B2B businesses can take advantage of many communication efforts to better serve your customers, including ebooks, blog articles, infographics, videos, chatbots, and text marketing. Each one serves a unique purpose, driving prospects through the customer journey with informative content.
To develop an effective content strategy, you first need to have refined messaging guidelines, as these are the base of your content strategy. Specifically, who your audience is and what they need are the basis of this strategy, but with one caveat: you need to identify the segment of your audience who is most likely to convert. The audience segment that is most likely to convert should direct the majority of your content strategy and creation.
By focusing your strategy on the audience segment that is most likely to purchase your services, you are directly serving their needs, rather than wasting time writing content for people who are less likely to spend money on your services. And, it’s likely that any outliers will convert anyway, even if you offer them minimum content based on their unique needs because they still value your services. A good rule of thumb is to create 80% of your content for the audience segment that is highly likely to purchase your services and 20% on content you want to share or on content that will benefit other audience segments.
When developing your content strategy, focus on the intent of that audience segment. Perform your own research on what questions they ask and why they ask them. What are their intentions when they visit your website and your competitors’ websites? The more information and data you can find, the more detailed your strategy will be, which will help you genuinely target your ideal audience with your content marketing efforts.
TYPES OF CONTENT
B2B businesses can use the following content types:
- White papers
- Case studies
- Use studies
- Free assets
These options are typically created and downloaded as a PDF (see Lead Magnets in Email Marketing), which means you can create valuable content that saves your ideal audience time and money, while also allowing your team some creativity.
Ebooks are great pieces of content for your customers when they’re in the awareness stage before they are heavily debating which service to use. This is why ebooks are commonly used as lead magnets, which then flows into your email marketing program, which nurtures the lead. The reason why ebooks are so effective for B2B businesses is that you can educate your prospects on a lot of things concerning your business and services through a focused ebook.
Tip: Ebooks are effective for B2B Services, but so are the creative alternatives (listed in Types of Content). To best serve your audience, try using an ebook and another format for lead magnet variety, and then A/B test their effectiveness.
Remember: Whether you choose a traditional ebook or a creative alternative, make the PDF visually appealing. Your audience will likely appreciate a longer PDF with an on-brand design that complements the content than a shorter PDF of plain text. The best part? You will be delivering the PDF via email, which means you won’t need to print it out. While some leads may print it out, they are more likely to download it to their mobile device so they can read it on the go.
Tip: Try using your lead magnet in an advertising campaign. Many B2B businesses find this approach to be effective for both their lead nurturing and audience targeting programs because this allows both programs to integrate.
Blog articles are also ideal for the awareness stage in the customer’s journey. However, they can also be used to educate new customers and as a customer service tool. Not only do blog articles help improve your SEO and help prospects find your business based on their inquiries, but they can also directly help prospects and customers. The key is to develop content that answers their questions and meets their needs in a consistent and concise manner.
Long-form blog articles generally perform better than shorter blog articles for B2B businesses because your audience is willing to spend more time learning and making an educated service provider decision, but they are also busy. This means it’s best to develop long-form blog articles that provide in-depth information relevant to the audience member’s current stage in the buyer’s journey. For fresh awareness, perhaps the content should be medium in length. Then, as they go to the evaluation, consideration, and decision stages, make blog content longer and longer, and more in-depth.
Remember: Integrate your blog articles with your other communications efforts.
To showcase your business’s expertise, it may benefit to publish content on third-party publications, such as industry magazines, industry (not competitor) blogs, and podcasts. Most publications offer free and sponsored opportunities. Do some research to find publications that serve your ideal niche audience to get the best brand awareness boost.
Don’t just stop at writing blog articles! Get visual with infographics. Creating infographics to distill the information from a long blog article not only helps your audience digest the information quicker and more effectively, but it also catches their eye. Be sure to share the infographic on your website alongside the blog article (perhaps in the middle, in the beginning, or at the end) as well as on your social media pages.
Remember: You want to integrate your programs effectively to ensure your core messages are consistently reaching your audience. Infographics are a great way to share the same information in a new way. Plus, your audience is more likely to share an infographic than they are a blog article.
Note: Infographics can also be used to test out a long-form content idea when shared on social media. If the infographic performs well on social media, your team may consider diving into the topic even more through a blog article or ebook. If the infographic doesn’t perform well on social media, then that topic is less likely to perform well on your blog or as a lead magnet.
When testing a topic idea using an infographic, share it on your business’s Twitter account because that platform still has a good organic reach. Sharing it on LinkedIn may help you, too; if you choose to share it on both Twitter and LinkedIn, see how the infographic topic performs on each platform respectively to develop more insights about your audiences’ preferences on each platform.
Video content is powerful on most platforms, including social media and your website. Many B2B businesses provide unique services or common services performed in a unique way. The best way to showcase these services may be through video. Not only are followers more likely to watch a video than read a block of text, but it may be the best way to inform your customers how your business works – by literally showing them. These informative videos can answer questions and calm nerves, depending on the service. Videos can even be recorded and edited on a smartphone. Remember to use your Brand Guidebook when developing video content.
Creating and sharing video content also involves adding helpful descriptions, which help viewers understand the context of the video (beyond just the video title) and can improve SEO as well.
To develop your video content strategy, you need to determine whether it will replace or augment other content you are sharing. Depending on your business and resources, your answer will vary; however, augmenting long-form content, such as blog articles, with videos can help showcase your industry expertise in a digestible format.
Examples of video content formats include pre-recorded videos, pre-recorded and live webinars, and live streams. Live video is typically performed via social media, so if your business does not use Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, we don’t recommend pursuing live video; Twitter offers live video, but it is not ideal for B2B businesses.
Chatbots are an ideal and cost-effective customer service solution for B2B businesses. A chatbot helps lower operations costs by providing 24/7 customer service on your website and focusing on the simpler requests of your audience. (If you have a Facebook account, you can also set up a Facebook Messenger bot, but a chatbot on your website will likely have a larger ROI for your B2B business.) You decide whether you want it to help prospects walk through the customer journey by answering their questions, or by helping customers use your services by answering their questions and performing various tasks. To decide this, think about your prospects’ and customers’ common questions. Can most of them be distilled into a list? Or does either audience commonly ask complex questions? If most of their questions are routine for your customer service representatives, consider creating a chatbot.
You can also decide whether you want a fully-automated chatbot or one that can push your prospects and customers to a live representative for further help. That will, again, be determined by the audiences’ common questions and whether or not you have customer service representatives. However, you can use a fully-automated chatbot and include an option to direct prospects to a customer service email or phone number.
To build a chatbot, there are many solutions for you to consider. Based on your intent for the chatbot, you will know what basic content to have in the conversation. We recommend using short-form, Q&A content to lead your audience through a conversation in order to figure out what their needs are and answer them.
On a consistent basis, such as quarterly, visit your chatbot analytics to see if there are any updates that need to be made to the conversation. Updates can include additional topics being added to the conversation that come up for your live customer service representatives or topics that see high drop-off rates, indicating the message in the conversation is too long or unhelpful.
For some B2B businesses, text marketing can augment your email marketing efforts, especially if your services are time-sensitive. We also recommend implementing a text marketing program (once your email marketing program is solid) if you rely heavily on appointments.
Our team works as a fluid extension of each of our member’s businesses by developing strategies and executing projects in whatever capacity is best for their unique needs.