No, no, buy that!
Ads have become all-consuming. So all-consuming that it is estimated that the average person sees up to 10,000 ads per day. Sad for both marketers and non-marketers, only about a quarter or less of those ads will be relevant.
Before I dive into why content marketing is so important for B2B brands, let’s talk about what it actually is.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
Let’s break it down. B2B refers to business to business. It is a business model where businesses create products and services for other businesses. Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
The ultimate goal with content marketing is to drive profitable customer action.
How is B2B content marketing different from B2C?
B2B content is more results-driven, and looks for KPI metrics to be achieved such as number of qualified leads.
That’s not to say B2C doesn’t have goals as well, but because you are selling to a buying committee, you need to prove results.
In B2B, there’s usually more than one decision maker. In fact, a complex B2B solution involves 6 to 10 decision makers. Each of them are armed with four or five pieces of individually-sourced content that they need to discuss and come to a decision about.
In contrast, B2C brands have individual customers. They usually don’t need to consult anyone else on whether they want to buy an Amazon product or get an expensive haircut.
Now here’s 6 reasons why content is crucial in your marketing mix.
1. Builds trust: the key element to a sale
People buy from people they trust. Why would anyone ever purchase from someone they are not sure they trust, especially in a business context? 62% of B2B buyers say they engage with three to seven pieces of content before ever speaking to a sales team.
Most B2B buyers will conduct research online before making a purchase. So either you are creating what those buyers are looking for, or you run the risk of your competitors answering their questions instead.
The B2B sales cycle takes much longer than B2B. 75% of B2B companies take an average of at least 4 months to win a new client. Some B2B deals take even longer to close. 46.4% take 7 months or more.
During the long sales cycle, people want to build a relationship with your brand. Whether they realise it or not.
Every time they come across your content, it is one more chance for them to remember you.
Demand Gen Report publishes an annual Content Preferences Survey. The study reported these types of content help move along the buyer’s journey:
- More than two-thirds of buyers (67%) said they engaged with a webinar in the past 12 months. That is a significant increase from last year’s 57%.
- 56% said E-books were valuable for them early on in the buying journey.
- 54% said they reviewed a blog while considering a B2B purchase.
Other types of content that were helpful include:
- Case studies (49%)
- Industry newsletters (41%)
- Research/survey reports came in at 43%
2. Builds trust: Social proof goes a long way
One way to build trust is by demonstrating to your audience that you’re an expert in your industry.
Another important part of building trust is highlighting what your clients say about you.
Robert Caildini is an American psychologist widely regarded as the “Godfather of influence”.
He said, “One means we use to decide what constitutes correct behaviour is to find out what other people think is correct. The greater the number of people who find any idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”
Robert is the man who coined the word “social proof” in his book, Influence: Science and Practice. It refers to the phenomenon of copying other people’s actions when you’re not sure but you assume that others already have it figured out.
92.4% of B2B consumers are more likely to purchase if they read a good review from a trustworthy source.
Social proof can come in a huge variety of different forms.
- Social media: The amount of likes, comments, views, and reshares of your posts.
- Influencers: What thought leaders and influencers are saying about your brand.
- Users: Reviews that naturally come from your clients in the form of UGC (User Generated Content)
- Website Homepage: Include percentages in the testimonials you highlight.
- Case studies: Incorporate statistics, infographics and videos to illustrate your thought process and results.
3. Nobody really looks at Page 2 of Google
Think of the last time your fingers paused before thinking of how to phrase the question that you want answered.
When you hit “enter”, I’m willing to bet that most of the time, you will click on one of the websites on the first page. Content marketing is the backbone of your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
If you are answering your target audience’s questions well, their engagement with your content will contribute to your website’s domain authority.
Doing this will strengthen your search engine rankings, and drive you closer to the most sought after spot on Google rankings.
71% of marketers say that targeting strategic keywords is their top SEO tactic. There are several free tools that will show you exactly what people are searching for the most. Some examples of these tools are: Ahrefs, AnswerthePublic, Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest.
You can also discover the questions and key phrases that relate to your initial keyword. You can then make the decision on which keywords to target depending on your goals.
There is a sweet spot you’ll have to practice when creating content with search engines in mind. Use the keywords that you want your brand to be known for, but write for humans first and foremost.
This type of content gets indexed quickly and ranks better on Google. Higher rankings will of course, lead to more traffic to your website. More website visits means more people considering what you have to offer is for them or not.
4. Creates versatile cross-channel opportunities
Content marketing is most effective when it takes advantage of cross-channel marketing. Cross-channel marketing is a customer-focused digital marketing technique that provides an integrated experience. It combines a user’s experience across all paid, owned, earned media, and digital.
Content marketing needs different homes, both temporary and permanent. When our brains see the same message across marketing channels and contexts, it accelerates:
As I used to teach in my Marketing Bootcamps, and as I still continue to believe: people buy from people.
And not just any people. But people they Know, Like, and Trust. The more people see you on different channels, the more familiar they will be with your brand.
Once a brand becomes familiar, it then becomes something a consumer is comfortable with. You might start enjoying every time the brand name comes into your inbox. Or perhaps you’ll become accustomed to the colours that the brand’s graphics tend to be.
Your B2B brand most likely has at least a couple target audiences (also known as buyer personas). These audiences probably like to spend their time in different places, both digitally and in person.
Each customer journey is also different, and needs to have different types of content to satisfy each step in the sales process.
For example, content for the awareness stage of the B2B buyer’s journey could be an infographic sharing key statistics.
Content for the consideration stage could be a webinar or podcast interviewing thought leaders in your company or sector.
For the decision stage, a case study is worth a thousand words. Ideally, this would be in video form so that your customer can bring their story to life.
However, a well designed, written case study can also tell your story more in-depth than any customer quote can.
5. Cost effective: The repurposing that makes your content affordable
Content marketing (also referred to as inbound marketing) costs 62% less than outbound marketing and can generate six times as many leads.
Content marketing can keep on working for you for much longer than traditional marketing strategies.
Content repurposing (also known as content recycling) can be a way to create more with what you already have– without scrambling for a brand new idea.
This ensures that all the segments of your audience can gain value from your content. Because after all, not everyone has the same content consumption preferences.
Apart from that, your audience isn’t going to catch every single piece of content you release out into the digital world.
There are several different ways to repurpose content. It’s something you should actually be doing with each piece of content in order to get the most out of it.
Some examples are:
- Take an Ebook you’ve written and create an infographic from the key statistics you mentioned.
- Create short video clips of a podcast recording session to promote the upcoming episode on your social media channels.
- Take a quote from a keynote speaker at a live industry event. Use it as the foundation for an email that will celebrate its success and promote future events.
- Tell your Brand’s story from different perspectives.
A common theme from the annual Content Preferences Survey was the desire to be able to share the content.
49% of respondents said they wanted content that tells a strong story that will resonate with their buying committee. 41% wanted content that is jam-packed with shareable stats and hard-hitting insights.
Your brand is not the only one offering your solution. However, your story is unique to you. Stories stick to our minds–and not just the tiny details of the story, but how those stories make you feel.
Marketing is an industry that utilises psychology. The reason a person may purchase from your brand over someone else’s, could be because of the stories you choose to tell.
Tell your audience about the series of events that sparked your company’s inception, and how that initial passion still drives you today. By crafting a compelling brand story, your audience will remember you, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately care about you.
6. Invest in B2B Content Marketing and Build Relationships with your Business Customers
Traditional marketing still has its place for some industries. But for many B2B businesses, content marketing is becoming a top priority. The kind of priority that needed to be done yesterday.
Content marketing is especially important for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and SME businesses. B2B target audiences are often very critical about who they work with.
Your content marketing builds the foundation of the relationship with your consumers. Because without that relationship, chances of a sale are slim.
Your brand started for a reason. Is its story being told clearly through content marketing?
If you’re a B2B business that needs to re-evaluate your content strategy…let’s chat.