Have you ever created a piece of content and wondered why it’s not generating any traction or buzz? Have you taken the time to write more than 1,000 words or create a slide deck to only be met with poor results?
Now before you start coming up with excuses, let me tell you that you’re not alone.
It’s not easy creating content that drives results, but it can be done. Over the last year, I've created content that has been distributed and shared more than 500,000 times. Achieving success in my content marketing initiatives comes from studying the craft, understanding my audience and embracing mistakes along the way.
We live in a world where more content is created in two years than what was created in the span from the dawn of mankind to 2003. On WordPress alone, we produce about 64.8 million new posts and share 60.4 million new comments each month.
That’s a lot of content!
With so much content being created monthly, it’s no wonder that marketers around the world are struggling to stand out. It’s no wonder that B2B marketers are struggling to create content that actually drives results.
B2B Content Marketing Tactics
In B2B marketing, the role of content is quite different from the role it plays in the B2C space. Content still has a similar purpose in regards to generating awareness, strengthening relationships and establishing trust. The biggest difference is found in how that content achieves these goals and the channels that are used to distribute it.
Today we're going to dive into six effective content marketing tactics being used by some of the most successful B2B organizations around the world. These tactics range from the act of content creation to the act of content distribution.
Implementing these tactics will allow any B2B organization achieve meaningful and measurable results.
So, let’s dive in:
1. Provide Content Opportunities For Partners
Instead of acting as the only voice on your company blog, open it up to partners or even clients. In the screenshot above, you can see a guest blog post on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog that was contributed on behalf of a partner. Allowing contributors to share their content on your blog is an approach that many B2B organizations are taking: SEMrush, Hubspot and Salesforce, to name a few.
B2B companies should consider using their blog as a channel where ideas can be shared by anyone who can add value for their clients. Specifically, it should be open to existing partners and clients who can create content that will drive new visitors and potential customers.
2. Distribute Content From Existing Partners
Relationships are one of the key pieces of closing deals and generating referrals in B2B. The relationships we have with our partners, colleagues and clients all play an important role in our ability to achieve success. One of our most valuable assets in business is the relationship we have with each of our clients. Failing to make your clients a part of your marketing process is missing a big opportunity.
If you utilize the tactic highlighted above, you can then take those blog posts and promote your partners by sharing their content. In doing so, you’re not only telling your story to your potential leads or future partners, you’re strengthening your relationship with the existing client.
3. Publish Case Studies of Your Work
The goal when publishing a case study is usually to generate more leads or drive sales. In recent reports, case studies were rated as some of the most compelling marketing content (47% said they are very effective or most effective in lead nurturing / drip marketing programs for prospects). This should come as no surprise. Case studies have the ability to demonstrate credibility, tell a compelling story, showcase evidence of value and are often evergreen content.
One of my favorite analytics products is Geckoboard, a real-time dashboard that gives you instant access to your most important metrics. I found Geckboard after being emailed one of their many case studies by a colleague looking for a way to improve communication surrounding goals and metrics. When I asked Sofia Quintero, their head of Growth why the majority of their blog posts were case studies she said:
I think sharing stories from customers not only helps others to get the best out of Geckoboard but also help us build better relationships with them. At the end of the day it’s a win-win partnership. We showcase their business and our customers learn.
Once this content is developed, you can then link back or reference these case studies in other articles, during presentations and in emails between sales and prospects.
While case studies might sound boring and unsexy, the results they can generate for an organization will do the talking.
4. Create Highly Shareable Content
There are lots of things that can impact the likelihood that a piece of content will be shared. One of the greatest factors is linked to the emotions a piece of content stirs up. The psychology surrounding why people share content is a fascinating and very popular area of study. Recent studies have found that content which produces high arousal emotions such as anger, awe or joy generates the most shares on social.
Anger is one of the most powerful emotions for generating shares, which can be found in content that is somewhat controversial or challenges the status quo. This was the conclusion found in a research study conducted at Beihang University. In this study, the researchers took a look at 70 million tweets and categorized them into the emotional categories of anger, joy, sadness and disgust. The study found that anger was the emotion tied to posts that were most likely to be shared across the network.
As B2B marketers, we should look for opportunities to develop content that turns heads and challenges traditional thinking. I'm not suggesting that you be controversial for controversy's sake, but if you uncover insights or data that support a finding that doesn't align with "best practice" you might be onto something.
5. Develop & Distribute Visual Content Assets
As you may have noticed while reading this post, I've strategically placed visuals throughout. I’ve done this intentionally as studies have found that we're simply hard-wired to connect with images more than text. In fact, studies have found that humans have the ability to process visuals 60,000x faster than text.
The other benefit of visual assets is in their ability to be shared from one post to the next. I’ve used the content assets image above in a handful of blog posts over the last year. The flexibility of being able to cross promote visual content in other mediums is one of the other big reasons why visual assets are so important to a content marketing plan.
6. Contribute Value to Industry Communities
While outside of the tech industry, you won't find many executives browsing niche online communities; there is still an opportunity here. Sites like Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com would be considered two industry communities for marketers. For developers and technical professionals you could look at communities like Github or HackerNews as opportunities to engage and add value.
Online communities are a great opportunity to build a quality reputation in an industry. The key is to constantly strive to contribute great content, respond to questions and provide value in anyway you can. It's through this activity that allows for organizations to become more human and build one on one relationships with influencers along with potential and existing customers.
So there you have it: six tactics you can use to drive sales and revenue.
Do these tactics sound like a lot of work? They should. The expectations of your boss might be that content marketing is a simple switch that you can turn on and off but that's not the reality. It's going to take time. It's going to take effort. And it's to going to take work.
The reason most B2B content marketing initiatives aren't successful is because they don't put in the work. Companies are looking for quick wins instead of a long-term commitment that will drive sustainable success.
Success from content marketing doesn’t happen after one blog post and a handful of comments in a niche network. The success comes from a commitment to adding value through content day in and day out. And that's exactly what you're going have to do to drive results.