How content marketing drives sales in the B2B world
“Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people towards the company and product, where they naturally want to be” (HubSpot, 2018).
A big misconception is that blogs and other forms of digital content marketing are mainly for B2C companies. In fact, from our experience B2B companies are those who gain the most from these communication methods.
Content marketing is all about attracting prospects to your website through valuable content. Not only does it improve a website’s SEO ranking, it’s also a cost-effective way to reach out to new prospects and get them through the sales funnel. But how do you create valuable content?
To help you get started we have created a simple 6-step guide to building a successful content strategy.
Step 1: Set content marketing objectives
First things first, you need to understand what you want to get out of your content marketing.
This might be attracting new leads, increasing cross-selling or simply improving brand awareness.
Your objectives should be SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-based. For examples – to get 100,000 additional organic website visitors in 2019 through our blog. This will be measured via Google Analytics.
Step 2: Create a buyer persona
Content marketing is all about creating content targeting the right audience. Therefore, it is important to determine who your prospective customers are.
If you have different types of customers you may have more than one persona. For example, here are Crush we have three; a local businesswoman running a small business, a sales manager of a medium size company needing marketing help and the marketing manager of a London-based company needing additional marketing support.
We would recommend writing up a profile for your B2B persona, stating details about:
- Their role; the tools they use, their skills, their typical day, their responsibilities, their routine.
- Their goals; what success means to them, and how your company can help them.
- Challenges; their biggest challenges and how they overcome them.
- Their preferences; communication preferences, the social media platforms and digital channels they use, their approach to new technology, what media they read.
- Personal information; age, background and education.
Step 3: Create a topical blog
A blog is the biggest digital opportunity for any company. In fact, according to HubSpot a company who regularly updates their blog generates 55% more website visitors.
A blog not only helps optimize your website’s SEO, it enables you to reach out and communicate with your buyer personas. It’s the key to nurturing prospects into sales.
According to Content+ creating a topical blog allows you to become an authority in a specific niche, giving you a competitive advantage. The more high-quality, high-volume content you produce, the higher authority your company will earn within the industry.
MintLife.com: Mint are a personal finance platform based in the US and Canada. When they started, this was a very competitive landscape. To differentiate themselves they created a thought-leadership blog, MintLife.com, offering advice on ways to save money. The blog established Mint as a reliable source, and readers slowly turned into customers, even advocating Mint on social media. The company is now a market leader in online personal finance.
Step 4: Create the content
Once you know where the content will be going, it’s time to actually write it. Again, the most effective content is content written with the buyer personas’ interests in mind.
Content can come in many forms; blog articles, podcasts, case studies, webinars, eBooks, slideshows, infographics and videos.
A mistake we see way too often is B2B companies focusing on producing technical-heavy content, solely centered around their product. This type of content completely excludes prospects earlier on in the buyer journey. These prospects are not yet ready to read technical-heavy content as they haven’t even realised their need for the product yet. The golden rule is that 80% of content should be focused on the consumer and only 20% on sales growth.
Note: Content doesn’t only need to be written content. In fact, visual content has better conversion rates. We would recommend partnering written content with infographics, eye-catching imagery and videos.
Step 5: Reach out to your persona through third-party channels
Unfortunately, readers are not just going to land on your site. For your inbound content strategy to be effective, you need to reach out to them via third-party sites.
Here are some examples of third-party sites:
- Comparison sites: comparison media will often give companies the option to provide information about their product / service
- Trade media: you could post content via editorials or sponsored media
- Google: maximize the ROI of your content by optimising it for search engines
- Influencers: a current trend is to use industry influencers to promote your product / service
- Social media: either posting updates on your company social media, sponsoring your posts or creating targeted digital adverts
- Guest blogging: a great option to reach out to your persona type might be to be a guest blogger on websites and blogs they might use. Third-party blogs are often looking for contributors so this arrangement could benefit both parties
All content posted on third-party sites should include call-to-actions and links linking readers back to the blog on your website. For examples “click here to read more about this topic” or “sign-up to our blog newsletter for more exclusive content on…”
Step 6: Nurture your readers
Once you have built up a blog following through high-quality, relevant content you want to nurture those readers into leads. This step in itself deserves a whole new strategy but in short, a couple of ways of doing this may be:
Newsletters: Regular blog newsletter are a great conversional tool to keep readers engaged and returning to your blog. They also offer the opportunity to include other call-to-actions leading to your product or service landing pages.
Why not have a pop-up or newsletter sign-up option on your blog, promising something such as an exclusive eBook, or to enter a competition, in return for readers to sign-up.
Landing pages: There is no point creating a whole inbound strategy leading to a website which doesn’t convert. Make sure your landing pages are fully optimized, contain all the relevant information and are easy to use.
We would recommend creating individual landing pages for all your core products, to focus on getting the best conversion rate.
Step 7: Measure your ROI
And finally, make sure you measure your strategy conversion, to ensure you are meeting your set objectives. In a recent survey by CMI 65% of B2B companies said they didn’t measure content marketing ROI. Without metrics, marketers can’t build a business case for content marketing, which is key to expanding resources needed.
Need additional help? At Crush we would love to help you with your content marketing, whether that be creating your content strategy or simply supporting you with content writing. For more information on how we can help contact us here.