You’ve read the white papers, attended the webinars, and listened to the podcasts. You’ve followed every piece of expert advice, aligning your B2B marketing with the very best practices. People are responding to your marketing, the leads are flowing to your sales team, and conversions are humming along. You’ve tasted success — and now you want more.
You feel like you’re ready to up your game, to take your marketing to another level and ramp up your results even further. Where do you begin? We’ve got five ideas to get you started — advanced tactics that have proven to take B2B marketing results to a whole new level.
1. Brand Your Content
One of the biggest problems with B2B marketing is that, from the audience’s perspective, all brands seem to blend together after a while. The would-be customer researching a problem may engage with content from 10 different companies, each exemplifying the same “trust-me-I’m-an-authority” tone. If your content isn’t helping you stand out from the competition with a strong brand, how much is it really benefiting you?
For an example of the power of branding, think about the millions of how-to books that have been published over the years. Then along came a series called “For Dummies.” The publishers used whimsical icons and an irreverent style to create a strong brand experience, and a sensation was born.
Yes, there’s a big difference between consumer how-to books and B2B thought leadership content, but the same principles apply. Create a strategy for branding your content that incorporates strong, recognizable visuals, a definitive tone that exemplifies your brand personality, and consistent approaches to terminology and phrasing. Whenever your targets see your content, they’ll be reminded that your organization is the thought leader behind it … and when the need for your product or service arises, they’ll remember you.
2. Become Obsessed With Quality
Every minute of every day, terabytes of content are being published online. How are you going to make sure your B2B marketing content stands out? You could try to cover a topic that no one else has thought to publish about … but with so many brands now in the publishing business, the odds of that happening are rare. You could adapt the hottest new technology to jazz up the content experience … but so are your competitors.
In today’s noisy, crowded environment, where there’s nothing new under the sun and innovation is the new normal, the only differentiator that delivers consistently is quality. Many brands — probably including some of your competitors — are hoping to cash in on the promise of content marketing by cranking out as much content as they can, as fast as they can, with quality taking a distant backseat. Their content becomes just a series of additional drops in a sea of mediocrity, and they wonder why they don’t get the results they want.
Devote the time, effort, and resources needed to publish premium-quality content week after week, and your audience will respond. Keep in mind these proven tactics for integrating quality in every asset you produce:
– Choose topics that speak to your target audience’s needs today (see “Personalize Your Content” below).
– Research the topic thoroughly and cite facts from recognized authorities. If you have the time and budget for it, conducting your own original research will deliver exactly the data you want and also help build your thought leadership.
– Hire good writers who can not only communicate facts, but also draw readers into a story and keep them engaged all the way to the end.
– Proofread each piece thoroughly before you publish. You’d be surprised how easy it is for simple typos to slip through unnoticed — typos that can hurt your reputation.
3. Get Interactive
Think about how much text your audience is asked to absorb to every day — emails, documents, text messages, websites, spreadsheets, social media updates, the list goes on and on. Every hour of every day, your targets are interpreting the printed word, and interactive content offers them a much-needed break while also giving them control over their experience — not just reading, but doing.
Here are just a few of the interactive content tactics that B2B marketing teams are leveraging to elevate their results:
– Live Video: Schedule one of your experts to do a live Q&A session on a pressing issue affecting your targets.
– Quizzes and Assessments: Quizzes first came to popularity as a B2C tactic, but more B2B marketers are catching on … and watching their engagement numbers climb.
– Interactive Infographics: Turn a flat infographic into an interactive experience by letting users customize their viewing experience.
– Polls and Surveys: Everyone likes being heard, so give your audience a stage for voicing their opinions with strategically crafted polls and surveys. (As a bonus, you may pick up a few ideas for future content topics.)
– Calculators: Create a tool that lets your targets analyze the impact of a problem or opportunity in terms of money, time, or some other quantifiable factor. (Check out SnapApp’s Interactive Content ROI Calculator for an engaging B2B example.)
4. Leverage Guest Authoring (Both Ways)
In his groundbreaking book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies the six principles of persuasion, one of which is authority. “What the science is telling us,” Cialdini writes, “is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt.”
One way to add authority to your content is to incorporate guest authoring. Invite recognized industry experts to contribute to your blog, ebooks, white papers, and online events. You’ll get the benefit of their name recognition (great for SEO), the attention of their loyal followers, and a unique perspective on your topic to share with your audience.
When your collaboration with this expert is complete, offer to return the favor by offering your own guest authoring services. Offer to have one of your experts contribute a post for their blog, write a chapter for a white paper, or co-present at an upcoming webinar. Guest-authoring gigs will put your brand out there in front of a new audience and create an association between your organization and top-tier expertise in your field.
5. Embrace Personalization
If you’ve ever been at a crowded event and somehow heard your name — or the name of your favorite band or favorite restaurant — being mentioned across the room, you’ve experienced a psychological phenomenon known as selective attention. At any given moment, we are bombarded with sensory inputs, but we only pay attention to a few at a time — the stimuli that resonate with us most strongly.
By personalizing your content, you can stand out from the noise and attract the selective attention of your target audience. Today, personalization goes far beyond using a person’s name in an email subject line. In any given environment, people expect an experience that’s customized to their needs, their interests, and the problems they want to solve. Fortunately, we have a resource that gives us a clue to what they want: intent data.
Intent data allows you to follow your targets’ “digital footprints” and see what they do when they go online — what they search for, which blogs they read, which resources they download. This knowledge helps you incorporate personalization by laser-targeting your content to focus on the topics that resonate with them — topics that attract their selective attention and make them take notice.
Part of the challenge of B2B marketing is the constant need to grow, evolve, and get better at what you do. Technology is constantly changing, and so are audience expectations. The B2B world is a hyper-competitive, ever-shifting environment, and some of the best practices you used to dominate your market a few years ago are all but useless today. If your current strategy is growing your thought leadership and delivering results, it’s time to think ahead. By integrating these five tactics in your approach, you can take today’s results to a whole new level… and get a head start on addressing tomorrow’s challenges.
By integrating these five tactics in your approach, you can take today’s results to a whole new level… and get a head start on addressing tomorrow’s challenges.