With businesses needing to focus on ROI ever-more closely, backing up any strategy with data is a good place to start tracking every dollar spent
Content is still one of the most important features of any marketing strategy, and B2B companies are no exception. B2B decision makers are spending more than 57% of the purchase cycle engaging with content before they ever reach out to sales representatives. According to studies, on average a person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase decision.
The competition is fierce, and the marketplace is crowded. It is becoming more difficult to capture the attention of audiences online as they become jaded by ‘seeing it all before.’ B2B marketers say that on average, they use 13 content marketing tactics at a time, but what really matters is getting, and holding, the attention of potential leads.
B2B marketing is about sharing insights, passing on knowledge and creating space where industry can come together. It is not the place for shocking cheap gimmicks, and they tend not to work. The job of a B2B marketer is to understand pain points and answer with solutions.
To achieve this, a simple approach is best:
- Understand what your audiences need.
- Develop a content marketing strategy that addresses these needs.
- Measure performance and refine your strategy for next time.
Your content marketing strategy needs to understand the core needs of your target market, and deliver solutions that no one else can. B2B marketing requires research and data to underscore strategy decisions, as it is a long game campaign that mirrors the customer journey at every step.
How to develop a data-driven content marketing strategy
Your goal is ensure that your content marketing strategy works. That sounds simple enough, but much content that is created is of poor quality, provides little insight or is mistakenly targeted.
Most strategies aim to do one of a few things:
- Enable sales
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate leads
As a B2B marketeer, these goals need to be based on your actual data. It is right there, at your fingertips – all you have to do is press a few buttons and generate reports, so why not start using the insights you have to create effective strategies?
Data that defines your audience
Your buyer persona is essential to the development of an intelligent strategy that captures your audience. Typically they are developed through market research, and they help marketing, sales, product development, and customer service teams understand who the company’s ideal customer is and how to relate to them and meet their needs.
They also help marketing and advertising to:
- strike the right tone
- provide appropriate context
- present the most relevant messages
For smaller B2B operations, spending a large portion of the budget on such costly research is impractcle. However, there are other ways to understand who your target customer is and how to engage with them.
For example, your team can discuss who your most desired client would be and draw a picture based on desired outcomes for sales. For example a SaaS might be seeking:
- SMEs and startups
- Professionals wanting logistics software to improve productivity
- Medium-level technical ability
- Decision makers in second or third tier of company operations
If you already have sales, generating a report that shows who your clients are and at what level of an organisational structure the decision maker is at, you can better understand how to craft our campaign and get the attention of the right audience.
Use data to refine messages and formats
Positioning your brand does require in-depth research. You need to do market comparisons to understand how to present a unique selling point and address pain points that your competitors have missed.
Review the websites of your key competitors and understand their message. You need to understand how your offering is different. For technical or complex product categories, you might also want to think about the level of detail you want to go into with some parts of your content.
Google analytics can offer massive insight into how your audiences are interacting with your website.
- What topics are they spending time on?
- What are they downloading?
- What are they bouncing away from?
- How long are they on your landing page?
By positioning your B2B as different and unique from your competitors, you might be addressing a pain point straight away. There are many monopolies in the B2B market, and if you can discover how to convey the message that you are different, you are likely to reach an audience ready for change.
Catering to content trends
Your strategy needs to include:
- White papers
- Industry reports
- Forum discussions
- Social media
And anything else that crosses your mind. Content structure is changing all the time. People are increasingly interested in voice search and video to receive messages fast. People often don’t take the time to read, but you need to provide the content anyway so your website will feature in SEO rankings.
If your content is creative, intelligent and value-adding for your audience, they will want to engage with your brand. Following trends, such as influencer advertising, is actually important for the longevity of your brand.
Measure your success
Measurement and evaluation of your campaign is important. It needs to be done at the macro and micro level of a campaign. Your objectives should define your measurement standards:
- Define your metrics
- Set goals for awareness
- Evaluate quality of leads
- Evaluate number of conversions
Proxies for awareness could be:
- increased website traffic
- increased social media following
- Increased email/newsletter list
Once you’ve defined your content metrics, think about whether your content and its formats are appropriate and aligned with these metrics.
It’s important not to confuse marketing metrics with content metrics. Open rates which would be a marketing metric, for example, while landing page duration would be a content metric.
A truly effective B2B content marketing strategy guides potential leads through the sales journey to a secure relationship. It identifies potential customers, answers pain pints, distinguishes itself in the marketplace and sets the example in industry.
Know Your Market
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