When planning your overall marketing strategy, you cannot overlook the importance of content for B2B marketing. Content marketing is often pushed down the list of priorities for many B2B companies, it’s seen as a nice to have but not necessary element of the marketing mix. But the term “content is king” rings truer now more than ever…. Why is this? As the world of digital marketing evolves so too are those that are doing the buying.
The Modern Digital Buyers Journey
No longer are Millennials or Gen X the term used to describe those that we will be marketing to in the future, they are the people in decision making positions and doing the buying right this second.
These modern digital buyers have grown up with the internet at their fingertips and they know how to conduct in depth market research straight from their phone or computer. Long gone are the days of the old school sales funnel, instead what we have now is a complex journey of collecting information, digesting content and using this collected knowledge to go back and undertake even more in-depth research until they are satisfied with their choice. Content is now expected not only at every stage of the journey but also via every consumer touch point. And even after a decision and purchase has been made the modern buyer will continue to research and look for improved solutions or offerings, thus aftercare including training content, and more is now a vital component of your marketing strategy and content plan.
At every stage of the journey and research there will be the consumption of content. This content is vital to any modern B2B digital marketing strategy and will be for the foreseeable future. If the buyer does not find what they are looking along their journey, then they will go elsewhere until they get what they need.
The awareness stage is often categorised as using very broad content that will reach and engage with the largest potential audience segment. Examples of the content types needed at this stage will include
- Display advertising targeting a relatively broad audience on both social channels and the google display network
- Video content that may include animated explainer videos and corporate videos which will be predominantly found via YouTube or Vimeo.
- Blogs and white papers that broadly cover the topic.
- Depending on budget some B2B digital strategies will also include a landing page fuelled by a PPC campaign that focuses on top level content and not purely focused on generating a lead and or sale.
- Other forms of content at this stage could be checklists, eBooks and educational webinars
The content that you produce will be consumed along with an abundance of other competing content. Providing that you can give the buyer some value on their journey then theoretically speaking they will move to the next stage.
Think of the consideration stage as containing the largest possible audience with “some” commercial intent. This is where your content strategy must get much more technical and specific. The buyer has a problem and they need to find a solution. Examples of the content types at this stage will include.
- Re-targeting display advertising, ideally, they have already been to your website so now we can entice them back with a more relevant display ad.
- Video content that includes product demos, case studies and interviews with product specialists answering key questions.
- Written case studies, data sheets and FAQs
- Landing pages driven by PPC campaigns on both search and social channels that offer a free download in exchange for being added to an email list for future nurturing
- Email marketing
While the awareness stage is an important stage for educating the wider audience, the consideration phase is key for two reasons. Not only do you want to show your target audience why your B2B product or service is the perfect fit for them, but you also want to quickly show some of this audience why this is not the right solution for this, whether that is down to budget, needs or many other factors. Whittling down the audience through focused content at the consideration stage will save you and your sales team a lot of time and effort when it comes to the decision stage.
In the perfect world we now have a fully engaged audience that can all be categorised as Sales Qualified Leads (this is seldom the case but it’s good to dream big!). At this stage we are focused on closing the sale and signing up customers that have shown a clear interest in making a purchase. The types of content used for this stage would include.
- Lead generation focused landing pages with a clear call to action powered by a very focused search campaign or ultra-targeted social campaign as well as very focused re-targeting display campaigns.
- Free product trails
- Live demos & consultations
- Email marketing
Post Decision Stage
The post purchase stage is becoming just as important as the previous stages in the b2b buyer journey. Your customers will need to be continually engaged and nurtured to ensure they stay as loyal customers and also help generate more customers through positive referrals. Some examples of post purchase stage content could be the following.
- Customer on-boarding materials
- How to guides
- Training videos
- Support documentation
- Retention Content
- Product updates and news
- Community newsletters
What’s key at this stage is keep everything as personalised as possible and make the customer feel that this content is created especially for them.
Taking the time to effectively plan out your content strategy while thinking about the various needs and pain points of your customers will result in an effective and comprehensive buyer’s journey that benefit your business and marketing efforts across multiple campaigns. Moving content down the list of priorities will result in fragmented campaigns and losing a lot of potential customers through gaps in your funnel/buyer’s journey.