Without wanting to buy into a stereotype, it’s fair to say that a good number of trade and industrial B2B brands are still resisting the pull towards anything resembling a decent content marketing strategy.
At the companies I speak to, there are one or two people singing the praises of content marketing.
But, their tune’s falling on deaf ears.
We’re too busy.
We don’t have the budget.
Our customers aren’t interested.
Blah, blah, blah.
Getting the board on board
So what should you do if you’re pushing your board to…well, get on board with content marketing?
Lie down and accept defeat?
Not a chance. Listen up.
What the dinosaurs more traditional members of staff in your business probably don’t realise is that content marketing isn’t some new-fangled theory.
B2B content marketing applies many of the same principles that have worked for service-based businesses for decades.
If you’re trying to make a business case for content marketing in your company, chances are your bosses want proof it’ll work.
So how do you get proof it’ll work with no buy-in and no budget?
Let’s talk B2B content marketing by stealth.
Be Your Company’s B2B Content Marketing Ninja
Right, so sneaky does it.
Here are 7 B2B content marketing quick wins you can pull out of the bag and use to I TOLD YOU SO the relevant people when the time comes.
Maybe you’ll only want to implement a few of these, maybe you’ll want them all.
Something is better than nothing. Always.
1. Customer reviews
Is your business collecting customer feedback?
If not, you’re missing out on an absolute wealth of free content.
This year’s report on B2B consumer preferences by Demand Gen noted that buyers are getting busier all the time.
A third of respondents (34%) said they have less time to research the brands they purchase from.
But three quarters (75%) of them said that the trustworthiness of the content they read in order to make a purchasing decision is more important than ever before.
So how do prospective customers get trustworthy information about your products and services?
Customer feedback and peer-generated reviews.
More than two thirds (68%) of buyers said that’s what they look for when deciding who to buy from.
Give them what they want.
- Encourage customer-facing staff to ask for feedback every time
- Add an email signature inviting feedback to all outgoing messages
- Call up happy customers and ask them to write you a review
- Join a site like TrustPilot and add a widget to your website’s homepage
2. Case studies
If there’s anything a B2B consumer likes better than a review, it’s a really in-depth review.
Yes, it’s our old friend, the CASE STUDY.
Going back to that report by Demand Gen, the humble case study came out on top in two categories:
- 48% of respondents said case studies were the most valuable type of content to them
- 78% of respondents said they’d used case studies to research their B2B purchasing decisions in the last 12 months
Source: Demand Gen
Now, I’ve always loved a good B2B case study, so I’m happy if not very surprised by the news that case studies are the number one content format for B2B businesses in 2018.
And the best thing about case studies? They’re SO EASY to source information for.
They’re just stories.
Everyone loves a good story.
Start collecting information for case studies as standard, and you’re sitting on a mine of brilliant content.
- Download this free case study questionnaire I use to source information
- Get on the phone to your latest happy customers and interview them
- Write up those case studies for your blog
- Share your latest case studies with your email list
3. They Ask, You Answer
I’ve always been a fan of the straight answer.
You ask a question, you want an answer – not a load of pussyfooting around.
In 2017, I read this book: They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan.
Marcus was on the verge of bankruptcy and had no money to market his business with. None.
So what did he do?
He transformed his business by blogging.
He started answering customer questions. All of them.
Every. Single. One.
Marcus answered all the questions his customers were asking on his blog.
And, by answering every question he received openly on his blog, Marcus got his website to the top of Google page one for a huge number of longtail keywords.
Marcus’s business is now the number one in its industry for the whole of the US.
- Add a widget to your website inviting customers to ask any question they like
- Encourage customer-facing staff to actively invite questions
- Set up an email address internally so staff can ping these questions over to you
- Start answering the questions on your blog. Nothing fancy, just give people answers
OK, so if you read that last one and thought, “I don’t have time to blog!”, then here’s a good one for you:
Frequently Asked Questions.
- Are there questions your customers keep asking?
- Do customers come to you saying that your competitors wouldn’t tell them X, Y, Z?
- What can you tell consumers to make them buy from you, not someone else?
FAQs are great for customer care, they’re great for building trust in your brand, and they’re fantastic for boosting your SEO.
Because consumers will be typing their questions into Google.
And if that question – and its answer – is on your website, guess what’s going to pop up in their search results.
Lovely old you.
- Get yourself an FAQ plugin for your website. I like Heroic FAQs
- Start answering some questions
- Uh…that’s it!
5. Online chat
This is one that usually has B2B clients running for the door, but bear with me.
Automated chat functions are big, and they’re getting bigger.
Customers really, really like them.
Econsultancy got the data on how customers respond to live chat, and the stats are definitely compelling.
- 79% said they used it to get quick answers to questions
- 73% of customers who used live chat were happy with it
- 46% agreed it was the most efficient communication method
- 31% said they were more likely to buy after using it
And, as content marketing expert Neil Patel has it, the info is even more encouraging.
His research found that live chat can increase online leads by an average of 40% (source: chat study by ApexChat).
So again, we’re finding that customers want answers, and they want them quick.
Give them answers!
- Get a live chat add-on for your website – here are some of the popular ones
- Let your email list know you’ve got a live chat function
- Designate a couple of people to handle inbound enquiries – maybe start it off yourself?
- Read more: Neil Patel does a great job of outlining the benefits of live chat
- Kissmetrics are also good on the topic.
This is a good one if you (or someone else in-house) decided that live chat is just a little bit too far in the direction of SCARY FUTURISTIC STUFF OUR CUSTOMERS WON’T LIKE.
The other day, I didn’t know which bulb I needed for my bathroom, so I tweeted an LED bulb company.
They responded, I bought the bulbs from them.
Would I have emailed? No.
Would I have picked up the phone? Also no.
Twitter is a handy and effective way of increasing the inbound leads to your business:
If you’re thinking you don’t have time for Twitter, remember:
Quality is more important than quantity.
As long as your Twitter profile is on-brand and consistent, it’s a decent lead generation tool to keep ticking over in the background.
Then, if you hear a ping and someone’s tweeted you, just respond.
It’s 280 characters or less; how hard can it be?
Here’s some good advice on leveraging Twitter for B2B businesses.
And, if you want some stats to back up how effective Twitter is for B2B, here’s some of those too.
- Set up a Twitter account for your business – info, picture, links.
- Download something like Buffer to help you schedule your tweets in advance
- Follow customers, competitors, industry leaders, and anyone else of interest
- Start tweeting: links to your site and blog, answers to questions, photos from in-house
7. Embrace The Big Five (wait…make that six)
Finally, back to blogging for a minute.
We all know blogging works best when you’ve got a consistent content marketing strategy going on.
But what if you don’t have one?
And you don’t know how to get one?
A great way to start blogging regularly is to embrace what Marcus Sheridan (remember him from point 3?) calls The Big Five.
Except, for B2B content marketing, I prefer The Big Six (I added one, so sue me).
These are topics your customers are searching for every day.
Things they want to know.
Things that will drive traffic to your website, build trust in your brand, and start conversations between you and your target market.
Introducing The Big 5 (+ one more)
1. Costs and pricing:
How much will something cost? How much can something cost? What’s the minimum X will cost? Why does your service cost more than your competitor’s? Consumers want to talk money, and being coy about prices never wins business, so get blogging about what your products and services are going to cost.
2. Problems and challenges:
Don’t pretend you’ve got the perfect product or service: no one does. No matter what your customers buy, there’s the potential for problems and challenges. Talk about them. Build trust in your business by being open and honest.
3. Vs and comparisons
When consumers are at the consideration stage of the buying process (that’s mid-funnel to those of you who prefer funnel talk), they may well have a short-list of options. Help them decide on your service by creating content around X vs Y. Everything has pros and cons: give your customers the information they need to make the right decision for them.
Stats from AdWeek showed that on-site consumer reviews can increase sales conversions by 74%. Interesting, too, is the fact that a few little negative points increase conversions: TechCrunch found that perfect scores can actually reduce your conversion rate as customers start to think they’re fake. So, get some customer reviews up on your blog.
Consumers can be pretty simple creatures, and this point is testament to that. Mobile searches for “best” have increased by 80% over the last year alone, and that goes from the lowest price point right through to the highest. So get talking about the best everything that your customers could possibly want.
6. How to
Back to Demand Gen’s 2017 B2B Content Marketing report, 97% of respondents highlighted prescriptive content as their preferred form: things like “10 steps to…” and “3 ways to…” So, blogs on how to do X, Y and Z are a sure-fire way to grab their attention.
- Cross reference your products/services with The Big 5 (6!) for a ready-made list of blog topics
- Talk to colleagues to get the information you need for the blogs
- Start blogging – the cost ones are always a good place to start
- Or, hire me to do your blogging
The Short Version:
B2B content marketing isn’t some kind of hocus pocus.
It can be hard to get buy-in when the board shuts down at any mention of it.
But, the fact is, B2B content marketing is a proven lead- and sales-generation tool.
There are so many ways to start introducing B2B content marketing into your business.
You don’t need money.
You don’t need much time.
You don’t even need company-wide buy-in, not at first.
Small efforts can make big changes when it comes to B2B content marketing, so try and implement some or all of the tips above gradually over 2018.
Track the ROI.
Watch for results.
I guarantee, if you keep at it, you’ll get some good ones.
Need help with your B2B content marketing strategy? Let’s chat.