When B2B software company MailShake decided to dive into content marketing, they knew they wanted to go big.
Not in a 2,000-word ebook kind of way, but with a deeply researched, start to finish guide that covered literally everything marketers need to know about cold emailing.
The final project took more than six months to complete and topped out at more than 7,000 words.
It is a mind-blowing, Bill Nye, The Science Guy 🌎kind of content. And, the results, though; those are truly impressive.
According to the MailShake team, “It’s safe to say the Cold Email Outreach Guide has generated mid-six-figures in revenue — so far.”
That’s 590+ paying customers out of 50,000+ website visits.
MailShake’s success isn’t unusual, many B2B brands find that content marketing is highly effective at increasing lead generation.
Content still reigns as king. 👑
Yet many companies struggle to implement successful content marketing strategies.
The Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 trends reported 78 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing. And, the most successful have a well-documented strategy.
The problem is content marketing advice aimed at B2C brands doesn’t always work for B2B brands.
Brands like Sephora can create viral makeup tutorials, or Chiptole can create engaging content like their ubiquitous film The Scarecrow.
Despite the promising numbers, B2B companies face unique challenges when it comes to getting creative with content marketing for lead generation.
And, let’s be honest, B2B content marketing is often a snooze fest.
Are you letting the challenges of being a B2B company hold you back from creating epic, share-worthy content?
Let’s talk about the challenges you face and how to build content that keeps people scrolling.
Ahead, you’ll find content marketing ideas that are changing the B2B game. Keep reading, it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting.
The unique challenges B2B companies face in content marketing
Content marketing has never been more effective.
Take this webinar, for example. HubSpot partnered with Hotjar to host a customer feedback webinar.
This webinar generated +5,400 Facebook shares.
Now, with recent changes to Google’s search algorithm, content remains supreme.
Low quality, thin, or spun content has been out for years.
But, Google’s 2019 core updates focused on raising the bar on content even higher with a focus on increasing the visibility of original, insightful, and comprehensive content.
In addition to the SEO benefits, Content Marketing Institutes’ 2018 B2B research found that 58 percent of B2B brands use content marketing to nurture leads.
Content marketing can be used to effectively qualify leads and lead them through the sales funnel with useful, engaging content.
Atlantech Online, Inc., a communications provider in the DC area, increase sales qualified leads by 355 percent just by simply updating their pricing page and dynamic CTAs to blogs.
When it comes to content marketing, however, B2B companies are not natural-born content creators.
For starters, raise your hand if you’ve ever had to convince upper management of the value of content marketing?🙋♀️
Or, been asked to increase ROI by 50 percent in the first month? 🙋♀️
And, do this all as a one person show with no budget or resources? 🙋♀️
These are all challenges I’ve faced building B2B content. Content doesn’t have hard-and-fast rules like PPC or SEO.
Content marketing feels less like a sure thing, making it a hard sell.
It’s like the first time Colonel Sanders tried to sell his “Kentucky Fried Chicken” recipe. He failed to sell it 1,000 times. It wasn’t a sure thing.
But, it paid off. There are now over 21,000 KFC outlets in more than 130 countries.
So, don’t panic about what content to create just yet, because I swept the internet and rounded up five genius B2B content marketing strategies.
5 strategies to improve your B2B content marketing strategy 🚀
Now that you have a better grasp of the challenges your B2B company faces when creating a content marketing strategy for lead generation.
It isn’t easy.
Let me walk you through five strategies every B2B marketer can use to improve their content marketing strategy.
1. Deliver more qualified leads with in-depth content
Many B2B companies use content marketing only at the top of the funnel.
At this stage, content is focused on raising brand awareness and sharing general industry news.
This is a mistake.
Adopting a top-of-the-funnel-only strategy can make it difficult to track the success of your content, and also sorely limits the potential of really good content.
Instead, use content marketing to focus on qualifying leads. Then, your sales team can focus more of their energy on prospects that are further down your funnel.
What does this look like in practice?
A short blog post, generally, is going to be top-of-the-funnel content.
It should address topics important to your audience, but it doesn’t indicate a high level of interest in your specific company.
Consider this: A prospect reads this blog that has over 18,000 backlinks on First Round.
They could be Elon Musk fans, looking for investors, or a number of other things.
This content is aimed at people who are just beginning the marketing lifecycle.
But, you want to offer more in-depth content, like Express Writer’s blog post on how to find keywords.
This type of long-form content attracts customers closer to making a purchase decision.
Julia McCoy, founder of Express Writers, shared that she posts one, in-depth blog post like the article above, per week.
This long-form blog post averages 1,072 monthly leads and 150 monthly sales. Not bad for a $1,600 investment, right?
2. Build trust through detailed case studies
Think about the last item you purchased — what made you pull the trigger?
If you are like 92 percent of B2B consumers, your decision was based on an online review.
That’s why I started using Calendly. When I saw Victoria Fine, previous Director of Strategy at Slate Magazine, was using Calendly, I immediately signed up. #creeping👀
Content like case studies, can help B2B companies showcase other brands that have successfully used your solution.
Neil Patel uses case studies in his emails to see an increase in his deal closing ratio by 70 percent.
And, WikiJobs increased purchases by 34 percent with testimonials.
Case studies serve as social proof, which is important at a time where 84 percent of buyers being the sales process with a referral.
Pipedrive, a sales CRM, uses this strategy with detailed case studies.
Like this one, about how Mixergy was able to streamline its interview process and increase sales by creating a consistent approach.
The case study includes a Q&A and a short video.
They also focus on the challenges the business faces, which gives other customers an idea of what Pipedrive can do for them.
And it worked, with prospects who watched the video deciding that Pipedrive was just what they were looking for.
To create more effective B2B case studies, aim to address specific customer pain points and use a data-driven approach.
It is much easier to convince an executive to buy into new software by saying “This can help us close 45 percent more sales.” versus “I think this will help us increase sales.”
3. Help them do their jobs
Above all else, B2B content marketing needs to be useful.
While B2C content can be educational or humorous, your audience is on the job and needs to sell your solution to the people they work with.
The most effective way to generate highly qualified leads through content marketing is to solve a problem to make work easier for them.
Start by researching your audience, what positions they hold, and common problems they face.
Keep these factors in mind by building a strong B2B buyer persona, and applying it to every type of content you create.
For example, when Ciox Health, a health information management company, wanted to launch into a new market.
They launched a six-part content series designed with important messages, including an informative listicle, checklist, and a video.
The content gave legal firms the information they needed to understand how to streamline the process of getting medical records.
As a result of this campaign, they reached 1,884 potential prospects, saw a 42.8 percent open rate, and 14.5 percent CTR rate.
4. Go beyond written content
When it comes to content, the default format is often written. Blogs and white papers tend to rule the day.
However, 51 percent of marketing professionals worldwide say video content offers the highest ROI.
And, according to the Aberdeen Group, marketers who create video content earn an average of 66 percent more leads per year.
Why? Reading does not indicate a high level of interest.
Reading a blog on how to analyze my social media data only takes a few minutes; the investment is low and so, often, is the level of interest.
And while you can track stats like downloads, page visits, and time on page, there is no real way to tell if written content was consumed.
Video and webinar content, however, indicate a higher level of interest. It requires a longer time commitment, and it is easier to track how much of a video someone watches.
Which makes video leads more valuable.
Gordian, a construction tech company, uses video to drive $6 million in revenue.
You can then use a CRM to follow up with prospects who finish a video, or further qualify leads by gating longer video content or playbacks.
5. Deliver the right content at the right time
So, you’ve created awesome content and it is getting traffic, but that traffic isn’t ready to lay down their hard-earned dollars for your product or service.
It might not be your content but rather when you deliver that content.
If you aren’t delivering the right content based on where your audience is in the funnel, they aren’t going to convert.
Think about it this way— when you meet someone new, you don’t immediately give them a big hug and treat them like your best friend, right? (Well, most of us don’t anyway.)
No, you shake their hand, make small talk, and get to know them over time.
The same applies to content marketing.
So, what’s the solution when you are taking the content marketing relationship too fast?
Create a segmented content marketing strategy with different goals for different content.
For example, Slidebean invested $70,000 in content marketing, mainly for Google Ads, and saw a $200,000 ROI.
Slidebean created a mix of content for brand awareness, such as short videos or blog posts, and then utilized that content to capture leads.
Content marketing often gets a bad rap in the B2B sector.
The truth is, the key to success is all about defining your target audience and making their lives easier in some way.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 90 percent of top-performing B2B companies stay focused on their audiences’ informational needs.
For some companies, that might be about tutorials and online courses, while others may find that sharing industry trends is helpful.
No matter what your B2B content marketing strategy is, make sure to put your audiences’ needs first and test to uncover new strategies as you go.
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