Why Should I Care About Content Marketing?
When people talk about digital marketing for B2B businesses, content is often one of the first things they’ll mention. We’ve all heard so-called marketing experts say that “content is king” or prattle on about the importance of “establishing your brand as thought leaders.”
But working out the real value of content marketing can be difficult. In simple terms, we’re talking about creating web-based assets that are designed to attract and persuade potential customers.
These articles, whitepapers, checklists, videos or podcast episodes would - ideally - stand a good chance of popping up in front of your target audience while they’re asking questions about the product or service you’re offering – giving you an opportunity to introduce them to your brand, and persuade them to consider you when it comes time to make that all-important decision.
Compared to traditional marketing tactics, content marketing is 62% cheaper and roughly three times as effective (source: Demand Metric).
But that doesn’t really explain how the whole thing works…
How Do Businesses Get Visitors From Google Search?
Google’s in the business of answering people’s questions. They know that people will keep using their search engine if it helps them solve their problems, which is why Alphabet (Google’s parent company) spends about £25 billion on improving their search engine every year (source: Statista).
And you know what? It must be working because Google now processes approximately 5.4 billion questions every day (source: HubSpot). Now, it goes without saying that most of those questions will be completely unrelated to your business, but a good chunk will pertain to the product or service that you’re selling.
Irrespective of whether someone’s buying legal services, a company car or a heat-proof pressure vessel for their chemical plant, they’ll always have questions that need to be answered.
Content marketing is about making sure that you’ve produced content that answers those questions – and got it ranking in Google to ensure that prospective customers stumble across your business when they’re at their most receptive.
Assuming that the content is informative and easy to read, it’ll leave a good impression and there’s a very good chance that you’ll go on to win their business.
Of course this oversimplifies the (arduous but rewarding) process of working out what people are searching for and producing genuinely useful content that stands out in an increasingly crowded space but this stuff isn’t rocket science: If you write helpful content and get it in front of the people that matter, your business will grow as a result.
What's The Process?
B2B content marketing isn’t about churning out hundreds of self-indulgent articles – or writing puff pieces that do nothing to move your business forwards. In all honesty, it’s not even about ‘telling your business's story’ or positioning your brand as thought leaders.
If you distil it down, B2B content marketing is actually about creating carefully-targeted content that answers genuine questions, and provides information that’ll help people move towards a purchasing decision.
After two decades of hard graft, we’ve come up with a pretty effective process that enables us to create killer content at scale. This process has five steps:
- Identify your ideal customer using customer data and a blend of 3rd party tools to find out who you really need to engage. You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule? Well, we’ll help you find the 20% of prospective clients primed to move your bottom line
- Identify their problems using keyword research tools to find out what they’re asking Google, and work out how you can help them move through the various stages of the buyer journey.
- Come up with a content strategy that prioritises a good mix of low-hanging fruit and the sort of complex, hard-to-answer questions that’ll drive new business for years to come. This strategy is the bedrock of your content campaign.
- Generating exceptional content with the help of our in-house team of marketing experts, who delight in finding new ways to engage web visitors with insightful and informative content that’s designed to solve their problems.
- Measure, rinse and repeat learning what works and feeding those insights back into your content strategy so that we’re always moving forward – and generating content that has a measurable impact on your bottom line.
This approach is industry-agnostic and it always generates results. Yes, it’s hard work that takes time to pay off, but it’s based on sound principles that will stand the test of time – leaving you with a wealth of high-performing content that drives a steady stream of prospective clients to your website.
Am I Just Giving The Crown Jewels Away?
It’s natural to worry that publishing detailed, informative and authoritative web content will somehow devalue your paid offering – or decrease the likelihood that people will reach out and contact you directly. You’re spoon-feeding people your hard-won expertise, when every instinct is screaming at you to charge for your knowledge.
But numerous studies have shown that the reputational boost you’ll enjoy far outweighs any risk (source: Forbes). Time and time again, experts have shown that publishing valuable content builds trust and helps to establish your brand without diluting the value of your insights.
It’s also worth remembering that content marketing is a brand building exercise. You’re going to be putting your name in front of people who’ve never heard of your business before. It’s important to make sure that you make a good first impression and position yourselves as knowledgeable experts who are willing to freely share important information.
As long as your B2B content marketing campaign doesn’t actually tell people how you do what you do, there’s no real risk to your bottom line.
What Type Of Content Do I Need?
You might have heard that long-form content is best for B2B brands – or that bite-sized ‘listicles’ significantly outperform traditional blog posts but these marketing truisms are rarely based in fact.
The truth is that there’s really no way of telling what type of content will perform well until we’ve conducted a thorough analysis of your vertical.
At the start of any B2B content marketing engagement, we spend a significant amount of time mapping out your target audience’s preferences, looking at competitor copy and analysing search results to make sure we’ve got a sound understanding of what works in your niche.
We’ll then use this information to create a detailed content calendar, generally featuring a healthy mix of
- Blog posts and articles
- Case studies
- New or re-optimised landing pages
- Checklists and cheat sheets
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Guides and instructionals
- Podcasts and explainer videos
Research also shows that up to 72% of modern web users prefer to engage with audiovisual content like explainer videos or podcasts (source: INVIDEO). So we’ve spent the last two years building out our capabilities in these areas, and now offer a fully-fledged video production and podcast creation services to B2B content marketing clients all over the globe.
By producing content that’s purpose-built to engage and convert your target audience, we can help you grow a dedicated following, and cement your reputation as smart people with bags of useful experience.
Do I Have To Keep Doing It?
Consistency is key. While it can be tempting to rattle out a few pages of top-notch content and call it a day, the only way to persuade Google that your site is authoritative, trustworthy and knowledgeable is to - wait for it - keep writing killer content that targets relevant keywords and answers your target audience's burning questions.
Studies show that 78% of brands who make a success of their B2B content marketing efforts have invested in some sort of long-term strategy (source: SEMRush), and a paper published by researchers from the Munich University Of Applied Sciences suggests that commiting to regular content updates is key to increasing the effectiveness of your content campaigns (source: PLOS ONE).
There’s a simple and straightforward reason for this: Simply put, it takes time for content marketing campaigns to generate momentum.
Your first, second and third blog posts are unlikely to generate much buzz but the more you post, the more you grow your brand. By the time you’re pushing your 53rd blog post, there’s a very good chance that key members of your target audience will have noticed your activity, bookmarked your blog and started sharing your content.
Research published by Search Engine Journal also suggests that regular updates teach Google to crawl your site more frequently, decreasing the lag time between publishing a piece of content and seeing it rank for relevant search terms (source: SEJ). Over time, the effect can snowball; allowing you to scale your digital footprint at breakneck pace.
But that’s not to say that you should start churning out low-value content to meet some arbitrary metric around post frequency. Quality is still the number one priority when it comes to building a brand and generating enquiries, which is why we always focus on creating content that establishes your brand as subject matter experts with a wealth of useful domain knowledge.
How Will I Know If It's Working?
It might take a while for your B2B content marketing campaign to start delivering results (6-9 months, give or take). But when things do kick into gear, it’ll be very obvious that your efforts have paid off.
The first thing that you’ll see is a spike in organic impressions. This is what we call a leading indicator and it generally shows that your website has started ranking for a broader swathe of search terms – and popping up in front of the people actively searching for the topics you’ve been writing about.
After this, you should notice a corresponding uptick in the number of organic visitors hitting your site. If you drill down using an analytics tool like Search Console, GA4 or Clicky, you should also see that these new visitors are finding your site via the search terms you’re targeting with your B2B content marketing campaign.
But you don’t invest in content marketing because you want to see more visitors. Leads and enquiries are what we really care about, and it’s not until we see a significant uptick in these key metrics that we’ll be able to say that our content marketing efforts have been a success.
9 times out of 10, a well-planned content marketing campaign that
- focuses on the right keywords
- Caters to the need of your target audience
- Provides plenty of measurable value
Will deliver a steady stream of leads and enquiries. But if your targettings off or you’ve missed the mark slightly, it’s just a case of revisiting your initial strategy and adjusting using the data you’ve gathered from your ‘failed’ campaign.
Like all marketing efforts, B2B content marketing is an iterative process that can be continually optimised as you gather data, so nothing’s wasted and you’re always learning something valuable.