Technology is rapidly changing the way businesses work, and the B2B industry is no exception. Market leaders are constantly finding new ways to communicate and engage with their customers.
Historically, companies in the B2B space who have succeeded in marketing have been quick to adapt to new methods as part of their strategy to engage new customers. And nothing over the past few years has been as big as content marketing.
Content marketing is versatile and includes an array of useful tactics and formats that allow you to make a connection with your target audience at any stage of the buying process. Education, awareness, information seeking, consideration – any of these phases can be supported with an insightful deep-dive into specific key issues affecting your vertical.
However, any content marketer will know that no matter what the sector or technology, the market is crowded. Huge amounts of content are released monthly by vendors, users, analysts and experts focusing on different areas of the value chain.
So, what tactics perform better than others? Is it a question of being in the right place at the right time? Did they provide information that was far more useful? Were they more creative? The answer, of course, is that it is a combination of factors. Here are seven content formats that ensure that your content stands out from the crowd.
1. Email Marketing
A HubSpot study reports that 40% of B2B marketers find email marketing to be the most critical component of success in marketing.
And emails are not simply good for making sales, but something even more valuable: nurturing leads.
The world has shifted from mass batch email marketing to making more specific, customer-focused email newsletters that address specific needs of specific leads.
For example, newsletters are a great tactic for long-term nurture campaigns, effective in keeping you on the radar screen of your prospect and building a steady relationship. Many B2B marketers use newsletters in some format or the other so you’ll be in good company!
Webinars are one of the most commonly used lead magnets, allowing companies to present issues, technical details and other aspects in-depth and discuss them with a large group of opt-in attendees. As webinars take place in an interactive environment, you can build rapport and trust with your audiences, taking the time to answer any questions.
To make webinars most effective, it is important to approach them from the perspective and pain points of your audience and base your introduction and content on this. It’s surprising how many webinars are completely focused on their own technologies and miss this nuance. Rather than just company experts, try and include customers or industry experts in your panel. This provides your audiences with a rounded perspective.
And don’t forget to extend your webinar’s lifespan by recording it, and promote it via social media channels, websites and outbound marketing.
While video’s popularity in B2C is unquestioned, it is interesting to see that video is becoming more and more important among tech B2B buyers too. They aren’t all serious engineers who want to look at pages of text and graphics! A 2019 report on Video in Business by Vidyard found that: businesses in high tech and professional services industries are publishing the highest volumes of new videos on a monthly basis.
For B2B buyers especially, it was found that video was the most useful format of content, with 53% of respondents in a recent study of tech b2B buyers stating this was the case. 61% of respondents stated that the content they were most likely to share would be video: another point that leads us to conclude that video is undoubtedly the direction that content marketing is headed in.
4. Research Reports & Case Studies
The video was followed closely by case studies as the most popular form of content. 50% of respondents stated that case studies were the most effective content assets in influencing their purchase decision.
Content marketers need to find ways to incorporate case study development into their marketing mix in order to make the best use of this powerful conversion tool. Case studies are notoriously the hardest piece of content to develop, requiring both internal and external approvals, plus the involvement of multiple teams that range from sales to legal.
Here are a few ways that marketers can ensure that case studies do happen.
- Include case studies within the sales contract
- Incentivize salespeople who persuade clients to agree to case studies
- Explain to clients what is in it for them and the details of the value exchange
- Make it a win-win for clients by giving them exposure
- 5. Keep it short and compelling. Focus on results
Content isn’t always about the written word. Do you know the old cliché about one picture being worth a thousand words? Well, it’s a cliché because it’s true!
Anyone who has run a successful content marketing campaign, especially in tech or B2B space will tell you that the visual is key. Regardless of who your audience actually is, they’re likely not wanting to read streams and streams of content – not many people do. They want an easy to digest, a compelling, and informative snippet of information coupled with an eye-catching graphic.
A good infographic can often convey complex messages in simple ways to the audience, speaking volumes on its own.
And it would be a great mistake to start thinking that infographics are anything new, or an innovative and clever part of the marketer’s arsenal. In fact, communicating visually has been a part of the communicator’s arsenal since Neanderthals started painting on cave walls! Over the years, some simply stunning infographics have transformed the way people think, behave, and use certain products: and here is a list of our absolute favorites.
6. White papers
A white paper is one of the most used lead magnets in tech B2B because of its versatility: it can be used in any part of the purchase cycle. Its longer format allows you to address important topics in depth and your audiences with authoritative, in-depth content on how they can address key pain points.
To make your white papers most effective, choose your topic carefully: there is no limit to the topics and approaches you can take. Pick themes or pain points that your leads would be concerned about at their particular stage of the purchase cycle.
Resist the temptation to say everything about everything. Pick just one theme present both problem and solution in an accessible, easy-to-read way. Ensure you include basics like introductions, table of contents, and a call to action.
An effective whitepaper also needs to incorporate data and expert opinion to add credibility. Add links to outside content that readers can refer to in order to find out about specific topics in depth.
7. Articles and Blogs
The importance of having a blog on your website is no secret, but people often underestimate how important blogs are in the B2B industry.
According to Elise Dopson, B2B websites that post over 16 blogs a month have almost four times the amount of traffic as those who don’t.
Not to mention, multiple studies have shown that most viewers like to engage with blog content before making a big purchase decision.
Consistent blog posts are a great way to increase your ROI right away.
Customers are more intelligent and sophisticated now, and your blog needs to reflect that. You can’t rely on hard sell tactics alone. Winning content is usually educational content — provide value, and customers will want to buy into what you’re selling.
Ask yourself: what kind of content does your audience want? What are their fears, their concerns, their frequently asked questions during the sales process? How can you establish your authority in your particular niche?
Always match your sales content with particular stages in the customer journey, targeting a specific persona. Remain consistent and systematic and you will see the results in terms of SEO rankings.
Organizing all this content
So, if you’re committed to content marketing in all its wonderful formats you need somewhere for it all to sit.
This is where a resource center or content hub can come in very handy.
Branded content marketing hubs have become a must-have for the savvy B2B tech content marketer in recent years. And for good reason; not only do they bring all your content together in one easy-to-organize place, but they also make it easier for your customers to find and engage with that content.
Keep this in mind when you start your b2b content marketing strategy and you’ll be in the best position from the start. The important thing to remember is to keep an eye on what type of content is driving you sales or leads, don’t forget about those all-important KPIs.