B2B Content Marketing: Why Creating a Culture of Content Matters
A B2B content marketing strategy that builds organic web traffic and converts readers into prospects is fundamentally about using nurturing content to ...
Published: 25 Jan 2021
5 minutes read
“How can we get colleagues in other departments to help create content?” is probably the biggest challenge facing many content marketers. It is also the most important.
A B2B content marketing strategy that builds organic web traffic and converts readers into prospects is fundamentally about using nurturing content to solve customer and prospects' most commonly asked questions.
In most tech and other B2B organisations, marketers and their agencies don’t have as much contact with customers and prospects as salespeople, pre-sales consultants, implementation and project managers or customer service teams. But write down every question that these colleagues have ever been asked and you’ll soon have the basis of a great content marketing plan. Trust me: if your existing customers are asking these questions, so will other people who are in the market for similar products or services. I’m writing this blog because it is answering a question that my customers frequently ask and it is on your mind too isn’t it?
Understanding how a B2B content marketing strategy works
Before you ask colleagues to contribute their ideas to your marketing plan, it is vital that you take a step back and remember that most of them will not yet understand just how big this new concept of content marketing is. Chances are that this will be new to them: we’re not prospect hunters anymore. We’re going to turn our marketing into a magnet that lets prospects self-select to produce a higher quantity of better qualified leads. You understand that but they probably don’t yet, so time taken to explain the ideas carefully will be time well invested.
That’s why we recommend that whether you are managing your content marketing in-house or working with an agency, an important first step is to plan and hold a workshop for your colleagues in other departments that makes no assumptions about their content marketing knowledge. Your workshop should pose and answer four important questions to build the basis for a culture of content that can feed a successful content marketing strategy:
Four questions and answers that are the basis of every B2B content culture:
1. How has B2B tech buyer behaviour changed?
Answer: The buyer has gone online. Help colleagues to understand the buyer’s perspective and how they use the web throughout the buyer’s journey.
It is helpful to ask people how many times they have asked questions like those below when they are shopping online (at work or home). Most will have done on a weekly if not daily basis. Recognising this will help them to understand how your company's buyers are thinking when they go online.
- What does X cost?
- What are the problems with X?
- How does X compare with Y?
- Has X been reviewed?
- What is the best type of X?
2. How does Google work?
Answer: It's mission is to provide the most specific answer possible to any web query. As most tech companies don’t set out to answer their customers’ questions, Google won’t direct search queries to their websites. Making your website the exception to this rule in your market is the key to success in content marketing.
3. How can we help to attract all these people who are actively looking for our USPs?
Answer: A question to the group: who can remember the most questions asked by your company’s customers? Other teams in the company will help you if they understand the importance of these questions - and later the answers that they are giving you will help form the content of your blogs and gated downloadable offers.
4. What’s in it for them?
Answer: Shorter sales cycles and more and better qualified leads. Great education + helpful advice = trust = prospects who WANT to buy from you. Share some key facts with your colleagues about how content marketing can help B2B companies to achieve these goals and explain to them the mechanics of how an organic website visitor can be drawn towards gated content and then nurtured through email automation until they are ready to buy. Or in other words how marketing can do a lot of heavy lifting so that sales can do what they do best: use their skills as salespeople to close business instead of cold-calling and chasing after badly qualified leads!
It’s a good idea to share the company’s goals at this point. Make these SMART: How many website visitors? How many leads? How many opportunities? How many sales?
The next step is to create a framework and guidelines in which people can work. It’s helpful to work with each department or team to identify the personas that are relevant to them and to brainstorm questions that that persona might ask. Then you or your agency can work out a blogging editorial schedule around important keywords that you have identified and in support of campaigns with goals to increase leads, opportunities and sales for different parts of your product/service offering or addressing different customer pains or challenges.
For example one of our clients has campaigns around stakeholder engagement in public sector organisations because this customer requirement can be supported by our client’s cloud collaboration software. We have identified keyword groups around this campaign and our client’s sales people are adept at pulling together customer questions and answers that form the basis for effective blogs and downloadable content. Google provides a variety of useful tools and we also use the Keywords tool within HubSpot. However, the main driver behind content that works best is not online tools but the customer knowledge that we get from sales and customer service people.
As most people will not have written a blog before, it is useful to give them guidelines on how long to research (not too long, they are the experts already!), how long to spend writing the first draft and how long to respond to input after a second pair of eyes has had the chance to review.
Although, like other content agencies we research and write complete blogs for clients, the best way to create really effective content is to join forces with an agency and to share the tasks. The knowledge of your experts combined with the writing of a specialist agency can provide the best balance of quality and volume of output. As more companies turn to content marketing, it becomes harder to establish a blog and you’ll almost certainly need to produce at least eight to 12 blogs/month to really build your website traffic and leads pipeline.