Content marketing is a strategy of planning, creating, publishing, and sharing digital content. Content strategies should be tailored to the target audience’s needs, to attract new prospects to the website, products, or services.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of the B2B companies surveyed plan to create more content than last year. This article will explain why B2B companies must have a content plan.
Why is B2B content marketing important?
A successful content marketing strategy helps companies increase qualified user traffic to their website and improve lead generation. It is a low-investment solution with an easily calculable positive ROI.
In this article, we will go through the 7 steps that make up a content strategy:
Definition of the objectives
Choice of CMS
Choice of the format
Publication and optimization
Creating, distributing, and sharing content means responding to customers' needs, questions, and pain points. It is also important to align your strategy with new buying habits.
Before the internet, buyers depended entirely on salespeople to keep them informed of the latest industry news. Today, they do their research online and can choose to avoid unwanted advertising, phone calls and emails. In this context, content personalisation is crucial. You need to provide for your target audience's wants and needs.
One of the most effective content marketing tools is the company blog. This is part of the company's website where you can convey your content, using SEO optimisation. Search engines, such as Google, also reward sites that are updated more often.
However, SEO techniques such as keywords, alt-text and meta-tags are not enough. Google's algorithms are focusing more on the user experience. Therefore, content providers must take this new search engine preference into account.
1. Definition of the objectives
Any digital marketing strategy for B2B business development must start by defining objectives. Inbound marketing methodology defines objectives using SMART: specific, measurable, accessible, realistic, and timely.
This article will look at the most crucial factors in finding new business opportunities.
· Social media interactions
· LinkedIn & social selling
· Digital word of mouth
· Site visits and lead generation
· Customer retention
The expression business development can mean different things to different companies and different people.
Forbes states that business development is the creation of long-term value for a company, consisting of customers, markets, and relationships. This explains how marketing, sales, branding and authority in your industry work together to create "long-term value" for a company.
It represents all efforts to increase turnover and improve company reputation by establishing yourself as a leader in your industry. Below we will define the objectives which are summarised in the acronym S.M.A.R.T.
Specific: website visits, leads and clients
Measurable: choose a number
Accessible: understand the market
Realistic: base your choices on the company's turnover targets
Timely: deadline and mid-term plans
Here are the 5 SMART objectives of an inbound marketing campaign for business development:
Social media interactions
Social media interactions will help you understand how useful and interesting your content is from a reader’s perspective. It will also determine whether you are achieving the goal of establishing yourself as a legitimate news source.
Receiving likes, shares, retweets, and comments is the result of useful content marketing. The viral power of social media helps you spread your message beyond your network of followers.
This data is not linked to sales, but it is still measurable and enables you to set business goals. However, the tools for analysis vary in complexity and cost. Platforms, such as Hootsuite, have a free version, while HubSpot integrates all inbound management into a single platform.
LinkedIn as a source of traffic and leads
For business development, a strong presence on social media requires a well-structured LinkedIn profile. This professional networking site helps support the growth of brand awareness and sales.
Despite not involving direct sales, LinkedIn has many benefits that can improve traffic and leads. LinkedIn offers active group participation, a sense of community, solutions to business problems and the ability to share promotional content. This helps stimulate curiosity and interest in users while creating trust in the brand.
This is known as social selling, which typically does not involve salespeople sending emails to unknown users. Instead, it will bring qualified traffic to the company's website, by inviting call-to-actions for visitors to become leads. However, this is not an immediate process like sending offers to all contacts, but it pays off in terms of results.
Site visits and lead generation
We have highlighted the importance of an inbound strategy to support B2B business development. Aligning sales techniques with changing buying habits encourages users to use the internet to find potential suppliers.
A Corporate Executive Board survey confirmed that, on average, B2B buyers complete 57% of the buying cycle before contacting a vendor.
Inbound marketing is based on creating articles that are useful to the prospect at various stages of the process. This involves sharing on the company blog and promoting through social media. Once the user is on the site, they can share their contact information with the company to download free premium content. This includes access to an eBook or participation in an exclusive seminar.
In this case, the first steps to measuring objective success, are the number of site visits and the lead conversion rates.
According to Bain & Company, the cost of acquiring a new customer is equivalent to the cost of keeping seven existing customers. Therefore, customer management and retention cannot be overlooked in business development.
The most obvious SMART objective when it comes to B2B business development is increasing revenue in each period. For this reason, once you have defined your objectives, you need to design the strategy that will help you achieve them. To do so, you will need to analyse regular reports and review what is not working.
2. Buyer persona
To ensure the development of a successful strategy, you must identify the target audience for your content: your buyer persona.
In a 360° marketing strategy, it is crucial to understand whom we are addressing to tailor key messages and actions. A buyer persona is a valuable tool. It represents the ideal customer of a company and is used for online marketing campaigns.
This is particularly important if you lack experience in digital marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can create valuable pieces of content that prospects will want to learn more about. This provides more potential to convert prospects into valuable leads for your business.
Some companies may experience a shift in their target audience. Therefore, identifying a buyer’s persona can also help you target a new niche audience or expand your current market share.
3. Corporate content audit
For those just starting your content marketing strategy, begin by auditing the materials that already exist in your company archives. This includes brochures, catalogues, presentations, and website content that form the foundation of the business.
The first step is to create articles for the site's blog section, with the prospect at the centre of attention. If you want to produce formats other than blog posts, there are many options. This includes premium content which encourages visitors to fill in a form with their details, turning them into a lead.
You can also consider turning an article into a video or infographic. This allows you to use what you already have but deliver it to an audience that prefers to consume visual information.
If you have been following a content marketing plan for some time, don't forget to regularly analyse online performance. Optimising is a key component of inbound because it allows you to understand what is and isn't working in real time and make corrections where necessary. Following this analysis, you can set new monthly and annual targets.
4. Choice of Content Management System
A Content Management System (CMS) is a oftware developed for the collection, management, and distribution of content. CMSs include advanced functions for organising the structure, graphics, content creation and site analytics.
There are CMSs for all styles and needs. Make sure you choose the one that is tailored to the goals and targets of your project. This will influence the selection criteria.
The choice of the right CMS also depends on the objectives you want to achieve with your project. For example, a showcase site should be attractive from a visual point of view. Alternatively, an e-commerce site should focus on ease of navigation and purchasing.
In general, a good Content Management System should:
1. Be easy to use
Familiar software is designed to make life easier for those with basic computer skills. Therefore, a complex CMS would serve little purpose.
Having a Web Content Management system that is simple to understand and use is key to easy content creation. Avoid choosing a CMS that allows you to insert advertising banners and complex comment management systems if it is not required.
2. Be SEO friendly and responsive
Emerging from the SERPs is becoming more complicated. This is partly due to the increasing saturation of the market and the restrictions imposed by Google's algorithm.
In this context, choosing a CMS that allows us to quickly intervene in the SEO of our content becomes essential. Insert meta tags, descriptions and keywords should be quick and easy. As should create a sitemap to help Google index our site.
3. Allow multiple-user management
Many companies prefer to delegate content management to third-party contributors. If this is the case, choose a CMS that allows the creation of multiple users with different access privileges.
WordPress, for example, allows you to create multiple profiles with distinct roles. This allows you to protect your content and the site from potential errors that could compromise its operation.
4. Have a large choice of graphics
Choose a CMS that allows you to change the design of your site using a large gallery of themes. Make sure you can change the background and text colours and customise the pages as much as possible.
You should also be able to embed videos from YouTube or additional content from your social network sites. Being able to change all aspects of the design can make your site more unique to stand out amongst competitors.
5. Have multi-site support
A CMS supporting multi-site functionality allows you to create a network of different web pages within the same installation. The main advantage is that you can control everything from a single dashboard, without going from one tool to another.
All the plugins installed on the main site will be replicated on the rest of the network with a single click. WordPress, for example, is one of the CMSs with this feature. Just activate it during the first installation to start creating your network of websites.
6. Ensure strong security
Security problems related to the Content Management System often result from the incorrect installation of third-party plugins.
Unfortunately, problems can arise from not updating the CMS itself, which makes it susceptible to vulnerabilities. Check the security level before you start working with any tool to protect yourself from potential issues.
5. Support brainstorming
Brainstorming for your B2B content marketing project can help speed up the creative process. Here are some useful online tools:
HubSpot Website Grader: Analyses your site to offer performance improvement tips. Website Grader evaluates your digital channels and gives you a detailed report to help you optimise them. You will discover how to make your site pages more SEO-friendly and find ideas for updated content.
Google Alerts: an effortless way to keep informed with the news you are interested in while looking for writing inspiration.
Feedly: More than just an RSS feed, Feedly integrates Google alert functions for keyword monitoring. The application provides updates from the most well-respected blogs or competitors, as well as videos from subscribed YouTube channels. It also offers the function of sharing and programming on social media, thanks to an integration with Hootsuite.
Google Trends: This free Google tool provides an overview of online searches, used for market analysis and understanding trends. Google trends allow you to discover the search volume of a keyword using geographic locations and precise periods. Or compare different keywords to assess their popularity.
6. Identify the most suitable format
The variety of forms you can give your content is almost limitless. The following are some of the most popular formats used for content marketing in B2B.
Blog articles live on the company websites and supply fresh, up-to-date content. Regular and frequent publications are vital for attracting new traffic to the site.
Each post should contain valuable information that will encourage the user to share the content on social media or other sites. New SEO trends recommend writing between 1000 and 2000 words. However, you can also experiment with different lengths to match your audience's preferences.
The eBook is the best example of premium content that supports lead generation. Potential customers can download it after filling in a form with their data on the landing page. These texts are much longer and more detailed than blog articles and represent the next step in the inbound conversion process.
After reading a post, visitors wanting to know more can leave their contact details to access the eBook for more information. In return, the company offering the premium content has a new lead to nurture and subsequently pass on to salespeople.
An infographic gives a visual perspective to your content and ensures the information can be understood quickly by the user. Images and graphs can attract attention and maintain engagement much longer than text, especially with lots of statistics or numbers.
Exploiting the potential of video is a growing trend in B2B digital marketing. The use of social media content increases communication levels and removes any technological barriers between companies and prospects.
These tools amplify interaction with the target audience and encourage sharing on social network sites. However, they require a lot of time and resources, especially when compared to text for an article. Although, given the popularity of visual marketing, it is worth a try.
Within the video, we can include interviews with satisfied customers, long-standing suppliers, and strategic partners. This gives a face to those who were once in the same situation as the prospects. Real-life accounts can also be offered in the form of podcasts, or quotes, linked to downloadable case studies.
After regularly publishing blog content, it is good to understand how to spread your message on other external sites. Possibilities include:
· Sharing articles on company social media sites, such as LinkedIn
· Reworking the texts by creating new formats and publishing them again on the blog or social networking sites
· Creating new material specifically for external sites, including links back to your pages to give them search engine authority
7. Publication and optimisation
The content marketing plan should go beyond just writing or creating material. Prepare an editorial calendar to track the strategy and maintain a balance between the several types of content and formats. A social calendar for automatic or scheduled content sharing on these channels will also be useful.
Creating a strong content marketing plan with a content calendar requires time, organisation, and creativity. You need to understand how to build the foundations of the strategy and integrate the tools to manage it.
Contact our marketing team at Xplore Digital to boost your content marketing efforts and build a solid strategy.