Featuring Janet Rubio, CMO, True Influence
When people are confused, they don’t act.
The key to winning business from B2B prospects is giving them confidence to make their important spending decisions; that confidence comes from content that provides real, value-added learning about the impact your product or service can have on their bottom line.
I was reminded of this core value when our Senior Sales VP, Mike Rogers, shared research from Ascend2 about the types of B2B marketing content that generate the highest conversion rates.
The winner? Downloaded research reports. Forty-six (46%) percent of survey respondents said these generate leads with the highest customer conversion rates. Also on the list were webinars (40 percent) and video / motion graphics (44 percent).
Running a distant last in the survey, at 17 percent, were infographics, which not too long ago were considered a “hot” format for giving B2B prospects a quick glance at key facts and figures.
But, as these stats and other research show, today’s B2B decision-makers want more than a quick glance. They want detailed, high-value information they can use to make the case for a spending decision.
News They Can Use
The whole world is focused on content, from acquisition to conversion to loyalty. Customers are hungry for information. They are asking, “Are you giving me facts I can act on?” Anything that helps clarify the purchase decision, from detailed reports to motion graphics, will build a strong trust relationship between a prospect and your company.
So, it’s no surprise that in 2018, smart B2B Marketers will increase their budgets for creating high-quality, in-depth content.
The data is indisputable. In a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) report, 85 percent of respondents cited the creation of original, high-value content as a prime driver for growth in 2018. And the overwhelming majority of respondents, (89 percent), have some content marketing programs in place. This continues a trend started in 2017, when more than half of marketers planned to increase content marketing spend, according to Econsultancy.
Today, 60 percent of marketers publish a piece of content daily. That’s a lot of information, and while not every Tweet or blog post can have the impact of a carefully sourced research report, every piece of content you put in front of customers needs to have real value.
And that’s a real challenge.
Content Marketing Is a Work in Progress
While respondents to the CMI survey clearly expressed their belief in high-value content marketing, they also said they are still working to perfect their strategy and execution.
Some key findings:
- While most respondents are pursuing content marketing programs, only 41 percent say their organizations are highly committed to content marketing, and most (53 percent), rate their current efforts as only moderately successful.
- Content marketing is not as mature as many other B2B marketing disciplines. Only 28 percent of survey respondents described their content marketing practices as highly mature; however, 42 percent said processes did improve in 2017.
- Most respondents have a small content marketing team, sometimes just one person, to serve the entire organization. As you might expect, about half of the respondents who are not seeing big returns on content marketing say the main reason is that they don’t have enough resources.
- Overall, only 42 percent or marketers say they are truly good at content marketing.
So, there’s work to be done in 2018.
The payoff is clear, and companies that committed early to content marketing are seeing real benefits. Ninety-one percent of organizations that CMI describe as “most successful” are extremely dedicated to content marketing. And, not surprisingly, 88 percent of them measure the ROI on their content marketing efforts.
Here are some tips on how to replicate this success in your own content marketing strategy.
Don’t Go for the Hard Sell or Brand Hype
If your content is over-inflated, or you spend too much time trying to make the hard sell, you are going to turn off the majority of buyers. This extends to a focus on brand promotion, which increasingly rings hollow with B2B prospects. (A piece at Digiday.com notes that even “virtue” or “cause” marketing has worn out its welcome with most consumers.)
Decisions-makers want you to be trustworthy, and they learned a long time ago to not trust used car salesmen.
As Gary Henderson of DigitalMarketing.org advises in a piece at Forbes:
“Stop talking about your brand, and start creating content people want to read, watch or listen to.”
For B2B, I’d add: “Content people can use to make decisions.” Your brand will be defined by how you help drive success for your customers. Make that the focus of your message, and your brand will grow accordingly.
Personalization Is Essential
High-value content is only valuable to prospects who are interested in it. Your team’s investment in compelling research and analysis will yield those high conversion rates, only if you couple it with personalization technologies, across all channels, to ensure that you are reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time.
Track your engaged prospects’ interaction with your content, and follow up with offers for webinars, research and other in-depth content that drive conversions. Current Marketing Automation Systems (MASs), and web publishing tools support personalization not only in outbound e-mails, (which of course are essential), but also in social media, on your site and even in your ordering systems.
Content personalization was cited as a key strategy by more than half the respondents in the CMI survey; it’s an essential component to your overall content marketing plan. Every contact with a customer should be viewed as an opportunity to build trust, by providing value-added learning.
And don’t forget that content downloads and webinars also can be a powerful way to introduce yourself to new prospects, and cut the length of the B2B sales cycle. By adding third-party Intent Signal Monitoring data, like that available in True Influence’s InsightBASE service, your team can segment lists and personalize web site pages to deliver high-value answers to new contacts who are scouring the Internet with important questions.
You Need More Than Just Copywriters
News that B2C companies lie Pepsi and Apple are making huge investments in original content – even going so far as to open their own multimedia studios – grabbed industry headlines. Your B2B content marketing programs probably won’t extend to creating your own entertainment programming for product placement opportunities, but your strategy should span various media and delivery platforms.
Product demonstrations have always resonated with B2B decision-makers, so adding interactive video production skills, either in-house or outsourced, will be key in executing a high-value content marketing strategy. Facebook and other sources report a growing interest in live video feeds, which goes hand-in-hand with smart webinar production, also a must for successful B2B programs.
Other key skillsets you should be looking to cultivate include:
- Graphic design, particularly as it relates to motion graphics;
- Multi-platform social media campaign design and management;
- Audio production; and,
- Behavior tracking and analysis – again, all this content is expensive, but you can easily prove its worth with the proper reporting.
Facts = Trust
Everyone agrees: Content marketing will be key to B2B marketing success in 2018. As your organization increases its commitment to creating high-value content, remember that decision-makers want facts, not fluff. Investing in research, interactive product demos, and other high-value content will build both trust and long-term relationships with your customers.