The B2B technology connection disconnection
Content marketing takes time, effort and dedication however given that 57% of potential B2B tech customers have made a decision about your brand before they ever get to a sales person it’s one of the most potent way for B2B companies to market themselves.
Also the number of people researching online is only increasing. Think about this for a minute: By 2020, fully half the workforce will be Millennials.
By definition, Millennials are people who grew up online, and they are the up-and-coming B2B buyers.
Are old-school methods going to speak to them? Nope. Time to pivot.
What’s trending in B2B?
Econsultancy released their B2B Digital Trends report in September 2015 that explores the practical and philosophical shift taking place in business-to- business marketing.
With customers demanding ever more information, it’s up to businesses to step up what they offer, avoiding shallow, easy answers to provide the detailed information your customers are
For perhaps the first time ever, they are demanding to be treated with the same care and consideration given to individual consumers. Forrester’s 2016 Predictions predicts transformation shift in B2B customer engagement strategy and messaging.
Laura Ramos, VP-principal analyst, B2B marketing
at Forrester Research discussed the implications
in an interview with AdAge. She thinks businesses are going to have to go deeper into customer relationships. Upcoming marketing trends encompass not just personalization, but individualization.
As it turns out, B2B buyers are real people, and they shop like real people.
Let’s talk tech
- In the US alone, $1,532 is invested in startups every second. That’s $48.3 billion per year.
- 100 million businesses are launched every year, worldwide. That’s more than three businesses every second.
- 90% of new businesses fail.
- Of the 100 million businesses launched each year, on average, 8 become unicorns.
- No super-unicorns ($100 billion-plus in value) have emerged as yet from the last decade of startups, but none or ten “decacorns” ($10 billion-plus in value) have grown.
Yikes! That’s a crowded field.
How will you stand out?
I’m convinced! Now what?
Creating content in volume is tough. You know how competitive it is out there…and how many competitors you have. If you’re not already a recognizable powerhouse like GE, you have to set yourself apart. Guess what companies are most heavily invested in content? Powerhouse brands. GE produces an unbelievable amount of varied and interesting content. So does Coca-Cola, Nike, and every other familiar name.
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to have a strategy to rival giant brands. In fact, most B2B businesses are so lacking in content that any effort you make will make a difference.
Things are starting to change. B2B is catching on and catching up. And that means great opportunity for you. No worries, you’re not too far behind.
Building your system
People often turn to social media to learn more about a company – what people have to say about them, and how they respond to what people are saying. Use social media to advertise your services of course, but go beyond promotion to share information your followers will find useful. Use it as a customer service platform, and as a listening tool. If you see your customers asking the same questions, it may be time to update your knowledgebase or FAQs page. If you see them asking for a certain feature, it may be time to add it to the development queue. Make it about your customers – not you.
In all of the content you create, regardless of form, focus on being specific. Show empathy – you understand your customers’ needs because you’ve been there before.
Provide solutions. Put a little personality and voice in your content – it’ll stick out from the competition, and keep them from falling asleep at the keyboard.
Calls to action (CTA) guide your readers forward to the next step – what you want them to do. Do you want them to consume more content? Subscribe to your email list? Share the content with coworkers? Call you to make an appointment?
Whatever it is – keep it simple. Don’t bury it at the bottom – lots of people won’t scroll. Remind them of the value you’re offering in trade. Tell them what your webinar or newsletter will do for them.
What kind of content do you use, and when?
In the beginning, blog posts, social media, and infographics get the attention of visitors. Blog posts help solve prospects’ problems, while social media helps distribute them.
Social media loves Infographics. They’re interesting and easy to share, and great ones earn lots of backlinks to your site. You get traffic and linkjuice. Bonus!
Once they’ve started to warm up to you, focus on white papers, web copy, and webinars. Serious buyers narrow their choice of vendors with information. They want specifics about how your product or service will help solve their problems. The best content answers their questions before they think to ask.
White papers outline common problems and show the solutions you offer. Your website provides specific product information, and webinars connect you with your audience so you can show off your expertise. By deepening the information you offer, you build trust and establish your authority.
Your website features come into play in the purchasing stage – make it easy for them to buy. Case studies and video give them the extra push they may need. Case studies show how you’ve helped other customers, and video builds your credibility.
Moving potential customers down the sales funnel
Map your content to your buyer personas and make your communications personal.
You’ll want a buyer persona defined for each stage of the buying journey – so you can craft the content around what that particular group of buyers cares about and wants to know. Speak directly to them and you’ll find they’re much more likely to listen
to what you have to say.
Moving potential customers down the sales funnel
For example, if you’re marketing a cloud-based accounting software, you’ll want to create content aimed at one or more of these:
- Director of Finance: Interested in seeing if there’s a better way to handle their company’s accounting and finance needs.
– Stage: Initial engagement
– Sample Blog Post: 5 Signs You Need New
- Finance Manager: In charge of comparing a number of accounting software solutions.
– Stage: Initial engagement
– Sample Blog Post: 10 Features and Benefits
of ABC Accounting Software
- Chief Financial Officer: Wants to make sure investing in accounting software will be the right investment for their company
– Stage: Conversion
– Sample Blog Post: How Cloud-Based Accounting Software Saves You Time and Money
Keep the important stuff at the top. Web visitors interested in your product have plenty of other things to do besides buy whatever it is you have to offer. Respect their time by making information easy to find.
What are your competitors doing? Look closely at their website content to see how they’re grabbing attention, and find ways to mimic their success while showing how you’re different.
How to promote inbound
That’s where most businesses get bogged down in the deep mud. The content wheels might be spinning, but that truck is going nowhere.
Where to start. Well it’s with the almighty google. Ground Zero is making sure your content is keyword optimised. Potential customers need to be able to find you when they are searching for info on how to address their problems. A poorly thought through keyword plan can undermine great content by rendering it invisible.
Secondly and equally important is putting in an amplification strategy. This can make the boat go A LOT faster and makes everything you do bigger so when it goes, it GOES.
You need to throw highly relevant content that is interesting for your prospects to digest right in their click path (through paid social and digital ads) which means you hit the market from all angles and are not solely reliant on waiting for the almighty Google.
Influencers are valuable assets. They are the people who engage with your brand and want to talk about your products and services. When you launch your content, they are the people you can count on to share, comment, and discuss your ideas.
Industry experts and insiders are also influencers. People who command respect within your industry or have the attention of your potential customers. They may also be your competition. Build relationships with influencers to expand your reach.
Paywalls and landing pages
You may even plan to sell some of your content.
A video tutorial series, for example, might provide a new revenue stream to complement your goods and services.
Either way, your landing page needs focus. The most effective landing pages offer a single concept and limited choices. Tell your customers exactly what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it. When faced with confusing choices, many customers will choose to bounce, leaving your valuable click to go to waste.
How to make sure sales are a result of all your hard work
Develop a workflow. Where does the lead go after it comes into the website? Who follows up and when? How often? What content comes next to nurture
the lead to the conversion? But, it doesn’t stop after the sale.
You’ll want to include content built around maintaining customer loyalty, too. At this stage, you’ll be keeping customers informed and happy, showcasing product updates and relevant information. Use email, webinars and social media content to keep everyone in the loop.
Even if you’re a one-off type business that must continuously generate new customers to stay alive– work to leave a positive impression with your customers so they’ll think of you when someone else they know comes looking for recommendations.
No matter what business you’re in, content is your opportunity to rise above your competition, engage your customers and build loyalty. At every stage of the buying process from new inquiries to repeat sales, content offers ways to connect and strengthen your relationships. Content is your way to control the relationship, and steer it in the direction you want it to go. Gently, with information and care, you win your customers over – as opposed to merely pushing the sale and moving on to the next one.
The Revery is a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne. We are passionate about creating strong, authentic brands and content that reflects a deep understanding of people.
Our goal is to simplify complex value propositions and create ‘human shaped’ marketing to educate buyers, accelerate sales and drive revenue in the technology industry.
To find out how we can help you email email@example.com or visit www.therevery.com.au