In its 2022 analysis of B2B buyers, buyer engagement platform provider NetLine uncovered data that can give B2B content marketing professionals deep insights into their prospects’ content preferences and needs. In this guide, we’ll unpack some of these insights and add some of our own to give you several ideas about where you need to take your B2B content marketing game to eclipse your competition.
To Attract B2B Buyers, Create More Ebooks and Guides Than White Papers
Many content marketing leaders believe B2B buyers to be a staid bunch who prefer reading wordy tomes stuffed with Ph.D.-level technical terms. They’re not. They’re too busy making money. They’d prefer you to cut to the chase and provide them with advice that can help them conquer their most pressing challenges.
White papers often come off sounding like Ph.D. dissertations rather than customer-focused practical guidance – all jargon and passive voice and GRE prep vocabulary words.
Granted, if you do white papers well, they don’t have to be that way. But ebooks are just so much more accessible than the oh-so-formal white paper. It’s no wonder that the NetLine study showed that buyers download ebooks at 4.8 times the rate as they do white papers.
The study also found that the word “guide” in a title attracts B2B buyers’ attention. Since the term indicates that the content will steer them toward a solution with specific steps to take, it implies that they’ll get content they can put to use as soon as they finish reading it.
As the NetLine report puts it, “Professionals are seeking out more straightforward, ‘how to’ content than ever before.” So, keep your B2B content concise, laser-focused on your prospects’ needs, and ready to use quickly.
Pump Up Your B2B Content Production
While quality is critical, so is quantity – especially for B2B buyers. The NetLine report also revealed that B2B content consumption rose by 9% during 2021. B2B executives were even more voracious content consumers, increasing their content consumption by 15.8%.
While creating valuable new content should play a vital role in your B2B content strategy in 2022, consider repurposing or updating older content to increase your production. For example, if you have several blog posts that offer valuable advice on the same topic, consider beefing them up and releasing them as an ebook or guide.
Since your content teams have already done most of the research on these projects, they can focus their attention on the creative process. Make sure that their revisions focus on your target customers’ needs.
If it’s been a while since you’ve looked over your buyer personas, update them to align with your target prospects’ current needs. Since nearly three-fourths of today’s audiences demand personalized content, it’s essential that you deliver it, especially for major prospects.
Use Content Analytics to Determine Which Formats Yield the Most Sales
Configure your content analytics to include how various formats perform in generating sales. During their study, the NetLine team compared the percentage of sales in each date range. They discovered that when a particular format generates a high percentage of sales in under three months and a low percentage of sales over the long term, people who request content in that format are more likely to buy.
Since, according to a recent HubSpot study, measuring ROI looks to be one of content marketers’ top challenges in 2022, discovering what types of content best drive sales can serve as a pipeline to content marketing success.
Also, it pays to measure which types of content and topics drive conversions at critical points along the buyer’s journey. Remember, you’re building a long-term relationship, not trying to make a quick buck.
Use Content to Educate, Advise, and Yes, Entertain Your B2B Prospects
In thriving brands, B2B buyers are experts in their respective fields. However, they’re not as likely to have deep knowledge of your field and how your products and expertise can help them solve problems.
For that reason, you need to avoid jargon and undefined technical terms. Explain everything in plain language that anyone can understand.
If you’ve done your homework in constructing your buyer personas, you have some idea about what types of problems your prospects face. Major prospects, though, deserve a deeper dive into their specific challenges so that you can better tailor your content to their needs.
Content marketing is all about convincing the decision-makers that your company has the expertise, products, and willingness to turn your promises into a real solution. Content that assures them that your brand has what it takes to help them can make decision-makers confident enough to become paying customers.
You might think that B2B decision-makers look only at their bottom line and logic to make purchase decisions. Believe that at your own peril.
As the Content Marketing Institute’s Jodi Harris points out, “The best way for content marketers to build…trust is by demonstrating deeper awareness and understanding of the positive outcomes and experiences our audience wants to achieve, not focusing on the transactional behaviors we want to drive.”
In other words, show empathy with stories that engage the heart as well as the head. When your brand stories put the prospect, not your company, in the starring role as the hero, B2B buyers can picture themselves conquering their challenges. Just like they do when they watch their favorite action series on TV – only it’s their business on the line.
And if your brand is the “sword” your prospect can unsheathe to slay their dragons, they’ll not only become customers. They’ll become advocates for your brand among their business contacts.
The numbers bear out this insight. In a joint study conducted by Google and Motista, B2C brands elicited emotional connections with only 10%-40% of their customers. However, most B2B brands they studied had emotional connections with more than 50% of the brands they did business with.
Finally, Hook Your “Big Fish” with Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a highly personalized approach to content marketing. Since it’s fairly labor-intensive, even larger corporations reserve it for their most promising high-dollar prospects.
In an ABM campaign, you create customized content for the key decision-makers in each company you want to convert into a paying customer. To learn what content to create and deliver to these prospects, you’ll need to engage in content collaboration with your sales team and others in your organization.
Not only will your sales team be able to identify your top prospects, but they’ll also be able to supply you with those prospects’ pain points, any objections they’ve raised, and specific concerns they’ve expressed. In addition, they can furnish you with specific decision-makers’ concerns so that you can provide them with content that addresses those issues.
Armed with that information, your content teams can customize past content assets to create the exact content they need when they need it.
It also pays to bring your customer support teams in on the conversation. They’ll be able to tell you some of the feedback they’ve heard from current customers.
Then, address those issues current customers have raised proactively to assure your prospects that you’ll provide superb customer service in both onboarding and troubleshooting after the sale.
To find content assets you can customize for your biggest prospects, you’ll need a content marketing platform with a leading-edge metadata management solution. With the power to tag content with relevant terms, it can help you find assets faster, enabling your teams to get to work on the personalization process.
Additionally, DivvyHQ enables you to easily manage large, multi-channel initiatives and plan content across the enterprise, an essential ingredient in successful B2B marketing.
And, you can try it free for 14 days with no obligation. Start your free trial today!