The primary function of B2B marketing is to drive sales leads and when it comes to filling the sales pipeline with new prospective clients, content creation is fundamental. However, in a world where prospects have immediate access to information through a whole range of sources the emphasis on good quality, informative content is higher than ever.
‘Content’ can include social media updates, videos, eBooks, webinars or a humble blog but whichever form your content comes in it must be relevant and valuable to your prospective customers. Ultimately, your content should help readers, potential leads, overcome pain points and achieve their aspirations.
So how is this type of content achieved?
It is worth taking a look at the common mistakes made when creating content:
- You have no formal content strategy – Just like any other marketing efforts, content initiatives should be driven by defined business objectives
- You create content that your management team and clients love but your prospective customer doesn’t – It is imperative that your content is meeting the needs of your potential customers
- You expect results overnight – Content creation is not a ‘campaign’, it does not have a start or finish. Your content marketing efforts should be a long term and consistent effort.
Planning your content and creating a strategy will go a considerable way to preventing these mistakes from being made. A good content plan should aim to reflect the goals of your target audience as well as showing an understanding of their concerns and challenges.
Your planning process should consist of 3 crucial steps:
- 1 – Study your audience – conducting research, surveys and interviews with clients, prospects and your own sales teams will give you an understanding of your audience, their behaviour and what their goals and pain points are
- 2 – Creating a buying persona – from your research, you should build a picture of what your ideal client looks like. Most businesses will have more than one buying persona depending on customer demographics, behaviour as well as your own understanding of their motivation and challenges
- 3 – Map the buying stages – depending on what stage of the decision-making process a prospect has reached, the content will need to be aligned to the sales cycle. For example, if a prospect is researching a solution to a problem they have they are more like to want to see informative eBooks and industry reports than they are blog posts and social media updates.
What types of content work?
Trust is ultimately what builds customers out of leads and to build trust it is important to distinguish between promotional content and thought leadership pieces. Thought leadership content demonstrates to prospects that you have a deep understanding of their market and challenges and can help guide them towards solutions. The most trusted businesses that cut through the noise of the competition are those who are focused on helping their target audience.
It is generally considered that lead generation content addressing a problem (e.g. thought leadership materials) or citing the experience of other customers (e.g. testimonials and case studies) is far superior to content outlining the features and benefits of a product or service.
In a recent study, 24% of marketing professionals rated customer testimonials as the single most effective content for business lead generation. 73% rated case studies as extremely or very effective in their lead generation campaigns. Third party white papers and business/thought leadership materials were considered as highly effective although more costly to produce this type of content.
The days of outbound marketing and advertising are certainly not gone but the increasing importance of content creation for lead generation programs is something that should be addressed seriously. Remembering that the results of even great content take time to appear, creating on-going, trusted and valued content addressing your customer’s goals and concerns will not fail to pay dividends.