Selling your product or service within a competitive B2B market field can be difficult, especially when it involves content. After all, your prospective clients are experts in their own industry and care about every detail of their brand.
Your prospective B2B clients likely want to reinvent their current way of running their company to achieve new efficiencies and results. So what factor is it that sways their decision and prompts them to trust your service, vision or product?
They will look to your brand to judge whether it establishes thought leadership and the most visible way they can determine this is through your content.
B2B Content marketing is the process of creating content--blogs, webinars, eBooks, infographics--that seeks to answer your customer’s questions, interests, and problems, rather than to sell them a product straight away.
It has become more and more implemented in the modern business world and is largely used by software as a service (SaaS) and tech companies due to their need to explain their product. Even well-known organizations like Microsoft, Hotjar and many more rely on content marketing to entice prospective clients (real-life scenarios are discussed in this blog!).
So why do they choose a strategy that seemingly doesn’t have the goal of going straight for the sale to get an immediate return on investment?
Because it’s effective! Content marketing has proven its success when it comes to engaging with your audience, maintaining brand awareness, creating sales opportunities and growing your business. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing, yet yields over three times the amount of leads. Furthermore, companies who implement content marketing with best practices may even see a six-fold rise in conversion rates.
Content marketing ensures you don’t make a sale too early, which can come across as presumptuous and ingenuine, and can be detrimental to gaining new clients.
If you work within a B2B environment, you’ll likely find that your sales cycles are longer, making timely leads and sales a priority. Content marketing can help you achieve these objectives, however, it requires a thoughtful and consistent strategy that offers valuable information.
So maximize your content marketing strategy with various forms of content, do research on your target audience to ensure you’re attuned to their problems, and find the channels they look to for content. Once you nail this strategy, you’ll be on your way to seeing these 5 benefits.
Creating content that benefits and interests your audience develops a loyal customer base. It lowers your churn rate––the rate at which customers stop using a company service or subscription––which simultaneously improves your customer lifetime value and increases engagement.
This means that you can retain long-term customer relationships in addition to gaining new ones. The result is ongoing revenue streams from current customers as they renew their subscriptions, utilize your offered content resources (such as templates) and continue viewing your content.
Make sure not to overlook the use of content marketing in fostering customer retention, as just a 5% increase in retention can boost your profits by up to 95%.
Furthermore, by continuing to produce content, you can implement topic cluster strategy and internal links to encourage more views of your older content. This ensures your content continues circulating and remaining relevant.
Content marketing gives you the ability to build a strong company website with pertinent marketing assets to keep your audience engaged and moving down the funnel.
If you are a company with little word of mouth marketing or brand recognition, content can help you achieve this.
Although there’s no guarantee that your content will gain a high amount of views and shares, or trend, you can choose to focus on emerging topics relevant to your industry by leveraging various resources. You can check out competitor content with high traction or even use easily accessible tools, such as Google Trends, for inspiration.
If your content educates, engages and excites your prospects, they will in turn share the information you’ve provided. Just make sure to always include social media share icons within your content where relevant.
When you create value for your customers without always trying to sell them something, you build trust and appear as a knowledgeable resource in the industry.
It’s important to create content that provides your customers this value. For instance, some assets you could offer within your content include:
Many companies also make the rookie mistake of avoiding content topics that their customers may be most interested in, for fear that the topic has a negative connotation. However, these topics often directly answer questions about your product.
Examples of these seemingly taboo topics that you may not want to avoid include:
By creating content that is reader-focused, helpful and unbiased when possible, you establish your credibility.
Customers will be able to see that you know the industry and can explain how your product or service is a solution to their wants and needs. You also stand to gain positive brand associations because you are offering a long-term customer relationship with mutual benefits.
Content marketing brings your prospective customers through the buyer’s journey. To gain perspective on your prospective clients' behavior, it’s important to note that 80% of buyers consult at least 5 pieces of content before making a purchase.
With this strategy, every piece of created content becomes an opportunity to bring clients closer to making a purchase or taking an action. All content should have a specific purpose and guide your leads through a gradual content flow.
For instance, you don’t want all content solely linking to your homepage, which would accomplish little, just in the same way you don’t want all content going in for the immediate sale. Instead you’re attempting to convert your leads into customers with step-by-step content.
The three main stages of this buyer’s journey are as follows:
To generate funnel demand, simply create content that caters to these three main stages. An example of this could be a broad blog or landing page to create awareness, a how-to guide to prompt consideration and finally a social media post offering a warranty to complete the decision stage.
When creating a piece of content with the intention of generating a lead, put a helpful call to action to entice your reader into performing an action if it interests them.
Publishing consistent, relevant content for your audience is much better than posting erratically or unintentionally. That’s why, when creating B2B content, you must integrate the SEO lense to align strategic initiatives and objectives across departments and teams.
Higher search engine rankings are a huge benefit of publishing strategic content that is based on topic cluster strategy and keyword research. By using both broad and specific keywords that your customers search for, you will be able to gain this higher ranking.
These SEO efforts, when done with best practices, can offer the following benefits:
Gaining brand authority encourages sales because customers trust your opinion when you appear as an expert in the industry. This means that prospective customers, current customers, experts, and even competitors come to your content to access and learn information.
Here at Kalungi, we see the results of content marketing daily. For instance, the picture below features our own content marketing results, showing that we were able to improve long-term organic website traffic (as highlighted in green) significantly.
This shows that with best SEO practices and a thoughtful topic cluster strategy, your company won’t need to become a high-powered content machine and put out new blogs every day. Posting by a realistic but consistent schedule is enough to reap the benefits of this marketing strategy.
We’re not alone in our love for content marketing. Many SaaS companies need it to explain challenging industry concepts or demonstrate their technology so customers can see their vision and intention with the software product.
To show how content marketing helps SaaS companies, we’ve outlined 2 cases of this marketing strategy showing incredible results for well-known technology brands.
Microsoft’s usage of content marketing is very publicized. After all, Bill Gates was credited with being one of the first people to use the phrase “Content is king” back in 1996.
Even today, Microsoft is continuously updating their content marketing strategy and there is a visible movement towards in-house content creation to showcase its software.
For instance, when they launched Future Decoded On-Demand Hub, an online site providing access to Microsoft’s yearly flagship conferences, they promoted it with unique content targeted toward business leaders. Examples of included content were speaker reels, customer testimonials, bonus videos, a detailed eBook, and a website with dedicated audience resources to help put their learnings into action.
Though Microsoft does monitor content engagement, it’s interesting to note that they focus specifically on conversion metrics to determine if prospective and current customers are moving down the funnel and performing the desired action. Many of the conversion metrics Microsoft prioritizes relate to pipeline velocity, such as opt-ins and if a piece of content contributed to a subscription or purchase.
This may be relevant to your business if you want to engage in content but care about certain metrics more than others.
Hotjar is a SaaS company that makes heatmaps for company websites. These heatmaps serve to track website user actions when they are visiting the page. This is visually demonstrated by colored areas where users have clicked or run their mouse over.
HotJar uses their content marketing to increase website traffic, and its website successfully receives over 180,000 visitors a month!
What was their strategy for achieving this?
As pictured below, they began by creating a pillar page dedicated to being a go-to resource on the use of heatmaps.
This piece of content is great for multiple reasons. For one, it is split into helpful sections (featured in the left margin), which ensures that readers and Google’s crawlers alike can easily scan through the guide, resulting in a positive reader experience and a high search engine results page ranking.
It secondly features a comprehensive group of keywords related to heatmaps. They do place emphasis on broad keywords because they have a domain authority strong enough to use these more competitive keywords effectively.
However, Hotjar doesn’t neglect long-tail keywords -- and for good reason. Their use of long-tail keywords can serve to explain their product more. For instance, they still create content based on their software versus a competitor’s because their prospective customers are searching long-tail keywords such as “Hotjar vs. software X”.
Long-tail keywords also lead to more frequent conversions and more searches due to the fact that the prospective customer is searching for something specific related to the product rather than an awareness piece.
As you can see from these examples, content marketing doesn’t always just have to be about gaining awareness. These companies even use it as a sales initiative with a strong focus on conversions and long-term growth, which is a tactic that can work for many.
Content marketing is a key marketing strategy that will only get more important as markets become increasingly saturated. Differentiate your company from thousands of others with content that expresses your brand’s purpose, superior features, and lucrative offers to clients.
To learn more about how you can start your content marketing strategy in a fast and effective way, check out our recent blog posts on topic cluster strategy, SEO guidance, the buyer’s journey, and some of our favorite tips and tricks!