Content marketing was once a buzzword. Today, B2B businesses are at stake – and it’s more data-driven than ever.
Once you have top notch content, you need to be able to get it in front of the right people.
In a recent DemandGen report, B2B buyers said they spend more time researching purchases (77%) and expect more personalized attention from sellers based on their specific needs (76%). In the same report, B2B buyers explained how important relevant content was to their decision-making process. The respondents indicated that the relevance of content influences their decision-making. 76% said that the content of the winning vendor had a significant impact on their purchase decision.
Likewise, 70% of buyers rated “relevant content that speaks directly to our company” as “very important” in the survey, and 96% of B2B experts rated messages that “spoke directly to our industry requirements” as important.
B2B marketers know they need an always-on content machine to consistently deliver leads. To create relevant articles for the reader, companies can use audience data to personalize content based on:
- Where they are in the buying cycle
- Who they are (job title, role, level)
- Your business needs
- Your personal needs, interests and values
B2B marketers can also use campaign and behavioral data (e.g., email opening and clicking, ad conversions, browsing history, etc.) and third-party data (e.g., intent) to control content creation and the Select the right content types, channels, etc. Timing and frequency for their reach.
Take national insurance, for example. The company provides a resource center for companies dealing with insurance and insurance-related topics. The resource center runs businesses of various sizes and industries, from mom and pop stores to manufacturers and agribusinesses. The content topics, which are unique and relevant for the company and the stakeholders, answer questions about insurance products and offer helpful safety tips and company advice. Targeted social media and display ads are being run nationwide to promote their resources in every target group segment and attract new leads.
Targeting content to the right person and purchasing group
Once you have top notch content, you need to be able to get it in front of the right people. Effective B2B marketers target leads in many ways – through their role in the buyer’s travel and marketing funnel, their job title, their industry, their behavior, or a combination of these factors. Here are some of the key ways B2B marketers reach their target audience:
Bio range: A 2020 report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that B2B marketers are actively using unpaid methods to distribute their content. Social media was the best-earned medium (91%), closely followed by branded websites (89%) and email (87%). Email newsletters were identified as the top approach to lead nurturing (31%).
Paid programs: According to the report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 84% of B2B marketers use paid sales channels for content marketing purposes. Marketers can use paid search, adverts, and social media ads to target business decision-makers on the internet and in the walled gardens of social media channels. You can also use these platforms to target new prospects, redirect unconverted website visitors, or sell new products to customers who are already in your database.
Native advertising and branded content: With ad blocking technology and the phasing out of third-party cookies, more and more B2B companies are using native advertising and branded content to make their expertise available to potential customers. By carefully choosing publications that naturally suit your target audience, you can run native ads (branded content that looks like editorial content) that help increase brand awareness and lead generation.
For example, IBM created a multi-part native advertising campaign at The Atlantic to target a specific audience: executives in the athletics industry. The series included interactive infographics and research illustrating how sports teams use technology to improve performance both on and off the field, as well as real-world examples showing how IBM helped companies in the athletics industry do so has to improve performance. This targeted campaign is designed to fit in with the tone and content of The Atlantic. It provided unique and relevant information to decision makers in one of the most important segments of IBM.
A steady flow of content is not only important in order to generate new net leads. It’s also an essential part of maintaining existing and continuing along the funnel. B2B marketers can target and engage current customers to reduce wear and tear, especially in industries with high turnover rates (e.g., tech companies with a subscription-based service model).
Your content can position your company as an expert in your field and inform potential customers and customers about the benefits of your products and services. Designing content for who you ultimately target will ensure that you have relevant messages for multiple buyers and accounts – and that you meet the needs of your prospects and customers, as well as those of your company.
Ken Stout is Senior Vice President at Data Axle, a marketing and data services agency.