Content Marketing is the art of creating, curating and distributing valuable content, combined with the science of measuring its impact on awareness, lead generation and customer acquisition.
Content consists of creating information which is valuable to a pre defined group of buyers or prospective buyers in an easily digestible medium to encourage engagement and keep the company at the top of the minds of this target audience. It can be in the form of whitepapers, infographics, customer testimonials, case studies, videos, etc. and aims at establishing the company as an industry thought leader, at the same time generating leads, and aiding sales and marketing efforts.
Why is it important for your business?
The above flow chart shows the purchase process of B2B buyers. New research from CEB's Marketing Leadership Council shows that B2B buyers are increasingly using digital mediums to gather information which they use to form opinions and make key purchasing decisions. Today's business buyers have no direct contact with suppliers until 57% of the purchase process is complete. This means that for nearly two-third of the purchase process, buyers are out there forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirements lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from the supplier. This poses an acute challenge for marketers, who must now find a way to influence these buyers at all stages of the purchase process, thereby guiding commercial decisions.
Let's take a look at two interesting charts below:
Influencing buyers in the initial phase of the purchase process can be achieved through content marketing. By providing a steady flow of valuable content which answers the key questions prevalent in the mind of the buyer, a marketer can have more of an impact on the buying decisions made by his target audience. Consider consumer behavior today to better understand how and why the speed of content matters. Search and social are the gateways to B2B buyers with 115 billion global searches every month on Google, and 36 billion social shares each month in the United States.
Content is particularly key to connecting with B2B buyers because 57% of B2B buying decisions are made before engaging with a sales person. Also, 70% of the content B2B buyers read or study before making a purchase, they find on their own.
How can you establish a successful Content Marketing Strategy?
As a B2B business newly implementing a Content Marketing Strategy here are a few steps which you can use to reach your business objectives –
- Integrating digital with your overall marketing plan: In many organizations digital tactics are treated like an afterthought in campaign planning. This approach to digital must change for a content marketing plan to have an impact. Core marketing teams must be aware off and help formulate digital strategy. Various aspects of digital (SEO, PPC, Social Media, Blogs, etc.) must also be integrated.
- Use existing data: Past performance data and evidence from external best practices which have worked in the past can be used to formulate an effective content marketing strategy. The best way to generate valuable content is to address queries posed by existing customers. Use all the data available to determine what content will be most useful to a prospective buyer.
- Who should create the content: Responsibility for creation of content must not be a singular one. It should be spread across the company's employees. Only then will the quality of content be maintained. A content piece from each vertical around a central theme will result in high quality content.
- A Content strategy doesn’t mean that you have to create everything: You should make part of your plan to curate content from other sources to add variety and thought leadership to your marketing mix. Chose valuable content, then add your own thoughts and share the curated content with your community. You’ll be helping your customers, while keeping you and your company on top of their minds.
- Chose the type of content that is most effective: A recent survey showed that customer testimonials and case studies have become the most effective mediums for content distribution. This is because they tend to have more of an impact on a customer than traditional whitepapers and articles. Below is a graph which shows the results of the study. B2B marketers should look at exploring visually engaging content, over typical text based content.
- Sharing content with your target audience: Creating quality content is only half the battle. Sharing this content is the next challenge that will determine the success of you content marketing campaign. With the massive growth in Social Media this has become the ideal way to share content. Professional platforms like LinkedIn are a great place to share great content with your target audience. LinkedIn Groups and G+ communities have thousands of members interested in a particular topic. Apart from Social Media, blogs, email marketing, and other digital platforms can be used to share content. Remember to see where your target audience is located and share your content there.
- Measurement and constant evaluation: The final step in your search for a successful content marketing strategy will be to measure the effect that your content is having on your target audience. The primary metric for measurement would be an increase in user engagement and an increase in the number of leads generated through digital channels. Other metrics would be website traffic which can be tracked using Google Analytics and also the most important number – end sales. Based on your analysis of these metrics the content marketing strategy should be constantly evaluated and revised to increase performance.
Case Studies -
IBM has effectively developed and deployed a content marketing strategy targeted at midsize business owners and IT decision makers on IBM’s offerings and increase the brand’s digital authority around topics relevant to the mid-market.
Read more: http://www.portada-online.com/2013/09/23/content-marketing-what-we-mean-when-we-talk-about-content-marketing/#ixzz2h12koGdy
AT&T, put together a new sales team to re-build business relationships with a Fortune 100 company in Atlanta which resulted in an astonishing $47 million in new business through content marketing.
Read more at: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2013/09/18/case-study-how-i-made-47-million-from-my-b2b-blog/#
Are you using content marketing to your advantage or are you still struggling with you b2b marketing initiates. Let us know in the comments section below.