B2B Content Marketing: Should You Write for Humans or Google?

B2B Content Marketing

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? 

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.

Now that you have survived 2020, it’s time to grow in 2021

Post Pandemic Marketing Strategy

2020 changed everything – especially sales and marketing.

The old strategies, tactics, and tricks won’t work now – no matter how hard you try. So, what should you do instead to catch the eye of your target audience?

This “Post-Pandemic Marketing Plan” resource is for you if you are

  • A partner of global product companies like SAP, IBM, ServiceNow, Atlassian, Oracle, etc.
  • A company with a specialized set of service offerings in niche areas like IoT, AI, Blockchain, etc.
  • A company with a ready-to-launch product
  • In a highly competitive space like s/w development and testing, app development, cloud etc.

This resource may highlight what exactly has changed and what could be the “rescue recipe” for you.

http://i-midastouch.com/post-pandemic-marketing-plan/

Double-Down on Content – Types of Content B2B Companies Can Create Now

B2B Content Marketing

“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. 

B2B Companies – Don’t Start with Social Media If….

B2B Companies – Don’t Start with Social Media If….

Let’s see why B2B companies are more and more turning to social media –

Because thought leaders are saying so –

Content marketing is the only marketing left – Seth Godin

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it – Erik Qualman

Because these stats are enough to convince us –

  • 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product (Source)
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source)
  • 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source)

Because traditional sales methods are not working anymore –

Company CEOs and sales heads are seeing that what worked for them a decade ago does not work any longer – cold calls are incredibly ineffective, email campaigns are not getting enough response, and meetings are hard to get. The conversations with the buyers start at a much different note where the buyers are well-informed about what they want, how they want, and from whom do they want it.

Now that you understand the relevance, importance, and need of B2B Social Media, you should just start with it, right? Hire a good team and get started? Well, not really. Let’s take a step back. Instead of looking at “how” to get started, first you need to examine if you are really readyfor B2B Social Media or not.

Don’t start the efforts if –

You are not sold on the idea of social selling

Don’t just go by stats or quotes. Impartially evaluate your business, your industry, your customers, their purchase behaviors, and your sales cycles. See what role content marketing and social media can play in your business growth. Only once you are convinced and have understood the relevance of social media and content for your business, you should start the efforts. Without any specific goals, your efforts will be, well, just efforts. 

You don’t have a good website

A lot depends on your site. Period. And I am not talking about a jazzy and fancy website only. The role of social and content is to bring users to your site. If your site cannot convince them as to why they should do business with you, then no matter how good your social media efforts are, you are not going to get the desired results. Some basic things to look for include – does your site talk to your target audience, does it offer all the relevant information, does it specify the “benefits” your target audience is going to get by working with you, does it establish your expertise in the field, does it offer enough proof (aka case studies/ testimonials) to convince your target audience that it is beneficial for them to work with you? Another important thing to check for is navigation and placement of the right CTAs on the site – these help in keeping the visitors involved and engaged with the site.

You, as the head of the business, can’t commit time to it

Social media is not free. It is differently expensive. Hiring the best team or a great agency is not going to give you the desired impact if you are not involved in it yourself. As the head of the business, provide the required direction, views, and pointers to the team. Regularly evaluate the progress and see if the goals are being met or not and what tweaks are required. Make sure that there are synergies between sales and marketing teams. As someone who has the visibility about various other aspects of the business, it is your responsibility to ensure that the marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business goals.

You don’t have integration of marketing and sales

Gone are the days when marketing and sales teams could work in silos and have different goals and targets. In today’s age of hyper-connectivity, every department within the organization is the marketing department. Especially between marketing and sales, there needs to be a tight integration. Sales teams should leverage the content being created, the marketing team should ideally align the content based on sales campaigns, social media activity should talk about the same things as the sales campaigns, content should help in addressing the common objections which the sales teams are facing, and so on. All these things are not possible unless the marketing and sales teams work together.

You are “trying” it out

Remember that social media and content marketing is a commitment and not a campaign. I would not recommend you starting the efforts if you want to “try it for a few months and continue based on the results”. Social media requires serious commitment, well-defined goals, a thorough action plan, and flawless execution. Unless you are prepared to invest your time, energy, and resources over a long term, you should not venture into it.

Don’t let these factors deter you from starting your efforts. The sole objective of this article is to help you plan better.  It really pains me to see companies cannot leverage this powerful medium simply because they were not well-prepared and do not know how to get started. Right preparation is the key to success. As Abraham Lincoln has famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

9 Things You Will Regret Not Knowing about B2B Social Media

B2B Social Media

Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan.” – Unknown

Well, chances are that you have heard a lot about B2B social media and are convinced that it has moved beyond just a buzzword. You want to start adopting this new way of marketing and sales, but not sure what to expect and what mistakes to avoid.

Through this blog post, I have tried to capture 9 key points which every B2B company must know while planning their social media and content marketing initiatives –

B2B Social Media is different than B2C

The nature of B2B businesses is different – the sales cycles are complex, purchase decisions do not happen in seconds, there are multiple decision makers involved in the sales cycle, and fitment of the solution plays a more important role than emotional connect. Considering all such factors, don’t you agree that the social channel which you visit for connecting with your family and friends is probably not the best channel for educating the buyers about how they can solve a business problem?

As Erik Qualman has very rightly said, “Successful companies in social media function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners than as traditional advertisers.” Bombarding your message to hundreds of thousands of people is not going to help you close a deal.

Not only the distribution channels, but you need to think differently in every aspect when it comes B2B social media – does your audience prefer a serious language or humor can work with them, what is your choice of social channels, which type of content is used by decision markers vis-a-vis the influencers, and how can you integrate your marketing efforts with sales campaigns.

In a nutshell, while B2B social media is still about human-to-human interaction since the goals and intentions are different, the efforts need to be tweaked appropriately.

A team of interns would possibly not be able to pull off your B2B social media efforts

Many companies think that social media is about setting up accounts on popular social channels and posting updates on those. This, according to such companies, is a very simple task and can be done by virtually “anybody” – even as a side project. Don’t mistake it to be just an activity. You need to start looking at it as an investment of valuable time and resources. Don’t have a Twitter or Facebook strategy. Have a social media strategy. As Brian Solis has said, “Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.

B2B social media requires a strong strategy, the right choice of tools, right message, understanding of the customer needs, ability to listen to what they want and what are they looking for, and engagement with the target audience – I would say this is too much to expect from a team of interns without a business acumen.

You can measure the Social Media RoI

If anybody has told you that you cannot measure the RoI with B2B social media, don’t believe them. You definitely can measure the RoI as far as you remember that R stands for “Return” and not only “Revenue”. Social media and content marketing can help you achieve –

  • Increased awareness and visibility in front of your target audience
  • Greater engagement
  • A chance to be front of the digitally-driven, socially-connected, informed, mobile audience
  • Opportunity to engage with your buyers through relevant and authentic conversations
  • Stronger relationships with your target audience
  • Your thought leadership

And all these things will eventually lead to sales, which is your ultimate objective.

You can’t avoid content marketing – content is king

And by content marketing, I do not mean the brochures and corporate presentations. When today’s B2B buyers are looking for information, finding answers to their questions, and doing their research, you need to be in front of them through educative content which helps them in their research – this content can be in the form of blog articles, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, case studies, presentations, etc. Do note the word educative here, because if you try to constantly sell through your content or keep on talking about how great your product or service is, then you aren’t talking about content marketing.

Your website needs to be a strong one to capture the interest of the audience

Thousands of visits to the website are worthless if they don’t take any action. Of course, your products and services have to be relevant and useful for the visitors for them to take any concrete action. However, it is also important to showcase the information in the right format, through right visuals, and with the right CTA (Call-to-Action buttons).  Some of the ways you can capture the interest of the visitors are: having a CTA on popular blogs, a banner image on all pages for unique events like webinars/ podcasts, option to download a whitepaper on relevant pages of the website, links to case studies from the services pages, etc.

B2B social media is not a replacement for your sales engine

That’s right. Social media is the top of the funnel activity in your sales engine. It can create awareness, generate interest, get people interested in your content (blogs, whitepapers, webinars, etc.), and drive traffic to your website. But if you think people will fill out the contact form after reading the blog, then it’s little unlikely to happen – and that’s because B2B sales cycles are complex, there are multiple decision makers involved, the questions of every decision maker and influencer are different, and people don’t make decisions based on impulse. Having said that, based on my personal experience as well as our experience of working with several B2B companies with their social media initiatives, I can confidently say that these things play a huge role in your sales cycle and you must integrate these efforts with your sales efforts. Don’t run these two engines in silos.

Influencer marketing works – even in b2B

People listen to people. People value opinions of the experts in the field. A thought leader talking about the latest trends in the industry holds more weightage than an advertorial. Therefore, it makes a perfect sense to connect with the right thought leaders in your industry, share their thoughts, ask them questions, seek feedback, invite them for guest blogging, or run a webinar series with them. Of course, this is a long shot and it has to be a subtle and consistent effort. The thought leaders need to get convinced that your offerings and ideologies resonate with them.

You need the involvement of your employees

In today’s digital age, the whole company is your marketing department. Marketing departments cannot run in silos. You need involvement of various department stakeholders to make your B2B social media initiatives successful – for example: you need to involve the subject matter experts in your content creation efforts, your need the sales teams to leverage the content created by the marketing teams, you need the external facing employees to amplify the impact of the social promotions, and you need your HR teams to leverage the content and social properties to connect with the right talent.

Executive branding is important

Companies need to ensure that their leadership team is highly visible on social media. Especially for companies where the top leadership is involved in large value sales deals or is the face of the company for talent acquisition, it is important that the leaders depict the right image of themselves in the online world. Publishing thought leading content, being active on B2B focused social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter are some of the ways to be in the eyeline of the right audience. I agree that the CXOs may not be able to spend a humongous amount of time in this activity, but trust me, if you can, it is totally worth it. Have a concrete personal branding strategy (define what you want to be known for), choose the right channels, engage with the right people (don’t forget to respond to the comments), and ensure that you are consistent with your efforts.

Some of these things might appear to be very obvious and basic – the key lies in following these consistently and diligently. Good luck with your efforts!

Top 4 Types of B2B Content You Must Pay Attention To

B2B Content Marketing

As someone who has been in the field of Digital Marketing for the past 15 years, I have seen the evolution of marketing – especially B2B marketing. Content marketing has taken center stage. It is the key element which helps marketers capture the attention of their target audience.

One of the most common questions asked to us is: “I have a killer product. Do I still need to invest in content marketing? Won’t my product sell itself”. Today, with the proliferation of new and emerging technologies, a lot of innovative products are coming in the market every single day. But look at it this way – if your target audience does not find the solution to their problems (aka your product), then they are not going to come to you. In fact, content marketing helps tremendously in concept selling.

So once you are convinced that you do want to start your content marketing efforts, the next obvious question is, what type of content. Contrary to the common belief, blog is just one type of content which you can create.

Let us look at the four most popular types of content which you can benefit from –

Types of B2B Content

Blogs/ Articles

A blog is an easy way to keep your target audience engaged with information and educational content. As we all know, search engines love fresh content and blog is an excellent way to keep your website updated with new content. Remember that your blog should NOT be about your product or service – you have the other pages of the site for that. The blog should have articles which provide answers to the questions of your target audience. It should provide solutions.

B2B Blogging Tips

  • Keep the articles in the range of 800-1000 words
  • Include at least one image in each article
  • Your articles can be technical or non-technical – depending on the needs of your target audience. In any case, again, the articles should provide answers to the questions of your audience.
  • Start with a frequency which you can maintain. There is no point in writing five articles in one month and none for the next 3 months.
  • Involve your subject matter experts in providing the content and have the B2B content writers translate that into a promotable and publishable format.

Whitepapers

Whitepapers are more in-depth and more authoritative reports than blogs. The difference between a blog article and a whitepaper is that a whitepaper addresses a specific business issue in detail. From the organization’s perspective, these are great resources for demonstrating in-depth technical and business knowledge.

B2B Whitepaper Writing Tips

  • You need to involve the subject matter experts at a deeper level for writing a B2B whitepaper – from the content writers perspective, they need to do a more in-depth study of the topic, prepare the outline, and then have a detailed conversation with the SMEs.
  • You can, by all means, include a section in the whitepaper which highlights your expertise in the area. It is a great place to position yourself as an expert in the field but don’t make the complete paper a sales pitch.
  • Be sure to present proofs and references to your claims.
  • Make the whitepapers and eBooks available on request and use these in your lead generation campaigns. This requires you have a landing page for the whitepaper which outlines key benefits of downloading the paper.
  • Feel free to reuse the content in the whitepaper and create more detailed blog posts for each section in the paper.

Infographics

I see that many people are big fans of infographics. Infographics are highly visual in nature and are great for showcasing a complex topic in an easy to comprehend manner. These are great for sharing on social media (although one needs to zoom in to see most of the infographics completely). Infographics are great for creating awareness about your brand and also to drive traffic to your website.

B2B Infographic Tips

  • Infographics are much more complex and well researched than simple graphics. These require a deep understanding of subject matter and design. Don’t attempt adding this as a part of your social strategy unless you have access to both these talents.
  • Finalize the promotion plan before creating an infographic. Most of the social platforms do not render infographics well.
  • You can always reuse the infographics by converting it into a blog or a video.

Webinars

If you haven’t tried webinars as a part of your B2B social media strategy, I would highly recommend you venture into it in the coming year. Since webinars offer a great opportunity to learn from the experts, B2B buyers prefer these during their research phase. Webinars can also help in generating qualified leads and moving the prospects up in the interest ladder.

B2B Webinar Tips

  • The success of the webinar heavily depends on the speaker and the webinar topic. Make sure that you not only have a great topic but also have an equally wonderful, established, expert speaker to deliver the webinar.
  • Have a concrete promotion plan in place – leverage the network of your employees, partners, and customers to promote the webinars.
  • It’s a good idea to give away a whitepaper or eBook on a related topic as a part of the webinar giveaway.
  • Make the webinar recording available post the webinar for those who miss attending it
  • For more tips of making the webinars successful, here is a more detailed post.

What does this mean for your content strategy?

Apart from the content types mentioned above, there are also other types of content which you can create such as case studies, videos, presentations, eBooks, testimonials, emails, social updates etc. When it comes to creating your content strategy and deciding the type of content to create, honestly there is no one answer. It totally depends on who your potential buyers are, on which platforms they are searching for information, and what types of content they are consuming.

If you are just starting with content marketing and social media, possibly blogs are the easiest to start with. Videos, although very impactful, are difficult to produce. Case studies and presentations are something which you will require irrespective of your strategy. Get into Whitepapers and eBooks once you have a strong blogging strategy and execution in place.

Lastly, do remember that just creating content is not enough. You need to promote it too. So when you plan for your content creation efforts, don’t forget to have a strong content promotion plan in place!

25 (Experience-based) B2B Social Media Tips You Can Start Using TODAY

B2B Social Media

Does B2B Social media need any convincing today? Not really.

When I ventured into marketing some 13 years ago, the whole world of B2B marketing was different. Companies relied heavily on brochures and such collateral, a lot of emphasis was given on website and SEO, and a lot of energies were spent in creating solid email marketing programs. Things slowly changed with the advent of social media and content marketing.

Today, the buyers don’t want to see your brochures. The buyer is more educated and well-informed. She is searching for information online and making her own decisions. Only after getting convinced, she approaches the vendors. Yes, social media and content marketing has changed the whole B2B sales scenario. No wonder companies are convinced that they not only have to be on social media but also do it well.

At Midas Touch, the B2B Specialist Social and Digital Marketing Agency, we help customers with their social media and content marketing efforts. Based on my experience of working with several B2B companies in various industry verticals such as technology, manufacturing, and engineering, here are a few tips which I would like to share to ensure that your social media marketing program is successful and delivers on its promise.

Putting these tips in simple lines below – if you need any clarification on any of these, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @radhagiri

  1. Start with a strong content marketing strategy – without a documented strategy; you are preparing yourself for failure.
  2. A good website is a must for deriving true value from social media marketing.
  3. Provide answers to the questions which your target audience might have rather than talking about your expertise and skills. Remember, helpful is new viral.
  4. Focus on education rather than selling – nobody cares about your products and services. Your prospects are looking for solutions to their business problems. Provide those.
  5. Add variety to your content if you want traffic from diverse sources.
  6. Have a strong content promotion plan in place – Remember, “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants”.
  7. Don’t debate on quality vs quantity – the point really is how well you can leverage each piece of content which you create.
  8. Each type of content has a different objective and its use, therefore, is different. Don’t try to force fit.
  9. The world’s most popular social network may not be the best one for your business – identify the social networks which work best for you and your business.
  10. Don’t hesitate to reuse the content – convert your whitepaper into a series of blogs, or a PPT for SlideShare or an infographic. It’s absolutely fine to represent the same content in different formats.
  11. Webinars, podcasts, LinkedIn Groups are your secret weapons of marketing – don’t forget to use them well.
  12. For B2B companies, the personal branding of the top executives plays a key role – after all, people connect with people, isn’t it?
  13. If you are just starting with social media, don’t start with too much which you cannot sustain and at the same time, don’t do too little that it will not show any impact.
  14. B2B content marketing requires some key skills and knowledge – don’t make the mistake of thinking that anybody can do it and don’t have it as a side project.
  15. Have a strong collaboration between teams – marketing, sales, and product teams need to work together to make social media successful.
  16. Don’t forget to leverage offline events on social platforms.
  17. Email marketing works – but requires good planning, relevant message, and right targeting.
  18. LinkedIn is a great professional networking platform – make judicious use of status updates, LinkedIn groups, and LinkedIn company page.
  19. Whitepapers and eBooks are great choices to build an opt-in list and showcase your thought leadership and expertise.
  20. Use your employee network – today, marketing is not a job of only the marketing teams. Encourage your employees to share and spread the word about the company content and events.
  21. Identify and engage with influencers – share their content, ask them feedback and questions, and engage with them.
  22. Constantly monitor the results – see how the efforts are delivering to the set objectives and make tweaks based on the results.
  23. Do social listening – know what people are talking about, what do they care about, what are their problems. Use this information to tweak your social media strategy.
  24. Don’t use social channels for only self promotions. Connect with others, provide value to them, share other people’s content, and genuinely engage with people.
  25. Hire experts who understand social media as well as B2B marketing to handle your social media.