In our previous blog post, we discussed how generating leads is the biggest challenge in B2B marketing these days, as well as some methods for generating leads with social media. Of course, social media is far from the only way to generate B2B sales leads.
Just by the fact that you’re reading this blog post, and have hopefully read the previous one, you should hopefully know that we are major proponents of content marketing. Content marketing works. While it’s not just as simple as slapping together a 600-word blog post twice a month, it’s an effective source of leads when done correctly.
According to the 2019 trends report released by The Content Marketing Institute, 78% of B2B marketers already make use of content marketing. The most successful of these have a well-documented content marketing strategy. Another study by MarketingProfs and ContentMarketing puts the number even higher, at 91%
On average, B2B marketers are spending up to 33% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
Unfortunately, having said this, not all marketers get it right, and executing your content marketing the wrong way can lead to frustration and mediocre results. In a study by CMI, only around 30% of B2B marketers claimed that their organisations effectively implemented content marketing.
Why is Content Marketing Important
Content is the foundation of a good and healthy website, and search engines like Google prioritise websites with a decent amount of content. SEO and lead generation are all about increasing time on page and building engagement. You can do this by following the EAT guidelines with your content.
By positioning yourself as an expert in your field, your content automatically gains more authority. The more authority your content has, the more your audience will trust you. In turn, having the trust of your audience is vital for improving your search rankings.
Why is any of this important?
The top five results on the search engine results page (SERP) receive 67.6% of all clicks.
How to Generate Leads through Content Marketing
Now that we’ve had a bit of an introduction, how do you actually generate B2B sales leads with content marketing? Content marketing is a wide field, with dozens of subfields. Here are just a few of the ways you can generate B2B sales leads with content marketing.
- Host a webinar. Choose a topic that should appeal to your target audience and host a webinar on that topic. Remember though, webinars are not the time to sell your product or service. They’re for informing your target audience about a topic they’re already interested in, or answering some of their questions. Webinars are a relatively low-cost way of getting your message in front of a large audience, and to generate a good amount of leads.
- Publish research reports. Using research reports as lead magnets can be a great source of leads, especially in the B2B sector. Most businesses know the value of research, so they’ll often be more than likely to share their contact information in exchange.
- Publish videos. Videos are no doubt the content with the most current appeal, and the most viral potential. After all, Youtube is currently the second largest search engine in the world. If videos are not a part of your content marketing strategy, you’re losing out on one of the biggest sources of lead-generating content.
- Create blogs. Obviously, blogs are far and away the best form of content. As long as you do them right, blogs are more likely to appear on the SERP than any other type of content. Blogging effectively can allow you to dominate the SERP, build authority and gain recognition and trust from your target audience.
Of course, all of these mediums can be used together. For instance, you can publish the results of a research paper on your blog. You could publish video snippets of your webinar to your Youtube channel. Announce your upcoming webinar on your blog. You can use each technique in tandem with the others.
Why Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working
Right now, more B2B companies are using content marketing than ever before. It’s definitely one of the most effective forms of marketing available today. Unfortunately, most businesses dive in head first, creating content randomly without first devising a strategy. Often, they’re blithely assuming that their audience wants to read endless blogs about their products or services, or watch 20-minute product tutorials and testimonial videos. As a result, many content marketing campaigns fall flat at the first hurdle. They fail to generate the leads businesses think they will.
There’s a simple reason for this.
“Content without strategy is just stuff.” – Arjun Basu
The internet is a massive place, and there’s a ton of content out there. Some of it’s good, some isn’t. A lot of it is entirely out of data. So the main challenge in generating leads with content marketing becomes offering relevant, useful and helpful content that your audience actually wants to read.
Most people don’t have the time to read content that doesn’t answer their pertinent questions – especially in the B2B sector. The bitter truth is, they don’t care about your product or service. They also don’t care about your new office, or the latest office birthday. They want answers to their questions, and solutions to their problems.
Besides these basic mistakes, there are a few other reasons you could be failing to generate B2B sales leads with your content marketing:
- Lack of detailed strategy
- Lack of buyer personas
- No clear goals or KPIs
- Lack of creativity or differentiation
- No promotional activity
In this digital age, there are few things that audiences want, besides the answers and solutions we mentioned above. They want product comparisons and accurate reviews, as well as pricing documents.
If you’re not offering any of the above, there’s a good chance that your visitors will just click away.
Content Marketing Tips
If you want to generate B2B sales leads with content marketing, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Help People Do Their Jobs
Your B2B content should, above all else, be useful. Whereas B2C content can be either educational or humorous, the target audience in the B2B sector is on the job. They need to sell your solution to the people they work with. The easiest way to generate B2B sales leads with your content is to solve a problem that they’re having – make their jobs easier.
You can do this by researching your audience, including the positions they’re likely to hold and the common problems they face. With these factors, you can start building a buyer persona (or multiple) and applying that persona to the content you create.
As an example, when health information management company Ciox Health wanted to launch into a new market, they launched a six-part content series of informative and important information. This included a video, checklist and a listicle.
This content provided legal firms with the information they needed to streamline the process of retrieving medical records. This campaign reached 1,884 potential prospects and achieved an Open Rate of 42.8% and a CTR of 14.5%.
Deliver the Right Content at the Right Time
Though you might have created a great piece of content, and it might be getting good traffic, there’s no guarantee that the audience you’re attracting will be ready to make a purchase. Why? Maybe you’re delivering your content at the wrong time. If you’re not delivering content to your audience based on their position in the funnel, it’s unlikely that they will convert.
Think about it like this. When you meet someone new, unless the stars have aligned, you don’t jump right into being best friends. Rather, you make a bit of small talk, and get to know each other over time. The same principle applies to content marketing.
If your content isn’t converting, maybe it’s because you’re treating brand new acquaintances like old friends.
So, what’s the solution?
Create a segmented strategy with different goals for different content, making use of different buyer personas in varying stages of the funnel.
Gate Your Content
One of the most obvious ways to generate B2B sales leads with your content marketing is to gate it. Offer access to your content in exchange for the readers information – their name, email address and company, for example. This is something that HubSpot does particularly well.
Of course, it won’t work for every piece of content, and it won’t work for every business.
If you’re not sure which content is worth gating, here are some examples of the pieces of content which are considered most valuable:
- Whitepapers and industry research
- Exclusive eBooks
- Expert-led training and webinars
Don’t Forget About Social Media
Though we discussed social media at length in the previous post, it works especially well in conjunction with content marketing. Many B2B buyers have social media profiles, and by sharing links to your content, you can catch them in their down-time and ‘plant the seed’ in their mind. From social media, you can drive them to informative landing pages, or get them to engage with your content.
Content marketing sometimes gets a bit of a bad rap in the B2B sector, but the truth is, it can be an amazing source of leads. The key to content marketing success is to know your audience. Know their problems, and the questions they have, and provide the answers and solutions they’re looking for. According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of the best-performing B2B companies are hyper-focussed on their audience’s informational needs.
Don’t limit yourself to just blogs. Find the type of content that works best for you and works best for your audience. For some, this may be online courses and webinars. For others, it may be whitepapers and other industry research. No matter what your strategy, put your audience’s needs first, and always be testing.