Content marketing is a movement that’s rapidly evolving, which may be why many organizations are still learning how to best approach it. New data shows that although 63% of B2B marketers say their organization is extremely committed to content marketing, only 43% are clear on what successful content marketing programs actually look like.
What do the pros say? Here’s what experts recommend for every B2B marketer’s content strategy, with added insight into how email can play a critical role:
· Resources: These are the valuable content pieces you offer prospects for addressing day-to-day business challenges. Blogs, videos, webinars, infographics, articles and case studies are in these days, while sales-y commercials, stodgy brochures and long whitepapers are not as compelling anymore (depending on your audience of course). You want your prospects to think of your company as a reliable source of information and a go-to resource on a particular subject. When offering this content via email, be specific on tips and advice for overcoming a problem, and don’t feel you have to heavily push your company as the solution – that discussion might come later.
· Branding: Your company brand is the personality, look and promise you make to your prospects, community and customers. Companies that connect with their audience on an emotional level enjoy twice the impact as their competitors who sell mostly on product value. In fact, most B2B buyers say they see no real difference between suppliers and their messages on product features and functions – but a majority of customers who felt a high brand connection with a company were more likely to select their products, even if the price was higher than a competitor’s. The implications for email marketers are to have their messages and content reflect and support their company’s brand. For example, if your brand is playful or maverick, have your email messages be creative and outside the box.
· Social media: Up to 90% of all U.S. companies are now active on social networks, which makes social media a must, even for B2B companies. But don’t just mirror your website content here; actively engage with your customers by showing best practices or innovative uses of your solutions, spotlighting your own employees or implementing fun promotions. Email campaigns should support social media promotions and vice-versa. For example, B2B marketers might announce a new product via their emailed newsletter, but show screenshots, demonstrations, reviews or awards on their social media sites. Be sure to encourage email readers to share your content with their friends and colleagues by including social sharing buttons in all of your email messages.
· Advocacy: With more people relying on friends, colleagues and reviewers for recommendations, advocacy is more important than ever. After all, word-of-mouth is the primary influence on purchasing decisions for 84% of B2B buyers, and positive recommenders can deliver an average of 3.5 leads each. Marketers can and should leverage email to communicate the latest positive reviews and recommendations – and create and promote ongoing campaigns to generate these.
· Website/SEO: Like social media, an obvious requirement for any company these days remains a robust and well-designed web page. Your site must also be optimized for the 3.5 billion web searches conducted every day. This is done not only through content, keywords, metatags and incoming links, but also through local searches or “long-tail searches” (e.g. not just “legal services” but “where can I find a lawyer to draw up my client contracts?”) Always ensure your email campaigns drive traffic to your website content, ideally to a specific landing page where you’ll collect more information from them in exchange for a helpful, how-to resource.
· Email leads the way: When it comes to distributing content, while B2B marketers say they use an average of six distribution channels, email is the vehicle they use the most (93%). The other popular channels are the major social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). Some organizations (30%) still print their materials, which should only further diminish in the coming years.
Having strong, helpful content to share with your prospects is an essential prerequisite to any effective email campaign. While creating a robust content marketing strategy can take time, the investment in delivering quality, on-target content will help drive successful email campaign results.
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.