The Importance of Content Marketing for B2B & Industrial Markets
Of all the marketing tactics that we employ with our clients, one of the most misunderstood and undervalued is content marketing. Many companies initially fail to see the value in adding strong, information-driven content to their site and how this has a broader impact on their search engine optimization and user experience growth. One common remark we hear is “We don’t sell products online – why do we need content?” The answer to this is simple – your company and your brand are the product. A strong content marketing strategy will help supply potential customers on your site with the information they need to make the right decision – to do business with you.
Our clients have had great success with our content marketing programs. One client, a manufacturing consultant and equipment distributor, saw an organic traffic increase of over 150% in the first year since creating and adding strong content to their site. Their information-rich equipment and blog pages are now heavy drivers for organic traffic to their site seeing an average of 90% growth year-over-year. These top organic landing pages also drive conversions to their site, increasing their conversions over 75% in the last year!
What should B2B content look like?
One of the biggest difference between content for B2B websites and more consumer-driven B2C content is the importance of utility over entertainment. B2B content needs to be highly informational and fulfill their user’s information-seeking needs. If users are browsing your site for technical information related to a specific task or process, this information should be readily available and able to fulfill a user’s needs. More than B2C content, strategies employed on B2B sites should be driven by the goal of pushing the user towards a certain goal like completing an RFQ or contacting the business via email or phone. If the user is not interested in the business or the services they offer, they will not take this leap and the site’s content marketing hasn’t done its job.
Content can come in many forms – not just text-based web pages. Image and video content are also important and additional ways for users to interact with your brand. Pairing content like a case study with a related video or image deepens the user’s understanding of your company. By combining text, image and video content on your site, a multimedia content marketing strategy can take your brand and elevate it above other competitors on the web.
Steps to a Successful B2B Content Strategy
Before you hit the ground running and start adding content to your website, it is important you talk with your marketing team or partner agency to come up with a comprehensive strategy. Here are some important factors to keep in mind that will help focus your strategy and maximize its success.
Step 1 – Know your Target Audience
Before you start creating content, you need to determine who you are creating it for. What types of users are coming to your site? Of these users, which ones are most important for your business? Which users are most likely to complete a goal such as an RFQ or contact form? Defining your target user or users will help you define the type of content you should create for your site. Content created for a team of engineers will have different goals than content created for a purchasing manager or someone looking for the next step in their career. Defining your user segments will ensure that your content stays focused and useful for the people you want to do business with.
Step 2 – Tell your Users a Story
There are two broad categories of content we often see on sites. The first is the info-dump – disorganized and rambling lists and long paragraphs of information. While this makes important technical information available to the users, the content isn’t very accessible and certainly isn’t memorable. Parsing through info-dumps is exhausting and that’s not the impression you want your customers to have of your business!
The second category of content is the narrative – information that has been incorporated into a story or journey. For B2B companies, case studies are a great way to add this type of narrative content to a website. By discussing sample projects you’ve actually worked on, you are not only informing users of the types of services you offer but also providing them a detailed example of the quality of your work. Pairing narrative content like this with images and videos makes it more memorable and more likely to leave a positive, lasting impression.
Step 3 – Take Ownership of Your Content
One area B2B content really struggles with is putting a face to the brand. That is – what makes your business relatable and approachable? B2C companies often do this with mascots and spokespeople but these might not fit well into the B2B model of your business. Luckily, there are some simple ways to make your brand resonate and relatable.
When writing content on the site, do not be afraid to take ownership of your strengths. Let your users know you take pride in what you do and what skills you excel in. If you don’t tell them, no one will. Be careful not to toe the line of seeming braggy though. Customers want to work with brands that are passionate about what they do and a content strategy is a great way to communicate that passion.
Consider adding a page to your site talking about your company history or management team. This type of content is like a superhero origin story – it grounds your brand and creates a narrative of long-term growth, challenge and success. It also shows that your company values its employees and work culture which is often an appealing draw for users as well as prospective employees. Putting a face on your company elevates you above competitors that do not try to connect on a human level and leaves a great lasting impression.
Step 4 – Engage with Your Users Long-Term
You might ask – isn’t this what we are doing with content marketing? The answer is yes and no. Content marketing is perfect for creating a strong first impression, but there are many ways to integrate it into other marketing strategies that will extend its life cycle beyond that. There are many ways to create content that engages with the user long-term and not all of them might be right for your brand. Additionally, many of these long-term strategies require an existing content strategy to have been implemented to provide a foundation to build on.
Blogs and news updates are a great way to keep users coming back to your site. Not only does this provide fresh content that will help your SEO program, it also shows your continued expertise and investment in your site as a marketing tool. While setting up a blog and creating a content schedule takes time and requires a long-term investment, this type of content pairs will with other form of engagement like email blasts and social media.
Speaking of email and social media, these tools are great for presenting your brand to new potential users. These tools can be used to put your content in front of your customers in a way that can be easily shared and distributed. Once again, these tools require additional manpower but will help extend the reach of your content marketing program.
Finally, be sure to track your content program with tools like Google Analytics or SEMRush. These programs will monitor traffic to the various types of content on your site and tell you where it’s coming from, how they interacted with the rest of your site, and what type of traffic is most likely to drive your users to convert. These tools will help you shape and refine your strategy to an ever-changing marketplace.
Starting Your Content Marketing Strategy
The questions you might be asking now are “When should I get started with content marketing?” or “My site is really old – is it too late for me to get started?” The answer to these questions are simple – it’s never too late and the time is now! The first step towards a great B2B content strategy is talking with your marketing team or agency partner – so go ahead and take it today!