You understand that companies are increasingly expected to publish valuable content to establish a relationship with end consumers. You can probably recollect a recent piece of content or social media post from a consumer brand you that caught your attention. Unfortunately, many B2B companies are unwilling to make the investment in content marketing, or are unsure where to begin. Here’s why investing in content marketing is important for B2B companies.
Just a few short years ago, most B2B buyers were researching and making purchase decisions via paper catalogs, fax machines, and landline phones. The environment has changed rapidly, as decision makers across the world are increasingly taking their business online. While they’re perusing your site or making important purchasing decisions, they often have their social media account open in another tab and are listening to their favorite podcast all the same time. You may think that the expectations around content marketing are lower for B2B brands, but this is no longer the case. The blending of our personal and business lives digitally has led to higher expectations around content, personalization, and user experience online in the B2B sphere.
B2B selling is still more complex than B2C, where a price is generally fixed, quantities are low, regulation is nonexistent, taxes are straightforward, and shipping is easy. B2B transactions feature varying prices, and terms are often settled after a back-and-forth round of negotiations. This makes connecting to your customers even more important. The stakes are higher, and potential customers will need to develop a relationship with your brand before committing. Simply put, content helps you gain credibility, and credibility is a necessity for selling B2B.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step. You know you need content – but what to publish? Sure, you can upload anything and call it “content.” But for it to really move the needle on your marketing KPI dashboard, it must be tied into a larger marketing strategy with focused goals. Your content marketing plan should be documented, so the strategy can be evaluated holistically. Forrester has outlined a simple framework for establishing a content plan and measuring success.
Content is the best way to build brand awareness, because an investment is content is also an investment in SEO. Organic (non-paid) search is the number one channel customers use to find information on a product, brand, or business problem online. Gone are the days in which companies could manipulate search engine ranking algorithms through keyword stuffing. Today search engines are smarter, and they reward companies who are driving high engagement (more on that below) and return visitation.
Targeted, custom content not only strengthens the relationship between a brand and its customer, it also allows a brand to generate leads. Extremely valuable content can be gated as to force a lead generation upon each download. It’s important to consistently gauge the success of your content to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Web analytics data (search traffic, return visitation) allow you to evaluate which content is bring more visitors to your site, while engagement metrics (time on page, pages per session, bounce rate) can help you measure which content is keeping your visitors on-site once they arrive. Conversion rates will help you understand which content is generating leads, or driving visitors to take a desired action.
Explore what these brands are doing – it may inspire ways for you to turn potential customers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into a community of loyal brand advocates.