“Content marketing” has become one of the biggest buzzwords in the digital space over the last decade. More and more people write blogs, post videos and share free e-books, all in the hope of attracting new customers and maintaining existing ones. This technique of providing target audiences with free content in order to get their attention has also become known as “inbound marketing.”
In today's post, we're going to look at both the key differences that B2B enterprise companies face when creating their content/inbound marketing strategy, as well as the most important strategies and types of content in the ecosystem today.
Creating an enterprise B2B content strategy
Inbound vs. outbound
Inbound methods revolve around the idea of creating content that engages audiences on a deeper level with your brand over a longer period of time—e.g. ongoing video series or blogs.
Outbound techniques, in contrast, mainly consist of paid methods such as television and radio commercials, billboards, paid promoted posts on social media and some public relations.
Outbound marketing, while more expensive, is still very effective—especially at the beginning of a new company or campaign—when trying to raise general brand awareness. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is much more efficient in keeping people’s attention in the long run.
In other words, outbound is great for customer acquisition, while inbound (content marketing) is very effective for customer-retention purposes.
Startups and other small businesses have a small range of products or services, so their content marketing strategies can be fairly focused and easy to maintain.
Enterprise businesses, however, are facing more complex target audiences, a larger volume of products and services and a far larger scale of implementation. That’s why, in the case of enterprise B2B marketing, it is helpful to create separate content-marketing strategies for different products and services in order to define distinct metrics and milestones that can be measured to achieve efficient ROI on a case-by-case basis.
Even though videos and podcasts have become more popular over the last few years, blogging is still one of the most common content-marketing tools for B2B marketers. In fact, out of 11 different types of content, blog posts are most likely to be shared by B2B buyers, with 40 percent saying they share them frequently, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 “B2B Content Preferences Survey.”
The great advantage of blogs, especially for enterprise businesses, is that they can cover a wide variety of topics and showcase various employee experts, while still providing the option to include different content formats such as video, images, audio and infographics.
Interestingly, while the attention span of regular B2C consumers is shortening, B2B customers prefer long-form content with a higher level of detail.
Blogs come with another advantage: You can catch people’s attention on third party platforms such as social networks with eye-catching images and intriguing headlines and then drive them to your company website. Here you should not only exceed their expectations, but also provide them with more “recommended” content that directly relates to the product or services the blog they are currently reading is about.
Case studies and presentations
Speaking of long-form content, in addition to blogs, one of the most popular forms of content marketing for B2B businesses are case studies, white papers, and presentations made available on sites such as Slideshare.
A Demand Gen Report survey conducted in 2014 showed that white papers are the most popular form of content among B2B consumers at 78 percent, with case studies in second place at 73 percent.
One of the reasons case studies and white papers turn out to be perfect content marketing tools is their high level of detail and organic way to present your products and services in the context of providing valuable industry insights.
Establish authority on LinkedIn
In addition to Slideshare, you might also consider publishing case studies and presentations on the business-centric social network LinkedIn, where you will most likely be able to reach a majority of your target market.
Publishing case studies and expert articles, moderating discussion forums, and hosting meetups—both online and offline—are great ways to establish authority on LinkedIn and further expand your brand visibility in the digital space.
Less is more
This age-old principle applies to content marketing in the B2B world as well. Since you are already dealing with a rather complex target market and wide range of products, it is essential that you focus your marketing team’s energy on quality rather than quantity so that you will satisfy both potential and existing customers with every single piece of content.
Overexposing your audience to mediocre content might keep them talking about your brand, but not always in a good way. In the end, less is more. Stay focused on creating meaningful and memorable content, and your content-marketing strategy will have a good chance of turning potential customers into paying customers.