If you are looking to generate leads for your business, then B2B content marketing is a great way to start. Content marketing has been found to generate three times as many leads as traditional marketing. And it costs 62% less.
Nowadays, your B2B consumer is smarter and more resourceful than ever. They can easily access the information they need on the internet and make informed decisions.
That’s where content marketing comes in. It serves to aid this behavior by offering high-quality, valuable content that informs prospects about topics that are relevant to their queries. When done properly, content marketing can move these prospects into your lead generation funnel.
However, many businesses struggle with selecting the right strategies and executing them. If this is you, let’s take a look at how you can address the problem.
1. Get attention and increase conversion rates
If you cannot capture and keep your prospects’ attention, then you won’t have any leads, no matter how good your landing pages and lead magnets are.
Gain attention by being useful
In his article, The Only Two Digital Advertising Rules You Need to Know, strategic marketing consultant and Facebook ads specialist, Nicholas Kumich, mentions the primary rule: we must give before we ask.
Social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., associate director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia Graduate School, and author of the bestselling book Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, also agrees.
According to Halvorson, people form an impression of your brand through three primary lenses: trust, power, and ego. In other words, your prospects try to measure how useful your brand is through those three lenses. If you are able to get through all three lenses, your prospects’ attention is yours!
Here are a few content ideas on how you can leverage these three lenses to gain high-quality leads.
Gain attention by building trust
According to Halvorsen, people who don’t know you initially need to work out whether you are a friend or a foe, and will actively gauge your warmth, friendliness, respect, and sense of competence.
- Put testimonials on your landing pages or opt-in. Short yet to-the-point testimonials with a name, a photograph of the person, and their company name create a more trustworthy impression. Video testimonials are even better.
- Install a live chat or chatbot on your website. This makes your brand appear warmer and more approachable.
- Make it easy for people to contact you by making your contact details easily visible on your website. Provide them with options – call, email, etc. People are more likely to trust you if they find it easy to contact you and get a quick response.
- Choose colors carefully. These colors can either make or break your lead generation efforts. On Quick Sprout, for example, the Hellobar (a lead magnet offer) on their webpages accounts for 11% of all new leads because of the contrast and visibility it offers.
- Be transparent about what prospects can expect from you. Avoid clickbait type titles as they will only serve to undermine your brand trust.
Gain attention by proving your value
Halvorsen says that people also try to gauge the usefulness of your brand and whether it will serve their needs or not. She describes this process as looking through the power lens.
- Build a library of actionable content that benefits your target audience explicitly, and which you could consider using as lead magnets or content upgrades.
- Don’t create content that angles for a sale. People are savvy enough to distinguish between a thought leader and a pushy salesperson. If the content is helpful, your prospects will let others know.
- Become the go-to person who provides value that your competitors are missing in their strategy. For example, if they offer value via blog posts, run a podcast which interviews experts and potential customers.
- Run contests! Contests have a conversion rate of almost 34%, which is higher than other content types. 33% of contest participants are open to receiving information about the brand and partners. Giving out rewards that are closely related to what you offer will yield better results than providing unrelated items as a prize. As much as 34% of your audience could become customers.
- Create quizzes to generate leads. Successful ones have a fluid interface, a hyper-relevant topic, and offer plenty of value.
Gain attention by building a community
The unity principle of Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the book, Influence, is about shared identity that the influencer shares with the influencee.
According to Cialdini, the unity principle moves beyond surface-level similarities (which can still be influential, but under the liking principle). Instead, he says, “It’s about shared identities.”
With that in mind, personalize your B2B content marketing to make your prospects feel that they are part of a community that shares their interests.
- Email marketing automation makes things easier for you, but to drive engagement, you need to make it more human. According to Instapage, personalized email marketing is said to generate a median ROI of 122% and segmented, personalized, and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
- Personalized email promotions have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than their non-personalized counterparts.
- Use dynamic content. Dynamic content can be applied to blog posts, landing pages, or email content through demographics and past behavior.
- Change email send times and use introductions or headlines that correspond to your targeted prospect’s time zones. In other words, an email received at the end of the day with the question “How was your day?” is likely to be better received than one that says “Good Morning!”
2. Use in-depth content
Creating B2B content marketing that serves your business objectives and generates leads can be tricky.
Content marketing expert Ann Handley of Marketing Profs had this to say about developing content:
Good content is more about brains than budget. A bigger story puts your company in the larger context of what people care about. A bolder marketer upends the status quo, telling a story that hits on specific challenges your audience has (but no one else is talking about in the right way for a certain audience). A gutsier, braver voice is a differentiator in a sea of mediocre content. You can use your bigger, bolder, braver content to convert more people into your squad, to align them with your company on a level that’s bigger than what you sell or what you do. And not everybody is going to want to be part of your squad, which is exactly the point.
To build bigger, bolder, braver content that converts more people, you need to know your ideal customers and that your profiles and segments reflect them and their interests. Consider looking into the following areas:
- Basic demographic details
- Job roles and responsibilities
- Primary sources they look to for information and entertainment
- Life goals
- Challenges and pain points
- Role in the purchasing decisions
- Objections they make
- Common phrases used during their interaction with your customer service and sales teams
Once that is complete, and you have a well-developed persona for each of your clients using a data-driven approach, you can then map the customer journey.
It then makes sense to create essential pieces of content for each stage of the marketing funnel, as Larry Kim shared in this tweet.
Video advertising has been around for a while but has gained increased attention, given recent trends on many platforms, and can play an important role in your inbound strategy that can answer most questions that people will have on the subject.
- Define the content objective and stick to it
- Brainstorm ideas
- Run a competitive analysis
- Refine your ideas
- Prioritize your ideas
- Create an outline
- Write your intro and conclusion
- Write up articles while researching
- Edit and proofread
3. Use case studies
Case studies can tell stories that are both meaningful and add value to your audience. These can include:
- A success story featuring a client
- A solution (or solutions) to a particular problem encountered by customers, along with the steps taken to fix the issue
Although businesses don’t use case studies because they can often be uninspiring, they are invaluable in turning your audience into buying customers. Research indicates that product reviews are 12 times more trusted than product descriptions. Aren’t case studies in-depth product reviews?
Digital growth agency Fractl, for example, presented a case study on one of their clients, Sapio. They used text and graphic elements to help immerse the audience into the experience. They also used icons to help illustrate their pitch angles and graphs to quickly display the results achieved. To further the visual experience, they also showcased the publications that covered their stories by including the publication logos.
- Abstract or summary – Begin your case study with an overview of the problem and a preview of the solution or steps taken to solve it.
- Interview real people – A case study needs to tell a story, and the narrative is most effective when it is told from the customer’s perspective.
- Use photos and videos – Visuals make case studies more engaging and appealing to both oral and visual learners. Charts are especially useful, providing additional background to your case study’s points and making comparisons between products or experiences more compelling.
- Provide the solution – Be transparent when explaining the solution. Keep your audience in mind as you walk them through the steps you took to fix the problem.
4. Help your prospects do their job better
What purpose does your B2B content marketing serve for your prospects?
It should, at the very least, be useful to them. After all, your prospects have jobs to carry out and solutions to come up with within their work situations.
So, the most effective way to generate highly qualified leads through content marketing is to solve a problem to make their work easier for them.
If you aren’t already doing so, research your audience to discover what positions they hold and the problems they face. Use that information to build a robust B2B buyer persona and apply your learnings to every type of content you create.
For example, take Caterpillar, which sells heavy earth-moving machinery.
In the video below, you can watch two Caterpillar (aka Cat) excavators play a game of Jenga with 600-pound wooden blocks.
The video demonstrates the company’s excavators and their ability to handle large loads with precision. Anyone who has ever played Jenga knows it requires a steady hand and precise, controlled movements to win. The video is a fun way of showing how these large machines are capable of that and more.
So far, the video has garnered more than seven million views on YouTube.
Not all viewers would be their ideal clients. However, it also makes for a great piece to appeal to those who are trying to determine what their products are capable of before a test drive.
- Create remarkable content that is solution-based, not product-based.
- Map content to the right lifecycle stage.
- Use a distribution rule of thumb, like the 10:4:1 – ten pieces of relevant and helpful industry content, four helpful solution-oriented pieces to people unfamiliar with your product, one piece of content that moves your prospect to the lead stage.
- Content should be more than just text.
- Be consistent.
5. Provide the right content at the right time
Why? Research shows that people want a better customer experience, and Quora allows for that.
Your business lives and breathes on leads. This is where Quora could help. It is a social media platform for asking and answering questions.
For lead generation purposes, you will need to play the part of the expert more than the person asking questions. The platform allows you to interact with your customers and prospects, answer their questions, and communicate with them in a way that no other social media platform does.
Ahref’s Si Quan Ong shares in this post what it takes to replicate his success in generating over one million views for his content.
- Create a magnetic profile
- Follow relevant topics
- Show your expertise via answers to your audience’s questions
- Be genuinely helpful
- Turn conversations into leads
- Track your endeavors
- Improve your SEO via trackback links
- Create content around Quora questions on your website
6. Go beyond written content. Personalize your content.
According to Salesforce –
- 79% of customers are willing to share relevant information about themselves in exchange for contextualized engagement, and 88% for personalized offers.
- 92% of marketers say personalization majorly or moderately improves brand building.
We know that video is a popular content format and that reading alone is not a good indicator of a high level of interest. Why? Because the investment is low, as is, often, the level of interest.
That’s why Sage created an interactive quiz that increased their lead generation by 48%.
Instead of using the same B2B content marketing formulas that used to work for the past ten years, like eBooks and white papers, try more creative ways of capturing your leads’ interest. Here are a few ideas:
- Create an interactive tool
- Embed your lead gen forms in videos
- Interview a third-party expert
- Send attention-grabbing direct mail
- Share a customer experience to spark brand searches
- Connect via communities
- Promote a personalized template
- Look for unique cross-promotion opportunities
- Start an interesting side project
- Publish a surprising quiz
7. Harness the power of influencers
Influencer marketing is still a useful B2B content marketing strategy, but we are seeing a shift in this space. Many brands are now making use of lesser-known influencers (people with authority in smaller niches). These influencers might have fewer followers, but their relative level of influence remains the same.
Celebrities and top social media influencers often get numerous requests to help with influencer marketing campaigns. As a result, these influencers can command higher fees, but it also makes them extremely picky about whom they work with.
The best solution to this is for brands to leverage micro-influencers. These micro-influencers are relatively untapped, despite their enormous potential for reaching new audiences effectively. What’s more, they tend to cost less and are not jaded by unsolicited approaches from other brands.
CognitiveSEO has a pop up with a quote from Bill Sebald, who is quite influential in the SEO space. While it is only a couple of lines, it adds social proof to the offer.
SAP is known to use corporate executives and industry experts in their B2B content marketing efforts. For example, they invited five influencers to speak about topics like machine learning, IoT, innovation, and data analytics at a customer event in Germany.
The result? The five influencers drove 50% of all the mentions about the event on social media. The event at the time was trending in Germany for two days.
- Partner with industry experts to co-create content like original research, case studies, a video series, etc.
- Encourage loyal customers to be brand ambassadors by using options such as special community programs or exclusive closed groups.
- Organize offline events to develop relationships via closed VIP events, award events in your industry (if there are none), and pre-event or post-event parties.
- Build relationships with new influencers by congratulating them on life events, sending company swag, inviting them to Twitter chats or webinars, showing support on social media, or link to their content, feature them in a top expert’s round-up post in a specific niche, or in a congratulatory round-up post.
The infographic below from SalesIntel also shows a few more ways in which you can generate leads via B2B content marketing.
Craft B2B content marketing to generate more leads
You’ve seen that useful content can be an excellent tool for attracting traffic to your website and converting leads. It can also be a great tool to nurture leads and turn your existing customers into brand promoters.
How do you create this content?
You will have to work that out for your business and your objectives.
The ideas we have covered above should, however, fuel your thinking process. As with most things, an excellent place to start is by talking to your prospective customers and getting familiar with issues that concern them.
At the end of the day, if you want to use the content for lead generation, you need to make it useful for your target audience.
Step back and take a wider view of the B2B content marketing trends for 2020 in this great infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines.