It’s no secret that the lead generation and sales tactics traditional sales tactics that worked like magic about five to ten years ago don’t have the same effect today. Customers have grown increasingly wary of CTA buttons, sign up forms, pop-up boxes and other conversion elements that B2B marketers rely on.
These days, it is imperative for branded content to educate and solve problems for customers even if they’re searching for a solution with purchase intent. Think about it – when you are considering a purchase, how often do you consult Google, and how many different ways do you search?
Truth be told, there is no exact formula set in stone for top-notch B2B content. However, you can certainly try and maximize the reach of your content, for maximum chances of connecting with your audience and gaining brand recall when they’re ready to purchase.
Start with in-depth research
By “in-depth research” I don’t necessarily mean creating content that covers each and every aspect of the topic that you’re writing about. In a B2B context, it is just a matter of enough effort to comprehensively explain a subject and lay out the benefits of your product adequately to your audience.
Therefore, your research should focus more on “knowing yourself.”
- Who is your audience?
- What business goals are you trying to achieve with your content?
- What lead metrics signify the success of the content?
Perhaps the most important ingredient of successful content is relevance. You can have the most well-crafted content in the history of your business, but if it’s directed at the wrong audience, it isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Perhaps the most important ingredient of successful content is relevance. You can have the most well-crafted content in the history of your business, but if it’s directed at the wrong audience, it isn’t doing anyone any favors. Trying to promote graphic design software to a bunch of accountants isn’t going to do much for your ROI.
Lead metrics are all about understanding the intended action for every piece of content that you create. Is it to
- educate the customer and answer burning questions?
- pique interest in your product and get people to request a trial?
- prove you’re better than the competition and induce a spot purchase of your product?
When your content is able to give a clear answer to all these questions and thoroughly explains the subject in question, there’s every chance it will appeal to your targeted audience and not just cast a wide net that leads to a ton of unqualified traffic.
Capitalize on current events
The internet and social media have brought instant access to news to everyone. Everyone includes your customers, and your customers naturally have a variety of interests beyond your niche. News stories are breaking all the time, but these stories aren’t just being consumed at random. Readers are being segmented by their preferences and interests as a result of the content they consume as well as the channels and ways in which they do it.
B2B marketers have a lot to learn from B2C here. The golden rule of newsjacking is that you must move with lightning speed. If you have a long, drawn-out content ideation and creation process (which you may for your research-based articles), then your content is as good as born dead.
The critical points to keep in mind are
- The story you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be “news.” You can select a study, survey, or original report by a reputed institute or organization. For this, you need to know how to track trending topics and hashtags and do some keyword research around semantic terms in your industry. Tools like Google Alerts and Brandwatch will help you here.
- You must be able to relate your product or service to the story you jump on to in some way or the other. Consider carefully how your audience will interpret it, and if there are two opposing views to the matter, which side they might possibly take. Also look at what your competitors or other sources are saying on that topic so that you can decide on how exactly you can approach the issue.
- Try and make your post evergreen by jacking a seasonal or recurring topic – like a sports tournament, tax filing or school reopening – so that you can get repeated leverage every time that event takes place.
Use all resources in promotion
No matter how well-researched, timely and relevant you make your content, it all boils down to how you promote it. The marketing part of content marketing plays the biggest part in determining the reach of the content. There is practically no limit to the digital channels and methods you can use to extend the reach of your content.
Start with SEO. Optimizing (remember: optimizing is not stuffing) your content, titles, headlines and other on-page elements for appropriate keywords and markup is the first step in getting search bots to crawl and index your pages, as well as associate your site with key phrases and terms that are relevant to your field. Build on this by putting in place a white-hat link earning strategy that encourages other sites in your industry to link to your blog posts as well as landing pages wherever contextually applicable.
Another critical aspect of digital promotion is social sharing. Make sure your social media team is constantly engaging your audience and finding new ways to get your content in front of their eyes at the right times. Bring on board brand advocates to show how exactly your product is being used and how it benefits everyday users. Tie up with an industry influencer to extend your reach and trust on platforms that you haven’t leveraged so far.
Best of all, get your employees involved in sharing your content. An effective employee advocacy program is the equivalent of turning your team members into brand ambassadors, by encouraging them (and giving them the right tools) to create conversations around your business on their networks. This not only helps them build their personal brand in the industry; it also builds trust and influence for you among their friends and peers. Increased reach for your content is just a side effect in this process!
Getting your employees involved in sharing your content not only helps the promotion side of things, but can also help your team members establish their own following, credibility, and trust with their audience. Employee advocacy programs can’t be started overnight. If you want them to be successful, you need to research, plan, educate your team, and provide the right platform and tools to get the job done.
Over to you
Regardless of the form, your content takes, the most effective pieces speak to the needs and pains of the target audience. More importantly, it addresses every stage of the sales cycle, from creating brand awareness to building long-lasting customer relationships.
With this in mind, your strategy must involve a reliable analytics and tracking system for gauging user engagement with your content on your website and other channels, as well as the resulting sentiment towards your brand. Without these critical insights, it’s nearly impossible to make educated decisions for future campaigns.