You’ll likely agree that if you’re a B2B (business to business) company, then you’ve probably found it harder and harder to secure media coverage. In the last few years, the common wisdom of sending out press releases has led to a much more sophisticated approach which is known as B2B content marketing. In its simplest terms, it’s the strategy of companies creating really compelling content for target customers that engenders a sense of trust and establishes thought leadership. If you’ve not started creating a strong B2B content marketing strategy then here’s 10 reason why you should.
1. Content marketing is great for SEO (search engine optimisation)
Recent updates to the Google search algorithm in the last few years have sought to kill off underhanded ‘black hat’ SEO tactics which sought to game or trick Google in favour of authentic content. Its search algorithm has been continually refined, but essentially Google ranks sites that have interesting and authentic content as being of more importance and relevance. If you receive offers from SEO agencies offering to help you rank on the front page for an incredibly low price then it’s likely too good to be true. You’re much better off investing in creating genuinely insightful content that your potential clients will find valuable and useful. Also, Google SEO largely works on quality inbound links. If influential blogs or sites like a piece of content you have created then they will likely link to it, lending it much needed SEO juice to carry favour with Google. Finally, if you share the right kind of content on high traffic platforms like Slideshare or a thought piece on Linkedin Pulse then it can increase your chances of it being indexed and driving leads.
2. A detailed B2B content marketing plan means less reliance on traditional PR
The days of boozy lunches with the media are fast becoming a thing of the past. Journalists are drowning in emailed pitches and it has just become incredibly hard to secure coverage. Why rely on solely obtaining press coverage when you can produce your own content to reach your target customers via other channels instead? That doesn’t mean that trying to get press coverage isn’t still important, and if you have unique statistics or data you can share then you’ve got a good chance of catching their attention. Otherwise, creating your own publishing platform with a strong website, database and social media following will mean you can build your own direct audience. An effective B2B content marketing strategy have robust and compelling content at its heart with a clear plan to optimise for SEO and how you will share it with your target audience.
3. Quality content helps to establish your expertise and authority
Everyone in B2B marketing wants to be seen as a thought leader. Nothing helps you establish this more than producing some unique or useful insight that your clients will actually find of value and even be willing to share with others. A press release talking about office openings or revenue may be one thing, but a piece of insight that addresses your target customers problems will go a lot further. Often, the best content is evergreen – meaning that it stays relevant over time – which is another thing that is great for SEO.
4. Great content encourages sharing
Content marketing is absolutely ideal for social media. If you’re active on Linkedin and Twitter then you need something to share with your contacts and followers. This is where content comes to the fore. An infographic, Slideshare deck, video research paper or even blog post can hit the right note and get people sharing your ideas and amplifying your marketing for you. Of course, you also have to do Twitter, Linkedin and any other social channels well in the first place, but nothing helps your B2B marketing more than a good bit of content.
5. Customers don’t like being sold to – content cuts through the crap and makes you look authentic
Marketing can often be packed with a lot of BS. B2B content marketing should be the total opposite; it’s useful, authentic and non-self referencing. If you get it right, then clients will seek your content out, meaning you don’t have to constantly look for ways to force messages down their throat. Customers will infer your expertise from the mere fact that you are about to write about it in an authoritative fashion. Write something engaging, honest and clear and clients will warm to your no nonsense approach and appreciate the lack of guff and hot air than emanates from 99% of the sales material they see every day.
6. Content is trackable and measurable
The great thing about creating content is that you no longer need hide under the desk when a client holds you to account for results. There’s a sea of analytics and tools out there to help you discern what people are doing. Just some examples include:
- Bitly links – you can even create separate links for different marketing channels to see click-through numbers for a newsletter versus Twitter
- Social share buttons such as Shareaholic
- Track email newsletter opens with Mailchimp
- Plain old Google Analytics for your landing page or A/B test sexy landing pages with Landerapp
7. Content can push a single idea through multiple channels
The other great thing about content is that it has such a huge amount of depth and variety when you need to amplify it. Investing in one piece of research can pay dividends. Take a look at the excellent diagram from Ken Krogue below on how a single ‘core idea’ can then be amplified through many different formats and channels; for example, investing in one piece of research means that you can create a Slideshare and webinar from it as well as a press release and customers newsletter.
8. B2B content marketing performs several sales and marketing functions
A good piece of collateral can also be turned into a valuable tool for your sales force. Take our own ‘How to market your app on a shoestrong budget’ that we wrote and designed as a way to share our expertise. Initially created for free digital distribution, we also printed physical copies and handed them out to delegates at the 2015 London app promotion summit. When you have great content with a high perceived value, it works both as a marketing and sales tool, and will continue to generate inbound sales leads with little or no push.
9. Well written, useful content can live on and on….and on
A piece of content that has a good title can really last a long time. We still find pieces of research from 2-3 years ago that we still include in client work as the facts and figures are so helpful, and often are very unique. If the title you use contains commonly searched keywords then you will continue to appear in online searches and drive downloads and views for many months or even years. Can a press release really claim to do that? Not really, as the news value of a press release diminishes as soon as it’s been published, and as press releases are often sent directly via email they don’t appear in search – another advantage of content marketing.
10. It can help you build a quality database
It’s very common for content to be hosted on your site which people are free to download or share in return for their email address or a few personal details. Using a simple form to capture information, or even just requesting they follow you on Twitter or give you a shout-out on their own social channels can be a valuable way to build your audience for future content posts, regular newsletters, events or even new business opportunities.
If you’re new to B2B content marketing then be sure also read our A-Z of content marketing which explains the basics of what content marketing is all about.