B2B Content Marketing

Why Should B2B Organizations Use Content Marketing?

The marketing environment is constantly changing and evolving with the concepts of inbound marketing, and it’s key component content marketing.

Are you a B2B marketing leader struggling to get executive buy-in for inbound and content marketing initiatives?
Have you started doing inbound and content marketing, but the results are less than expected?
Do you need a better way to measure content marketing results?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this post is for you.

Inbound marketing using content marketing is the cost of doing business in the modern era. Organizations that are learning, adapting, and executing content marketing are achieving meaningful results and creating a distinct competitive advantage.

I’ll start by defining content marketing. After the definition I’ll provide you the purpose, importance for a B2B organization, goals, metrics, tools, and how to get started.

Defining Content Marketing

Defining content marketing is an important first step. Using content marketing is a fundamental tactic within your marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing is about providing content that is psychologically and socially significant to the targeted audience.  Also, content marketing provides content that is valuable and gives the customer a reason to seek your content. Content marketing involves the art and science of communicating without selling.

 

B2B Content Marketing

 

Content Marketing involves:

  • Providing valuable content (information)
  • Consistently delivering information/content customers value
  • Meeting a need or solving a problem
  • The creation and sharing of free and valuable content

Content Marketing does not involve:

  • Selling/Pitching products or services
  • Interruption Marketing

The fundamental belief of no selling is critical to the success of content marketing. Content marketing is the content, just like a TV show and when an organization tries to sell it becomes interruption marketing.

Interruption Marketing

Interruption marketing is something forced on a consumer, such as a commercial, a spam email, or direct mail. Consumers view interruption marketing as pushy, and customers fast forward through commercials, throw away direct mail, and delete emails.

Organizations that use a hard sell approach typically associated with interruption marketing activate consumer behaviors to avoid these items. Instead, content marketing seeks to be the content that consumers willingly seek and filter everything else out while consuming your content.

Content marketing is focused on solving problems and providing content that resonates with customers or potential customers driving engagement with the brand. Content marketing is a tactical component of a marketing strategy that involves a continuous process of delivering content through multiple channels and media.

The Purpose of Content Marketing

Content marketing’s purpose is designed to engage and retain customers through the use of content that customers find truly valuable delivered on a consistent basis.

The content marketing approach purpose provides an organization with a method to earn customers loyalty and business providing a deep value proposition.

I like this quote from leading marketing authority and best-selling author Andrew Davis expressing the purpose of content marketing:

content marketing

The purpose of content marketing regarding the relationship with the customer/prospect and the organization:

  • Builds a relationship by earning familiarity and trust
  • Creates positive engagement/sentiment
  • Creates an emotional connection
  • Provides knowledge and value for consumers/prospects
  • Builds brand and product/service awareness
  • Attracts and Converts prospects into brand loyalists

B2B Organizations want to build relationships and at the same time create the trust to stimulate loyalty without selling. The three most important items customers expect from content include:

  • Usefulness
  • Customization based on needs and interest
  • Additional value to their digital/online experience

If your organization does not provide content addressing these needs, customers will seek out your competitors. A critical function of content marketing is ensuring that your brand is in the consumer’s consideration set and assists them to engage in a meaningful manner.

So, you might ask when do the sales come?

Content is a means to an end with the customer/prospect rewarding your organization with their business and loyalty.

 Why B2B Needs Content Marketing

Content marketing has a substantial adoption rate in the B2B marketplace with significant potential to provide bottom line business results. A critical requirement to stay competitive in the current business environment is content marketing.

Content and a content marketing approach are essential elements that support trust and loyalty in the relationship between consumers and brands. A subset of an organization’s marketing strategy should include content marketing.

To optimize the effectiveness of content marketing, it should align with your mission, vision, values, business strategy, and marketing strategy.

If you’re not convinced quite yet, here are some important statistics to consider.

The information listed below should help to give you insight into the relevance, critical nature, and effectiveness of content marketing in the marketplace.

Content Marketing Key Stats:

  • 86% of B2B marketers report their organizations are now using content marketing (Source)
  • Per dollar, content marketing produces roughly three times as many leads. (Source)
  • Content marketing costs less than traditional, outbound marketing. Statistics indicate that content marketing costs 62 percent less per lead than outbound marketing. (Source)
  • Website conversion rate is approximately six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% VS. 0.5%) (Source)
  • 60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about it (Source)
  • On average they spend more than 25% of their budget on this channel (Source)
  • People want to be in control of what information they receive, and it’s evident from these statistics:
    • Eighty-six percent of people skip TV advertisements
    • Forty-four percent of direct mail is never opened
    • Ninety-one percent of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they had previously opted into (Source)

 

 

B2B Organizations That Employ Content Marketing Successfully

Here is a list of some B2B organizations that are successful with using a content marketing approach:

  • Microsoft
  • Cisco Systems
  • John Deere
  • AGCO
  • Maersk
  • SAP

These companies have been able to use an integrated social media strategy effectively, resulting in the achievement of organizational objectives.

Here is a link to a post with 15 B2B case studies involving some of the companies mentioned:

Content Marketing and B2B Goals

Content marketing provides a direct method to communicate an organization’s marketing message (value proposition) to its prospects/customers.

Content marketing:

  • Supports engagement with the brand
  • Provides a relatable story-telling approach
  • Results in engagement that translates to brand loyalty and repeat purchasing
  • Supports meaningful engagement across all channels
  • Addresses customer or prospect needs and challenges
  • Enables the organization to streamline marketing activities
  • Builds mutually beneficial relationships with brand and thought leadership stories
  • Contributes effectively to support the bottom line

The most common goals for organizations employing content marketing include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Customer and prospect engagement
  • Thought leadership
  • Customer acquisition
  • Increase sales

Organizations that utilize a strategic content marketing approach are more effective at reaching the goals listed.

Listed below is a graphic of how content marketing supports business objectives:

 

B2B Content Marketing

Metrics for B2B Content Marketing

 

B2B Content Marketing

Image by Thos Ballantyne

 

According to Jay Baer, the four key content marketing metrics to measure success include:

  • Consumption metrics
  • Sharing metrics
  • Lead metrics
  • Sales metrics

Consumption Metrics

Consumption metrics measure brand awareness and website traffic goals. The most common consumption metrics include:

  • Page views
  • Video views
  • Document views
  • Downloads
  • Social chatter

Sharing Metrics

Sharing metrics impacts content marketing goals; brand awareness and engagement. Sharing metrics measure how your content is shared, the degree of resonance, and how often your content shared by your audience. Some of the most commonly used sharing metrics include:

  • Likes, Shares, Tweets, +1s, and pins
  • Inbound links
  • Forwards

Lead Generation Metrics

Lead generation metrics help to comprehend two goals of lead generation and lead management and nurturing. Lead generation helps an organization answer how often does consumption of content result in a lead? Key lead generation metrics include:

  • Email subscriptions
  • Blog subscriptions
  • Downloads and form completions
  • Blog comments
  • Conversion rates

Sales Metrics

Sales metrics provides insight into sales and growth, which is the ultimate goal of content marketing. Sales metrics reveal how content marketing supports the goals of customer acquisition and sales goals. Key sales metrics include:

  • Offline sales
  • Online sales
  • Manual reporting and anecdotes

Effective Content Media and Tools

A content marketing strategy is most effective in the B2B category using various content tools and delivery media. In any quality strategy defining the target audience, is critical and designing content to reach them is the best approach.

Deciding on the appropriate content that interests the target, establishes credibility, and highlights company strengths and abilities is crucial.

Content choices include:

  • Videos (social media/video sharing sites)
  • eNewsletters
  • Social media content
  • Articles on website
  • Graphics or pictures (blog/social media)
  • In-person events
  • Case Studies
  • White papers (blog/website)
  • Print Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Microsites
  • Presentations (Slideshare)

Selecting the most effective delivery media is critical. In the B2B category, the three most used social media include LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, Facebook, and YouTube. The social media platform choice depends on the choice of content published and the audience.

Pawan Deshpande at Content Marketing Forum has developed an extensive list of content tools that are categorized in the most intuitive manner.

How to Get Started

The critical first step is involving a brand champion at the executive level to be a content marketing champion.

Insight and tools within this post can help gain support and advocacy to obtain a content marketing champion at the highest organization level.

The next step would include educating personnel to help understand marketing and content marketing to:

  • Attain long-term support from senior executives and the C-suite for inbound and content marketing initiatives
  • Overcome rumors, misconceptions, and negative attitudes due to lack of information
  • Facilitate enterprise-wide understanding of inbound and content marketing
  • Help employees understand why the organization is moving in a new marketing direction
  • Assist the organization to change from the traditional push sales mentality to a pull approach

After attaining C-Suite support and educating personnel listed below are the high-level steps to strategize, execute, and continuously improve.

  • Create a content marketing strategy
    • Understand the target market
    • Clarify goals
    • Select the team
    • Select the platform and tools
    • Map and create a 12-month content calendar
  • Produce Content
  • Optimize content for everything
  • Market content across all applicable channels
  • Measure and experiment (continuous improvement)

Conclusion

My hope is that you are now far less intimidated and have the tools and insight to help gain support from the c-suite and buy-in from every area of your organization. Now go ahead and get started including content marketing in your upcoming marketing planning.

 

      

 

 

 

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