5 top hacks to step up your B2B content marketing strategy in 2017
From encouraging user-generated content to implementing the "Rule of Seven," contributor Alexander Kesler suggests key shortcuts that can give your B2B content marketing strategy a competitive boost.
While content marketing has turned into one of the most widely embraced B2B approaches in recent years, its effects can take a while to become evident. Building up a strategy and applying it consistently take time and effort.
Creating meaningful and useful content and distributing it efficiently are just one side of the coin. Making the most of this marketing strategy requires digging deep into the ways you can attract and retain your customers. This year, it’s all about understanding the mechanisms through which you can meaningfully influence people.
What can you experiment with in 2017 to boost your content marketing strategy? Well, there are proven hacks that can help you make a big leap in reaching your target audience and converting leads at a faster pace.
From perfecting your content with upgrades and multimedia and encouraging user-generated content to boosting your technical expertise and applying the “Rule of Seven,” the ingenious shortcuts presented below are worth giving a shot.
1. Create in-depth content upgrades
One of the main principles that B2B marketers are embracing in 2017 is that content should only be created for real people, and not for search engines. Instead of aiming for quick SEO success, you should invest in in-depth content because longer copy ranks and converts well.
An effective method for publishing in-depth copy that does not take ages to produce is to craft content upgrades. In essence, these are content pieces that are attached to a well-performing existing article or a newly created blog post and offer additional insight to the reader. Often, upgrades contain bonus tips, a PDF version of the post, kits, checklists, worksheets, useful templates and training videos, among others.
Besides providing valuable information to your readers, content upgrades are a great opportunity to collect prospects’ contacts. In exchange for downloading your free content upgrade, people have to sign up with their email address. These leads have shown an interest in the topics you are talking about, so their contacts can be used for lead nurturing and for distributing your content to targeted groups.
2. Embrace multimedia content creation
You can’t improve your content marketing in 2017 if you don’t dedicate time for multimedia. You should bravely go beyond written content to engage your B2B customers. Multimedia content creation has been a leading force in marketing strategies in 2016, and you can easily join the trend.
Video, especially live, is the big hit of recent years. It’s projected to represent 79 percent of global web traffic by 2020.
Tutorials, FAQs, product videos and explainers should all be an indispensable part of your content marketing mix. Braver B2B brands are also experimenting with live broadcasting, which can be used for streaming from industry events and workshop sessions, among others. Slideshare presentations, podcasts, webinars, visual content, infographics and appealing visuals within written content also can be valuable additions to your strategy.
It’s important to note here that multimedia doesn’t necessarily take a ton of time to produce. Instead of creating separate content for each media type, you can repurpose content in different media formats, so you can utilize its full potential across platforms.
As far as video goes, you don’t have to hire a whole film crew anymore. You can use the camera of your mobile device or computer to create on-the-go footage for sharing.
3. Boost your traffic with user-generated content
Who do your customers trust? Mostly likely, the answer is their peers. That’s why the most persuasive content today is not created by brands, but by other users just like your prospects.
Besides this, user-generated content (UGC) is also a real content hack, as it requires very little direct contribution from your marketing team.
Understanding the benefits that B2C marketers have long known about content produced by users, B2B companies are starting to make use of the UGC opportunity. Since everybody is equipped with a mobile device today, if you give enough reasons to your customers, they can easily turn into your most powerful brand advocates with their own comments, images and other contributions.
In fact, most users are creating relevant content online anyway; you only have to gently direct it toward your brand’s interest.
But to start using this content shortcut, you need to create initiatives and inspire people to talk with and about you. That’s how you can invite them to share their opinions and content on your brand’s channels.
These can take the form of surveys, competitions, input from influencers, testimonials, reviews, social media images and videos, hashtag campaigns and more. People’s contributions can be published as standalone content, or you can embed them into larger pieces you craft.
4. Invest in micro-targeting and hyper-personalization
Another important trend that can boost your content strategy is micro-targeting. In essence, it means segmenting your target customers into smaller units on the basis of their consumer data and demographics.
On the basis of this segmentation, you can employ personalization, which includes communicating with smaller audiences by producing highly focused messages specifically targeted at them. This approach allows for creating deeper relationships with your prospects.
While it does require some technical expertise, personalization is not that difficult to adopt as a method and is certainly worth the effort. Today most users expect some level of custom tailoring of the content they consume online. By analyzing their location, work information, personal data and previous behavior, you can produce targeted messages that reach people at the right time.
Personalization can be applied across your communication channels. In this way, on the basis of available data, you would shape your content to address the needs or interests of users.
It can take the form of customized messages on your landing page and in your blog content. But you can also take your personalization efforts further by embedding customized messages in your social media exchanges with your audience and in your email marketing campaigns.
5. Implement the Rule of Seven
Last but not least, you can employ a concept that has already gained wide popularity in B2B marketing but is evolving even today. It’s called the “Rule of Seven,” according to which your prospects need seven interactions with your brand before they get introduced to your paid product or service.
The idea behind it is that over these initial contacts, you can educate your leads with high-quality and engaging content to gain their trust. This is quite relevant in the case of email marketing. Instead of rushing to bombard prospects with your product offers, it’s more useful to be patient and gradually send them useful and educational content. In time, they would get used to the presence of your brand, plus they would have learned from your content.
To apply the Rule of Seven, you should create a workflow for your marketing team that’s based on the principle of seven points of contact with leads. These interactions can be done via email, your own website or social media. It’s especially handy to use marketing automation for this purpose, as it’d save you time and resources.
Applying the five top hacks in your B2B marketing
Developing and applying a powerful B2B content marketing strategy often takes considerable effort. While there are steps you simply can’t skip, there are also proven hacks that can give you a competitive advantage — and that are not overly complicated to experiment with.
In terms of your content creation, you can give a go to content upgrades and multimedia production and create sufficient opportunities for user-generated content. Then you can invest in personalization tactics and employ the Rule of Seven to build trust and engagement.