-Pandemic Sales and Marketing Plan for Companies with niche offerings in emerging areas like Blockchain, AI, IoT, etc.

Post-Pandemic Sales and Marketing Plan

COVID has changed everything – especially the way B2B sales happen. 

For small and mid-sized technology companies, it has become harder to become visible to a highly specific target audience. 

  • Face-to-face meetings with the exact stakeholders are not possible 
  • It is difficult to establish the utility, relevance, and importance of your product/ service 
  • It is also tough to demonstrate to decision-makers the true value of the solutions offered. 

You know there is business out there, but you are missing those opportunities.

What’s the solution? 

Leverage the power of content and social media marketing.  


Create regular content that demonstrates your expertise in the niche area. It will help you approach people who are looking for similar services. Content about tech trends and industry news with your unique viewpoints can amplify your experience and knowledge in the field. Create highly focused landing pages for specific industry verticals or functional areas will help channel your content towards the correct clientele. Create case studies and testimonials to demonstrate your expertise and impact 

Social Media:

Use social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter to be seen as a trusted source of information in your niche. Share useful news and the latest industry updates. 

Personal Brand of your CXO:

Leverage your CXOs’ social channels to amplify the messaging of the company through authoritative, strong opinions or even contrarian stands.

The likely impact of your content and social media marketing efforts –

You can expect several benefits through these efforts, such as – 

  • Increased visibility in the niche can help you occupy the high ground 
  • Your target audience will become more aware of potential use cases and your ability to address those.
  • You will be able to create greater confidence in the minds of your prospects about your expertise which could lead to quicker conversions and establish a good reputation.

How COVID has changed the Sales and Marketing for the Partners of Oracle, ServiceNow, SAP, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Atlassian

B2B Sales

Most large events were canceled in 2020. Conferences like Knowledge of ServiceNow, Oracle OpenWorld, Atlassian Summit, and others moved to the virtual mode. 

If you are a partner of ServiceNow, Oracle, Microsoft, Atlassian, IBM, SAP, or Google, this has posed a big threat. 

  • Your single largest source of new prospects has become highly ineffective.
  • The association of you, as a partner, with the Principal companies is not as visible. 
  • Your buyers don’t have any obvious means to know about the latest solutions by you or your offerings. 

That said, Principal companies are also actively searching for co-marketing opportunities with partners in the form of speakers for webinars, providing funds for marketing, promoting partner content, etc. 

Your aim is now to make yourself visible through such activities and establish a clear connection to the Principal company.

It’s time to up your marketing game – 

We recommend that you take a 3-pronged approach to your online marketing- 


Demonstrate your expertise through high-quality, thought leadership content like whitepapers or eBooks. These will help you inform potential clients about your services and packages in a concise manner, while also helping amplify your brand.

Creating content that strongly associates you with the Principal like blogs on prominent industry use cases, views of latest product updates, etc. will help you stay in the eye of your target audience. 

Social Media:

Use social media to build brand awareness, generate new leads, and build customer relationships. Connect yourself with the Principal to generate credibility in the market and establish you as a service provider. Regular threads from product Principal content in your social media updates will also help you stay relevant and in the spotlight. 

Personal Brand of your CXO:

The network and visibility of your CXOs can also be leveraged to offer strategic support to the direction taken by the product Principal.

The likely impact of your marketing efforts –

You can expect several benefits through these efforts.

  • Benefit from the strength and the visibility of Principal’s brand while establishing a close association with it. 
  • The leads that the product Principal will send your way will in turn highlight your expertise and showcase you as a viable option in your industry.
  • As CXOs build and cement their relationship with the Principal, demonstrating their expertise and thought leadership, invites for speaking engagements will come their way. These opportunities are a good chance to reach the Principal’s existing client base and spread awareness about your own services.

Are you ready to make the most of 2021?

Content Marketing Funnel – What You Need to Know

Content Marketing Funnel

Content marketing is essential.

  • 70% of people would rather get information about a company or learn something from an article or blog post rather than from a traditional advertisement. (Source)
  • 71% of a B2B buyers review a blog during their buying journey. (Source)
  • 95% of buyers prefer working with a vendor who provides them with sufficient information to help them navigate each stage of the buying process.
  • (Source)
  • 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

  1. What type of content should we create?
  2. How often should we create blogs?
  3. Is social media content essential? 
  4. What can we expect as the outcome?
  5. 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 

Content Marketing Funnel for B2B technology companies

If you are looking for assistance to create any and all these forms of content – let’s connect. Our team of content specialists can create extremely high-quality content with minimal or no inputs from you! 

Getting Started – B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies In 2021

B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies

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

Content Marketing 

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.

Social Selling 

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.

Case Studies

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. 

Landing Pages 

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.

Actionable B2B Marketing Trends 2021 for Mid-sized Technology Companies

B2B Marketing Trends 2021

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

High-value content

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.