You’re probably familiar with this concept if you’ve read any marketing books, blogs, or guides in the past few years. Despite this, for businesses looking to use industrial content marketing to generate new sales, it might seem like a difficult concept to grasp. Part of the reason for this is the way that B2C businesses have mastered content marketing. The Internet is filled with content that marketers create in order to appeal to our emotions. B2C content generates a feeling in buyers – it could be excitement, compassion, ambition, or joy – which compels us to make a purchase.
successful industrial businesses already know that emotion based appeals don’t work in B2B sales and marketing.
Instead, buyers are looking for very specific information about products and services – industrial content marketing must recognize this. In recent years, online channels have made it easier than ever before to access the information buyers are looking for, and it is the responsibility of industrial marketers to make sure it is available.
With this in mind, industrial content marketing should not aim to connect with buyers on an emotional level, but instead, provide practical information which buyers can use to make educated purchasing decisions.
However, not all content is created equal and certain types will appeal to buyers at different stages of the sales cycle. To best take advantage of this, industrial companies should aim to make three different types of content available online.
Introduction Stage Buyers
Introduction stage buyers are looking for content which introduces them to a business and a problem. This type of information should not appear overly sales heavy and instead, should generally discuss some of the problems a buyer is likely facing, as well as some potential solutions and ways of thinking about an issue. Introduction stage buyers are a perfect opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership on a topic and make it clear exactly how well a business knows the industry.
A blog is a great example of strong introduction stage content. First of all, blogs are relatively casual, meaning that buyers don’t feel pressure to buy and can consume the information easily. As well, blogs are easy to share, by a business or by readers, making it an easy way to spread the word and get introduction stage content in front of a wide audience. If not a blog, consider using email to get introductory information in front of buyers, or at the very least including pages early in a website which discuss industry information in an easily accessible and non-pushy fashion. As long as content at this stage presents value to prospective buyers, it should be well received.
Certification Stage Buyers
As introduction stage buyers review the information offered online, they will begin to realize that there are solutions available to the problems they have. The next step is to validate the companies which claim to offer these solutions.
Businesses must present proof of their capabilities and one of the most effective types of content to achieve this is case studies.
Case studies show that a business had success in the past with similar projects and customers. A company that offers multiple products or services, or deals with different types of customers, should be sure to offer a case study that relates to each.
At the certification stage, buyers are already familiar with a company; they are simply looking for any information which can validate the products and services offered. As a result, prospective buyers are likely willing to provide their contact details in exchange for information which will help them make a buying decision. Use form gating on certification stage content in order to collect email address and phone numbers that sales teams can use to reach out to potential buyers as their interest grows.
Case studies are great certification stage industrial content marketing material, and a way to build trust with potential buyers.
Purchase Stage Buyers
Once buyers have realized that there are solutions available to their problems and have vetted the potential providers, they will be interested in learning more about the specifics of a product or service. By this point, they already know what a product or service is and why it can help, but they need to understand its exact capabilities and how it will integrate with existing processes and system. Industrial businesses need to make product specifications available on a website. If buyers can’t find this information they are likely to purchase from a competitor who does have it available.
Again, content for purchase stage buyers, such as spec sheets or product comparisons, can be gated to collect valuable contact details. If gating is set up properly on a website, once a prospective buyer completes a form, they will not have to complete another one. This means that gating content in both the certification and purchase stages shouldn’t be annoying for buyers looking at a variety of information.
It is important to understand that modern B2B buyers perform more than 2/3 of their decision-making research online, before speaking with anyone in the sales department (Bain & Company, 2015). The content a business makes available online provides answers to important questions. So for industrial content marketing, content is king, as long as it answers the specific questions buyers have at different stages of the sales cycle.
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About Samuel Fordham
Samuel brings energy and enthusiasm to the marketing team at ActiveConversion. With a background in communications and digital journalism, Samuel focuses marketing efforts towards the goal of increasing opportunities for business growth.