How to Content Market to B2B Organizations
Building out a B2B content marketing strategy that targets B2B companies is far different than marketing to B2C companies. Simply put, B2B organizations face different challenges due to the nature of their consumer(s), as you typically need buy in from multiple sources within the organization. As a result, having a B2B content marketing strategy around multiple stages in the content funnel along with a plan in place with how you are going to measure creates a recipe for success.
Start With The B2B Content Funnel
To be honest, a B2B funnel is very similar to a B2C funnel and has 5 steps. It goes like this: Starting with AWARENESS, people must become aware of your product or service, simple enough, right? Then they have some sort of CONSIDERATION if this is something they are in the market for and want to buy. That will usually lead into COMPARISON for the savvy online buyer who will conduct their research and dig into the different price points of each option. Finally, they decide to CONVERT or not to convert. Then comes RETENTION. Retention will become a central focus typically for B2B vs. B2C whereas many B2C consumers can be one-time-purchasers.
Target The Right Stages In The Funnel
Trying to be everything to everyone is typically not a good idea, unless you are Walmart or something to that effect. Staying focused is the name of the game for strategic B2B content marketing and spreading yourself too thin across the content marketing funnel is the last thing you will want to do. I think the biggest problem I see is when marketers target the wrong parts of the funnel with their content strategy.
It has been my experience that focusing on no more than two parts of the funnel at a time with your strategic content plan works the best in a B2B scenario. This way you can improve each step in the funnel and master your results before moving on and optimizing another piece of the funnel.
Custom-Tailor Your Content To The Parts Of The Funnel That Need It Most
When creating your content it is important to keep the overall sales funnel in mind and where you need the most help. Start by organizing and classifying your current content into the funnel steps. Then identify steps in the funnel that are missing content, have very few articles, or are weak and not compelling. Those are the areas you are going to want to begin with.
Let me give you an example using our very own Power Digital Marketing. We are a B2B digital marketing company specializing in creating custom digital marketing strategies for our client’s websites. Our client base ranges from startups to large enterprise level organizations. In 2016 Power Digital wants to be focused on larger organizations “brands” to do business with.
Power Digital’s funnel could use more help in two strategic areas (1) awareness and (2) comparison. If awareness is the issue, awareness to whom? Could be awareness to top ranking officials like a CMO or even a Marketing Director. Choosing the audience is crucial here. Say we choose the CMO Executive as our audience target. A CMO may be interested in articles like “The Most Efficient Digital Channels that Produce the Highest ROI” or “What to Look for in a Quality Third Party Digital Agency?” If your content is to identify traits in a quality digital marketing agency, perhaps the content should come with a downloadable checklist for the busy CMO to quickly download and deploy making his/her job much easier! This could work very well to gain “awareness” and introduce this audience to the Power Digital brand.
When focusing on “comparison” it is important to know your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses in accordance with your own. Comparison is almost always going to show up in a B2B buying decision, as there typically will be many horses in the race. If I stick with my CMO audience, I may want to produce a piece of content that causes a well-known pain-point that Power Digital has overcome. Since measuring quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a pain point and hot topic, an article like “Why Your Last SEO Agency Failed You” could be a great opportunity to compare your agency’s values and processes against the status quo. Thus, painting the agency in a better light and exposing other agency weaknesses.
Using this process will greatly enhance your ability to better target the audience with your B2B opportunity. Target the soft points in your funnel (never more than two at a time), always have your end user or audience in mind as your primary objective, and create custom tailored content towards that position in the B2B organizational chain.
Proper Measuring For B2B Content Funnels
A fatal flaw occurs when measuring a B2B content funnel’s effectiveness, when you use lead conversion as your main key performance indicator (KPI). While I know that sounds crazy hear me out.
While recognizing that the majority of B2B services have lead volume to their sales team as a main KPI, the content funnel that ultimately produces the leads deserves very specific KPI’s for each part of the funnel i.e. each step. If you are setting goals for “awareness” at the top of the funnel lead conversions should probably not be the primary objective goal, as that belongs lower in the funnel. Instead consider social shares of the content as a value indicator or Google Analytics metrics like page views and time on site that show interest and engagement. Since awareness can directly correlate to interest as a success metric for that piece of the funnel, find interest metrics to measure and put them in place.
What I urge you to do is take careful note of what you are trying to improve with your content strategy throughout the funnel and assign relevant metrics that support the objective in each of the 5 steps.