It’s deep into spooky season and B2B brands everywhere are creeping with trepidation at the next content marketing fright around the corner.
Compared with their B2C peers, business-to-business organizations have largely played catch-up in the content marketing game. While there are definitely some top-performing B2B brands, success in key segments like customer experience and strategy have eluded others.
But as the shadow of 2020 looms, B2B companies across industries are starting to get their content marketing houses in order so they don’t resemble the manors of mayhem visited by oh-so many Halloween thrillseekers.
Here’s a roundup of some of the latest news regarding B2Bs and content marketing:
The customer experience has become the focal point of modern consumer marketing efforts. And for the most part, B2C brands are running away in the experiential department: from social conversations to showrooming and retail fronts that don’t really sell stuff so much as they draw in shoppers and engage potential buyers.
B2B firms, on the other hand, face a starkly different reality when it comes to the customer experience – not many are great at it. The type of the customer certainly has a big impact here – you can’t exactly draw in business buyers with a free puppy play pit – but there’s still ample room to improve.
Episerver recently gauged more than 700 B2B marketing decision-makers on what they intend to do to improve their experience efforts and shared some insights with eMarketer. In all, a whopping 84% believed that growing digital expectations from customers and partners were their greatest external threat.
To meet those expectations, B2B firms are doubling down on experience. Respondents were asked to choose their top three new website features they plan to introduce in the next year:
- 36% picked personalized content.
- 33% picked experience improvements.
- 31% picked live chat.
- 26% picked product recommendations.
Want to see more stats on where B2B decision-makers are investing to improve the customer experience? Check out the article at eMarketer here.
So, if B2B brands want to do better in content marketing and building a high-quality customer experience, the first place to start with is creating better content.
That task doesn’t have to be as monolithic as it sounds, though, as B2B marketers can use these nine simple and fast ways for elevating content, as compiled by Search Engine Journal contributor Alexander Kesler.
Just about all the tips recommended in this article are easily deployable, if not already best practices you should generally be aware of.
Some of the best pieces of advice include:
- Know your audience: It’s not enough to simply know generally who your audience is; You have to know their desires, their purchasing motivations, their online habits, their content preferences and much more. Customer segmentation and buyer personas are musts for content marketing to succeed, and result in more targeted, personalized assets being delivered to the right customers and leads.
- Don’t focus on selling all the time: This is something B2C brands increasingly excel at, but a difficult mindset to assume in B2B interactions. Just remember that hammering subjects like ROI and value potential don’t have to be so obtuse and transparent. There’s an art in being able to weave your talking points seamlessly into content that answers other questions or educates buyers.
- Repurpose old content: A content repurposing workflow can generate benefits again … and again … and again … and, you get the picture. Old content – unlike senior pooches – can indeed be taught new tricks; but you have to put in the work to make it happen. Identify top-performing pieces and how you can break them out into other assets, which is both efficient and effective content marketing.
You can read all the other tips here.
More valuable B2B content marketing research comes to us via the Content Marketing Institute, Marketingprofs and Sitecore, which together recently published data on B2B benchmarks, budgets and trends.
The big takeaway? While B2B brands have gotten better at leveraging content to nurture customers, audiences and leads (68% in 2019 vs. 58% in 2018) they “still have work to do on deepening relationships” and driving loyalty and long-term content success.
Another data insight demonstrating this room for improvement is the 58% of B2B content marketers who said their content marketing success was only moderate. Just over a quarter (26%) said they were very or extremely successful.
In terms of where to grow, customer experience is a clear area to improve. Of top-performing B2B content marketers, 83% provide “optimal experiences” across the customer journey. Just over half (52%) of all respondents said the same, as did 23% of bottom-performers – demonstrating how important experience is to customers and content success.
Overall, content marketing efforts have paid off for B2B organizations that pursue them: 59% of B2B content marketers self-rated their ability to demonstrate content ROI as excellent or very good; 36% said their ability was average, while a measly 5% said below average or poor. This led to a year-over-year increase in the share of respondents who reported achieving key goals like building brand awareness (net 5% bump), educating audiences (+6%) and building credibility/trust (+7%).
Dive deep into the data on SlideShare here, or flip through the full report above.
That’s all for now. Start working on those Halloween costumes if you haven’t already! Check back next week for the newest Content Marketing Weekly.