What types of content marketing work best for B2B?
I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot of corroborating evidence – engineers and technical professionals today rely heavily on content to inform their purchasing decisions.
92% of engineers surveyed said they were more likely to do business with a company that regularly produces new and current content. (IEEE GlobalSpec, 2017)
Having a collection of content available on your website that can appeal and educate your prospects can be difficult to start. It’s hard to decide from the myriad of options. Should your content be educational? Informative? Guides? How-to articles? Discussions on the state of the industry today?
We’ve found that you don’t need a lot of content marketing to be successful in niche industrial markets, but you do need the right type of content. Today we’re digging into some thoughts around creating and distributing content for the industrial market.
Which Types of Content?
Case studies are the number one resource to create to help reach your technical audience. IEEE GlobalSpec’s survey of 890 engineering professionals showed it as the highest ranked type of content marketing for value – with 81 percent of respondents ranking them as either very or moderately valuable.
Case studies show a potential customer an in-depth look at how your products or services have worked for another company dealing with similar issues or trying to accomplish comparable goals. Use case studies to showing evidence of your experience and expertise – the initial issue you were hired to resolve, what was done to resolve, and the results before and after.
Other forms of content that industrial buyers find the most beneficial are whitepapers and e-books (see below). These detailed documents show that you are an expert in your field.
One of the advantages to creating content focused later in the buying cycle, like case studies or whitepapers, is that people are more willing to trade their contact information in exchange for the download. Content gating is key to using your content marketing to help build your sales funnel.
Having more content on your website gives Google and other search engines more content to share with your audience. And the more content you create, the more often you’re appearing in searches related to your content. Creating content is a very effective way to increase organic search results (SEO) for specific terms and issues related to your products and services.
A popular and cost-effective method of distributing your content in an outbound method is on social media. Social media has a great reach to a niche audience – people already following your company or people who connect with those people online. However, you need to be particular about which social media platforms you are using to promote content to potential buyers. We often recommend starting with LinkedIn since this channel is used primarily for business and is more likely to produce results.
Other areas industrial companies have success with content distribution include supplier/vendor websites, technical trade publications, and trade shows.
When you are providing content, you want to be sure to provide the sources for your research and show who it is that is writing the piece.
If you have an expert at your company, have them write articles or provide you with input to write an article (giving them credit). Your readers will begin to recognize and trust that expert.
Also, consider interviewing or partnering with an external expert to show that you are offering only honest and trustworthy content on your website.
Creating and distributing content is only the beginning. What will really help you begin to convert your leads with your content is developing a strategy for how to integrate your content with your marketing campaigns.
You want to help your customers make informed and confident choices when buying your product or service, and your content can be an integral part of this process.
When developing your content strategy, aim to have content for each stage of the buying cycle. Ask what kind of information your customer would be looking for and would find most valuable in each step.
For example, in the early stages of the buying cycle, customers are doing research and looking for the “broad strokes” on what you do, how you do it, and why they should buy from you. Content for an initial researcher could include line cards, brochures, introductory videos, and other “get to know you” type information.
Once your prospect has determined that what you provide meets their purchasing needs, they move from the research stage into purchase consideration.
Content for purchasing consideration needs to be informative and educational while building trust. For the technical buyer, this includes technical data like spec sheets or purchasing guides and calculators, as well as case studies or whitepapers. If your strategy includes content for the next stage of the buying cycle, you will be able to guide your customer down the path of conversion.
Whether used for inbound or outbound marketing, content is key to educate your customer and guide them to conversion.
By developing a strategy of conversion that integrates your valuable and trustworthy content, you will be well on your way to converting your prospects into customers. By tracking where each customer is on this path, you will be ready to send them the next piece of content or pass them on to your sales team.
Investing the time and resources to create good content will help make your website a trusted resource in your industry. And creating content that aligns with your marketing and company goals will help tie your marketing efforts together and create a clear path of conversion for your customers to follow.
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About Michelle Elford
Michelle studied marketing before spending several years working with petroleum geomatics professionals around the world. Michelle interacts with industrial companies on a daily basis to help drive business growth through online marketing technology.