The importance of content marketing is now well established amongst many B2B technology companies as a way to increase brand awareness, build trust and ultimately boost sales. Already, 89% of marketers across B2B organisations are using content marketing as a result – meaning your strategy must now mature if it is to clinch that competitive edge. But how? We look at three ways to ensure your content marketing stands out from the crowd.
- Differentiation is key
Creating content is not hard – just think of how much is already out there. Creating good content on the other hand, now that’s another story. If content is to cut through the clutter, then differentiation and innovation are key. Epic content takes time and effort – it must be informative and insightful for your audience, meticulously thought through, well written, immaculately formatted and proofread to perfection. But which of your competitors isn’t undergoing this exact same process?
Creating content that sets your business apart also takes creativity, intuition and, sometimes, even a little bit of risk. Keep abreast of what your competitors are doing, but don’t settle for a similar strategy – fill the gaps of what their content is missing and use it to constantly question the uniqueness of your brand positioning and voice. For thought leadership content, provide a new, real and relevant stance that is about more than playing it safe.
Address your customers’ pain points based on the distinct experiences of your sales professionals; and consider how your customer enquiries can enrich your content marketing. According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, less than half of content marketers currently have conversations with customers as part of their audience research – so make sure you are not one of them.
- Experiment with different forms of content
The opportunities for communicating with customers and the forms that this can take are constantly evolving. If your content marketing is to set you apart from the competition, it is up to you to not only keep up with how your audience likes to receive content, but to keep ahead of it. The use of audio and visual, for example, continues to increase exponentially – unsurprising when, for example, 70% of B2B buyers say they have watched a video during their purchase process.
These days, you do not need a huge budget to experiment with film – consider short interviews, screencasts and webinars to keep costs low. Then, be sure to utilise all the possible platforms that are now offering hosting capabilities to share your content far and wide. Consider ways of ensuring your long form content is also more visually led. And think ahead. According to research, executives are increasingly interacting with visually led content as more millennials enter the boardroom. So, stay informed of the trends and plan for how this could impact future forms of content, and the ways to present and share it.
- Don’t strategise in silo
Every B2B technology professional knows that a successful solution must improve operations so that they are more efficient, transparent, collaborative and connected. So why should your content marketing strategy be any different? This takes us to point number three: don’t strategise in silo – and, while we are at it, don’t underestimate the importance of a concrete content marketing strategy in general. This is what it all boils down to. And yet, according to a recent survey, just 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy in place, while 38% have a strategy without formal documentation.
So, formalise your strategy, document KPIs, and you are already over half way to ensuring your content marketing stands out from the competition. Take this one step further by allowing your strategy to be influenced and informed by those working across all areas of your business. Further again: include how exactly you can measure the impact said content is having on their performance.
Ask yourself: how are customers reacting to the content available to them not only online, but also presented to them in sales meetings, or via email campaigns? How are the sales team reacting to the content and how frequently is it being utilised? How is this aligned with and enhancing communications internally, and how exactly are these successes being communicated and capitalised upon to continue building momentum? The same can be said for taking advantage of opportunities to measure success – Google Analytics, Adwords, downloads, Twitter, LinkedIn… optimise everything at your disposal and build on the results.
As it stands, less than 10% of B2B marketers today would describe their organisation’s content marketing maturity level as sophisticated, as defined by this ability to provide accurate measurement to the business, scaling across the organisation.
So, in summary…
Be bold, be strategic and be of added benefit to your customers. Ultimately, a content marketing strategy must be strong in all of the above areas if it is to set your business apart from the competition. Your strategy must be more than a constant stream of content across channels. It must operate as part of your overall sales, marketing and communications strategy; feed your external and internal communications; it must be flexible; and it must be open to feedback. Content marketing is evolving at pace, and it is only by thinking outside of the box that your business can lead the charge.
If you have any questions or feedback sparked by this article or any of our other blog posts regarding B2B content marketing, we would love to hear from you at [email protected]