5 Musts For B2B Marketing Content That Drives Leads And Closes Sales
The saying “content is king” has become an intrinsic part of marketing vernacular. It’s a statement I agree with, but that doesn’t mean just any content strategy will do. Not all monarchs are good rulers. Similarly, not all content will help you achieve your organizational goals. Content must be carefully crafted, strategically distributed and promoted, and continually refined.
For most B2B organizations, the primary purpose of marketing content is to pique interest in a company’s products and services, generate demand and, ultimately, help drive sales. The following five characteristics are vital to ensuring your content delivers on these desired outcomes.
Content must engage.
A good ruler is charismatic, capable of using words to influence the masses and motivate others to follow their lead. Good B2B marketing content should do the same. Content should engage readers (or viewers/listeners) in a conversation and invite them to join your organization’s movement.
Static product and solution overviews or one-sided company propaganda will not inspire your audience. The key to attracting and engaging followers is having a clear understanding of their pain points, the ability to articulate these challenges succinctly and impactfully, and a promise for how your organization can help solve these problems. Moreover, this effort should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a one-and-done proposition. The goal should be to move your audience from one piece of content to the next, driving a prospect closer to a sale at each step in the journey.
Content must be omnipresent.
A good king is all-seeing and all-knowing. They seem to be everywhere their subjects need them. Effective content should also possess omnipresent qualities. Accomplishing this requires variation in medium, format and distribution channels. Far too many B2B organizations churn out the same types of content over and over again. For example, they may excel at producing articles and white papers but ignore multimedia such as video and podcasts. Not everyone consumes content the same way. A successful strategy will incorporate multiple content vehicles to appeal to different preferences.
Similarly, too many companies create compelling content only to isolate it within the confines of their own websites. For content to have the desired impact, it must extend beyond corporate marketing channels to engage prospects wherever they are, including social media and trusted trade publications. Your content shouldn’t be hard to find. It should instead find your audience.
Content must be accessible.
A good ruler is a person of the people. They relate to the challenges their subjects face and are available and accessible to help them when needed. Good rulers don’t lock themselves in an ivory tower. A common misconception is that gating (i.e., requiring people to fill out a form to access content) all or most B2B content is the fastest way to generate leads. This practice often has the opposite effect. Placing a barrier to entry on your content can discourage engagement and drive away many would-be prospects.
With this in mind, the goal should be to make most of your content accessible to the masses, encouraging as much readership as possible. Obviously, prospect contact information will be necessary at some point to constitute a lead. However, an organization should first work to establish trust with its audience. A good rule of thumb is to position most of your content as ungated “breadcrumb” pieces that lead readers to a select few high-value gated assets. A reader who has been free to engage with other pieces of content and has experienced the value they deliver is more inclined to provide contact information to access more information later in the process. In addition, leads captured at this stage tend to be more qualified and open to nurturing.
Content must serve all audiences.
A good king serves all subjects, not just the needs of a select few. Similarly, marketing content should address all phases of the buyer’s journey—from awareness to evaluation and ultimately to decision/conversion. This is an area where many B2B organizations fall short. A large percentage of content is weighted too heavily on the awareness and evaluation phases of the buyer’s journey—focusing on introducing a problem or pain point, outlining a potential solution and accentuating the differentiators present in an organization’s products and services. Few organizations put as much effort into creating content directed at helping prospects ultimately make a buying decision. This practice results in a bunch of leads being stuck at the top and middle of the sales funnel.
A good piece of decision-phase content will deliver proof points such as return on investment (ROI) metrics or address common objections. Self-evaluation checklists, proof of concept documents, ROI calculators and customer testimonials are solid examples of content that can help close a deal. Make sure your content strategy is balanced to include key decision pieces that complement awareness and evaluation assets.
Content must be refined.
A good ruler learns from mistakes, constantly adapting to the changing demands of followers to enhance service. Marketing content should be viewed in the same way. Content should never be considered complete. Its performance should be regularly monitored and measured, and its messages continuously refined to optimize audience appeal.
If a piece of content doesn’t perform as expected, conduct the research necessary to determine the underlying cause. Is the topic a non-starter? Is the messaging off? Did you misjudge the medium or format? Are you promoting the piece in the wrong places? Answers to these questions may not be readily apparent. Experimentation will often be required to isolate the problem and correct it. The key is to engage in the process of constant improvement.
Content likely won’t sell a new customer on its own. However, a solid content strategy that applies the characteristics outlined in this article can help lower the fruit for your sales team, providing the tools necessary to attract, nurture and convert leads. When done correctly, your sales team and organization at large will view marketing content as an indispensable contributor to business growth. Long live the king (or queen)!