Content Marketing Best Practices for B2B Brands//
Defining great content is no easy matter. To some CMOs or execs the definition may be similar to Potter Stewart’s quote: “I know it when you see it.” That sounds cool but we think there are distinct and unique characteristics that define business to business content.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy Drivers: facts, figures and numbers drive credibility and are inherent in great business to business focused content vs. “consumerish” content.
That’s not to say the content has to be nothing but geeky fact driven writing but data and figures help to drive back end conversions with businesses interested in working with your businesses.
Structure, story and presentation still drive conversions; but, other businesses are looking for brands that educate with their content.
The sell cycle for B2B focused brands is much different that consumer facing businesses: a sell cycle for an average B2B brand can be from one month to a year, it’s fraught with peril as “leads” can and do drop out of the sales funnel process.
Built in complexity in the process underscores how important it is for B2B brands to recognize the length of the sales cycle and create and distribute content that informs and engages a “thought leader” in a tiered manner.
It’s building a relationship like consumer facing content, but it’s going to take longer and critical to “drive” engagement with a sales funnel for measurement.
It’s all about relevance too. Your content has to be credible and relevant to the business executive you are targeting.
Scott Monty uses the term “P2P “Relevance - his point is whether your content is consumer or biz targeted it’s about reaching people with content messaging that connects.
Content syndication must be an inherent component to any good B2B focused brand. Whether your targeting a C-Level executive or a small business owner, they are all drowning in content and data. Channel proliferation is an issue as the Gartner image underscores. Throwing up a blog and praying for leads is no longer a viable marketing strategy for any B2B brand (or consumer focused). The sheer popularity of content marketing is driving barriers to entry. Getting heard above the “digital din” requires a well thought out marketing strategy.
All marketing is to a certain extent plagiarism (that’s another post); so, borrow from B2C brands to drive engagement: use snackable content to get the attention of your target market in your content stream. It’s a two screen world and every exec today is running around glued to a smartphone.
Clutter cut through is critical to getting your messaging heard and visual content helps to do this.
Understand the impact of the buying decision on your customers. Consumer buying decisions are at times emotive or brand driven: the price of the purchase is much lower.
But, for B2B brands your customers are frequently making decisions that impact careers, profitability or even sustainability of their business. Accordingly, they want content that educates, answers questions and that builds trust in your brand. Content measurement is a critical component to any B2B content marketing process.
That can range from basic Google Analytics analysis to building a complex sales funnel with real time measurement using MixPanel - big data analysis is rapidly becoming the mantra for any B2B marketing who wants to generate content marketing ROI.
Editorial Calendars are great for a solo marketing exec or teams: they help you or anyone on the team understand process, timeline, platform, content frequency and integrate your content marketing initiatives with your company’s real time processes: PR, Tradeshows, Marketplace Wins.
This link will take you to our public Dropbox folder with a link to a sample Editorial Calendar and for a deeper dive on how to use an Editorial Calendar click here.
Content curation should be part of your marketing strategy: you don’t need to create everything from scratch.
We are not advocating piracy, just underscoring the importance of using guest bloggers as part of your content mix, sharing content that may have been written by a thought leader in your industry or using a video interview that’s chunked up into multiple content initiatives.
Top Tier Marketing Tactics Used by your Peers
- Blog: 76% use blogs to drive content marketing and see 2x increase in traffic and a 5x in leads.
- Articles on web site
- Case Studies and White Papers
- Mobile Apps
- Branded Long Form “evergreen” content
Channel Strategy is an Inherent Component of B2B Content Marketing
How to Curate Content
- Know starting out “content curation” requires hand picking specific types of content and automation is not part of the process in most cases. There is a human element behind all great content curation.
- Twitter is a great example of content curation: your Twitter stream will be comprised of Tweets back to your own blog but 80% of the content is curated using lists, hashtags, keywords and/or targeted Followers.
- “Curation” should combine your own created content with sourced content: some thought leaders don’t differentiate between “aggregated” (which may mean some level of automation) or “sourced” content that is “manually” selected.
- Be picky and selective with content you are sharing that is not original. If your brand is sharing the same content everyone else is you are not going to stand out from the crowd.
- Build a “social voice” - something your business, brand or you as an individual are known for.
- Know your audience (who you are curating for) and serve their interest. Your content curation has to align with your business goals.
- Identify key thought leaders in your industry, top tier pubs, keywords and topics that dovetail with your audience using content curation platforms like Curata, Scoop.it, List.ly, Feedly.com and Trap.it.
Best Practices for B2B Content Marketing
- Start slow: content marketing is a marathon
- Establish benchmark measurements at the outset.
- Keep moving forward: don’t get bogged down in the proverbial trenches.
- Align content marketing with other strategies.
- Involve your entire organization whether it’s five or fifty people: great content ideas come in all shapes and sizes: sales, customer service and/or exec staff.
- Great content marketers “newsjack” and “borrow” from others.
- Mix and match snackable short form (images, under 300 word blog post, videos) with long-form “evergreen” high value content.
- “Chunk” and repurpose content to leverage costs.
I’ve saved all this for further analysis later and to share with others I advise and in our Mastermind group. I wonder how many realize that what is “great” content for one prospect is totally wrong for another? High level people want to know how your solution will impact their bottom line - and do not want to be bothered with the details of how it works. (That is how solutions full of bugs become so popular with corporations.)
Other prospects want to know how your solution actual works and how to apply it to their specific business need. The level of detail they want is totally different. B2B more than even B2C needs to fully understand personas as explained by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. You need more than one type of content and different sales funnels for different types of buyers.
For those who can afford it, what Marketo is doing is the most advanced I’ve seen. Even if you can’t, definitely check out their content to see what is possible.
Gail thanks for the comment. We like Marketo too but a bit pricy for many SMB/SME and other cloud based apps do the same for much less. Persona identification is critical marketing process we work through with all of our clients prior to ever starting content marketing activities. Once this is in place a biz can then target their content for this specific type of buyer, consumer or other biz.