Content marketing is where it all started with Canny.
By creating valuable, high quality content we were able to attract a loyal customer base and ultimately build a business.
When we speak to clients and ask how they found out about our services the answer tends to be the same – the Canny blog.
We’re committed to providing our clients with the answers they need to grow their business whether it’s something about branding, web, or design. We want to be the agency customers turn to when they are unsure.
As such, we’re passionate about content and understand first hand how valuable it is to your business. It’s one of the most effective ways of not only attracting new customers, but also keeping them.
In the world of B2B marketing, content is the answer.
By providing businesses with content and resources they can rely on, you’re building up a sense of trust and encouraging them to engage in your services.
And what’s more, high quality content will continue generating leads for years to come creating a consistent flow of customers.
Content really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Sounds too good to be true? Let’s explore deeper into why content marketing is the answer to your B2B lead generation.
How Content Marketing Works
Content marketing is a strategic approach which involves business creating and distributing valuable content to attract a relevant audience.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive profitable customer action – without being overtly salesly.
As consumers, we’re becoming a lot more savvy. This principle remains the same whether it’s B2B marketing or B2C marketing.
In fact, 30% of people now use an ad blocker as they don’t want to be bombarded with companies trying to make a hard sell. This means marketers need to think of a more strategic approach when it comes to engaging their customer base.
Say hello to content marketing.
By talking to customers rather than selling to them, you are creating a connection rather than pushing a particular product. You are understanding what your consumers want, and providing information which fulfills that demand.
There are various types of content that businesses should take advantage of to engage customers. Common content marketing includes blogs, podcasts, newsletters, infographics, case studies, videos, ebooks, and whitepapers.
Content is a fantastic lead capture tool as customers can exchange their contact details for a whitepaper or downloadable e-book. Once you have the email addresses you can make further connections such as sending them your newsletter and reminding them about your services.
In B2B marketing, there is likely to be a longer and more complicated sales purchase funnel that could take weeks or even months to complete.
As a result, you need to nurture these prospects by serving them with information that is relevant and useful. The more you understand your customers, the more you can tailor your content to suit. This helps ‘warm them up’ and encourages them to complete the desired action.
Why B2B Needs Content Marketing
Before investing in a business, there is a complex user journey whereby people conduct their research, look at competitors, and weigh up several different factors before committing to buying a particular service.
This is particularly the case in B2B marketing as customers are usually making large value orders and investing in long term partnerships. Furthermore, they will not be the only person involved in the decision making process so they want to be 100% sure they are making the right choice.
The services they buy aren’t throwaway consumables but have the potential to affect the entire company. Unlike B2C marketing, they are not making decisions for themselves, but rather on behalf of the organisation where they work. This means these types of buyers need complete confidence that they are working with the right provider.
Let’s take a look at some of the other reasons why B2B companies need content marketing.
Adds Authority to Your Brand
To build authority in your industry, you need to communicate with your audience. You need to engage them and provide them with answers.
You need to demonstrate that you know exactly what you’re talking about and position yourself as the go-to business for all of their needs.
Your audience shouldn’t be going onto your website, not finding what they need, and then bouncing back to Google. This increases the likelihood that they will find one of your competitors and invest in them instead.
So how do you engage customers and keep them on your website?
By creating content of course!
The type of content will vary a lot depending on your business. It’s about creating content that is useful and beneficial to your audience. It should fulfil their needs and make them think ‘hey, these guys really know what they’re talking about!’
As a result, this gives them confidence that you are the company they should choose to spend their money on. Regardless of what industry you’re in, whether it’s tech, food, or a manufacturing service, the goal is the same.
Your content adds authority to your brand and makes people choose you over a company offering something very similar. Building authority in the B2B space is crucial as decision makers will have to justify their purchasing decisions to senior executives. Therefore, they need to be confident that your company can deliver.
There’s a whole range of ways you can create valuable content including e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, downloadable templates, infographics, and videos – just to name a few.
Provides a Solution to Your Audience
Your content should solve a problem for your audience.
Once you’ve solved their problem, they will keep coming back for more. They know that you’re the company they can rely on as you’ve proven you really know your stuff.
By creating informative and helpful content, it helps convert your leads into customers. However, it’s important you don’t use content as an obvious sales technique. It shouldn’t be focussed on promoting your product or service and should never come across as salesly.
It’s blatantly obvious when you’re being sold to.
Customers will automatically switch off if they know you’re pushing your product as they want useful information that helps them make a decision.
Sure, you can tie in your product offering if it fits the purpose of the content piece, but make sure it’s natural. The entire aim is to educate your audience by telling them how to do something or exploring a subject which is of particular interest to them.
Instead of directly persuading customers to buy your product, the content will position you as the solution to their needs. As a result, customers are more likely to invest and use your services again.
Optimised Content Helps SEO
If you’re creating great content then it needs to be discoverable.
It needs to be seen by your audience who will then click on your website and engage in your offering.
Search Engine Optimisation, always known as SEO, is the way to do this. By understanding SEO best practices you can make sure your content ranks highly on Google and is seen by the right people. You need to impress Google and prove to the search engine that your content deserves to be there.
Let’s be honest, how often do you search past the first page of results?
Probably never, and that’s because users rely on Google serving them the very best answers to their search query in the top 10 results list. By creating targeted, optimised content you can ensure that you win a place on that golden first page and increase traffic to your website.
Research has shown that businesses who post regular blog content have on average, 434% more pages indexed by search engines that those who don’t. Indexing essentially means that Google has found your content and can serve it to people looking for specific search queries. Furthermore, when new content is added it will be discovered more quickly meaning businesses will enjoy more traffic to their website. The more content you post on your website, the more pages will be indexed.
Furthermore, producing regular content is key, as it gives people a reason to stay and explore what you have to offer. By internally linking your pages it creates a good network of navigation by directing users to other relevant web pages. Google likes internal linking as it makes it easier for it to understand and crawl your website.
How to Develop a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
To be successful with your content marketing, you need to have a solid strategy in place.
This gives you a sense of direction and ensures you have all bases covered.
It’s an easy trap to fall into to assume you just need to create more content. Don’t even get me started on organisations who create content for contents sake. If there isn’t a purpose and strategy behind it, then essentially it’s just floating words.
And no business wants to waste their precious time on something that doesn’t increase revenue and provide results.
So with that said, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of a content marketing strategy.
Identify Your Customer Persona
You can’t create strategic content without knowing you’re targeting. Otherwise you’re just hoping for the best which is very risky.
Creating your ideal customer persona gives you the opportunity to explore who you want your customer to be. This includes their age range, job title, income, hobbies, location, likes, and dislikes, and their favourite brands.
Essentially, it’s helping you to build up a picture of your desired customer before you spend time and energy on your marketing. You can then align your content with your customer persona to ensure it is relevant and tailored to their needs.
For example, if your target market is elderly people, you will speak to them differently in contrast to how you would speak to children. The tone of voice and language you use relies heavily on understanding your customers and making sure it is relatable.
Your customers need to feel understood and connected to your content.
Customer personas are based on the analysis and research of real customers as this allows you to visualise them much clearer. If you haven’t started creating your customer persona yet, then what are you waiting for?
Set Goals and Objectives
Content for content’s sake is absolutely pointless.
Any company can publish some blogs on their website, whack a few images on, and hope it does the job.
Unfortunately this blind approach to content marketing is a waste of your time and resources.
Make sure you understand the purpose of your content. What are you trying to achieve? Why have you chosen this type of marketing? What is the end goal?
In most cases, the purpose of creating content is to:
- Rank higher on search engines
- Drive more organic traffic to the website
- Raise brand awareness
- Raise brand visibility
- Earn more links
- Drive engagement on social media
Once you’ve identified your objectives, you can start creating content that meets these objectives and fulfills your goals.
Every company will be different but for the purpose of this blog we’ll stick to lead generation. You need to consider how your content is going to attract more leads, and ultimately turn these leads into customers.
Understand Your Sales Funnel
As we’ve discussed, the sales funnel for B2B marketing is often long winded and complicated. There are various stages to a buyer’s journey before they eventually invest and spend money.
Below is an example of a simple sales funnel.
Unfortunately it’s rarely this simple for marketers!
This is where sales and marketing need to come together to understand their consumer and effectively target them.
Depending on which stage of the funnel a consumer is at, they will need to be served different types of content. The whole premise behind this is to encourage them to move further down the funnel and complete the desired action by giving them more information.
However, it’s important to give them information which is relevant to their stage of buying. For example, in the ‘discovery’ infographics and videos are mostly likely to engage your audience initially.
Moving down to the ‘consideration’ stage, this is where your blog posts, ebooks, and white papers take precedence. These long form pieces of content reaffirm your position as an expert and educate your audience.
For the ‘purchasing’ stage, it’s time to serve up some real, evidence based resources that are going to prove the worth of your offering. Content types include case studies, client testimonials, and free trials.
Work closely with your sales team to effectively understand your own sales funnel first.
Consider Different Types of Content
We’re a huge advocate of blogging at Canny.
Like I said in the intro, the Canny blog is where it all started.
By creating quality content we’ve been able to partner with some fantastic businesses across a whole host of industries.
One of the first things we advise new clients is to create a blog. I genuinely believe this is key for every business as it provides a crucial space to talk about subjects which are important to your audience.
A blog is a lot more than just words.
It positions you as a leader in your field, enables you to rank for core topics relating to your field, and drives more organic traffic to your website.
As well as blogs, you should also explore other types of content to diversify your offering and make your content more exciting. Different content formats include ebooks, whitepapers, videos, infographics, news articles, and newsletters.
The more content you provide the better, and by offering different types of content you are engaging a wider audience. Make sure you try different formats to work out which blend works best for your business.
How to Execute a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
So now you know you’ve got your content, it’s time to tell people about it.
You need to understand how to execute your B2B content marketing strategy to make creating your content worthwhile.
Let’s take a look.
In the world of B2B marketing, you can’t ignore LinkedIn.
With almost 740 million members and over 55 million registered companies there is huge potential for your business on this platform.
It is the primary social media platform for B2B businesses and it’s essential that you use it to your advantage.
You can share insights, videos, blogs, images, whitepapers, articles, and much, much more. You can also reach out to other companies and like/ comment on their posts as well as sharing them to your own network to create a line of communication.
This helps you build up your network and gets you seen by other companies operating in a similar space.
LinkedIn also gives your brand a face, and a personality.
You can share company updates, new hires, and internal vlogs as it gives other businesses an insight into who you are. People work with people, and this platform is a fantastic tool for making those important connections.
Paid promotion involves paying for any media space or placement to target a specific audience.
Although content marketing is a fantastic way of obtaining organic traffic to your website, you could be missing a trick if you don’t leverage paid promotion.
It gives you the opportunity to promote your content to new audiences by taking advantage of ads on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google. You can also target very specific audiences with your advertising to ensure it is seen by the right people.
Furthermore, it’s a great way to see whether or not your content is working and to ensure your message is resonating with your desired audience. You can also reach customers who have never heard of your brand or business before by boosting your content in their newsfeeds.
You can also take advantage of Reddit to get your content in front of your target audience. This platform offers promoted posts and a sponsored link to a thread on the platform which can be placed on the Reddit home page or within a specific subreddit.
The amount of times your sponsored thread is viewed depends on your budget and impressions/frequency limit. It’s very important to note that, while this is a paid placement and the nature of Reddit is upvotes and downvotes, your paid placement will remain at the top of the intended page, regardless of how many downvotes it gets. This is great for increasing brand visibility.
If it’s worth spending the investment and time into creating a piece of content, then it’s worth promoting.
There’s no denying that emails are a great B2B content marketing tactic.
By sending engaging emails to your customer base, you can remind them about different offers, discounts, upcoming product launches, and interesting news pieces.
However, before being able to fully take advantage of email marketing as a promotional tool, you first need to build up your list. Without this, you won’t have anyone to send your winning emails to!
To build your list, you should consider the following:
- Include a newsletter signup box within your content to encourage people to sign up while they are browsing your website
- Display a sign-up box on all pages of your website to capture your audience regardless of what page they are on
- Utilise content assets such as downloadable templates, ebooks, and whitepapers to obtain email addresses
- Encourage subscribers to share and forward your emails by including buttons such as ‘Email to a friend’
- Create unique content as by being engaging and informative existing subscribers are more likely to natural forward this to a colleague
- Use social media to promote a free giveaway that requires users to provide their contact information before they can enter
- Use LinkedIn to post snippets of your newsletter, informing users that by signing up they get access to all of the content
- Add an opt-in link on your employees signature as hyperlinked email signs offs can take people to a landing page where they can sign up to your mailing list
These are just a few of the ways you can expand your email list and get the most out of your email marketing efforts!
Above all, it always goes back to the quality of your content.
If you are creating quality content that people look forward to receiving, then they are more likely to keep coming back for more.
This is the core part of your strategy.
Content should be created with the purpose of appearing high in the search engine results pages (SERPS) as this is how it gets seen by your audience.
They’re not going to sift through pages of search results just to find you. Instead your content needs to find them, and needs to answer their search query better than anyone else. Better than your competition.
When your content ranks high for specific search queries, it sends targeted traffic to your website. This increases the likelihood that these prospects will turn into customers as you have served them relevant, useful content that meets their needs.
To make sure you’re appearing high in the SERPS, you need to carry out keyword research to identify keywords and topics that your audience cares about. It’s absolutely pointless to create content for content’s sake if it’s not designed with your end user in mind.
B2B Lead Generation: Why Content Marketing is The Answer
If you’re not engaging in content marketing, then you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
In the world of B2B marketing, businesses buy from businesses that they trust. Because these buyers are spending someone else’s money, they need to be 100% confident that they can rely on their chosen supplier.
They need to be sure that they can justify their spending to their big boss as they have a lot of people to answer to. So rather than looking at cheap deals or hot bargains, B2B buyers seek credibility and reliability from the services they choose.
Content marketing is the way to instill this. By understanding what your audience needs, and creating content to suit, you’re positioning your brand as the expert in your field. You’re giving your customers the trust they need before they invest in your offering.
Still have questions about B2B content marketing and lead generation? Then reach out to a friendly member of the Canny team! As a B2B organisation, and one that has built success from content marketing, you can be confident that we understand what your business needs.