If you're in B2B and you’re not focusing on content marketing, you are falling behind your competition, it's as simple as that. This is 2021, and it is all about being visible and staying relevant online.
On the other hand, if you are producing content regularly, that’s awesome. There’s a good chance you are already ahead of your competitors who aren't doing content marketing or are investing a small amount.
If you want to become #1 in your niche, you need a sound content marketing plan.
Great content leads to more organic traffic, which ultimately leads to more leads that turn into sales.
Without a robust content marketing strategy, even if you do get traffic, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best ROI. You won't be able to determine what brought results and what didn't, which will lead to wasted resources.
The goal for me is to share ideas that will keep your content fresh and engaging and your brand recognisable, as well as help you maximise your efforts.
Let’s get into it!
Strategy #1: Gated and lead magnet content
Lead magnets and gated content are a great way to draw "warmer" prospects straight into your sales funnel. The premise is simple - you create an awesome content piece (usually an ebook) that you know your target audience would love to have. However, instead of giving it to them completely free, you ask for something in return, which is usually their contact information.
Prospects still get the ebook free of charge, as they don't have to pay anything for it. But, you get their email, which will allow you to send them more content in the future, as well as direct offers (we will get to newsletters later).
While it is obvious that collecting emails puts you a step closer to closing sales, customers are getting smarter. Lead magnets do work, but customers are more educated than ever before, especially in the B2B world. It’s all about providing really great value.
Therefore, don't jump straight to sending offers as soon as your lead magnet captures their email. Instead, look at the captured lead as an opportunity for further nurturing and building trust through even more quality content. Later, once they settle and build a relationship with your brand, they will be much more willing to get in touch with your product offering and hopefully continue to work with you long-term.
Strategy #2: Long-form resource articles
Long form content is usually different to your usual standard blog posts.
I typically refer to pages such as these as Pillar Pages.
Pillar pages are simply pages with lots of content on one topic, which then link out to relevant supporting posts. Think of it as one big overall round up of a topic and if you want to explore something more specific on that topic, it links to a relevant article.
So, what do you get from creating Pillar pages or writing long-form articles? You build trust, and you get to showcase your expertise.
Evergreen content that keeps being updated over time is one of the best forms of content that you can produce.
There are many benefits of long-form content, but let's list two primary benefits:
Improved Google Rankings (Better SEO)
Longer articles will naturally have more keywords, even if you don't heavily focus on optimisation. In-depth content provides more information to the readers, which means they are likely to read the article for longer. There’s also an increased chance they will share it with fellow peers or other people in their network.
Also, they will be more likely to come back to the article and re-read it.
Any piece of long-form content should be evergreen. Evergreen simply means it doesn’t go out of date. This will ensure the article will keep getting traffic for a very long time as it remains relevant.
Building Brand Awareness
Longform articles are great for turning readers into prospects as well as attracting new prospects that never heard about your brand before.
They will read your piece of content as they stumble upon it on Google. If they really like it, they might decide to follow your LinkedIn page or to subscribe to your newsletter.
Even if they don't, your brand name will become familiar in their head. The next time they stumble upon something you created, they will remember the awesome content piece you wrote previously. That is when they will be much more likely to buy. Considering how much traffic quality articles will get, you realise why SEO is still relevant.
Remember to create content that helps solve problems for people. Decision makers in your industry such as CMOs, COOs, CEOs, etc will stumble upon your content. They are just as likely to Google their pain points as regular consumers.
Strategy #3: Webinars & webcasts
During COVID-19, webinars, webcasts, online meetings, and remote work became normal fast. It will likely stay like this even after the pandemic is long gone, at least to some extent. For the same reason, webinars & webcasts are showing great results as part of digital marketing strategies which many of the top startups around the world use for their top of funnel and middle of funnel initiatives.
The advantages of webinars are apparent - your team members get to show potential clients what your business is all about. Even better, they do it face-to-face live and it’s scalable. Your potential B2B clients will have an opportunity to ask questions, which will create closer interpersonal relationships. Once they meet people behind your brand in person, they will be much more likely to say yes once you send them an offer.
Another good advantage is that you can record your live webinars and turn them into lead magnets or even potentially automated webinars.
However, webinars and webcasts do have a couple of disadvantages to be wary of. First, you need to prepare for them thoroughly, which takes time. I’ve seen poorly prepared live webinars. It’s not a good look.
Secondly, now everyone is doing webinars. You need to be creative and smart with the topic as well as presentation style for people to turn up in the first place and then also to recommend them to friends.
Strategy #4: LinkedIn organic marketing
For B2B oriented businesses, LinkedIn is a massive opportunity. LinkedIn still has excellent organic reach, which is why posting regularly there will draw a lot of attention. Plus, even though LinkedIn has been rising in popularity for quite some time, the chances are that not all of your competitors are active on it. If that is the case, you have an opportunity to stand out from the rest just by posting regularly.
However, "posting regularly" doesn't only mean just posting on your company's LinkedIn page from time to time. LinkedIn organic marketing should be a team effort - all of your team members and employees should post through their profiles on a regular basis.
Comment on each other's posts and in relevant groups or on popular pages your clientele and competition are following. This will gradually increase your brand visibility within the LinkedIn ecosystem. Before you know it, your posts will become trending, which will mean that thousands of users will start noticing your brand.
When you write posts, include hashtags, and also put pictures and screenshots. Carousel posts work great too.
And one more tip - don't put external links into your posts. Instead, put them in the first comment. Or, publish the post without the link, and then click "edit" and add it later. I’ve often found that organic reach reduces if you include external links in the original post.
Strategy #5: Create interactive content
Creating interactive content such as calculators, checklists, spreadsheets, templates, and similar will show your potential clientele that you really want to provide value and genuinely want to help them.
Having these other formats helps accelerate your authority within your industry.
If you create a super useful spreadsheet or calculator, the chances are that prospects will return to it quite often. Especially if that is something they need to use in their day-to-day work.
Every time they come back to your site to use the spreadsheet, they will see your logo and brand. Hopefully right away or over time, they may even click on a call-to-action button, which invites them to a paid offering.
Even if they don't click your CTA’s or result in a lead, they are likely to recommend the interactive content to their colleagues, which will make your site the go-to place for valuable resources that solve specific problems relating to your niche.
Strategy #6: Content retargeting through PPC & Social ads
Content marketing and paid ads don't seem like they fit together, at least at first glance. Creating content usually aims to draw in organic traffic.
On the other hand, pay-per-click ads work differently, as they target prospects directly when they are browsing the internet for other things. As for Facebook or Instagram Ads, ads are served on user feeds.
So, how does content combine with ads? Through retargeting.
This is where many businesses I find fail to do well and miss out on a big opportunity.
Creating a big piece of content is just the beginning. In fact, most of the other strategies from this article are about creating great pieces of content which we can use for retargeting - videos, articles, webinars, calculators, case studies, free ebooks.
The problem is that it takes so much time to create quality content. Then, many companies just fail to properly promote or distribute to their audiences.
Just posting on social media or sharing on the email newsletter a couple of times simply limits the investment you’ve made.
Most of the time, visitors who may intend to buy or explore more of your product offerings from you simply forget to come back to your site. Maybe they were casually browsing the web or LinkedIn whilst on their daily commute to work and saw one of your posts, which interested them. However, they forget to make a note or put a bookmark, and now the opportunity is lost.
This is where content retargeting shines.
By retargeting those same people who visited your site organically with paid ads, you have an opportunity to "remind them" about their previous intent. It’s now your opportunity to take them on a journey and help nurture them.
Paid ads will spark their interest again, making some of them come back to your site and browse for more. More visits will lead to more engagement and more brand searches, which will all lead to improved brand visibility.
Ultimately, promoting your content through creative remarketing will help increase your chances to convert more prospects into potential customers.
Strategy #7: Content partnerships with relevant brands
Content partnerships are an excellent opportunity to get your name in front of new audiences by joining ranks with like-minded brands. This can work both ways - by reaching out to other brands to post content on their websites or media profiles or by letting them post content on yours.
The idea is simple - each brand already has an established audience base. By reaching out and partnering, you join forces and start sharing audiences.
What makes content partnerships unique is their ability to bring in an audience much faster than ordinary content pieces. As an example, if you let a guest write on your website who already has an established fanbase, they will instantly bring new eyes to your brand. Once they write the post, they are likely to share it multiple times on their social media accounts. Through their self-promotion, you get to promote your brand too.
The same goes if you reach out and arrange a guest appearance on a popular podcast within your industry. You will get the chance to reach a brand new relevant audience and endorsed by the other brand.
As audiences trust the podcast brand host, you credibility is elevated. The sole fact that they invited you to the show will speak for itself to the audience, growing trust in your brand before you even show up. Especially if the podcast already has a good reputation for hosting big names from your industry, then it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
Strategy #8: Create engaging case studies
Case studies are extremely important for B2B companies as they directly illustrate to your potential clients that you have helped businesses similar to theirs and understand their problems/needs.
Case studies are fantastic as they build trust fast and help make the decision-making process easier for prospects considering to engage with your services.
The goal is to make sure they’re engaging and stand out from a design perspective. Remember, every B2B does them.
Raw stats and graphs are important as they showcase the improvements you made for your clients. To really amp up your game, you should look to create case studies that are more article-like or even work as tutorials. That kind of case study will tell the reader how to implement the solution to their own business, solving the problem the same way.
Even if your potential customer can solve their problem by following the solution from the case study, the chances are they will contact you to solve it for them anyway. That's because you will take care of the problem in far less time and with guaranteed results, since you are the expert, as the case study illustrates.
Strategy #9: Curated newsletters
While you can send classic newsletters to your subscribers letting them know about changes within your company, products, and services - again, lots of companies do this and it gets boring.
I want to open emails that provides me value.
Use your newsletter to send curated content your prospects will love consuming. It’s about providing them with helpful resources and information.
This can be anything from older articles from your blog that are still relevant but also from other blogs within your niche. Don't just limit it to articles - links to YouTube videos and tutorials will work wonders too. It’s important to make sure you’re sharing content of high-quality that provides amazing value to your readers.
Don't be afraid to share company vision, goals, ideas, and opinions. A good idea is to interview your team members from time to time on current topics within your industry. That way, your subscribers will get to know your brand better, making you more likeable, leading to easier purchasing decisions later.
Lastly, share exclusive content only to your subscribers. This can be anything from free ebooks or tickets for webinars. These will help make sure your subscribers feel valued. When you notify them, make sure they know it’s exclusive for them. You don’t need to use this strategy often, but from time to time it does help build good rapport.
Strategy #10: Embrace video content marketing
The #1 form and best forms of engagement is video. I tell that to all my B2B clients that video can seriously get cut through if done well.
The benefits of video marketing are obvious - it is much more personal, as you get a chance to stand in front of a camera. It is far more engaging and easier to consume than reading articles, and you can expect much better engagement on your videos than most other types of media.
The great thing about access to amazing platforms and software available to us today, is the creating videos has never been easier to do. Not just easier, but also more cost-effective than ever before.
While it's true that videos look awesome with better production, you don’t have to have a dedicated studio to record videos.
Sometimes, doing recordings on your desktop and phone can suffice. There’s also the advantage that it’s more authentic.
I do suggest though if you have the budget to invest in decent quality gear. For the company I head up growth for, it’s certainly been one of the best investments we’ve made.
The key thing is don't just focus on making short ad-like videos. Instead, opt for how-to videos and tutorials, and if you can, even interviews or series. If you have decent microphones, you can easily turn those into podcast episodes, which are also skyrocketing in popularity.
Strategy #11: Get creative with testimonials
Testimonials are essential for social proof. Once your potential customers see that you did a great job with a current or previous client, they are more likely to engage a dialogue with you.
However, testimonials like "John Smith: They did a great job!" don’t get enough cut through. You need to do better than that. In fact, it comes across lazy. Probably best to not have it at all.
Ask your client to record a video testimonial that will explain the pain points they experienced before they engaged with you and how your has company helped.
Or, if they don't want to record a video, ask them to write a detailed testimonial. Explain to them why it matters to you and give them some directions. Of course, don't just tell them what to write - the readers will sniff out that it's fake.
Also, ask your clients if you can list their full names, positions, and even pictures and company logos. If you put testimonials with more information, you will almost instantaneously buy the trust of potential customers who won't question your credibility.
I hope these strategies will help you get more prospects and stand out above your competition. Of course, you don't have to implement it all at once. Kudos to you if you’ve implemented many of them already. :)
Having a creative approach and investing in quality content marketing yields big results - whether that be written content, interactive content, eBooks or even videos. It’s a big reason why many successful B2B startups (as well as my clients) use it as a key strategy to drive growth.