How to Create Hyper-Targeted Content That Motivates B2B Tech Buyers to Take the Next Step [Template Included]

How to Create Hyper-Targeted Content That Motivates B2B Tech Buyers to Take the Next Step [Template Included]

Here’s the path B2B technology buyers take towards—and beyond—the sale, along with a set of guidelines to help you create content that will engage customers in all stages of the buying process.

It’s no secret that creating engaging content is the key to top-performing B2B marketers’ success. 

Research shows that 49 percent of B2B buyers rely more heavily on content to research their purchase decisions than they did last year, and 87 percent of B2B companies will create digital content in 2019.  

But not all content is created equal, and yours won’t increase brand awareness, generate leads, or turn customers into longtime fans if it’s not engaging.

At the heart of engagement is knowing your audience: By understanding their interests, concerns, wishes, and pain points, you can create content that builds trust and deepens relationships. 

After you gain this understanding, you must align your content with where each member of your target audience is within the sales cycle. When you focus on these two things, you will provide buyers with the information that they need exactly when they need it. 

According to a recent technology content marketing report, 78 percent of top-performing marketers said that “providing the right content to the right person at the right time” is their priority.

What Information Do B2B Tech Buyers Need in Each Stage of Your Sales Cycle?

Whether they call it the sales cycle, the marketing funnel, or the buyer’s journey, B2B marketers agree that their customers pass through distinct stages on the way to making a purchase decision. 

Their needs and interests change as they move through the cycle, and this process is neither neat nor linear. Customers might enter or leave at any stage, and they might move up or down, forwards or backwards.

This is why you need to make sure your content addresses the needs of buyers at every stage in the cycle. That way, you’ll be able to meet them where they’re at, no matter when they find you.

Here are the key stages in the B2B tech buying cycle, along with what content customers are likely to consume during every stage:

1. Awareness

At this stage, prospects are researching their problems and may not be aware that a solution exists, let alone that you can help them. Your goal at this stage is to educate them about their challenges and position yourself as a trusted advisor.

72 percent of buyers will turn to Google as their primary research tool during this stage, and the search terms they use are usually generic. They’ll ask questions about their own pain points, not the specific features or functionalities of your product. 

For instance, technology buyers may be interested in greater business process efficiency, hardware or energy cost savings, or reducing their security risks.

You can begin to answer their general questions by providing content that discusses industry best practices, common mistakes, or frequently asked questions.

Content types that work well to build awareness include:

  • White papers and guides
  • Research reports
  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts
  • Videos
  • Microsites

2. Consideration

By the time buyers reach the consideration phase, they will have some awareness about your product or service. However, they will need more convincing around how it can solve their problems or alleviate their pain.

Buyers in the consideration stage often look for third-party proof that your products or services deliver results. In fact, 64 percent of buyers report that they pay more attention to sources they perceive to be objective such as customer and analyst reviews. Your prospects want to read stories about customers who have applied your technology in the real world. 

Content that answers “how does it work?” questions also resonate with this audience. 

The most valuable content types in the consideration stage include:

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Free software demos or downloads
  • Webinars
  • White papers and guides
  • Product videos
  • How-to guides
  • Analyst reports

3. Decision

This is the last phase in the sales cycle. It’s when prospects take that all-important final step: converting into customers. Your content is often what gives them the “extra push” they need to make the decision to buy. 

During the decision phase, your content’s job is to reaffirm your audience’s growing trust in your brand and product. B2B technology buyers often look for pricing information, configuration options, technical specifications, and more in-depth product detail by this point in the sales cycle.

At this stage, your audience may need reminders about the value of your offering or reassurance that now is indeed the best time to buy.

Here are content types that work well during the decision stage:

  • Free trials and demos
  • Free consultations, estimates, and quotes
  • Sales pages
  • Customer stories, testimonials, and reviews
  • Webinars
  • White papers and technical product guides
  • Competitive comparison charts or guides

4. Retention/Renewal

Your content’s work is never done! Once your prospects have converted into paying customers, it’s time to educate them to ensure that they’re getting the most value from your services, or becoming savvy, knowledgeable users of your product.

The retention stage is the “honeymoon phase” in the sales cycle, and it’s when your content can help you turn paying customers into loyal fans.

Content types that work well in this stage include:

  • Insider’s guides
  • Product tip sheets
  • Tutorials
  • Customer email newsletters
  • Special offers for upgrades or new product promotions

Mind the Content Gaps

If your content isn’t performing as well as it should be, you may have gaps in your funnels. 

For example, your content may focus too much on a particular audience or stage of the sales cycle, leaving out the others. This creates a “gap” where you are failing to nurture prospects and causing them to leak out of your funnel.

Completing a content audit is the best way to gain a true understanding of your current assets and where you have gaps. Your goal is to ensure that you’re not neglecting certain market segments or stages in the sales cycle.

How to Perform a Content Audit

A content audit includes inventory and analysis. Start by cataloguing all of your content assets. If your content dates back years, this process can be intimidating. You can see quick wins by focusing on pieces that you’ve published within the past year or two. Once you have this list, map each piece of content to your buyers’ journey to make sure that you haven’t left out any stages or customers.

Here are six steps that will help you align your content with where buyers are in your sales cycle: 

  1. Make a complete list of your content assets.
    Write a short description of the content item or copy and paste it into your content audit spreadsheet. For larger sites, you might consider starting your inventory by applying a web-scraping tool, but it’s important to verify any results you obtain from an automated tool by hand, since errors and omissions often occur.
  2. Identify the intended audience for each piece of content.
    Be as specific as possible. Will it speak to IT directors, the CEO of an SMB, or a line manager? Some assets will have multiple audiences.
  3. Note the content’s age.
    Some types of content are “evergreen” and remain relevant to audiences long after their initial publication. Others quickly become outdated. 
  4. Map each piece of content to a specific stage in the sales cycle.
    Some items may appeal to audiences in multiple stages. It’s not unusual for buyers in the consideration phase to share concerns with those in the decision phase, for example.
  5. Assess the content’s quality and purpose.
    Is it intended to support a specific product or service? Is it of exceptional interest and readability, or just so-so? 
  6. Make a decision about what to do with the asset.
    Based on the factors above, you might elect to keep a piece of content as-is, delete it from your site, update it lightly, or revise it significantly.

Next Steps

Performing a content audit is a key step in improving the quality and performance of your marketing. The results of your audit will help you get clear on your gaps so that you can focus on creating content that gets prospects to take the next step.

Discover (exactly) where you have gaps in your content that are causing leads to slip away

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    7 Keys to Creating a Powerful B2B Brand Voice

    B2B brand voice

    As a tech marketer, you’ve likely heard the joke that B2B stands for “boring-to-boring.” Here’s how to create a compelling brand voice that helps you avoid this trap, stand out from your competition, and engage customers.

    Many B2B companies sound the same.

    They talk about their features … not their benefits.

    They use corporate jargon … not language that resonates with customers.

    They speak to “users” … not to humans.

    All of this adds up to a boring, corporate voice that doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors.

    Claim your FREE ultimate guide to creating a B2B brand voice that resonates with buyers.

    Why Your Brand Voice Matters

    You may sell to businesses, but your customers are humans. They respond to content that informs and entertains them. With a unique brand voice, you can grab customers’ attention and make them want to continue the conversation. Here are three reasons why your brand voice matters:

    Your brand voice separates you from everyone else.

    Many B2B tech companies sound the same. They use the same buzzwords on their websites, which makes it hard for customers to see how they are different from their competitors. A unique brand voice helps you stand out from the pack and shows your audience your advantage.

    A consistent brand voice signals trust.

    B2B brand voice

    If your teams use different voices when they speak with customers, it will weaken your message. Customers may hear one thing from their sales rep and another thing from your support team. Then, they won’t know whom to trust. An intentional brand voice can help you convey a consistent message and avoid miscommunications with your customers.

    Your brand voice makes you relatable.

    An approachable brand voice makes customers want to be around you. When your customers feel like you “get” them, they will open your emails, check out your content, and join your community.

    7 Keys to a Compelling B2B Brand Voice

    Here’s how to create a B2B brand voice that resonates with customers and sets you apart from your competitors:

    1.Understand your target audience.

    B2B brand voice

    Before you speak, you must know who are speaking to. Re-examine your target audience and get clear on the following questions:

    • What are their roles?
    • Where are they employed?
    • What are their daily responsibilities?
    • What are their top struggles?
    • What questions do they ask during each stage of your sales cycle?
    • Where do they find information about products or services?
    • What type of words would they use to describe topics and products related to your brand?

    After you answer these questions, you may need to update your buyer personas. Since the tech landscape is constantly changing, your buyers’ needs and challenges may be different from what they were a few years ago.

    2. Understand how your target audience perceives you.

    Your brand voice isn’t something that you’ll need to develop from scratch. It already exists. Your job is to amplify the voice that you already have and make it more intentional.

    The easiest way to do this is to ask your customers who they think you are as a brand. Their responses can clue you in on where you excel and what parts of your persona you should emphasize.

    Identify and then survey your most loyal customers. You can ask the following questions:

    • What three adjectives would you use to describe our brand?
    • What “personality” do you think your company has?
    • What makes our brand stand out from other companies you’ve worked with in the past?

    You are not limited to surveying only your customers. You can expand the list to include other key stakeholders, such as your employees and partners. Your employees, especially those who work directly with your customers, have the dual advantage of understanding your brand values while also seeing your company through the eyes of your customers. They can provide unique insights about your brand voice that give you new angles to consider.

    3. Understand your mission and goals as a brand.

    What are your company’s guiding principles?

    The answer to this question will help you define your brand voice. For example, if one of your primary values is transparency, you can make your content approachable and honest.

    In addition to aligning your vision with your brand voice, it’s also important to define how you want to present yourself as a company. What type of personality would you like to project? How would you like customers to perceive you? What type of lasting impression do you want to leave?

    4. Define your brand voice.

    Personifying your brand can help you get clear on your voice. If your brand was a person, what type of voice would it have? Would it sound strong and confident? Laidback and knowledgeable? Offbeat and fun?

    Oftentimes, it’s easiest to define your voice by comparing and contrasting. Make a list of what your company is compared with what it is not, for example:

    Our company is experienced but not stuck in its ways.

    Our company is authoritative but not pushy.

    If it helps, you can also switch out “company” for “voice” to focus entirely on your brand persona, for example:

    Our voice is conversational but not verbose.

    Our voice is professional but not stuffy.

    If you’re stuck, here’s an exercise that you can do: Look at some of your favorite brands (you don’t need to limit yourself to B2B or tech), and list the reasons why you love its voice or content.

    5. Say, “No!” to boring B2B content.

    B2B brand voice

    Boring content litters the landscape of the B2B tech industry.

    But how can that be? In the ever-changing tech industry, there’s always something new and exciting happening.

    The main reason behind boring B2B content is that the writer forgets that they are writing to an actual person. While your customer may be a B2B company, your audience is filled with humans. You’re not writing to an entity, you’re writing to the humans who need to make sense of your information and decide if your solution is the right one for their company. For this reason, your content must be relevant and valuable. Likewise, your brand voice should be relatable, engaging, and helpful. Otherwise, your information can come across as dull.

    6. Use language that reflects the knowledge level of your target audience.

    How much does your target audience know about your industry in general and your product in particular?

    Because you’re familiar with your product and industry, it’s easy to assume that your readers are equally informed. Then, you may load your copy with industry slang that your readers don’t understand.

    But at the same time, you don’t want to talk down to a sophisticated audience. So, how much should you assume that they know?

    The answer depends on your target audience. If you’re speaking to IT pros who are comfortable with tech jargon, you can use it in your content. However, if you’re speaking to a business audience, they might not understand all of your tech talk. In this case, you can still come across as an expert without relying on jargon.

    Here’s a funny, but cautionary, tale about jargon. I once interviewed two subject matter experts in a tech company. One of the experts used an acronym, and the other one thought it meant something completely different. This proves that you can’t take for granted what your audience knows. Even people who work down the hall from each other can have different definitions of the same acronym!

    Choose a voice that is empathetic to your audience with respect to their knowledge level.

    7. Create a style guide for your brand voice.

    B2B brand voice

    After you define your brand voice, it’s important to consolidate your notes into a guide. Share your brand voice guide with all of your internal teams that interact with customers, such as sales, marketing, and customer support. You should also give the guide to anyone who creates content for you, such as freelance copywriters and graphic designers. A style guide will help you keep your messages consistent.

    Here are some things you can include in your style guide:

    • A detailed description of your brand voice, including what it is and what it isn’t
    • The type of language you want to use (e.g. Do you mind the use of coarse language in your content?)
    • Your preferred grammar rules and style guide
    • A primer on how to refer to your company (e.g. first person vs. third person) and your employees (e.g. staff, team members, employees, representatives)
    • A list of audience personas to guide your content creators on who will read/ view the content

    A brand voice is a living part of your company. It will evolve over time. As your industry and your customers change, you must ensure that your voice remains relevant. Evaluate your brand voice every year to ensure that it still resonates with your target audience.

    Next Steps

    Don’t forget to download your free 7-step guide to finding your authentic B2B voice.

    How to Find the Right B2B Technology Copywriter

    Finding B2B tech copywriter

    Finding a qualified B2B tech copywriter can be a daunting task. Here are 7 essential traits to look for before you sign a contract …

    Good copy is an essential part of a B2B marketing plan. Research shows that 47% of B2B prospects read between three to five pieces of content before they speak with a sales rep. But many B2B marketing teams are small and don’t have the resources to produce tons of copy in-house. Working with a B2B copywriter helps you create content that supports your campaigns, engage leads, and turn prospects into customers. However, it can be hard to find the right copywriter. Many B2B marketers test several copywriters before they find the right fit. In fact, many of my own clients have cycled through two or more copywriters before they started working with me. The reasons for failure varied: The copywriter didn’t understand their industry, couldn’t meet deadlines, or had a conflicting communication style. Choosing the wrong copywriter can increase your workload, cause project delays, and cost you more in the long run. But the right copywriter can make your life easier, improve your marketing results and help you produce more content – faster. Here are seven traits to look for in a B2B technology copywriter:

    1. Industry Knowledge

    Finding B2B tech copywriter Many copywriters are generalists, which means that they write about everything from consumer products to fitness. Agencies often hire generalists when they need a writer who can adapt their style to a range of clients. But a generalist may not be the best choice for B2B tech companies that sell complex products and services. If your product has a steep learning curve or a sophisticated audience, look for a writer who has prior experience in your industry. In particular, find a copywriter who understands the unique needs, concerns, and hesitations of B2B tech buyers. The B2B tech industry is ever-evolving and doing so at a rapid pace. You need a copywriter who is not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but who also stays informed of the latest news, trends, and studies that will affect your customer base. [bctt tweet=”You need a copywriter who’s not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but also does this:” username=””] Working with a copywriter who has experience in your industry can greatly reduce the amount of time that you spend briefing the writer and managing revisions. This helps your project run smoothly, allows you to produce content faster, and can bring you better results. Click Here to Subscribe” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Finding B2B tech copywriter

    2. An Understanding of Your Audience

    Your copy is often the first point of contact between you and your target audience. To engage customers, you need a copywriter who understands their unique point of view. Your B2B tech copywriter must match your tone to each reader’s role, level of familiarity with your company, and stage in the sales cycle. For example, your audience may include IT pros who want to know how your product works. But you may also have business buyers in your audience who aren’t as tech-savvy but need to know how your product or service will drive value for their company. A good B2B tech copywriter can speak to both of these audiences in a relatable way. Look for a copywriter who can engage your readers and educate on their level – without dumbing down the content or overusing complicated tech jargon. Here’s more information on how to find your unique B2B brand voice.

    3. Marketing Savvy

    Finding B2B tech copywriter A great copywriter is part marketer, part storyteller. Because copy is all about selling, you need a writer who knows how to sell your product or service in a way that aligns with the needs of your target audience. But selling by itself can be soulless and come across as gimmicky if you don’t have a meaningful, sympathetic story behind it. A capable B2B tech copywriter can turn your facts, figures, and statistics into an empathetic narrative. Here’s more information on how to use storytelling to convert prospects into customers.

    4. The Ability to Write Email and Landing Page Copy

    If you sell software or tech services, you need a copywriter who understands how to write effective email and landing page copy. Both go hand-in-hand with engaging leads and converting them into customers. Copywriters who excel at writing marketing emails know how to keep the copy short, understandable, and action-oriented. Email marketing is one of the top strategies for nurturing leads. In fact, email generates a $38 return for every $1 spent. When your copywriter excels at conversion-focused emails, you will massively multiply your return on investment. Your copywriter can produce email sequences that motivate new subscribers (who have just downloaded a piece of your content) to sign up for a free trial or demo. They can also write a sequence that turns free trial users into paying customers. The ideal B2B copywriter should also know how to write landing pages that sell. A landing page is not only useful for capturing email addresses, but also for building a foundation of trust with your target audience. When done correctly, your landing page will enhance your credibility and motivate customers to take the next step towards working with you.

    5. Responsiveness

    Finding B2B tech copywriter You need someone who can get back to you quickly. Some writers are hermits. After making the agreement, they’ll retreat into a metaphorical cave, and you won’t hear from them until the deadline. For some tech companies, that works out fine. However, if you want to maintain an active connection with your copywriter, you need to set those boundaries from the beginning of your working agreement. Find out their preferred method of communication and make sure that it works for your needs. Also, ask how long it takes for them to respond to edit requests, issues, or concerns. You should also expect regular updates on the status of your copy. Even if you don’t have a pressing deadline, your copywriter should keep you informed about how things are progressing. You must ensure that your communication styles are acceptable to each other upon entering an agreement. The last thing you want is to spend several days trying to reach your copywriter for an urgent request. You will also hit more deadlines if you send your copywriter background info, schedule interviews, and respond to questions quickly. If you don’t give your copywriter the info that they need until the day before the project is due, they might not meet your deadline.

    6. A Proven Process

    Producing great copy is 50% writing skills and 50% process. When you speak with potential copywriters, ask about their process. For example, what will they handle, and what is your team responsible for providing? You don’t want to hire a copywriter for a case study and later learn that they expect you to conduct the customer interview. A typical process may include interviewing your subject matter experts, submitting an outline, and researching your audience. Your copywriter should also have a process for edits, as this can greatly impact your timelines. How many rounds of revisions do you typically need? Be sure to account for revisions when planning your timelines.

    7. The Ability to Get Up to Speed Quickly

    Finding B2B tech copywriter Depending on your niche, it may be challenging to find a copywriter who understands the ins and outs of your business. If you serve a very specialized audience, you may need to educate your writer before you can rely on them to write compelling copy. If this is the case for you, don’t overlook capable copywriters in pursuit of a magical unicorn who likely doesn’t exist. As long as you can find a copywriter who checks off the other items on this list (especially one who has expertise in your industry), it’s likely that you can train them to understand the specifics. When working with an adept copywriter, take your time to educate them about your industry, your customers, and your business. During your introductory process, a good copywriter will ask you plenty of questions to guide their research, but be ready to provide additional resources that will help them get up-to-speed.

    Next Steps

    A good B2B copywriter plays a huge role in converting leads into customers. Use the above tips to help you find a copywriter who can help you attract more high-quality leads and turn them into customers. Also be sure to download your FREE checklist of Click Here to Subscribe” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>10 Critical Questions You Need to Ask Before You Hire a B2B Technology Copywriter.  Click Here to Subscribe” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Finding B2B tech copywriter

    5 Best Practices for Successful B2B Email Marketing

    B2B Email Marketing

    Email marketing generates massive amounts of revenue for B2B companies. In fact, targeted emails factor into 58% of all sales. Here are five best practices that will improve your open rates and boost your conversions – along with a FREE checklist of 25 Absolutely Essential Emails to Send.

    It seems that every week, we learn about a shiny, new way to engage B2B customers.

    However, there’s nothing quite as powerful (and affordable) as email marketing. In fact, 59% of B2B marketers say that email is their most effective channel for revenue generation. A study has shown that email marketing delivers $38 for every $1 spent.   

    Email outperforms other channels including social media. According to McKinsey, you are 40x more likely to acquire a new customer from an email than from Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, you are 6x more likely to get a click from an email than from a tweet.

    As a B2B marketer, you have the opportunity to use email to nurture prospects and convert them into customers. Then, email can help you turn your these new customers into long-term loyal fans who recommend you to others for many years to come.

    What Are Your B2B Email Marketing Goals?

    Many B2B companies only send emails when they have something to pitch.

    But a strategy that’s focused entirely on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Your emails should be part of a larger marketing strategy that strives to build relationships with prospects and customers. Once you build a relationship, you will find that it’s easier to sell your products or services.

    [bctt tweet=”Focusing only on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Do this instead” username=””]

    Start by understanding your customers’ journey. What information do they want across every stage — from awareness to brand advocacy? You may have gaps in your content and the opportunity to create messages that resonate with buyers across all of these stages.  

    In the early stages, the primary focus of your emails is to build trust and to gently introduce your brand. These emails are crucial, because research shows that it takes up to 13 interactions with your business to generate a qualified sales lead. You can check off quite a few of those interactions from the inbox.

    After a prospect becomes a customer, it’s essential that you stay in touch and continue to provide relevant, valuable content via email. This keeps your customers engaged and your business top-of-mind. Note that your current customers are more valuable to your company than prospects. Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining your current one. But that’s not all. Current customers spend 67% more than new ones on average and, over their lifespan with your business, are worth up to 10 times their initial purchase.

    Successful email marketing strategies aim to build, and then meticulously maintain, relationships with customers.

    The 11 B2B Emails That You Need to Send

    As noted earlier, the types of emails that you send depend of where your customer is on their journey. In the early stages, you’ll focus on education and conversion. After conversion, you’ll focus on deepening your relationship, encouraging advocacy, and promoting products or services that could help them as their needs evolve.

    To make it simpler, let’s sort your B2B email marketing strategy into two main categories: Reaching prospects and enriching relationships with current customers.

    7 Emails That Help You Engage Prospects and Turn Them Into Customers

    B2B Email Marketing

    Here are seven emails that will help you convert leads into customers:

    1. A lead nurture series – Send a new prospect up to nine nurturing emails after they opt into your list. This series can include customer testimonials, FAQs, and any other information that they need to sign up for a free trial or demo of your solution. You can also package your lead nurture series as an email course where you help a prospect solve one of their challenges.
    2. A welcome email for prospective customers – You can include your welcome email in a lead nurture series or send it on its own. The goal of this email is to set expectations. You want the customer to understand when you’ll send emails and what type of information you’ll send.
    3. Round ups – To keep in touch with prospects, you can send periodic emails that curate content from different, respected sources that you know will be helpful to your subscribers. These interactions can demonstrate your value to the prospect.
    4. Blog updates – Whenever you write a blog post, be sure to notify your subscribers via email. Otherwise, they may not see your latest posts.
    5. News – In addition to blog posts, send out important news and announcements about your business. Self-promotion should be kept to a minimum, though. A good rule of thumb is to send out three value-driven emails for every one self-promotional email.
    6. Testimonials and case studies – In an effort to convince a prospect that your products and services deliver results, send them social proof in the form of testimonials and case studies.
    7. Inactivity – At least twice a year, you should send out an email to your least active subscribers to ask if they still want to stay on your list. If you don’t get a response, delete them. It may be painful to get rid of hundreds (or more) names, but it’s necessary to improve your open rates and keep your list healthy. Sending emails to inactive subscribers can also negatively impact your deliverability rate and get your emails marked as spam.

    4 Emails That Strengthen Relationships With Your Current Customers

    Here are four types of emails that can help you engage your current customers and keep them happy:

    1. An onboarding series – Use your onboarding series to welcome new customers or move free trial users to paid subscribers. This series should cover all of the steps that customers must know to get up-and-running with your product or service.
    2. A welcome email for new customers – Express your gratitude to new customers by sending them a thank you. You can include this email in your onboarding series or send it as a one-off.
    3. Product updates – When you release a new update, your customers should be the first to know about it. Use email to stay in touch with customers and keep them informed about the latest developments in your products or services.
    4. Surveys – Check up on customers by sending them emails that link to surveys. To ensure that you maximize your responses, be sure to limit how many questions you ask. Ideally, keep your surveys under 10 questions or a few minutes to complete.

    5 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices

    Here are five keys to creating B2B emails that customers open, read, and click:  

    1. Send on the right frequency

      Live up to your customers’ expectations by sending emails on a frequent and dependable schedule. Many companies have haphazard send schedules— they may send out two emails one month, bombard customers when they launch a new marketing campaign, and then go silent for months. That’s no way to build a relationship with your subscribers. Whether you send once a day, once a week, or several times a week, be consistent with your send schedule.

      For the record, research shows that more than 60% of your subscribers would like to hear from you at least once a week.

    2. Choose the right time

      What day of the week is the best day to email your list? According to an analysis of 10 studies on email marketing, Tuesday is the winner. Wednesdays came in second place in several of the studies. Meanwhile, experts recommend scheduling messages on Tuesdays and Thursdays if you email your list twice a week.

      While these studies provide insights into when B2B buyers are the most likely to open emails, their findings may not apply to your customers. Be sure to check your analytics to determine when your emails get the most opens and clicks.

    3. Personalize your emails

      B2B Email Marketing

      Think about the messages that you are the most likely to open. Chances are, they aren’t mass sales emails. When faced with an overflowing inbox, you may first open a personal email from someone that you know and trust.

      Research has shown that personalizing your email messages boosts click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%. Meanwhile the Direct Marketing Association found that segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.

      Review your email marketing and marketing automation settings to discover if you have any opportunities to segment your audience in new, profitable ways. For example, can you segment based on job titles, how frequently a subscriber interacts with your content, which products or services they use, or their stage on your sales cycle. Your segmentation possibilities are limitless.

    4. Make your emails mobile friendly

      Professionals now open 55% of their business emails on mobile devices. As mobile usage continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your emails look good on any screen. Don’t ask your subscribers to pinch or zoom just to see the tiny text of your emails. Also format your links so they are easy to open from a small smartphone screen.  

      Before you send any email, test it against multiple browsers and mobile devices. This will help you give all of your subscribers a great experience.

    5. Limit your emails to one call to action

      The point of every message is to get subscribers to take the next, easy step. Usually, this is clicking a link in the email to view a piece of content or a landing page.

      If you put too many calls to action in your email, your subscribers will get distracted and fail to do the one thing that you really want them to do. Focus on the single, most important call to action and save your other messages for future emails.  

    Next Steps

    Email marketing is still a powerful way to reach B2B buyers. But getting it right requires a well-planned strategy.

    Start by understanding your customer journey. Then, create emails that will engage customers throughout every stage – whether they are early-stage prospects who are researching their problems to late-stage leads who are ready to buy.

    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​5 Ways to Engage B2B Advocates, Drive Leads, and Boost Your Revenue

    5 ways to engage B2B advocates imageIn this post, I review The Messenger Is the Message: How to Mobilize Customers and Unleash the Power of Advocate Marketing. 

    It’s getting harder to grab the attention of B2B buyers.  

    Between meetings and putting out fires, they barely have time for the core part of their job – let alone the time to engage with your brand.

    “The average office worker receives more than 120 emails and checks their devices hundreds of times per day.”

    So, how can you stand out from the pack and engage today’s time-strapped customers? 

    Introducing … Your Advocates!  

    B2B buyers ignore most marketing, as they’re not interested in annoying sales pitches. 

    Instead, they turn to their peers for recommendations. Research has shown that 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral.

    If you want to get noticed by customers, you must find a way into their inner circle.

    But your new sales brochure isn’t the way in. 

    Instead, you’ll need an army of customer advocates who will promote your content and recommend you to others. 

    To learn more about advocate marketing, I recently read The Messenger is The Message: How to Mobilize Customers and Unleash the Power of Advocate Marketing by Mark Organ and Deena Zenyk

    The book offers a step-by-step guide on how B2B marketers can turn away from self-focused sales – or “selfie marketing” – and transform their business with advocates. It contains advice from advocate marketing leaders, as well as case studies from B2B technology companies that have succeeded with advocate marketing.   ​​​​​​​

    What is advocate marketing image

    What Is Advocate Marketing?

    Here is how Deena and Mark define advocate marketing:

    “Advocate marketing is the process of discovering, nurturing, and mobilizing a company’s most enthusiastic customers to create a marketing engine that powers sales. Put simply, it’s a system for making customers happy, and then capitalizing on that happiness to benefit your business.”

    When you make your advocates happy, they will recommend you to others. For example, they will write five-star reviews, send you referrals, serve as references, share their success stories, and much more. 

    In fact, you can think of advocates as an extended version of your sales and marketing team. 

    5 Ways to Turbocharge Your B2B Marketing With Advocacy 

    You likely have lots of customers who are willing to recommend you to others. 

    You just need to reach out to them. 

    Here are 5 ways that B2B marketers can harness the power of advocacy to engage customers and drive sales: 

    1. Listen to your advocates.  

    Listen to your advocates image

    A lot of B2B marketing pushes sales messages out to customers – whether or not they want to hear them.

    Advocate marketing flips this upside-down by putting the focus on the customer. Instead of telling customers what to buy, you listen to them to find out what they want.  

    The book states that listening to your community is the key to bringing them on board. 

    “The primary reason people initially join a community—especially an online community related to a company—is the desire to provide feedback. They want to be heard.”

    2. Value your advocates’ time. 

    Your customers are busy people.

    If you want them to take time out of their day to advocate for your company, you must make their experience worthwhile.

    The authors recommend that you give advocates something new and relevant every time they interact with you. For example, you can offer them educational opportunities that will help them become superstars at their jobs. You can also give them incentives – such as swag or a VIP experience.  

    And be sure to thank them when they advocate for you. A handwritten note can go a long way in showing advocates that you value everything that they do for you.

    3. Harness the power of social proof. 

    Social proof image

    The first time that I heard about Facebook was when a friend sent me an invite to the site in 2007.

    I didn’t know anything about Facebook but thought that if my friends were joining, I should also join. By inviting me, my friend was giving the social network his stamp of approval. I also saw that many of my other friends were active on Facebook, and I wanted to keep up with what they were doing.  

    This is how online communities grow.

    Your advocate community may only start with a handful of people. But as they share their great experiences with friends, it will grow rapidly. 

    The authors offer tips on how you can harness the power of social proof to build your community. For example, you can:

    • Share testimonials from your advocates.
    • Encourage influencers to create content about your advocate community.
    • Highlight your current members when you promote your advocate community to new members.
    • Give potential advocates a sneak peek of the conversations that are happening in your community.

    “Science tells us that by pointing to what others are doing—particularly others who share similar characteristics to us—we increase our persuasiveness.”

    4. Leverage reciprocity.

    As Matron Mama Morton sang in Chicago, “When you’re good to Mama, Mama’s good to you.”

    This principle of reciprocity also applies to advocate marketing.

    The authors recommend that you give something to your advocates before you ask them to do stuff for you. And for the best results, make your gifts personal and unexpected. 

    The book says, “Provide a small reward after the advocate engages with the program for the first time. This is a little hit of dopamine that will spur further action.”

    Small rewards can include a gift card for a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a $5 donation to charity.

    You can offer larger rewards as advocates spend more time with your program. The authors suggest that you stagger these rewards at random times, not just after someone completes an advocacy task. 

    “Psychologists have shown that gaining variable rewards at variable times have an addictive quality to them—this corresponds well to how slot machines work. While effective advocate programs also provide a clear path on how to gain rewards, the best ones have a random quality to them, which drives more advocacy.” 

    5. Plan for downtime. 

    Plan for downtime image

    It’s OK if your advocate community has slow periods.

    In fact, you should plan for them. 

    The book states that you shouldn’t approach advocate marketing as an all-in, week in and week out venture, Best-in-class advocate marketers instead “plan for high and low periods of advocate activity. Curated downturns are periods of time when there is very little activity—by design.” 

    You can use this time to build relationships with advocates, so you can learn more about who they are and what they want. Then, when you launch your next advocate marketing campaign, you will have a better idea of what challenges and incentives will motivate your advocates to take action. 

    How Can Advocate Marketing Work for You?

    If you harness the power of your advocates, you can generate referrals, retain more customers, and make your marketing awesome. 

    Do you have any opportunities to engage your customers and build a thriving advocate marketing community? 

    To learn more, read ​​​​​​​The Messenger is The Message: How to Mobilize Customers and Unleash the Power of Advocate Marketing.

     

    5 Time-Saving Templates Every B2B Marketer Needs

    5 Time-Saving B2B Marketing Templates (feature image)

    You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you plan a new campaign. Here are 5 B2B marketing templates that your peers use to manage their content and measure their results … 

    As a B2B marketer, you have a lot on your plate.

    Between meetings and putting out fires, you might not have the time to complete your top-priority tasks.

    Wouldn’t it be great if you had done-for-you templates that help you better track every aspect of your marketing?

    I recently received an invitation to Airtable Universe, a publishing platform where professionals share the exact templates and workflows that they use to run their businesses. Several B2B technology marketers have uploaded their essential tools, such as editorial calendars and campaign tracking sheets, to the site.

    B2B Technology Marketers Share Their Secrets With You

    I think that Airtable Universe is cool, as it gives you an insider look at how your peers are managing their marketing. The templates can also help you complete tasks faster, as you won’t need to reinvent the wheel when you want to improve your marketing systems or better track your campaigns.

    Here are five B2B marketing templates that can help you stay organized and check more items off your “to-do” list:

       1. Marketing Campaign Tracking Sheet

    Marketing Campaign Tracking Sheet from Airtable
    The Marketing Campaign Tracking Sheet tells you, at-a-glance, how your ads are performing.

    According to Airtable, this tracking sheet will help you, “Stop wasting time compiling spreadsheets to track your marketing campaigns, and spend more time doing what you love: coming up with new marketing ideas and generating new creative assets.”

    The tracking sheet gives you a snapshot of your live, completed, and planned campaigns. Use the template to track the following:

      • Campaigns across all of your marketing channels
      • Ad spending and conversions
      • Your UTM codes
      • Campaigns that are specific to each stage of your sales cycle
    • And more!

    2. SaaS Email Copy Swipe File

    Front's email swipe file
    Front’s email swipe file includes welcome messages, thank you messages, product feedback messages, and more.

    I highly recommend saving examples of great copywriting to a swipe file.

    Referring to a swipe file can inspire you when you’re staring at a blank page and wondering what to write.

    For example, you might receive a cold email that motivates you to respond. Save it to your swipe file, so you can analyze it the next time you need to send out a sales email. Or you might get a welcome message that makes you feel special. How can you modify this message so it will appeal to your audience?

    Don’t have a swipe file?

    No problem.

    The team at Front has shared their email copy swipe file on Airtable.

    The file contains samples of essential marketing emails – including welcome, thank you, nurture, product feedback, and apology messages.

    3. Klipfolio’s Content Calendar

    Klipfolio's content calendar
    Klipfolio’s content calendar contains both a spreadsheet and an author view.

    An editorial calendar keeps your content marketing team on track.

    It helps you plan and manage all of your content – from your blog posts to your ebooks. An editorial calendar also makes it easier to collaborate with your team, as everyone can work from a single, shared document.

    But if you don’t have an editorial calendar, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and create one from scratch.

    Klipfolio has shared their content calendar on Airtable.

    It contains a spreadsheet where you can track the following:

      • Content title
      • Type (e.g., blog post, webinar)
      • Date published
      • Published URL
      • Author
      • Status (e.g., published, in development)
    • And more

    4. Product Messaging Library

    Airtable's product messaging template
    Keep all of your product messaging in a single, shared file.

    One of the biggest challenges when creating content is keeping your messaging consistent.

    You don’t want your marketing team to say one thing while your sales team says something else.

    A shared messaging document can put everyone on the same page.

    If you don’t have such a document, you can use Airtable’s Product Messaging Library template. The template contains a spreadsheet for managing your external-facing copy, as well as cards that help you organize your internal style guide.

    5. Content Marketing Management Template

    Airtable's Content Marketing Management Template 
    Keep tabs on all of your content.

    If you manage your company’s content marketing, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air.

    With so much going on, it can be challenging to stay on top of your projects and meet your deadlines.

    Airtable’s Content Marketing Management Template simplifies your workflows. It lets you manage your editorial calendar, brainstorm ideas, align your content with your personas, track your results, and more – all from one location.

    Next Steps

    These are just a few of the handy templates that I found on Airtable.

    What about you? What templates can’t you live without when you plan and measure your marketing? Share this post on Twitter or LinkedIn and let me know.

    21 Ways to Find Out What B2B Buyers Want

    It’s challenging to create content that motivates B2B buyers to respond. Here are 21 ways to get to know your customers, so you can create content that engages them and brings you results. 

    21 Ways to Find Out What B2B Buyers Want

    As a B2B marketer, you know that good content boosts customer engagement and increases sales.

    In fact, more than 85% of top-performing marketers make content an integral part of their marketing strategy

    But creating engaging content isn’t always easy.

    One of the biggest content marketing challenges is relevancy. If B2B buyers don’t relate to your content, they won’t read it.

    That’s why you need a clear understanding of your audience, their pain points, and their goals. The more you know about your customers, the more likely they will view your content and respond to your offers.

    Here are 21 ways to get to know your B2B customers, so you can create content that motivates them to take action:

    1. Read your case studies.

    You can learn a lot about your customers when you read their stories.

    For example, you’ll learn about their challenges and the goals that they wanted to achieve before they started working with you.

    You can also gain insights into your customers’ buying processes and why they chose you over your competitors. This knowledge can help you create content that speaks to your customers’ needs, so you stand out from the pack.

    If you don’t collect case studies on a regular basis, you’re missing out on a goldmine of insights that can help you get more value from all of your content investments. 

    2. Review your competitors’ case studies.

    Do you want to find out why B2B buyers chose your competitors over you?

    Check out your competitors’ case studies. Researching how competitors engage their customers will help you better understand how to engage your own.

    If you are in the technology space, you can find your competitors’ case studies on Featured Customers.com. Or you can visit each competitor’s website separately to review their case studies and testimonials.

    3. Subscribe to publications that B2B buyers read.

    Most industries have trade journals and professional magazines that address your customers’ top issues. Mining these publications will give you ideas for topics that resonate with your target audience.  

    Check out your industry association’s website to see if they have a blog or print publication. You can also find lists of industry publications at your local library or on Webwire.

    4. Check out Amazon book reviews.

    If you’re in the B2B space, you might not think of engaging with your customers on Amazon.

    But Amazon’s book reviews can give you a wealth of information about your audience.

    Find books that your target audience is reading and check out what they say in the reviews. Doing this will help you learn their thoughts on the subject matter. Reviews can also give you insights into your customers’ problems and the types of solutions that they want.

    5. Sign up for Buzzsumo.

    When you enter keywords in Buzzsumo, the site will show you the most popular content for each phrase. You’ll see the number of social shares and what sites link back to the content. Here’s an example of a Buzzsumo search for “content marketing:”

    Example search for "content marketing" in BuzzSumo

    Using Buzzsumo is particularly helpful when you need ideas for blog post topics and headlines that will boost your shares. 

    6. Enter your keywords in Answer The Public.

    Answer The Public leverages the power of Google’s autocomplete function and displays the results in easy-to-read graphics. Simply enter your keywords, and Answer the Public will show you the most-searched questions, prepositions, and alphabetical listings for each phrase:

    Here are the results for questions about “content marketing:”

    Example of "content marketing" search in Answer the Public

    You can use these results to find out what your customers search for in Google. Then, you can create content that answers their questions and improves your SEO.  

    7. Use SEMRush for competitive research.

    SemRush is a great tool for researching your competitors. Enter their domain, and you’ll see what keywords they rank for and who links back to their site. When you use the page report, you’ll see what content performs the best on their site. Then, you can create something even better for your own site.

    8. Show your professional side on Facebook.

    If you use your Facebook profile professionally, you can connect with trusted customers and interact with them in an informal setting.

    Join the same groups that B2B buyers are active in. Follow their discussions and see what types of content they share.

    If you post on a company page, use Facebook Insights to see data on your views, likes, and shares. This data will show you what works and what doesn’t work, so you can improve your content in the future.

    9. Stay up-to-date on Twitter.

    Connect with members of your target audience on Twitter and pay attention to their tweets. Be sure to segment your customers into lists, so you can keep up with their activity.  

    10. Invest in LinkedIn.

    LinkedIn is the top social network for business professionals.

    If you’re in B2B, most of your social media efforts should focus on LinkedIn. Your sales team may also want to consider a Sales Navigator subscription, as a paid plan makes it easier for reps to find and connect with potential customers.

    11. Register for conferences that B2B buyers attend. 

    conference image with B2B buyers

    Attending a conference is a great way to get out of your office, learn what’s happening in your industry, and network with prospects.

    Find out what the most popular sessions are and try to get a seat. Also be sure to stay through the Q&A, as you’ll learn what questions your customers are asking. Then, you can answer these questions later in your own content. 

    12. Join industry associations.

    Industry associations are great places to interact with your target audience. 

    These groups have forums, social communities, and publications where your customers and peers discuss their top issues. They may even have live events, where you can meet potential customers in person.  

    13. Use Google Keyword Planner.

    Google Keywords Planner allows you to enter keywords and find out which ones have the highest search volume. You can use the tool to get a general idea of what your customers search for.

    14. Try UberSuggest.

    UberSuggest is a tool that allows you to quickly find keywords that aren’t available in Google’s Keyword Planner. It shows you search volume, seasonal trends, and cost-per-click data.

    The best part? It’s free. 

    15. Find your customers’ questions on BloomBerry.

    BloomBerry shows you the top questions that people ask online. It mines popular sites, such as Quora and Reddit, so you won’t need to look at them individually to find out what questions your customers are asking.

    16. Speak with your sales team.

    Having an open dialogue with your sales team is essential if you want to learn more about your customers.  

    Your reps can tell you what buyers are asking and what they think about your product. This information will help you address customer concerns in your marketing materials.

    17. Survey and segment your customers.

    Surveys can provide you with valuable data about your prospects and customers.

    But it’s hard to get someone to complete a survey.

    If your surveys fall flat, start by asking your audience to answer a single question. For example, when someone joins your list, send them an email that asks them to segment themselves.

    If your list consists of IT professionals, you can say something like:

    To send you the best and most relevant content, we need to know a little more about you. Please click the option that best describes you. 

    • I’m a CIO who wants to lead my company’s digital transformation.
    • I am an IT security pro who wants to better protect my company’s data. 
    • I’m a network engineer who wants to improve our network’s performance.    

    Segmenting your audience is critical for improving your open and response rates.

    18. Host a webinar.

    webinar image

    Webinars allow you to get face time with your customers. Make your webinars as interactive as possible, so you can chat with customers and answer their questions.

    19. Check your Google analytics.

    When you review your Google Analytics, you can see which keywords people use to find your web pages. You can also learn which pages get the most views.

    However, a large number of views doesn’t necessarily translate into an engaged audience. Also look at how much time people spend on each page. You may need to use other analytics tools to determine how your audience interacts with your content. For example, what are your opt-in rates for your premium content?

    20. Read your blog comments.

    Your blog can give you insights into your target audience. Which posts get the most shares and comments? What questions do people ask in the comments section? Should you answer any of these questions in future blog posts?

    21. Review your customer personas.

    Are your customer personas up-to-date?

    If not, you may need to research your buyers and revise your personas. Make sure that everyone on your content team has copies of your personas, so they can refer to them when they create content for you.

    Customers Are All Around 

     

    This list covers just a fraction of the places where you can connect with customers.

    As they might say in a marketing version of Love, Actually, “Customers are all around!”

    The more you interact with customers, the more you can tailor your content to meet their needs. Ultimately, this will lead to increased sales and revenue. 

    What will you do to engage with more customers? 

     

     

    7 Smart Investments for Your B2B Marketing Budget

    Marketers constantly need to do more with less. With so many marketing options, how do you know where to direct your limited budget? Here are seven investments that will help you get the most bang for your buck …

    If you’re a marketing director or leader, you juggle endless responsibilities.

    You must devise and implement your company’s marketing strategy, ensure that your team creates engaging content, deliver leads to sales, and stay on top of ever-evolving industry standards.

    And that’s not all …

    You must also devise a budget that keeps your marketing machine running smoothly.

    Your budget is the foundation for all of your marketing decisions. How can you ensure that you direct your limited resources to the areas that will bring you the most bang for your buck?

    Here are seven tips that will help you maximize your marketing budget:

    1. Arm sales with the content that they need to close.

    Many marketing departments focus on creating new content … the shinier, the better. 

    While publishing new content is important, you also must ensure that your sales team will use it. According to the American Marketing Association, 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales.

    Yikes! 

    If your sales team doesn’t see the value in your content, they won’t share it with leads. They may even create their own content, which could be off-brand. A lack of sales-ready content can lengthen your buying cycles and impact your revenue.

    Create a process to equip reps with the materials that they need to close deals, so they spend less time searching for or creating content. For example, make sure that your brochures, case studies, and white papers are updated and on-brand. 

    Also, review your content to make sure that it is mobile-friendly. A CSO Insights survey revealed that only 12% of reps could bring up critical sales material up on their smartphones.

    When you equip your reps with appropriate content for late-stage leads, you allow them to spend their time on what they do best – sell.

    2. Repurpose your content to reach a wider audience.

    Repurposing content is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to get more value from your marketing budget. It allows you to publish more often and reach a wider audience – without doubling your content efforts.

    One way to repurpose your content is to invest in the creation of one major piece, such as an ebook or essential guide. This piece will act as your “sun,” and all of your other content will orbit around it.

    While creating a major piece of content takes a bit of planning up front, you probably already have something that you can reuse and repurpose.

    Once you have this content, you can easily repurpose it into other formats for your other channels – saving time in the long run. Oracle’s Content Pillar Approach shows you how you can get 269 pieces of content from a single ebook.

    Source: Oracle, How to Produce 269 (or more) Content Assets From a Single eBook”

    Starting with a large piece of content and breaking it down makes it easy for you to fill your editorial calendar and reach customers across a variety of channels.

    3. Invest in marketing automation to nurture leads.

    While marketing automation has been around for a long time, only 7% of B2B companies are optimizing it.

    Since B2B buying cycles can last more than a year, investing in marketing automation will help you nurture customers and get long-term value from your budget. Here are three ways marketing teams can benefit from automation:

    1. Allow customers to self-serve. 

      Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with enterprises without interacting with a human. Since customers aren’t speaking with your sales team, you must give them the content that they need to make a smart purchasing decision on their own.

    1. Increase qualified leads.

      Successful automation sequences guide prospects through a personalized buying process. When you effectively nurture prospects, you can increase your qualified leads by 451%.

    1. Personalize your content for each audience. 

      B2B companies have an average of four different audiences. Marketing automation allows you to segment these audiences and give them content that is relevant at each stage of the buying cycle. 

    4. Create content that turns prospects into customers.

    The B2B buying journey is not always straightforward. Some buyers may stumble upon a product or service before they even know that they want it, while others may begin their search knowing exactly what they want.

    To get more value from your limited budget, invest in evergreen content that will remain relevant for a long time and appeal to buyers across each stage of your buying cycle. That way, you won’t constantly need to update your content. You’ll also have something for everyone – whether they are an early-stage lead who is researching their problem or a late-stage lead who is ready to buy.

    Marketing funnel

    Demand Gen Report found that 61% of B2B buyers select vendors who deliver a mix of content that is appropriate for each stage of their buying process.

    If you have significant gaps, you may need a larger upfront investment to create content for every stage of your sales cycle. However, this investment will help you attract leads and nurture them until they become customers.

    5. Use post-sales marketing to drive upsells, cross-sells, and referrals.

    Post-sales marketing is one of the most underused customer engagement strategies.

    Many marketers believe that once they sell their product or service, their job is done. But in reality, it’s just beginning.

    By investing in post-sales marketing, B2B companies can create long-lasting relationships with customers, drive referrals, and boost sales. We all know that it’s much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to find a new one.

    6. Use the right content to engage the right customers.

    A study by the Content Marketing Institute found that more than 85% of top-performing marketers use content as an integral part of their marketing strategy—and with good reason!

    Content marketing boosts customer engagement and increases sales. According to a 2016 report by Demand Gen, 50% of B2B buyers view up to five pieces of content before they make a purchase. The quality – and availability – of your content can make or break your sales.

    But it’s challenging to know what types of content to use when. The average B2B marketer uses 13 types of content, ranging from blogging to webinars.

    With so many choices, how do you know which types of content are the most effective?

    The LinkedIn Technology Marketing Group surveyed more than 600 tech marketers and found that the top B2B content marketing tactic is case studies. Forty-four percent of respondents said that case studies help them achieve their lead generation goals. 

    The complete list of effective content is as follows: 

    1. Case studies
    2. Blogging
    3. Social media
    4. Customer testimonials
    5. In-person events
    6. White papers
    7. Webinars
    8. Videos
    9. Online articles
    10. Infographics

    7. Show your human side with compelling stories.

    Stories are an ideal way for brands to engage customers.

    Investing in storytelling lets you connect with customers on an emotional level. When you use stories to share your values and benefits, you can create a tighter bond with customers that translates into business.

    Here are three things to consider when you add stories to your marketing mix:

    • Focus on stories about your customers’ key pains and opportunities – not on your products or services. 
    • Combine words and visuals to paint a picture. Use strong visuals to illustrate the emotion. 
    • Address your weaknesses to make your brand more human. Instead of hiding your product’s flaws, put them out in the open. Customers will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to trust you.

    Hiring professional writers who can add storytelling to your content will make your marketing more compelling and effective.

    Next Steps

    Ensure that you spend your budget on content that truly speaks to your customers. Click the image below to download The Ultimate B2B Brand Voice Guide: 7 Steps to Finding an Authentic Voice That Resonates With Buyers

    Do you need compelling copy that gets your audience to take action and maximizes your marketing investments? Contact me at rachel@freshperspectivewriting.com or 647-342-4921 to discuss your marketing goals. 

     

     

    How to Pick an Ebook Topic That Actually Attracts Readers

    Tablet with a stack of books being clicked on and downloaded

    Creating a major piece of content – such as an ebook, guide, or white paper – can be a daunting task.

    Although these in-depth resources are ideal for educating leads, they are also time-intensive. Many B2B marketing teams are overworked and don’t have the capacity to get these projects off the ground.

    According to a study by Ascend2, the biggest content marketing challenge is the lack of internal resources to get it done.

    Bar graph illustrating biggest challenges for content marketers

    If you invest in a major content project, you don’t want to waste all of your effort on something that falls flat.

    Before you commit to your next ebook, guide, or white paper, you’ll want to be sure that it will help you achieve your marketing goals.

    To do this, you must start by picking a topic that resonates with your audience.

    Here are four keys to ensuring that your next ebook, guide, or white paper topic will attract leads: 

    Test before you invest

    If you’re not sure if your audience is interested in a particular topic, you can run a test.

    For example, write a blog post about your topic and see how it performs. Are your ideal readers commenting on the post and sharing it on social media? How is it performing, compared to other posts on your blog?

    Find the top-performing content for your keywords

    One of my favourite content marketing tools is BuzzSumo. After you enter your keywords, the tool will show you the most-shared content for those phrases. Using BuzzSumo helps you learn which topics are trending and which headlines draw in the most readers.

    Here’s a screenshot of a search that I did for “content marketing”:

    Screen shot showing Buzzsumo's website

    It shows you shares across the top social channels. If you upgrade, you can also see the number of links for each post.

    According to BuzzSumo, one of the most popular types of B2B content is in-vogue and trending topics. For example, content about artificial intelligence is currently getting a lot of shares.

    An ebook about a trending topic can help you increase your opt-ins. However, trending content won’t have as long of a lifespan as your evergreen content. You may need to update it or replace it with something new when its information grows old.  

    Stick with what works

    An easy way to find your next ebook topic is to mine your current content for ideas.

    Review your metrics to determine which pieces of content perform the best. Check your blog, webinars, case studies, and social content. Which pieces of content get the most views, shares, and downloads from your target audience? Do you have any topics that you can expand into a longer ebook, guide, or white paper?

    Once you identify a potential topic, locate all of your related content. How much of this content can you repurpose in your ebook? 

    Mind the gap

    Another way to pick a topic is to find the gaps in your current marketing.

    For example, are you about to launch a new product but don’t have content to support it? Are your competitors talking about things that you also should address? 

    Also look at the questions that your customers ask. Do any of these questions fall into a common theme that you can turn into an ebook? For example, are customers in the early or middle stages of your sales funnel asking questions that you haven’t yet answered in your content? What are their most pressing challenges that you need to address? 

    Next Steps 

    1.Download The Ultimate Content Library Checklist: 9 Items You Need to Share with Your Team to Create Better, Faster and More Effective Content. 

    2. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.

    3. Subscribe to the Fresh Marketing Blog to receive weekly B2B marketing tips, trends, and best practices.

    5 Keys to Creating Killer Case Studies – Even If You’re Totally Swamped

    Title image with desk and stack of papers, clock on the wall and a checklist

    Case studies are one of the most powerful items in your B2B marketing toolbox.

    According to a Content Marketing Institute study, B2B marketers called customer testimonials and case studies their most effective content.

    Meanwhile, Dimensional Research found that 90% of buyers who read positive customer success content claimed that it influenced their purchasing decision.

    But if you’re part of a small marketing team, you might not have the time to develop all of the case studies you need to turn prospects into customers.

    According to the latest B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, the biggest barrier to content marketing success is not devoting enough time to it.

    Here are five keys to publishing a steady stream of customer success content – even if you don’t have the time:

    1. Work with the right customers

    Finding a customer who will to agree to a case study – and then getting their story approved – can take a long time.

    If you’re in a hurry to fill your content calendar, you must reach out to the right customers. Look for someone who is already raving about you on social media, in online reviews, or via email. Chances are, this customer will be more than happy to help you.  

    Image of customer and thumbs up

    For more tips on getting your customers involved with your content, be sure to read, 3 Proven Ways to Get Customers to Say, “Yes!” to a Success Story.

    2. Use video testimonials

    Ask your customers to share their stories on camera. A short interview will require minimal editing and allow you to quickly publish new content.

    3. Send your customer interviews out for transcription

    Most marketers record their customer interviews. Recordings are helpful, as they give you something to refer to when you write a case study and need to insert compelling quotes.

    But it takes a long time to listen to a recording and find an ideal sound bite – especially if you spent an hour on the phone with your customer. When you transcribe your interviews, you can quickly search them for key phrases. Then, you can copy and paste your customer’s exact words into your case study. You may still need to do some editing, but working from a transcription will save you a lot of time.    

    4. Develop a case study formula

    Creating great content is 50 percent about your writing abilities and 50 percent about your process.

    When you have a proven, repeatable process, you can quickly produce case studies. You’ll also deal with fewer revisions and get approvals faster.

    I recommend that you create a list of questions that you will ask all of your customers during case study interviews. That way, you won’t need to spend a lot of time preparing for an interview.

    cumputer with various workflow icons surrounding it

    Also develop a template for your case studies. What information would you like to include? Strong case studies usually contain the following sections:

    The customer: Include a sentence or two about the company. I often pull this information from the boilerplate at the end of a customer’s press release.

    • The challenge: What challenges did your customer try to solve before they started to use your products or services? How were these challenges negatively impacting their business?
    • The discovery: How did your customer find out about you? Why did they choose you over your competitors?
    • The implementation: How did they implement your product or service? Did you help them overcome any challenges during this phase of the project? If so, how?
    • The results: What ROI did your customer achieve? Insert as many numbers related to their success as possible.

    Be sure to include these sections, or some variation on them, in your case study template.

    5. Get someone else to write your case studies for you

    If you are swamped, you might benefit from hiring a freelance copywriter to write your case studies. They can handle everything from interviewing your customer to the final edits. The only thing you’ll need to do is get approvals.

    Try some of these techniques when you need to create customer success content but are short on time.

    After you complete a case study, be sure to share it across a number of channels. Don’t just bury it on your website and hope leads will find it. When you take your message beyond your website, you increase your chances of connecting with customers as they are getting ready to buy and want proof that your products deliver results.  

    Learn how my case study writing services can help you build your arsenal of customer success stories, so you can influence more prospects, shorten your sales cycles and boost revenue.

    Next Steps

    Turbocharge your ROI from your customer success content by sharing it on FeaturedCustomers.com, the largest directory of software testimonials, case studies, and customer videos. Sign up today and gain access to qualified software leads who are ready to buy!

    *This post was originally published on FeaturedCustomers.com.

    [Infographic] 119 Amazing Email Marketing Stats

    Pie chart depicting statistics and hands typing on a laptop with an envelope denoting an incoming email

    Email is a major part of a savvy marketers’ strategy.

    According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Forrester also found that email marketing is the most effective tactic for lead nurturing among top B2B marketers.

    The folks over at websitebuilder.org have put together a great infographic with 119 email marketing statistics that offer insight into what works and what doesn’t.

    Check out 119 Facts You Don’t Know About Email Marketing for tips on how to create successful campaigns.

    How to Write Killer Ads That Get Clicks

    According to 2017 research from the Content Marketing Institute 2017 research from the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers use an average of three methods of paid content promotion

    But only between 24%-54% of marketers see value from their investment.

    If you use paid advertising, then you know how much effort goes into selecting advertisers, writing copy, and testing your ads.

    How can you improve your ads’ performance and get more of your ideal customers to view your content? 

    I recently analyzed the copy from 135 white paper paid ads and compared the top and low performers to discover what works and what fails. 

    Here are my findings:

    1. Know your audience

    One of the biggest factors impacting your ads’ success is how well your audience relates to your content. If your audience feels that you understand their needs and can help them, they will be more likely to respond to your calls to action. If your content isn’t relevant, they will tune your messages out.

    Top performing ads had headlines that appeal to your publication’s audience. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you would be surprised by the number of ads that weren’t relevant to the target audience.

    You don’t need to mention your audience by name in your ad’s headline, but you must make it clear that your content will help them solve one of their top challenges. Ads that directly mentioned the audience in the body copy tended to get more clicks. 

    Some of the lowest-performing white paper ads also called out the audience directly. However, their subjects appeared either too broad or too niche for the readership. 

    You must get clear on your audience so that you can pick the right lists or platforms for your ads. Here are some questions you can ask:

    • Who is your target audience? What are their roles within their companies?
    • What are their key challenges?
    • How do these challenges affect their typical workday?
    • Do these challenges impact their personal lives? If so, how?
    • How will your white paper help them solve these challenges?

    2. Have one clear offer

    The strength of your calls to action directly impacts your conversions.

    However, many B2B marketers treat the call to action like an afterthought. They may devote hours – or even days – to developing a piece of content only to spend a few minutes writing its call to action.

    The lowest performing ads that I analyzed had confusing calls to action. Many contained too much information yet failed to tie the benefits of clicking to the audience’s roles. 

    Top-performing ads clearly described what the reader would get when they clicked the link. They contained a big promise that related to a challenge that the publication’s readers desperately want to overcome. 

    Understand your audience’s challenges and desires before you write a white paper and create an ad for it. 

    images of various buttons with vague CTAs and megaphone in background

    3. Avoid industry jargon and acronyms

    The ads that included jargon and acronyms performed poorly and didn’t resonate with readers.

    Communicating with jargon is understandable. Since you are immersed in your field on a daily basis, it may only seem natural that others should speak your language.

    However, using jargon in your paid ads can make readers’ eyes glaze over. If your message gets lost under layers of complex technical talk, your prospects will look elsewhere for answers to their problems.

    Use jargon only if you are 100% confident that the publication’s audience knows your subject and will understand the terms.

    When in doubt, leave the jargon out.

    4. Avoid the term “white paper”

    A well-written white paper can create a powerful argument for your product or service.

    But the term “white paper” is often associated with sales and can be seen as boring.

    Terms such as “research,” “guide,” “template,” “checklist,” and “report,” got more clicks than “white paper.” People respond to resources that they can use to take immediate action and are more likely to trade their email addresses for them.

    5. Use attention-grabbing copy

    A few small changes to your ad copy can lead to big increases in your conversions.

    Top-performing ads: 

    • Used power words to elicit emotion
    • Included adjectives to make the copy punchy
    • Name dropped well-known companies or influencers to give social proof

    Bottom performing ads:

    • Used the word “free” as the core benefit
    • Included dull, boring language 
    • Had typos and grammar mistakes
    • Used metaphors that didn’t land with the audience
    • Asked too many questions instead of making strong statements

    6. Beware of typos and grammar mistakes

    I found typos and grammar errors in many low-performing ads. Mistakes can cause confusion and erode reader trust.

    The BBC reported on an e-commerce company that doubled its online revenue after fixing a typo on its website. According to the story, typos may cost companies millions of dollars a year, as customers will question your credibility if they find errors in your copy.

    7. Use numbers in your headline

    Eye tracking studies have shown that the eye is drawn to numbers. Use an odd number or a multiple of 10 in your headline, as they get more clicks than even numbers.   

    Many top-performing ads included the year in the title. Showing that your content is current will help you engage people who need to keep up with best practices and stay ahead of their competitors. 

    Next Steps 

    1. Read 41 Fantastic Places to Promote Your B2B White Papers.

    2. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.

    3. Subscribe to the Fresh Marketing Blog to receive weekly B2B marketing tips, trends, and best practices.

     

    3 Proven Ways to Get Customers to Say, “Yes!” to a Success Story

    Title Image of customer profiles and a hand holding a mobile phone with text bubble saying 'yes!'

    Creating case studies should be at the top of your “to-do” list if you need content that turns B2B leads into customers.

    According to a Content Marketing Institute study, B2B marketers called customer testimonials and case studies the most effective type of content.

    Meanwhile, nine out of ten B2B buyers said that online customer success content has a major impact on their purchasing decisions.

    Although case studies are effective, you may struggle to get them produced. Many B2B marketers have a hard time finding customers who are willing to share their stories.

    Why Customers Say “No” to Success Stories

    You’ve probably heard many reasons why customers won’t participate in a case study.

    One of the most common reasons is that it’s against their company policies. They may need to adhere to regulations that make it impossible for them to discuss their challenges and successes publicly. Or their legal teams might say veto all case study requests, as they don’t like to disclose their third-party vendors.   

    Some companies say “no” to success stories because they want to keep their internal processes, technologies, and best practices private. They fear that their competitors will read about what they are doing and then steal their ideas.

    Other customers may believe that they are too busy to take part in a case study. They often think that the process is long, complicated, and too much work.   

    In some of these instances, your customers might agree to a case study if you don’t name their company. But a case study without names and direct quotes can appear phony. It’s better to put your “nameless” customers on hold and find others who are happy to share their experiences.  

    How to Find Happy Customers Who Will Say “Yes” to Case Studies  

    You don’t need to go far to find your most satisfied customers. Here are five places to look:

    1. Ask your sales and customer service reps for the names of the people who are the most excited to work with you.
    2. Find out who is raving about you on social media.
    3. Search your email for messages from customers who love your software.
    4. Check third-party review sites to see who gives you the highest ratings.
    5. Make a list of customers who give you referrals and references.

    Speech bubble showing customer testimonial and profile picture

    The ideal time to ask a customer for a success story, case study, or testimonial is right after they recommend you. If they are sharing the love in public forums, such as on social media or third-party review sites, they will be more likely to say, “yes” to a feature story.  

    3 Keys to Getting Your Customers Excited About Sharing Their Successes  

    Many B2B marketers approach case studies from a “what’s in it for me” perspective. They want great content that will fill their editorial calendars and drive sales.

    But you also must consider what’s in it for your customers.

    Here are three secrets to getting customers to say “yes” to your case studies:

    1. Show them the benefits of helping you. 

    Let your customers know that you will do everything you can to make them look good. For example, you can help them:

    • Display their thought leadership. A case study can highlight a customer’s expertise. They can share it on their blog and on social media to show how they have successfully overcome common challenges in their industry.
    • Gain recognition within their companies. They can show their boss the case study as proof of the great things they are doing for the business.
    • Build their personal brands. They can post the case study to their LinkedIn profile and receive recognition from their peers and future employers.

    Company logo with trophy and a thumbs up

    2. Address their concerns. 

    Your customers will want to know how you will use their success stories. Be sure to send them a release form that describes all of the details. Also, send them samples of your other case studies so that they can visualize their final story.  

    3. Make it easy for customers to take part. 

    Let your customers know that they won’t need to devote tons of time to your case study. Aim to keep their interview around 45 minutes. Also let them know that your copywriter will create a draft, so they won’t need to do any time-consuming writing. After the interview, the only thing your customer will need to do is review the story and get final approval.

    Be sure to send them their interview questions in advance. Some customers are comfortable speaking off-the-cuff but others will want to prepare answers.

    Also, let your customers know that you will ask for numbers related to their return on investment during the interview. That way, they can look up the data in advance and won’t need to dig around for additional information after the interview. This will also help you complete your case studies faster, as you won’t need to wait for vital ROI statistics.

    Finding customers for your case studies doesn’t have to be a headache. Start with your most vocal advocates and make it easy for them to take part.

    It won’t be long before you have a catalogue of case studies that helps you turn leads into customers.

    Next Steps

    Turbocharge your ROI from your customer success content by sharing it on FeaturedCustomers.com, the largest directory of software testimonials, case studies, and customer videos. Sign up today and gain access to qualified software leads who are ready to buy!

    *This post was originally published on FeaturedCustomers.com.

    The 7 Most Overlooked Opportunities For B2B Marketers In 2017

    Title Image: Woman looking through binoculars towards distance with city skyline at right

    Life is hectic when you’re a B2B marketer.  

    Between attending meetings, planning campaigns, and publishing endless content, you might have trouble keeping up. You barely have time to analyze your own activities – let alone find out what other marketers are doing to succeed.  

    In the day-to-day rush, you may miss out on chances to engage leads and turn them into customers. Here are seven big opportunities that many B2B marketers overlook:

    1. Arming Your Sales Team With The Content They Need To Close Deals

    A recent Seismic and MarketingProfs survey found that only 18% of B2B content marketers provide their sales teams with content in an effective manner, as well as ensure that their materials remain updated and on-brand.

    Adding to Sales’ frustrations, a CSO Insights survey revealed that only 12% of reps can bring up critical sales material up on their smartphones.

    If you don’t have a process to provide reps with the content they need to close deals, your sales cycles will grow longer. The more time reps spend searching for and creating content, the less time they will have to do what they do best – sell.  

    Equip your reps with content that supports buyers who are in the later stages of the sales process. For example, they may need case studies that provide proof that your products or services deliver results. They may also want content that contains detailed information on your offerings, such as brochures or competitive comparisons. 

    2. Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

    According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, only 37% of B2B companies have a documented content marketing strategy. If you’re not getting the results you want, it might be because you haven’t built your content foundation.  

    Publishing without a strategy is like taking a road trip without a map. You’re likely to take wrong turns along the way. 

    Winding road off intot the distance with map showing the way

    In addition to a map, you’ll also need a GPS that warns you of upcoming roadblocks and detours. This is because the most successful B2B marketers quickly adjust their content marketing strategy – and get on a better route – when things change.  

    3. Personalizing Your Existing Content

    Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all content. Customers won’t respond unless your content speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and goals.

    The demand for personalized content stemmed from the consumer world, where buyers can do everything from view customized Amazon recommendations to pick the exact produce in their organic delivery box.

    Eccolo Media found that 48% of B2B buyers consume two-to-five pieces of content before they make a purchasing decision. Meanwhile, TechTarget found that 65% of IT buyers require at least four pieces of content to make a vendor shortlist.

    In the B2B space, content personalization can include giving customers relevant white papers, case studies, and email content. And you don’t necessarily need to recreate the wheel to personalize all of your content.

    For example, you can take one of your white papers and change parts of it – such as the case studies and introduction – to speak to a different audience.

    Then, you can give leads the option to select their role, industry, or biggest challenge when they download a white paper. This gets them more involved in the process. If they know that they are downloading a piece of custom content, they will be more likely to read it. They will also get more value from your content, as it speaks directly to their needs.

    4. Cooking Once And Eating All Week By Repurposing Your Content

    The more content you produce, the more customers you will attract. However, you may not have the time or resources to create a large volume of original content.

    Repurposing your content is a great way to do more with less, so you can:  

    • Get your message in front of a wider audience (such as different personas or leads who are in different stages of the sales cycle)
    • Attract more leads from different channels
    • Improve your SEO
    • Get more value from your content investments
    • Publish new content quickly

    5. Showing Your Company’s Human Side

    Customers buy from people. They want honesty. They want stories.

    Stories help you connect with customers on an emotional level so that you can show your value and stand out from the competition.

    The most effective content marketers apply elements of journalism and storytelling to their content. Here are three keys to creating compelling stories: 

    • Address your weaknesses to make your brand more human. Instead of hiding your product’s flaws, put them out in the open. Customers will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to trust you.

    When you bring these key elements into your content, you’ll connect with members of your audience and motivate them to take action. 

    6. Engaging Leads With Case Studies 

    The B2B Technology Marketing Group surveyed more than 600 tech marketers to find out the latest content trends and best practices. The results revealed that the most effective B2B content marketing tactic is case studies, with 44% of respondents saying that it helps them achieve their lead generation goals.

    Mobile phone with case study on screen and #1 ribbon in background

    Here is the rest of the survey’s top 10 list:

    1. Case studies
    2. Blogging
    3. Social media
    4. Customer testimonials
    5. In-person events
    6. White papers
    7. Webinars
    8. Videos
    9. Online articles
    10. Infographics

    7. Using More Than Words

    Multimedia can make your content more engaging and help you connect with auditory and visual learners. For example: 

    Here are some ways you can use media to connect with customers and motivate them to take action: 

    • Add photos and charts to punch up your content
    • Film video case studies and use them throughout your marketing
    • Turn your content into SlideShare presentations and upload them to LinkedIn
    • Interview your customers about their successes in your webinars and podcasts
    • Create fun and informative infographics

    Can you take advantage of any of these opportunities?

    Check for holes in your content strategy. For example, did you launch a new product but don’t have case studies to support it? Can you make your blog posts more shareable by adding images and videos to them? 

    Next Steps 

    1. Download The Ultimate Content Library Checklist: 9 Items You Need to Share with Your Team to Create Better, Faster and More Effective Content. 

    2. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.

    3. Subscribe to the Fresh Marketing Blog to receive weekly B2B marketing tips, trends, and best practices.

    How Content Marketing Benefits Your Business (and Generates 3x as Many Leads as Outbound Marketing)

    Title Image showing green arrows for inbound marketing and hands holding a tablet with checkmark

    More than 85% of marketers use content marketing – and for good reason!

    Content marketing is a proven way to boost customer engagement and increase sales. Studies have shown that the average buyer now interacts with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. It’s not surprising that every year, businesses dedicate more of their marketing budget to content creation.

    This week, I wanted to share an infographic put together by Skilled.co that outlines 55 ways to help your business with content marketing. It clearly illustrates which types of content attract the most customers, the best ways to promote your content, and actionable tips to drive more traffic.

    Click here to check it out.

    What B2B Marketers Must Know About SEO in 2017

    What B2B Marketers Must Know About SEO

    Staying on top of SEO best practices and increasing organic traffic is a priority for many B2B marketers. The more targeted buyers you bring to your content, the more you will increase your conversion rates and generate leads. 

    I sat down with Stephen Johnson, resident SEO expert at Salt Water Digital, to find out how search engine optimization is affecting B2B marketers in 2017.

    Q: How has SEO changed in 2017?

    Stephen: Google made some major updates in the early part of 2017 that we are still trying to understand. Many of the core principles of SEO remain valuable. But we need to determine what best practices will move the needle the most. 

    The two most important SEO considerations are content and domain authority. It’s important to publish high-quality, long-form content, as search engines send traffic to pages that are authorities for keywords. Pages with thin content won’t perform as well as pages with longer content.

    However, content isn’t everything. The strength of your domain is still critical. A domain’s age, size, and popularity determines its authority. A site gains authority when other sites with high authority scores recognize it. 

    To improve your domain authority, focus on link building.

    Q: Everyone talks about link building. How do you effectively build links?

    Stephen: Passively waiting for backlinks is not an effective way to improve your SEO. You must be proactive.

    We recommend two strategies for building links. The first involves using industry-specific citations or directories. Most industries have online resources where you can list your company or provide content in return for a link, such as through an interview or a guest post. Providing your expertise on blogs is an excellent way to acquire links.

    While some directories aren’t high impact, they can still support your link-building efforts. Industry blogs and resources often have high domain authority – not to mention the respect of your customers. Find out which sites can provide you with high-quality links and form relationships with their editorial team. 

    The second strategy is to outsource your link building to an SEO company that can take care of everything for you. However, it’s important to learn how they plan to acquire links to your website so that you can avoid penalties from Google. 

    For example, ensure that they won’t use black hat techniques that spam your site around with low quality or hacked accounts. Avoid Fiverr at all costs. You should also find out which websites they will get links from and check their domain authority using MOZ.

    Q: Are one-way links more valuable than linking between websites?

    Stephen: Google looks for logical link building. Does the link make sense? 

    For example, you can’t add your financial planning software to a website about dogs. The website doesn’t have any relevancy, and Google will recognize this. Industry relevant links are important.

    Q: To avoid thin content, is it better to have one long post per month instead of four shorter posts?

    Stephen: You don’t need to write super posts all the time because you’ll burn out and send your blog to an early grave. But the meatier your content, the better. 

    Write at least 500 words for your blog posts and product pages. Mid-length content will go a long way in improving your SEO.  

    But don’t create fluff articles just to meet your blog’s deadlines. You must produce useful content. Hire a copywriter to ensure that your content is something that your customers want to read. 

    Also, include images and videos whenever possible. When you add media to your content, you can tag it with keywords and increase your chances of getting found. Google wants to provide search results with great content – including images and especially videos. The more media you add, the better more likely your content will succeed.

    The content you create – whether text or media – should relate to your targeted keywords. You should also interlink and optimize it using anchor text. Meaning, if you want to rank for “HR software,” use this phrase as your anchor text when you interlink between your blog and your product page. Don’t use “click here” as your anchor text.

    Q: Should all B2B companies focus on SEO?

    Stephen: SEO isn’t for every business. Optimizing the SEO for a B2B company can be tough. Many B2B keywords have low search volumes when compared with B2C keywords. This makes achieving ROI challenging, as you might target keywords that only get a few searches per month. In these cases, I recommend investing in PPC strategies.

    Q: If my keywords have a low search volume, will I get any value from SEO? 

    Stephen: Yes. Even if the keywords that describe your products or services have a low search volume, they could still provide you with value. For example, optimizing for specific phrases can bring targeted buyers to your website. These customers can go on to purchase something that costs thousands of dollars – making your SEO investment worthwhile.

    Q: What mistakes do you see B2B marketers making with SEO?

    Stephen: When B2B companies tell me they are “doing SEO,” I often see a disconnect in what this means. Many aren’t doing anything other than adding keywords to their web pages or blog posts. 

    Also, some B2B companies fail to perform keyword research. They guess what people are searching for, rather than doing research to find out what customers actually look for. You can use free tools, including the Google Keyword Tool, to see which phrases your customers are using. 

    Q: What are your favourite tools?

    Stephen: There are a number of tools that I find helpful for marketers. Moz is a great tool to check your site’s domain authority and get an idea of what links already point to it. 

    If you’re interested in checking out the competition from an SEO and PPC perspective, Spy Fu is really cool. It gives you an idea of what your competitors are doing to get found online. 

    The Google Keyword Planner is the tool that I use the most for clients. The foundation of SEO is knowing what people are searching for, and the Keyword Planner shows you this information.

    Finally, I use SEMrush for its keyword tracking capabilities. It is fantastic if you are pursuing aggressive content strategies, as you can clearly see how your content performs from an SEO perspective.

    Next Steps 

    1. Want to Create Content That Attracts Leads, Shortens Sales Cycles, and Drives Revenue? Download the B2B Content Planning Checklist. 

    2. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.

    3. Subscribe to the Fresh Marketing Blog to receive weekly B2B marketing tips, trends, and best practices.

     

     

    The #1 Website Metric That B2B Marketers Are Getting Wrong

    Boosting website traffic is a top priority for many marketers.

    According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report, 78% of B2B marketers use “website traffic” to measure their content’s success.

    While traffic is an important measurement, it often doesn’t correlate with how well your content actually performs. Who is visiting your website and viewing your content? Are they qualified leads or random people? Just because people land on your site, it doesn’t mean you will convert enough of them into customers.

    If your traffic isn’t turning into revenue, you may want to focus on other areas.

    Understand Your Buyer’s Journey

    The B2B buying process is long and complex. Today’s buyers won’t go directly to your site and contact your sales team.

    In fact, B2B buyers don’t trust what vendors say about themselves on their websites. They know that your website content will present you in the best light and won’t give them the full picture.

    That’s why they turn to other channels before they make a purchasing decision.

    According to a LinkedIn study, B2B buyers mainly perform online searches, use social media, and share information across their organization when they are in the pre-purchase phases of the sales cycle. Vendor websites don’t come into play until after customers have made a purchase and are implementing a product.

    The Types of Content That B2B Buyers Really Want

    B2B buyers use social media and internal information sharing to gather recommendations from their peers.

    According to Google, 60% of B2B buyers search for peer reviews and testimonials before they make a purchase. Meanwhile, online reviews firm Software Advice found that buyers who sought feedback from customers before purchasing software were 2.5X more satisfied with their decision than those who failed to take this step.

    Since B2B buyers rely heavily on peer recommendations, it’s not surprising that 78% of B2B marketers call case studies their most effective marketing tactic. Customers want to see how their peers use your products and learn about the results they can achieve. When buyers read a case study, they envision themselves in the role of your happy customer.

    But buyer’s don’t always want to see these success stories on your website. 

    How B2B Buyers Perceive ContentHow B2B Buyers Search for Case Studies

    When B2B buyers look for customer success stories, they turn to Google.

    They often enter the name of your product or company, followed by “case study,” “testimonial,” “review,” or “customer success story.” These search terms are buying keywords. Leads who enter these phrases are in the late stages of the sales cycle and are already aware of your company. At this point, they are either making a shortlist of vendors or a final decision about your product.

    Since these late-stage leads already know who you are, they don’t need more content from your website. They need validation from third parties that your products will deliver results.

    Sharing your customer success stories across other platforms, such as a third-party case study directory, is key to getting your content in front of the right leads at the right time. Here are three reasons why a third-party customer success site can help you raise brand awareness and convert more leads into customers:

    1. It gives you credibility.

    You can post a case study on your website, and buyers may dismiss it as “sales content.” But when you put the same story in a case study directory, you gain the benefit of third-party validation.

    In case study directories, readers can view your content and give it between one to five stars to rate its helpfulness. A TrustPilot study found that content with stars gets a 30% higher click-through rate than content without stars. The more stars you get, the better your conversions. 

    2. Your content will perform well on Google.

    Buyers trust that Google will deliver high-quality content that is relevant to their searches. In fact, the first organic search result gets 30% of all clicks, while the third position gets 12% of clicks. Click through rates drop off dramatically after the top three results.

    The higher a case study directory ranks with Google, the more late-stage leads will find and read your content. Look for a site that can put you in the top three organic results for your keywords. 

    3. You will get more value from your case study investments.

    The average case study can cost between $1,500-$2,500. If you post 40 case studies on your website, you could have $100,000 worth of content waiting for leads to find it.

    Using another targeted channel, such as a case study directory, can help you get your case studies in front of leads who are ready to buy. This can exponentially increase the value from your investment. 

    As you can see, if you put too much effort into increasing your website traffic, you can miss opportunities to engage late-stage leads who want to learn about you on third-party sites.

    While it’s important to post success stories on your website, you should also consider other distribution channels. A third-party case study directory can put your content in front of the right leads at the right time, helping you convert more prospects into customers. 

    Next Steps

    Turbocharge your ROI from your customer success content by sharing it on FeaturedCustomers.com, the largest customer success reference directory for testimonials, case studies, and customer videos. Sign up today and gain access to qualified software leads who are ready to buy!

    *This post was originally published on FeaturedCustomers.com.

    [Infographic] The Evolution of Content Marketing: Past, Present, and Future Trends

    Evolution of Online Content Marketing

    If you’ve been in the B2B content marketing space for a while, you’ve likely come across a number of recommended “do’s” and “don’t’s”. How many of the best practices that you followed five years ago are still relevant? What have you dismissed? What has made you successful?

    It’s interesting to look at how things have changed. But one thing remains the same: the importance of creating content that provides your audience with value.

    Check out this fun infographic from the folks over at content marketing software review site, GetApp.com: Finding the write way: A history of content marketing to see how far we’ve come.

    And if you’re wondering what’s coming down the content marketing pipeline, check out: The Top B2B Content Marketing Trends of 2017. It highlights five content trends that you can apply to your marketing now to achieve better results.

    [Podcast] How to Find Your Unique B2B Brand Voice

    SaaS Content Marketing Podcast

    This week, I’m excited to share my interview on the SaaS Content Marketing Podcast.

    It’s all about finding your brand voice.

    We discussed how finding your voice isn’t something that you do once and then forget about. As new competitors and products enter the market, it’s crucial to stay aware of how your voice comes across to customers.

    In this episode, you’ll learn

    • Why you need a unique voice if you want your content to stand out
    • How to “find your voice”
    • A step-by-step process for developing your brand voice

    Whether you’re in the early stages of developing your brand voice or need some help rediscovering it, check out my actionable tips. We’ve packed a lot of information into the short interview! Listen here: Developing a Unique Tone of Voice for Your Content with Rachel Foster

    You can also download my Ultimate B2B Brand Voice Guide for help finding an authentic voice that resonates with your customers.

    the_ultimate_b2b_brand_voice_guide

    Create a brand voice that resonates with your buyers and sets you apart from the pack.

     

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    Why Your Website Isn’t the Best Place for Your B2B Case Studies and Success Stories

    Title image of hand holding a tablet and screen showing business reviews

    Case studies are one of the most powerful weapons in your B2B marketing arsenal.

    According to the CMO Council, nine out of ten B2B buyers say that online customer success content has a major effect on their purchasing decisions.

    Meanwhile, a hawkeye study found that 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content.

    However, many B2B marketers don’t get the most value from their success stories. They put lots of effort into interviewing customers, writing their stories, and getting approvals … but then they bury the content on their websites and hope leads will find it.

    The sad truth is that if you don’t have amazing SEO, no one will find your case studies.

    B2B Buyers Don’t Trust You

    Another problem with only posting your case studies on your website is that B2B buyers don’t trust what companies say about themselves. They are bombarded with sales messages and simply don’t believe what you say in your marketing.

    Instead of going to your website to learn about your products, buyers turn to their peers for referrals. They often turn to third-party, peer recommendation sites at the end of their buying process – when they want validation that a product or service delivers results.

    Case-Studies-on-third-party-review-sites

    One B2B marketer says, “We have 50 pieces of customer success content on our website, but buyers don’t want to view them on our site. They want to see them on a third-party site.”

    To connect with today’s ad-wary customers, you must get in their inner circles. This means promoting your case studies not just on your website, but on other trusted channels.

    The Problem With Third-Party Review Sites

    Many B2B marketers ask their customers to post reviews on third-party review sites.

    While good reviews can help you stand out from the pack, you can’t ensure that all of your reviews are positive. Just one bad review can turn off potential customers – even if you have 20 amazing reviews.

    And, reviewers on third-party sites tend to speak of software from their personal, user experience perspective. They don’t tell the whole story about how your technology helped them solve a business challenge.

    A New Way to Get Your Case Studies In Front of the Right Leads at the Right Time

    Posting case studies on your website and seeking user-generated reviews can benefit your marketing.

    But, you should also consider uploading your customer success stories and testimonials to a third-party case study directory. These sites serve as a neutral third party who validates your content. They give you a platform that goes beyond your website – helping you reach a wider audience and close late-stage sales leads.

    When a case study directory has great SEO, sales-ready leads will find you. Most buyers who visit these directories are late-stage leads who search for terms such as, “Company XYZ + case studies, customer success stories, or testimonials.”

    Case study platforms more exposure Image of sales funnel from prospects to sales

    And, third-party case study directories let you showcase your best side. You control exactly which content you post, and you don’t need to worry about a bad review killing a sale.

    How to Get the Most Value From a Third-Party Case Study Directory

    To get noticed in a third-party case study directory, you must keep your content fresh. Google likes new content, so you can improve your search results by posting customer success stories, videos, and testimonials on a regular basis.

    Also be sure to upload case studies about customers in different industries and roles. This will make it easy for sales-ready leads to find stories that align with their needs.

    Next Steps

    Turbocharge your ROI from your customer success content by sharing it on FeaturedCustomers.com, the largest customer success reference directory for testimonials, case studies, and customer videos. Sign up today and gain access to qualified software leads who are ready to buy!

    *This post was originally published on FeaturedCustomers.com.