Landing new business has long centered on finding effective ways to get a product or service in front of potential customers. In our digital-centric world, much of that effort has moved online, displacing old-school outbound techniques, such as cold calling and direct mail. Instead, B2B marketing departments are increasingly using digital methods to generate and nurture leads. These methods work best in companion with truly excellent content.
Savvy B2B marketers know high-quality content generates new leads and engages prospects. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, content marketing creates a return on investment. Having experienced these positive results, B2B companies are increasingly investing in content marketing. Current research shows that B2B businesses are allocating 29 percent of their marketing budgets to content generation, and nearly 40 percent plan to increase their spending over the next year.
Of course, this investment in content marketing means the landscape is more competitive than ever. An occasional, haphazard blog post isn’t enough to help with search engine optimization, and marketing email that lacks substance typically lands in the trash. To reap the rewards of content marketing, B2B companies need a smart, well-executed content strategy.
Generating website traffic with quality content
Great content drives visitors to your website, which, of course, is the first step to earning leads. Whether visitors arrive at your website via Google search, LinkedIn post or e-newsletter, it’s essentially thanks to your content. The resulting equation is simple: The better your content, the more people will see your website.
Follow these tips for effective content:
- Be authoritative. Your colleagues are experts in their fields, so harness that knowledge and share it with confidence.
- Make it useful. Your audience is more apt to connect with your content if you provide a concrete takeaway. Think along the lines of an industry-specific how-to or a graphic explaining a relevant emerging technology.
- Talk about them. No one is dying to go online and read your sales pitch. Show you understand your customers’ challenges and give them something that will make them better at what they do.
Converting website traffic with ‘gated’ content
At least 90 percent of your website visitors likely leave your site without converting. That is, they don’t submit a contact form, they don’t call – they don’t even sign up for your newsletter. It doesn’t mean your company falls short of their current or future needs. It’s simply because they aren’t ready for sales conversations. Eventually, these one- or two-time website visitors will be ready to talk, but will it be with you? If you missed the chance to engage with them and to create trust and familiarity via content, then perhaps not – especially if your competitors beat you to it.
Offering “gated” content is one way to initiate a relationship with website visitors. With this method, people must provide information to access your high-quality, useful content. Perhaps it’s an email address in exchange for a white paper or a few details about their companies in exchange for webinar access. The value of the content determines how much information you can ask for, and that information turns formerly anonymous website visitors into “soft leads” you can then nurture in your pipeline.
Nurturing leads with content marketing
Compared to most B2C sales pipelines, your B2B pipeline is likely a long one. It can take months or even a year to build relationships with prospects before they’ll buy your products and services. When you invest in content marketing, you’re investing in one of the most effective sales support tools available.
Nurturing your leads with targeted content ensures your business stays foremost among your target audience, and great content distributed to your leads via email and social networks establishes you as knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Sales teams love having this consistent “bank” of content to draw from. They can share it with their prospects and professional networks, and they can use it to customize a pitch deck or submit a relevant case study that seals the deal.
Content marketing produces results for B2B companies
The Content Marketing Institute’s annual research shows that among B2B companies that have invested in content marketing, the vast majority are successful and can prove it by tracking their campaigns. Standing out among a sea of mediocre content can be challenging, but the good news is that most of the content you’re competing against is just that – mediocre. By creating and sharing exceptional, thoughtful content, B2B companies can generate traffic and leads, nurturing prospects and augmenting sales teams.
How does your company use content marketing? Let us know in the comments below.