How to Create B2B Marketing Content that Sells
By Callie Sierra
It’s no surprise that content marketing is a core component of a successful B2B marketing strategy. For several years now, the business buyer’s journey has been driven by the buyer, rather than the seller. In fact, recent research from Forrester suggests that 68% of today’s business buyers prefer to research on their own online, and that 62% can now develop selection criteria or finalise a vendor list based solely on digital content.
As buyers become increasingly self-directed, it’s no longer enough to just create content that’s engaging and persuasive; it needs to effectively move the reader through the sales process. Between blog posts, email campaigns, white papers, case studies and social media, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds of producing and distributing quality content.
However, if you take the time to plan out your content marketing strategy and closely align with the buyer journey, you’ll see better marketing (and sales) results.
Align Content Marketing to the Buyer Journey
The key to content marketing isn’t complex: deliver personalised, relevant information to the right audience at the right time. Sounds easy, but how do you this? It starts by aligning your content strategy with your company’s sales process. Each piece of content should be carefully crafted to serve a strategic purpose in the buyer journey and encourage customers to continue to the next step.
Step 1: Awareness
This is the start of your buyer’s journey and the first interaction your customer has with your business. Most likely, it’s a visit to your website or blog. The goal at this point is to peak your customer’s interest. Focus on offering engaging, educational content that effectively communicates the benefits of your product or service. This could be in the form of ebooks, white papers, blog posts, or webinar content.
At this stage, you also want to request customers’ permission to market to them. Ask them to subscribe to a newsletter or to provide their information in exchange for a resource, tool, or information.
Step 2: Consideration
Now that you have a set of potential customers with expressed interest in your offering. It’s time to nurture them.
Your goal at this stage is to establish trust and value. Offer content that provides solutions to the unique challenges your customers’ face and demonstrates your value to them. Nurturing leads with helpful content such as white papers, ebooks, and videos will help move them from consideration to conversion. They’re not quite ready to buy at this point, so lead with the benefits and don’t bug them too often.
Step 3: Conversion
You’re almost there! At this stage in the process, your goal is to persuade potential customers to convert. Deliver content that helps demonstrate why they should buy and overcomes their objections. Each prospect will have their own unique set of objections, so personalization is key at this stage. Case studies, testimonials, and webinars can be great formats for helping give potential customers the extra nudge towards conversion.
Step 4: Service
Congratulations, you have a new client! Now, it’s time to make sure they are set up for success. Content at this stage should be centered on service. Provide educational materials that help the client better understand how to get the most from your offering and how best to work with your company. Setting up a client for success in the beginning will have a huge impact on long they continue as a customer.
Step 5: Advocacy
Once customers are successfully on-boarded, it’s a marketer’s job to turn them into passionate supporters and loyal allies. Content at this point should help customers build their own internal brand and highlight their success. It’s your job to champion them. Client advisory boards, conferences, and video series are great ways to help educate your customers and advocate their success through engaging content.
Step 6: Up-sell & Cross-Sell
Now that your customers are hooked, encourage them to try upgrades or add-ons. This stage, if done right, should overlap with Advocacy. Focus content on disseminating the value of a more comprehensive or improved solution. Customer conferences and targeted events are a great way to soft-sell new or complimentary offerings, as are customer advocacy programs.
To have a successful content marketing strategy these days, you need to go way beyond just content creation. Its real power lies in its strategic alignment with sales and services.
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