You Need to Become Good at Content Marketing – Here’s How

Content MarketingNext month, I will be speaking at an event called, the Summit on Content Marketing. Beginning May 22, the Summit is an online conference for individuals and businesses who want to develop a successful content strategy, increase buyer engagement, grow their audience and improve the quality and quantity of leads. I am looking forward to the learning experience – I know some of the speakers and the conference organizers have put together a top roster.

So, why should you care about the subject? Amazingly, I’ve had a few B2B company executives tell me that content isn’t all that important to their company’s success. While this may be true in rare circumstances, the rest of us are competing against companies that would love us to go silent on content – it would make us much easier to beat. One tech company CEO even suggested that all he needed on his website was the company phone number because “We pay our sales reps to sell our products. The rest of the website may not be necessary.” I know most people reading this don’t have such a myopic view of content marketing but what exactly can it do for you? Here’s a short list:

  • Differentiates you from the competition
  • Supports your brand’s value proposition
  • Attracts organic search traffic
  • Converts visitors to leads
  • Targets various stages of the buying cycle
  • Shortens the sales cycle

Other than this, content marketing doesn’t do much for you! So with all this good stuff as the payoff, what am I going to talk about during my Summit session? The title is B2B Content Strategies that Move Your Prospects Along the Buyer’s Journey, and I will be covering these topics:

  1. How to Use Digital Content to Shorten the B2B Sales Cycle and Increase Close Rates
  2. How to Engage and Convert Readers with a Compelling Story
  3. Seven Essential Content Marketing Best Practices
  4. How to Time Your Content to Match the Buyer’s Journey
  5. How Asking “Why” Makes Your Marketing Content More Effective
  6. Best Ways to Measure Your Content’s Impact on Revenue

As just one teaser of what I am going to talk about, consider how content can impact the “stuck” prospect. He or she may be stuck because you haven’t sold the value, because there are objections that have not been overcome, or because the prospect is lacking what they consider critical information about your products or services. Content can be used to fill all of these gaps, and many more. In fact, most of the successful companies in any industry have something in common – they have plenty of good content to help speed the buyer’s journey.

Christopher Ryan

The bottom line is that the wrong B2B content aimed at the wrong prospect can slow the buying process or stop it entirely. Fortunately, the right content strategy can be a powerful enabler of lead generation and sales. Well-placed and well-timed content is a key component of the lead-to-revenue (L2R) process and can drive better results at several critical junctures in the buyer’s journey.

Hope to see you (virtually) at the Summit. In the meantime, may all your content efforts be productive and effective.

B2B Content Marketing That Drives Results

Marketing and Sales Alignment

There is a lot of buzz in the air about content marketing. Businesses that need to increase their brand awareness, credibility, and preference with their target audiences are turning to content marketing in greater numbers as a proven pull marketing strategy that aligns well with important business metrics. Whether your goals are to increase market awareness, drive website traffic, build lead generation, or improve sales funnel conversion, understanding how to create copy that delivers results is fundamental to achieving success.

From strategy to execution, you need to accomplish this in a consistent and on-target manner that leverages your brand’s core promise while turning your differentiators into compelling content that systematically engages your critical audiences, and causes them to take action.

The Payoff Earned from Effective B2B Content

Effective B2B content attracts visitors to your website, provides value for your social media outreach, converts website visitors to leads, and much more. High-quality B2B content delivers on a specific purpose:

  • Attracts organic search traffic
  • Converts visitors to leads
  • Supports your brand’s value proposition
  • Provides online and social media value
  • Targets various stages of the buying cycle

In addition, your content marketing efforts can have a large payoff, in five major areas:

  1. Large increases in brand awareness. People buy from companies they know and content can help you get known.
  2. Make it easier for prospects to find you.  Quality content helps web searchers find you quickly.
  3. Credibility boost. Visitors to your website will judge you by the quality and quantity of the content that is relevant to their needs.
  4. Lower cost per lead. Content marketing is a pull marketing strategy and as such, produces leads at a fraction of the cost of push marketing leads.
  5. Shorter sales cycle. Good content helps prospects learn about your products and services and self-qualify themselves. This enables prospects to make a much faster purchase decision.

How Much New Content Do You Need?

This is one of those “it depends” questions. If your company is in a well-defined market where the competition isn’t strong, you might require a relatively small amount of new content. By contrast, if your company is in a complex and highly competitive space, you may need quite a bit of new content. Either way, the payoff is large.

The key to success is to get started. You can’t procrastinate hoping that positive results will miraculously happen. Make the effort today and begin creating good-quality B2B content that will help you meet your marketing goals and drive solid business results.

Use Digital Content to Shorten the B2B Sales Cycle

It seems like everyone is talking about B2C and B2B content marketing. Marketers, sales reps, and business owners are becoming aware of the many benefits of propagating fresh and relevant digital content. But perhaps the most important content marketing benefit is the impact on the sales cycle. A relevant piece of content available to the prospect at the right time in the sales cycle, can accelerate the purchase decision.

Digital Content Shortens B2B Sales Cycle

What types of digital content shorten the B2B sales cycle?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Product Brochures and Data Sheets.  Prospects will want to review your product or services literature before making the purchase decision. Perhaps they have made the emotional decision to purchase and are looking to confirm this by matching features and functions against their needs. They may also be comparing your benefits and features against competitive offerings. Either way, it behooves you to have well-organized and complete product and services information.
  2. Company and Product Reviews. Your offer may sound viable and the features and functions match the prospect requirements. But the impact of all the other information you provide will be magnified if you have lots of testimonials and independent reviews available. In fact, anything you offer the prospect to alleviate the fear of making a bad decision can help shorten the sales cycle.
  3. Case Studies. We love to produce case studies because they are excellent tools to show how a product or service works in their specific vertical or horizontal domain. This specialized content can have a much greater impact on prospects than a generic product pitch.
  4. “How To” Guides.  Potential purchasers have a great interest in how they will install your product and use it on an ongoing basis. Assuming your product is not overly complicated – providing this information will help motivate prospects to act more quickly.
  5. Price Lists. We often have lively discussions with clients about posting their prices online. Companies hesitate to do this because they are afraid it will chase away prospects and because competitors will have access to this information. Both concerns are valid but should be balanced against the benefits.
  6. Order Forms.  The order form is the ultimate way to shorten the sales cycle since it compels the prospect to take action now. Even if your product or service is high ticket (expensive) or complex, the order form can be used to generate a minor close. A good example of this is the free trial offer, where you are asking for a small commitment now, to be followed by a larger commitment later. We have used this approach successfully for equipment, software, and service offerings.
  7. Website Information. All of the content categories mentioned above, plus others, should be available on your website. We like to think of the website as Command Central when it comes to educating, motivating, and converting prospects into customers.

Keep in mind that some of the above digital content items can be offered in non-text formats like graphics, audio, or video. When it comes to shortening the B2B sales cycle, there is no right or wrong when it comes to content length.  The point is to get the information to the prospect in the most easily and quickly digestible manner possible. Brevity is often better than comprehensive content, but do make sure that you have links from the summary to detailed information.