You’re probably already using content marketing to generate leads and convert customers for your B2B business. But are you doing it right? How can you create B2B content marketing that really works? A recent report by Aberdeen Services compared the content marketing strategies of “best-in-class” B2B content marketers to those of average content marketers. Here’s what they found.
First, if you’re not already using content marketing for your B2B business, it’s time to start. Some 95 percent of respondents to the survey are either already using or considering using content marketing. However, there are some significant differences between the “average” content marketer and those the report defined as best in class. For one thing, the best-in-class companies enjoy five times higher revenue contribution from their content marketing efforts than their peers do.
How do they do it? Here are five best practices you can adopt from the best-in-class content marketers:
- Focus on quality. The majority of content marketers focus on simply creating enough content. Essentially, they’re stuck on a hamster wheel, feeling so pressured to generate a high volume of content that they have no time to think about its quality. Best-in-class marketers in the survey, in contrast, focus less on the quantity of content they create and more on its quality. Collect data about your target customers, study it and use it to create content that meets the specific needs of your prospects.
- Have a process. While nearly half of marketers in the survey admit they create content in an ad hoc way, just 7 percent of best-in-class marketers do. Instead, these companies have detailed plans for creating content based on their target customers’ personas and the path to purchase. Best-in-class companies also take advantage of technology to lighten the content marketing workload: 60 percent use social media scheduling tools to manage their content, compared to just 35 percent of the average companies.
- Turn customers into advocates. Word-of-mouth is critical in making the B2B sale, so you must make it easy for people who view your content to share it with others. A whopping 80 percent of best-in-class marketers use social sharing buttons to make it easy for readers to share content from email campaigns, for instance. It’s a simple step that makes a big difference — but just 4 percent of average companies do it.
- Gather data using registration forms. The simple registration form is a gold mine of data for best-in-class companies: Three-quarters of them require users to complete registration forms to get content. Requiring registration may not work for every piece of content, but for high-value content such as webinars, e-books or downloadable tools, it makes perfect sense. You can keep your registration form simple to begin with, and then add additional form fields as prospects return to you seeking more content.
- Time it right. By knowing a prospect’s stage in the buying process — whether they’re simply beginning to research a purchase, or making a final decision — your business can serve up the right type of content for that stage. For example, if someone is visiting your website for the first time, suggesting simple content like infographics or blog posts may work best. In the later stages, when you’ve already captured the prospect’s contact information, reach out via email or enable website popups to offer more detailed content such as e-books or research reports.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.