While it previously lagged behind B2C applications, B2B content marketing is now a robust and mature method for companies looking to reach new customers. Current studies show that the vast majority of B2B organizations are now utilizing content marketing, and most to significant success.
This is particularly relevant to vendors utilizing indirect-sales channels, because B2B content marketing can serve two purposes. It can be utilized to help drive new buyers to their websites - or those of their sales partners - in addition to being used for recruting new partners. We encourage our own partners, as well as businesses that work with our consulting team, to utilize content marketing to good effect in both aspects.
Based on our own experiences, and our thoughts on best practices in the industry, we have some tips on how to make the most of your own B2B content campaigns for 2017 and beyond.
5 Ways To Give Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy A Boost In 2017
1 – Create A Documented Content Strategy
There is probably no better single way to improve the performance of your content marketing than to have a true content strategy laid out in black and white. This will reduce a lot of uncertainty among your content creators, as well as creating standards to which the marketing efforts will be held. Additionally, in some cases, you may be able to circulate this among your partners to help improve your marketing collaboration efforts.
At a minimum, this document should address:
- Types of content to be produced
- Frequency of production of each content type (ie, daily Tweets, three blogs a week, one video a month, and soforth)
- Defined audiences, along with buyer personas describing them
- Tone and public persona being presented (ie, serious, funny, authoritative, etc)
- Overall goals for the content marketing expressed in achievable terms
- Benchmarks and standards for success
Be aware that content marketing trends and methods tend to change frequently. Plan on revisiting this document once or twice a year, and comparing it against then-current best practices to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date.
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2 – Focus On Niche Target Markets
One of the most common mistakes content marketers make today is being too broad in their targeting. Early content marketing, when the technique was first being developed, tended to aim for extremely broad audiences. Now, increasingly, the most success comes from having very narrow targets which are considered to be “best fits” for your products/services.
There are several reasons for this:
- Most commonplace keywords have been locked up by the market leaders in those industries.
- Buyers are increasingly using more precise terminology when searching for solutions.
- Buyers are also increasingly wary of “one size fits all” style products, looking instead for either customizable solutions or options with very specific feature sets. And they’ll do more research to find such products.
- Google is becoming increasingly focused on personalized results, and will be filtering websites invisibly based on their own profiles of each user. Overly-broad materials will be screened in favor of more targeted websites.
All this points to a real need for content marketers to do a lot of research into their likely buyers, and craft their materials to target them as specifically as possible. Casting a wide net is not likely to be effective.
3 – Focus On Content Quality, Not Quantity
It truly is worth paying extra for good content. The sorts of articles you’re likely to get from bargain-basement 1-cent-a-word article mills might be better than no content at all, but that’s about it. To get content which engages viewers, receives inbound links, or is shared on social media, it must be of high quality and focused on providing real value to its viewers.
In the grand scheme, it’s better to focus on quality over quantity, if you must make the choice.
4 – YouTube Is The Next Frontier
Right now, if you really want to be noticed, you've got to have a presence on YouTube. Videos are increasingly relied upon by buyers at all levels – even at C-levels – to discover new products as well as be exposed to new ideas. Businesses which can create YouTube channels full of useful informative content will be rewarded with a lot of shares and exposure, often far more than they could get through Google searches cataloging their blogs.
It’s true that videos cost significantly more than standard web content, but on the other hand, a YouTube video costs vastly less than a television ad buy while potentially having a viewership as large or even greater than television.
5 – Track, Measure, and Adjust
The most effective B2B content marketing campaigns are backed by constant tracking, testing, and a willingness to try new things. This is one of the greatest benefits of content marketing in general. Unlike traditional offline ads, web content can be tweaked and tinkered with almost endlessly. Keep experimenting with different headline formats, calls to action, content types, and anything else you can think to try. Use what works going forward, and leave what fails behind.
In short, B2B content marketing is bigger than ever, and it works just as well in indirect sales as any other form of B2B marketing. If you’ve been on the fence about going all-in on content marketing, 2017 should be the year you get serious about it.