What is content marketing and how can it improve my B2B sales?
Content marketing is the technique of creating and distributing content to initiate conversations among a target audience with the goal to increase sales.
The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Study shows that B2B sales teams with a content marketing strategy are 600% more effective in reaching their target audience!
What?! Then why aren’t my content marketing efforts going anywhere?? Take a second look at the finding. It doesn’t say that any business with content marketing efforts will succeed. What matters more is if there is a well-planned, content marketing strategy in place.
To develop an effective content marketing strategy for B2B sales, here are three tips I’ve learned from the Content Marketing Institute:
1. Someone Needs to Be in Charge
Most content writers around the world agree on one thing– a group of contributors with diverse backgrounds and expertise is essential for effective content marketing. Interesting, relevant stories come from different ideas and various perspectives. But it seems that many businesses are taking it one step further, a step too far in fact. They’re projecting content they think is relevant and interesting to users without methodically fine-tuning the content or the strategy to continuously meet business objectives and overall marketing strategy.
Every good content marketing strategy needs a leader and a plan. A content marketing team with a leader in charge is 30% more effective in generating content that attracts the target audience. Build a content marketing team with as little structure as you prefer, but make sure there is a good leader who is responsible for directing the themes of the content, the channels to distribute and the measurement of effectiveness.
2. LinkedIn is Greater Than Twitter and Facebook
B2B marketers have spent a lot of time distributing content of all kinds via social media sites. It seems that nowadays if you’re not posting updates on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, you’re not really “content marketing”. The fact is, only one of the social media sites received a positive approval ranking in terms of effectiveness, and that’s LinkedIn (62%). All other social media sites got approval ratings of 30% or even lower. The reason is simple, users of Facebook and Google+ don’t want to see business-related content on their personal social media sites. They are, or at least perceived to be, places where they can interact with friends rather than businesses.
A quick conclusion might be to focus solely on LinkedIn. That’s a reasonable assumption. But B2B marketers might want to think again about this finding. Is focusing only on LinkedIn really what this message is about? Just because other social media sites got lower approval ratings in terms of effectiveness doesn’t mean they’re not good platforms for content marketing. Maybe it’s the fact that so many businesses are posting updates on the other sites, making it difficult for anyone to stand out.
The most important lesson we can learn from this finding is the strategic selection of which channel to distribute content. Who the users are, what they do on social media sites, and what competitors are doing are all issues a B2B marketer should consider.
3. People Still Read the Paper
Are there any other effective distribution channels besides text messages, emails, social media sites and blogs? Content writers are always looking for new channels to reach their audience. I’m going to share with you a channel that almost guarantees that your audience will see the message delivered and more importantly, a channel that few competitors are using. You might have guessed it – it’s good old print distribution.
Only 30% of B2B marketers are using print distribution in their content marketing strategies.
Alas, the age of being digital and going online makes us so blind that we think they are the only choices we have. Text messages, emails, social media sites and blogs are by all means good channels. But the problem is when everything is taking on a fancy digital cloak, the old-fashioned printing channel becomes what is fancy.
A large number of studies have shown that people are still finding gaining information from paper pages more pleasant. So, the old weapons, paper posts, product catalog and newsletters on magazines and newspapers, are still powerful. B2B marketers might want to give print distribution a second thought.
Effective content marketing requires strategy, leadership, and proper distribution channels. I hope you will find these tips useful in developing a solid B2B sales and marketing plan.
Jennifer is part of the content marketing team at Telzio, providing insight and tips on how Telzio can be used to optimize business communications and customer service.