[New Data] How Technology Marketers Are Using Content

[New Data] How Technology Marketers Are Using Content illustration of hands writing and using laptops

Last week, the Content Marketing Institute published their annual report on technology content marketing. The survey took the pulse of 2,562 technology marketers and offers a number of valuable insights.

Here are some key findings:

  • 95% of technology marketers use content marketing.
  • 64% of respondents said that compared with one year ago, their organizations are much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing.
  • The three types of content that are the most critical to their success are blogs, white papers/ebooks, and webinars.
  • Email, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the most important channels for distributing content.
  • 74% of respondents said that their organization always or frequently prioritizes delivering high-quality content over a high quantity of content.

How are your current practices and strategies measuring up? Check out the full report on SlideShare.

41 Fantastic Places to Promote Your B2B White Papers 

Promote-Your-B2B-White-Papers

It takes a lot of time and effort to create an engaging white paper. Here’s how to maximize your investment, get your content in front of the widest possible audience, and attract more leads … 

White papers, ebooks, and guides are among the most time-intensive content marketing projects. But the time spent on these marketing powerhouses often pays off. A well-crafted white paper can help you attract high-quality leads and convert them into customers. 

B2B buyers – especially technology buyers – rely on the in-depth information in white papers to make informed purchasing decisions. According to Eccolo Media, white papers are the #2 type of content that B2B technology buyers use during their purchasing process – behind only data sheets/brochures.

But creating your white paper is only half the battle. Many B2B marketers put lots of time and resources into producing a white paper and then bury it deep within their website where no one will ever find it.

The key to avoiding content black holes is to create a promotion plan while your white paper is still in development. A promotion plan will help you get your white paper in front of a wider audience, attract leads, and raise brand awareness.

Here are 41 ways to promote your white paper to get more downloads and shares. Many of these suggestions work equally well for guides, ebooks, and reports.

Drive Leads from Your Website

Drive leads from your website

1. Create a high-conversion landing page.

The first thing you need is a landing page that converts. It should clearly explain the benefits of downloading your white paper and make it easy for people to opt in. Making it easy means not asking for someone’s life story in exchange for a white paper. The shorter your opt-in form, the more people will download your white paper.

2. Run Google AdWords campaigns. 

Research keywords that your target audience use to find answers to problems related to your white paper. Then, run Google ads on these keywords that point to your white paper’s landing page.

3. Place ads on your website.

Advertise your white paper on related web pages. For example, if your white paper is about cloud security, you can promote it in the cloud section of your blog and in related pages on your website.

Increase Your Social Share and Leads

Increase social shares and leads

4. Promote your white paper on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the top B2B social network and a “must” for getting your white paper in front of your target audience. Post a link to your white paper on your company page. Mention it in your personal status update, and ask some of your employees to do the same.

You can also use LinkedIn’s advertising tools to get your white paper in front of your ideal customers. For example, you can target your audience by company size, job function, title, and location. You can buy both ads and sponsored updates to drive readers to your white paper.

5. Upload parts of your white paper to LinkedIn Publisher.

Write an article based on your white paper’s content and upload it to LinkedIn Publisher. Using LinkedIn Publisher is a great way to expand your reach on the top B2B social network. Link to your white paper at the end of the article, so readers can download it if they want to learn more.

6. Share your white paper with LinkedIn groups.

Mention key statistics from your white paper in a few related LinkedIn groups. Just be sure that you’re an active member of these groups and aren’t spamming them with your white paper.

7. Collect leads on SlideShare.

Convert your white paper into a presentation and upload it to SlideShare. You can even embed a lead form in your presentation, so people can request the white paper directly from SlideShare.

8. Schedule a tweet series.

Create a Twitter promotion schedule for your white paper. Instead of just tweeting your white paper’s title, write a series of tweets that tells your white paper’s story.

For example, the first tweet can discuss a key problem that your audience is facing. The next few tweets can discuss some of the market drivers that make the issue important. Then, send out some tweets that discuss the risks and opportunities. Finish with tweets about the tips you offer in your white paper.

You can number these tweets, so your followers know that they are part of a series. Each tweet should link to your white paper’s landing page and include relevant hashtags.

9. Host a Twitter chat.

Host a Twitter chat and invite an analyst that you interviewed in your white paper to be your featured guest. Use the chat to discuss your white paper’s key points and answer audience questions.

10. Use Twitter advertising.

Twitter offers a number of ways to promote your white papers. For example, you can include images to make your tweets stand out and encourage people to visit your landing page. You can also pay for sponsored tweets or use Lead Generation Cards to get leads directly from Twitter.

11. Share your white paper on your Facebook company page.

Start a discussion about your white paper on your Facebook page. You can also create a landing page for your white paper in Facebook to encourage downloads.

12. Use Facebook ads.

Facebook offers a robust advertising platform that allows you to set some pretty incredible targeting options. Add a Facebook tracking pixel to your site, so you can create custom audiences that you can retarget with Facebook ads with content you know they will like.

Fantastic-Places-to-Promote-B2B-White-PapersDownload The Entire List!

Get A Copy of The 41 Fantastic Places to Promote Your B2B White Papers Cheat Sheet.

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13. Share an article based on your white paper on Facebook Instant Articles.

Reach a mobile audience through Facebook Instant Articles. Since this platform is designed for mobile, it can lead to 70% less abandonment and 20% more clicks from people on mobile devices. You can also add a sign-up form for your white paper directly within the article.

14. Host a Facebook Live video.

Give your network a sneak peak of your white paper by interviewing one of your subject matter expert’s or talking about a topic related to your white paper. Live streaming on Facebook also gives you an opportunity to answer questions. After your live stream ends, you can continue to promote your video through your social networks and email marketing.

15. Share a native video on your Facebook page.

Since 84% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from video, their algorithms favour video content. Create a short video that people can watch and understand when the sound is off.

16. Create a Facebook event.

If you are hosting a live video, webinar, or other event that promotes your white paper, create a Facebook event to promote it through your page. You can even use Facebook ads to get more reach on your event.

17. Share a video on YouTube.

Create a video teaser for your white paper. Then, upload it to YouTube, your website, your blog and your social networks. Since YouTube is a powerful search engine, make sure that you optimize the video with keywords to help people easily find it. With YouTube, you can engage a new audience and drive more downloads.

18. Answer questions on Quora.

Use points and statistics from your white paper to answer questions on high-traffic topics on Quora. The higher quality your answer, the better chance it will be featured. Be succinct and use images to draw attention to your answers. Also, add a link to your blog for more information. Just watch that you’re not promotional, or people will vote your answer down.

19. Try an Instagram ad.

Instagram has a powerful ad platform. If your target audience is on Instagram, you can create a video or photo story ad that includes a call to action button.

20. Pin on Pinterest.

If you have created any videos or infographics, pin them on Pinterest. Pinterest is a powerful search engine itself but also ranks well in Google.

21. Get active in industry-specific social networks.

Industry-specific social networks are a great way to reach your target audience. Share information from the white paper in these forums and social networks. When you share this information, be sure to ask an engaging question to get people talking about the white paper’s topic.

Blog Your Way to More Leads

Blog Your Way to More Leads

22. Drive downloads from your blog.

When you publish a new white paper, write a series of related articles for your blog. Encourage opt-ins by running ads for your white paper throughout these posts. For example, you can use LeadPages or OptinMonster to increase your downloads.

23. Submit a guest post to a popular industry blog.

Guest posting is a great way to build your credibility and get noticed. Write a guest post for a leading industry blog on your white paper’s topic. Ask if the publication will let you include a link to your white paper at the end of your post.

Engage Customers Via Email

Engage Customers Via Email

24. Announce your white paper to your list.

Send your list a stand-alone message when you publish a new white paper. If possible, your list should get access to the white paper before you announce it to the general public. Encourage your current subscribers to share your white paper with others, so they can help you reach a wider audience.

25. Mention your white paper in your email signature.

Your email signature is an overlooked marketing opportunity. Add a P.S. to your outgoing messages that invites your contacts to download your white paper. Also, ask some of your employees to promote the white paper in their email signatures.

26. Promote your white paper to third-party email lists. 

Find an online publication in your niche with strong readership. Sponsor an ad in their next email for your white paper.

Help Your Sales Team Convert Leads Into Customers

Help Your Sales Team Convert Leads Into Customers

27. Create a ‘cheat sheet’ for sales.

If your sales team thinks that no one wants to read a 10-page white paper, give them an abbreviated ‘cheat sheet’. A ‘cheat sheet’ – or ‘light paper’ – is a two-page version of a white paper that can easily be printed and handed to leads at sales meetings.

28. Empower your sales team.

Of course, your sales team should also have the full version of the white paper. A new white paper gives your sales reps a reason to reach out to prospects. They can work highlights from the white paper into their sales conversations, emails, and voicemails.

Engage Customers at Events

Engage Customers at Events

29. Host a webinar.

Here are three ways you can tie your white paper to your next webinar:

  • Include the white paper with resources that you email attendees after the webinar.
  • Give the white paper out as a bonus immediately after someone registers for the webinar.
  • Make the webinar a next step that leads can take after they read your white paper.

30. Present at a conference.

Conference organizers are always looking for the latest research, best practices, and success stories. If your white paper contains this information, apply to present it at a conference. At the end of your talk, you can ask the audience to download the white paper to learn more.

31. Share your white paper at trade shows.

Hand out your white paper to potential customers at trade shows. If you don’t want to give the white paper away, you can email attendees a link to its landing page.

32. Host or present in a virtual conference.

Boost your company’s thought leadership and promote your white paper by hosting a virtual conference. Invite other industry leaders to present and promote the conference.

Expand Your Audience Via Partnerships

Expand Your Audience Via Partnerships

33. Build relationships with industry thought leaders and bloggers.

Getting your industry’s thought leaders to blog about your white paper can bring lots of leads your way. But if you send them a press release, they’ll probably ignore it.

Instead, build relationships with thought leaders before you ask them to do something for you. Comment on their blog posts and share their content. Once you have a relationship, they might be willing to read and discuss your white paper. Send them a personal email explaining why their readers will find your white paper valuable.

34. Send your white paper to your partners.

Form partnerships with others who have the same target audience. You can agree to share each other’s content. Getting the seal of approval from a partner can enhance your credibility and help you reach a wider audience.

35. Leverage industry associations.

Find out if your industry associations share third-party content in their publications. If so, ask if they will add your white paper as a resource. 

36. Add your white paper to resource lists.

Search for resource lists that are relevant to your white paper. Email the owners to ask if they will add your white paper to their lists. 

37. Use a white paper syndication service.

Attract more leads by uploading your white paper to a syndication service. These services will promote your white paper to their lists, and you typically pay per lead. Just be sure that the syndication service will get your white paper in front of your target audience and that you’re not paying for bad leads.

Try These Tips!

Bonus tips for promoting your white paper

38. Record a podcast.

Record a podcast where you discuss your white paper’s topic and interview an analyst. Tell listeners how they can download the white paper.

39. Create an infographic.

Infographics are a great way to get links to your website, especially if they contain new data that drives search traffic. Include a call to action in the bottom of the infographic that asks readers to download your whitepaper. Share your infographic with your partners, on your social networks, and through your email list.

40. Issue a press release.

Your latest research can become big news. Every time you create a white paper, write a press release to drive journalists, bloggers, and potential customers to your website.

Most distribution services will submit your press release to major search engines and social networks, which helps to improve your SEO. These services also allow you to target your distribution, so your press release goes to the exact audience you want to reach.

41. Encourage opt-ins via direct mail.

A direct mail piece can stand out among a sea of email. Try sending out a letter or postcard that promotes your white paper.

Key Takeaways

Creating a white paper promotional plan can help you reach a wider audience, attract more leads, and convert them into customers. Try using a few of the suggestions above to expand your reach the next time you publish a white paper.

Also, remember to build excitement for your white paper in advance. Many B2B marketers don’t promote their white paper until after it’s published. But you can create more interest by doing some pre-promotion. For example, send teasers to your list and build anticipation in your social networks.

Next Steps 

  1. Download The 41 Fantastic Places to Promote Your B2B White Papers Cheat Sheet.
  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 Best (and Worst) Ways to Follow Up With B2B Leads

Follow up B2B Leads

As a content marketer, you spend a lot of time and money creating content that generates leads. 

But what happens after you get that hard-earned lead?

What you do after someone downloads a resource can make or break your sales. Your company could look annoying, even desperate, when you call someone five minutes after they request your white paper. But with the right follow-up plan, you can qualify leads, build trust and nurture relationships. Here’s how … 

I recently worked on some copy for a client and needed to download a report to gather background information for the project. Just minutes later, I received a call from the software company’s sales rep trying to sell me their product.

But it gets worse. 

It quickly became apparent that despite my situation as an external resource, the rep wasn’t willing lose any opportunity he could squeeze from the call. He tried to push me to introduce him to my client so he could pitch to them instead! 

Unfortunately, bad sales follow up calls are far too common.

MarketingSherpa found that 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, but only 27% of these leads are qualified. Just because someone downloads a piece of content doesn’t mean they are interested in what you have to sell. In fact, many seasoned IT pros avoid their phones immediately after downloading a whitepaper! 

B2B buyers are becoming more self-reliant. They want to do their own research – on their own timeline – and make buying decisions when they are ready. Gartner Research predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with companies without talking to a human.

Build Follow Up Into Your Marketing Cycle

Since B2B buying cycles can last longer than a year, marketing automation makes sense. Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

Part of the challenge of marketing automation is that B2B marketers target an average of four different audiences. To be effective, your automation sequences must guide each audience through a buying process that is unique to them.

For many content marketers, marketing automation is still an area for improvement. Only 42% of companies adopt marketing automation and just 9% fully utilize their technologies.

Here are five ways you can improve your follow ups after someone downloads your content, so you can nurture leads effectively:

 

1. Identify where your download falls in the buying cycle. 

To strategically manage your buyer’s experience, you first must identify where they are and if they have an immediate need.  

Marketing funnel

Answer the following questions to gain clarity about your buyers: 

  • What are your goals for the download? 
  • Which buyer persona is your download for?
  • What pain, challenge or goal is this person trying to address?
  • What stage in the buying cycle are they in?
  • What is the next step for your buyer? For example, are they moving to a new stage in the buyer journey?

2. Segment your buyers into lists.

In Demand Gen Report’s B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 69% of B2B buyers state the single most influential aspect of any vendor’s website is “relevant content that speaks directly to my company”. Personalization is key to creating a strong relationship with your buyer.

According to the survey, B2B buyers select vendors that deliver a mix of content that is appropriate for each stage of their buying process.

People being segmented into groups.

Segmentation allows you to personalize your prospects’ experience, as you can divide your list into manageable segments based on commonalities and stages in buying cycle.

You can segment your buyers by:

  • Referral source

  • Self selection

  • Behaviour

3. Charm your buyers.

When someone is in the early stages of the buying cycle, they likely aren’t ready to speak with your sales reps. You need to warm them up to your company by establishing credibility and trust.

The Demand Gen Report 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 97% of respondents choose a vendor because they demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and business landscape than their competitors.

3 thumbs up and a smiling man

Until someone buys, you must assume they are a skeptic. Your job as a marketer is to charm your buyers by educating and entertaining them – while helping them see your offer as the solution to their challenges and the way to reach their goals.

After someone downloads a resource, you should send them a three-day email sequence that does the following:

  • Gets them to commit to your reading your content. You can achieve this through self-segmentation based on their goals or interests.
  • Provides links to your most popular resources on topics relevant to their download.
  • Builds a connection. You can do this by sharing personal or customer stories.  
  • Tells them what to expect from future emails and content.

4. Nurture your relationships with personalized content.

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.

While you want to send prospects a variety of content, the types of content that B2B buyers are the most likely to consume in each stage of the buying cycle are white papers and case studies.

Hands at a computer reading a case study.

After your first email sequence, send subscribers content that is personalized for their segment. You can also send them top-performing content, such as white papers and case studies.

5. Test the waters.

Now that you’ve sent your prospects and introduction email series and personalized content, you’re ready to move to the next step. By this point, many of your prospects are warm enough to learn more about how you can help them.

Just don’t blow it with a hard sell or pushy phone call. 

Instead, test whether a prospect is ready to receive information about your products or services. 

In your emails, you can add a short P.S. with a link to a product demo, webinar or evaluation. You can segment anyone who clicks this link into a later stage of your sales. Or, if appropriate, a sales rep can reach out to them. 

Magnifying glass looking at segments of people.

After someone downloads your resource, you can also send them to a thank you page that includes a landing page for more product specific information. Just make sure the landing page is personalized to the download they just completed.

As you can see, you don’t need to rely on pushy sales calls to connect with prospects after they download your content. When you send leads personalized and relevant content, you can build engagement and trust in your brand.

Next Steps 

1. Check out 19 Quick and Easy Lead Magnets That Attract B2B Buyers. 

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.

[Data] How to Create Explosive Content Upgrades That Skyrocket Your Email Subscribers

[Data] Content Upgrades Skyrocket

Email marketing generates a $38 return for every $1 invested and drives more conversions than any other channel, including search and social media. With these results, it’s not surprising that list building is a priority for B2B marketers.

One of my top ways to build my list is with content upgrades. Content upgrades are resources that leads opt in for after they read your blog posts. These resources aren’t general, such as the ebook that you’re promoting across your website. Instead, content upgrades relate directly to your blog post’s topic.

So, what types of content upgrades have the highest conversion rates and turn your blog posts into powerful lead magnets?

The folks over at MoneyJournal have put together a terrific blog post that dives into the best practices of creating high-performance content upgrades. They’ve even included a behind-the-scenes look at their analytics and the data that breaks down these conversion-boosting principles.

Check out the article here: Content Upgrades: The Secrets Behind 10X-ing Your Conversion Rate and see how you can apply these techniques to grow your list.

The Perfect Mix: 5 Ingredients in Successful B2B Case Studies

Successful-Case-Studies

Case studies are one of the most powerful B2B marketing tools.

B2B customers rely on them to make informed buying decisions and see social proof that your products deliver results.

In fact, DemandGen found that 73% of B2B buyers have used case studies to make a purchasing decision in the last 12 months.

The more compelling case studies you have, the more you can engage skeptical prospects and shorten your sales cycles. A well-written case study can capture a buyer’s interest and motivate them to reach out to you earlier.

Here are five keys to creating case studies that turn prospects into customers:

1. Exceptional Storytelling

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

Compelling case studies tell stories that are emotional and agitate your prospects’ pain points. They also help leads envision themselves as your happy customers.

Tell-Customer-Stories

Here are some points to consider when you tell your customers’ stories:

  • Choose a protagonist. Instead of talking about “Company X,” tell the story of a particular employee who benefited from your product. Readers relate to humans – not companies.
  • Vividly describe the before state. Many case studies don’t go into enough detail on the customer’s pain before they bought the magic product. Be sure to talk about your customer’s challenges, including quotes that describe the pains in their words. Readers will relate to their frustrations.
  • Show the results. Some case studies include just a few words about the customer’s results – almost as an afterthought. However, the results are the most important part of the story. Talk about your customer’s results in detail, including any unexpected benefits they achieved from your product. Be sure to include quotes and statistics on their return on investment.
  • Keep it real. B2B technology implementations are rarely smooth from start to finish. Don’t be afraid to discuss any issues that you encountered along the way. Showing how you handled problems can speak volumes about your customer support.

2. A killer Headline

While 80% of your audience will read your headline, only 20% will go on to read the rest of your content. This means that headlines can have an enormous impact on your case study’s success.  

A strong case study headline includes the following:

  • Your customer’s name
  • The problem that you solved
  • A major result that your customer achieved, along with a number to support it
  • Power words that elicit emotions

Get Instant Access to The Ultimate List of B2B Case Study Questions

15 of the Exact Questions I Use to Write Case Studies That Help Turn Leads Into Customers.

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3. Quotes From Your Customer

Creating a case study can take a long time, especially when you need to wait for customer interviews and approvals. If you’re short on time, you might feel forced to write success stories from your perspective or forego quotes from your customers.  

But a case study without quotes lacks credibility and kills your marketing magic.

Use-customer-quotes

Prospects are more likely to believe you if they hear from your customers in their words. It’s worth the time to interview your customers and add their voice to your stories.  

4. Multimedia

Multimedia can make your case studies more engaging and help you connect with auditory and visual learners. Here are some ways that you can incorporate multimedia into your case studies:

  • Add photos and charts to punch up your written case studies.
  • Film video case studies and use them throughout your marketing.
  • Turn your case studies into SlideShares and upload them to LinkedIn.
  • Interview your customers about their successes in your webinars and podcasts.

5. A Repurposing Plan

Not everyone is going to find your success stories if you bury them on your website.

To get the most value from your case studies, you must get them in front of a wide audience. When you repurpose your case studies into other formats, you’ll reach more prospects across different channels. You’ll also save time on content creation, as you’ll reuse your existing materials instead of creating things from scratch.  

Repurpose-Across-Platforms

Here are five places where you can repurpose your case studies to shorten your sales cycle and turn more leads into customers:

  • Sales conversations. Drop a few statistics from a case study into your sales conversations to get prospects to take notice.
  • Direct mail. Case studies can help you raise awareness around a new product or service. Include text from a case study in your next direct mail campaign to increase your response rates and generate more leads.
  • Emails to prospects. The next time you touch base with a prospect, email some highlights from a related success story. You’ll be more likely to get a response.
  • E-newsletters. Do you want more of your subscribers to read your newsletters? Try condensing a longer case study into a short article and sending it to your list. People enjoy learning how others are solving similar problems and will be more likely to read your newsletter.
  • Proposals. Include a few case studies in your next proposal to increase your odds of winning the project.

Do you want more places to share your amazing customer success stories? Check out 21 Places To Share Your B2B Case Studies.

Next Steps

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.

 

B2B Copywriting Insights: Expert Interview Series with Digital Inbound Marketing Blog

Digital InBound Marketing Interview Promo

This week, I want to share a post from the Digital Inbound Marketing blog where I’ve been featured as part of their Expert Interview Series. In the post, I share a glimpse into how I got started and have built Fresh Perspective Copywriting over the last 8 years and how the industry has changed during this time.

I also share tips on how to find a copywriter who understands the complex nature of B2B products or services, along with how to overcome common challenges such as taking technical language and making it interesting, informative, and exciting for prospective new clients.

Also, don’t miss my copywriting tips to boost customer retention! Check out the full interview here: Expert Interview Series: Rachel Foster of Fresh Perspective Copywriting on B2B Copywriting

[Research] 2017 Marketing Performance Management Benchmarks

Marketing-Performance-Banchmarks

Do you ever wonder how the best companies manage marketing performance and how you stack up against your competitors? Recently, Allocadia surveyed more than 200 companies to determine the industry’s maturity level around marketing performance, along with what the best marketers in world are doing differently.

Companies who are excelling at managing performance expect their marketing budgets to increase, and see significant revenue growth of at least 10% year over year,” said Sam Melnick, Allocadia’s VP of Marketing. These companies also “have a higher confidence in their return on marketing investment than the average marketing department.”

Check out the 2017 MPM Maturity Benchmarking Report, the first ever empirical research on the four traits of leaders responsible for marketing performance management. If you’re looking to build a successful MPM practice, you don’t want to miss this report!

5 Ways to Take Your B2B Case Studies From Blah to Brilliant

Case Studies Blah to Brilliant (1)

Case studies are one of the most powerful B2B marketing and sales tools. Here’s how to create case studies that resonate with prospects and motivate them to say, “Yes!” to your product.

Today’s B2B buyers are tired of being sold to all of the time.

They’re bombarded with advertising and can’t go a day without getting sales calls. One SpiceWorks’ IT pro said that he doesn’t answer his phone after downloading white papers, as he would rather miss all of his calls than speak with a sales rep.

If your customers are going out of their way to avoid you, how do you get through to them?

One way to cut through the clutter is to tell your story in your customers’ voice, not your sales voice.

Instead of taking sales calls, B2B buyers are conducting their own research online. The key things they look for are peer reviews, testimonials and case studies. In fact, DemandGen found that 73% of B2B buyers have used case studies to make a purchasing decision in the last 12 months.

This means that publishing customer success stories should be one of your top marketing objectives. The more compelling case studies you have, the more you can engage skeptical prospects and shorten your sales cycles.

Adding more case studies and testimonials to your website can even boost your conversions. WikiJobs increased its conversions by 34% simply by displaying testimonials prominently on a web page.

Here are five ways you can develop compelling case studies that engage B2B prospects and help you drive sales:

1. Tell the story from your customers’ perspective, not your perspective.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see with case studies is when sales reps write them from their perspective and leave the customer out of the story. It can be tempting to do this, especially if you can’t find enough customers to feature in case studies. However, these “customer stories” are usually loaded with sales speak and don’t contain useful information that would appeal to a prospect. B2B buyers want to hear your customers’ stories in their words – not yours.

Tell customer stories

2. Include quotes from your customer.

When you’re developing case studies, it can be hard to get quotes from your busy customers. So, you may be tempted to leave out the quotes, just so you can make a deadline.

Please, take this oath:

“I solemnly swear never to publish a case study without quotes from my customer. If I break this promise, my marketing won’t be credible and a unicorn will die.”

When you take the time to chat with your customer, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the great things they say. If you have a hard time scheduling interviews, try using scheduling software that allows your customers to pick the best time that works for them. Also be sure that your scheduling software emails and/or texts them a reminder before the call.

Get Instant Access to The Ultimate List of B2B Case Study Questions

15 of the Exact Questions I Use to Write Case Studies That Help Turn Leads Into Customers.

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3. Don’t include too much information.

While you may find every detail about how you helped someone fascinating, your prospects may not. If you publish your case studies online, you can use eye tracking software and analytics tools to see what people are reading and where they are nodding off.

Focus on key points

Your case studies should focus on a few key points – the points that will resonate the most with your target audience. Leave the rest of the details out. A good recommendation is to keep the case study under four pages.

4. Format the case study for easy reading.

You put a lot of effort into collecting customer success stories. Don’t make the mistake of formatting these stories so they’re impossible to read.

For example, long paragraphs and tiny fonts will turn off a lot of readers. Use sub-headers, bullets, images and bold text to make your case study easier to scan. Also be aware of how your case study reads on mobile devices. Is it easy for readers to quickly locate your key messages?

5. Repurpose your case study for different channels.

It takes time to get approvals from your customers and your senior-level staff for case studies. When you get approvals from your customers, be sure to ask for permission to reuse their quotes across your other marketing materials.

Distribute across your marketing platforms

This will make it easier to repurpose your case studies in different formats. For example, you can turn your case study into SlideShare presentations, blog posts and webinar content. You can also place the customer quotes throughout your website, emails and sales materials.

B2B buyers rely on case studies to make informed buying decisions. It’s important to keep your case studies up to date, so you’ll always have the right story for the right buyer. For example, you should create studies whenever you launch a new product, break into a new market or go after a different vertical.

Next Steps

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.

 

How to Organize Your Content and Immediately Improve Your Marketing Results

Header image that includes visualization of content marketing

If you’re a B2B marketer who produces loads of content, you likely have important marketing files scattered across your company. Here’s why you should centralize your files so that you can create better, faster and more effective content.

A simplifying movement is taking the world by storm.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an international bestseller.

There’s a documentary about minimalism on Netflix.

My husband threw out a ratty T-shirt.

As content marketers, how can we simplify what we do and bring a sense of zen to our jobs?

The first step is to get organized.

Why Now Is the Time to Get Your Content House in Order

One of my clients does a fantastic job of keeping their content organized. They have a shared drive where they store everything related to their content – from strategy documents to buyer personas.

Here are a few reasons why organizing your content in a shared drive can change your marketing life:

1. You can create more content, faster.

Did you know that the average worker spends two hours per day searching for information? When you put all of your content in a centralized area, your team can spend more time creating and less time looking stuff up.

2. People won’t bother you.

If your team members can easily find things on their own, they won’t need to ask you to find it for them.

3. You’ll create better, more effective content.

Storing your buyer personas, competitive research and key data in the same area makes it easy for you to find the golden nuggets that will strengthen your content.  

9 Important Items to Include in Your Content Library

Your content library can be any shared drive – from an internal drive to a secure, online file sharing system. Just remember to give every member of your content team access to the drive. Otherwise, they’ll need to bother you for information if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Here are nine items to share with your team:

1. Existing content about your product or service, including:

  • Articles and blog posts
  • Case studies
  • White papers, ebooks and guides
  • Webinars
  • Data and sell sheets
  • Brochures
  • Infographics
  • Sales presentations
  • Use cases

If you have more than one product or service, you may need to create a separate folder for each one.

2. Industry research

  • Reports related to your industry, product or audience
  • A spreadsheet of stats that you like to use in your marketing

3. Competitive materials

  • Your competitors’ reports, white papers, etc.
  • Your competitors’ product brochures
  • Your competitors’ positioning

4. Your audience

  • Buyer personas
  • Sales funnel map showing how buyers interact with you at each stage of your sales cycle

5. Content strategy documents

  • Content inventory spreadsheet
  • Content map (list of content pieces and how they align with your sales funnel)
  • Editorial calendar
  • SEO research
  • Brand voice and style guidelines

6. Blog documents

  • Blog style guidelines
  • Blog editorial calendar
  • Author bios
  • Blog posts
  • Design templates for the ads you run on your blog

7. Product strategy documents

  • Product messaging and positioning
  • Information about your product launch

8. Project or creative briefs for each of your content projects

9. The contact information for members of your content team

This list is just a recommendation. You may not need all of these items, or you may have other files that you want to include.

The important thing is to get organized.

Next Steps

Are you ready to simplify your content?

I’ve created a cheat sheet for this article that you can save for your reference.

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

Copy of Content upgrade checklist

 

[Infographic] Effective Storytelling That Converts Prospects Into Customers

Effective-storytelling-that-converts

We all know that B2B buyers are savvier than ever, and hard sells no longer work on them.

Instead of pushy sales pitches, many B2B marketers are using storytelling to reach their audiences.

Sharing your customers’ successes can enhance your reputation and provide social proof that your products deliver results. Potential customers want to learn from others in their role or industry who have overcome their top challenges.  

If you’d like tips on how to incorporate storytelling across your marketing, check out the How to Tell a Better Story and Increase Conversions infographic from Salesforce.com. The infographic describes how to use anecdotes and honesty and to foster connections with customers. It also provides tips on how to develop a relatable protagonist. 

19 Quick and Easy Lead Magnets That Attract B2B Buyers

Quick-easy-lead-magnets

Do you get lackluster conversions from your blog? Try adding some content upgrades! Here’s how these simple lead magnets can help you achieve conversion rates of 25%-54%.

Your email list is your most powerful marketing asset.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing generates a $38 return for every $1 invested.

Meanwhile, Monetate found that email marketing drives more conversions than any other channel, including search and social media.

With results like these, it’s not surprising that B2B marketers are always looking for new ways to get customers on their lists.

One of my top ways to build my list is with content upgrades.

What Are Content Upgrades and How Are They Different from My Other Lead Magnets?

Content upgrades are resources that readers opt in for after they read your blog posts. The resources aren’t general, such as the white paper that you’re promoting across your website. Instead, content upgrades relate directly to your blog post’s topic.

For example, if you write a blog post about improving your HR processes, your content upgrade might be a scorecard that lets readers grade how efficient their processes are.

Content upgrades also show B2B buyers how to take the information from your blog post and apply it to their business. Since buyers can use an upgrade to take immediate action, they are more likely to trade their email addresses for one.

What if every person who read your blog opted in for your premium content? How many more people could you get on your list? How many of those people would eventually turn into customers?

Download the Content Upgrade Checklist that walks you through all of the steps of creating a content upgrade that boosts your conversions.

What Type of Conversion Rates Can I Expect?

Your conversion rates will vary, depending on how compelling readers find your offer. However, my content upgrades typically convert at rates between 25% and 54%.

My best content upgrade converted at a rate of 54% and brought me 1,345 new subscribers.

19 Easy Content Upgrades that Attract B2B Buyers

Including a content upgrade with all of your blog posts will give you a big boost in your conversion rates. However, if you have a small marketing team, you might not have the time to create a custom resource for every post.  

But you don’t need to put tons of effort into developing resources to get results.

Content upgrades don’t need to be as in-depth as a white paper or lengthy ebook. In fact, short, useful tools can perform better than something that would take visitors a long time to read.The trick is to make your upgrade actionable.  

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Checklists
  2. Cheat sheets
  3. Worksheets
  4. Templates
  5. Tutorials
  6. Guides
  7. Step-by-step plans
  8. Toolkits
  9. Scorecards
  10. Calendars or planners
  11. Case studies
  12. SlideShares
  13. Webinar replays
  14. An exclusive article
  15. Data from your research
  16. Training videos
  17. Software trial
  18. Bonus tips that you didn’t mention in the blog post
  19. A PDF of the blog post

You might think that creating a PDF of your blog post and offering it as a content upgrade is lazy. But, if your post provides value, your readers may want to save it or email it to their colleagues.

Loz James of The Content Champion has achieved 7%-46% conversion rates with this technique. However, he stresses that “you have to offer extremely actionable, step-by-step strategies in the post, so it’s worth downloading to refer to later.”

Getting Started

Look at your editorial calendar and decide if you have any upcoming blog posts that would benefit from a content upgrade. If you have the time to create an upgrade for every post, great. If not, pick at least one post in the next month to turbocharge with a content upgrade.

You can also look at your past blog posts and create content upgrades for the ones that get the most views. This will help you get more bang from your previous content investments.   

And finally, I’ve created a checklist that walks you through all of the steps of creating a content upgrade that boosts your conversions. Click here to download it now.

Content-Upgrade-CTA

Are You a Vain B2B Marketer?

Vain-b2b-marketer

One of the biggest B2B marketing challenges is creating content that engages customers.

Many B2B marketers spend tons of time developing content, but then they miss the mark. Instead of discussing things their customers care about, they go on about their products, their company and how great they are.

How boring!

It’s no wonder that customers aren’t interested.

And it’s time to put an end to boring, self-centered B2B content.

Here’s a music video from Influitive that pokes fun at vain B2B marketers. Check it out for a good laugh – even if you cringe when some things look a bit too familiar. We’ve all been there and can relate.

7 Questions You Absolutely Need to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Copywriter

questions-before-hiring-freelance-copywriter

Finding a freelance B2B copywriter can be a daunting task. Choosing the wrong copywriter is more hassle than it’s worth – leading to project delays, higher costs and increased work for you.

But when you find the right copywriter, you can make your job easier, improve your marketing results and produce more content faster. 

Here are seven questions to ask to ensure that you make the right decision:

1. What type of information will my copywriter expect from me?

Before you look for a writer, make sure that you have your brand positioning figured out. Some copywriters can help you with this, but most can’t write about you unless you know how you want to position yourself.

You can also give your copywriter the following items to help ensure that you get compelling copy that converts prospects into customers:

  1. Buyer personas for the customers you want to target.
  2. A style guide, including information on your preferred tone.
  3. Examples of copy you like and dislike.
  4. A project scope document. I provide my clients with a creative brief, even if they have one of their own. I often have questions that are different from the ones in their brief.
  5. Supporting data to back up your claims.
  6. Background materials, such as existing content about your topic.
  7. The contact information for anyone your writer needs to interview. You may need to make introductions if you want your copywriter to interview customers, subject matter experts or other people on your team.

2. Who owns the copy?

If you pay for the copy, you should own it. Make sure that your copywriter agrees to this in your contract.

contracts-with-a-copywriter

However, your copywriter will appreciate it if you allow them to show your project in their portfolio. I typically wait until a project is successful before I ask if I can post it online.

3. Will they meet my deadline?

You and your copywriter should agree upon deadlines before your project starts. When you consider your timeframe, think about the following:

  • The time you will need to complete a creative brief and gather background information for your writer.
  • Whether your writer needs to conduct any interviews, such as with a customer for a case study. The timeframe will depend on your customer’s availability.
  • Time for your copywriter to research your project. If you are working with a new writer, allow them time to get up to speed with your company.
  • Approvals for outlines, the first draft and revisions. You can make this process smoother by asking your copywriter to create an outline before they write the first draft. Signing off on an outline puts you and your writer on the same page, so they will be more likely to submit copy that meets your standards.

    You can also reduce your editing time by asking your team review the copy and provide feedback all at once. Then, consolidate this feedback for your writer. That way, you’ll get all of the edits together.

  • The time for final steps, including proofreading, translations and design.

It’s a good idea to start your project as early as possible. This gives your writer time to get to know your company and write stronger copy. Many copywriters also charge a rush fee for last-minute projects.

4. I’m with an agency. Should I give my copywriter access to my clients?

Some copywriters prefer to deal only with their agency contact.

connecting-with-clients

However, I prefer to speak with the client directly. When I take part in calls with the agency and client, I can ask questions that may not get answered otherwise. This gives me a deeper understanding of the client and how to write for them. I always write stronger copy when I speak directly with the client.

5. I’m in a niche market. How can I ensure that my copywriter doesn’t work with my competitors?

This is a Catch-22.

You probably want a copywriter who has experience in your niche.

If your niche is small, it’s likely that your copywriter will work with one of your competitors. Discuss your concerns with your writer and ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you share sensitive information with them. Your copywriter should agree to keep your information private. However, it might not be realistic for them to stop working with your competitors.

6. I need to send my copywriter sensitive data. How can I keep it secure?

With cybercrime making headlines daily, it’s vital to keep your data safe from unauthorized access.

Talk with your IT department about how to keep data secure when it leaves your company. To meet my clients’ IT policies, I have taken their online security training. I have also used their secure file sharing services, such as Box, to collaborate on projects. 

7. What if I don’t like the work?

Here are five things you can do to minimize the risk of getting unusable copy:

  1. Review your copywriter’s samples before you hire them. Make sure you like their style and that they understand your industry.
  2. Provide your copywriter with the background information discussed earlier in this blog post. This will help them quickly get up to speed with your company and how you like things done.
  3. Allow your copywriter to directly interview your team, subject matter experts and customers. 
  4. Ask for an outline before your copywriter submits in the first draft.
  5. Be clear with your edits. Don’t just say, “I don’t like it.” Explain why you don’t like it. Also be open to your copywriter’s response. They may have a reason behind every word choice. Hear them out before you veto their ideas.

Set-a-trial-with-your-copywriter

You can also test your copywriter with a small, paid project before you hire them for a major marketing initiative. If the small project goes well, you can feel confident moving forward.

Are there any questions that I missed? Please let me know.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Find out if you need a copywriter or a content writer.
  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. Get started with your next project. Contact me at 647-342-4921 or rachel@freshperspectivewriting.com to discuss your content and copywriting goals.

The Top B2B Content Marketing Trends of 2017

2017 B2B Marketing Trends

Succeeding with content marketing means keeping up with the latest research, trends and best practices. Here are five content marketing trends that will help you engage more customers in 2017.

2016 certainly had its ups and downs.

But the year ended with some good news on the content marketing front: B2B marketers are achieving better results from their content.

According to The B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, 62 percent of B2B marketers say that their approach is more successful than it was just a year ago. Meanwhile, 85 percent of B2B marketers are creating higher quality and more efficient content.

That’s great news!

But staying on top of your game means being in the know about which tactics will best engage your audience. Now is the time to look at what’s coming down the content marketing pipeline. It’s also an ideal time to examine how your strategies have performed over the past year, along with how you can refine them to achieve better results.  

Here are five content trends that you can apply to your marketing:

1. Creating Content for Customer Retention

According to Bain & Co, a five percent increase in customer retention will boost your profitability by 25 percent to 95 percent.

But many B2B marketers use their content to attract new leads, rather than increase the lifetime value of their customers.

Marketing for Customer Retention

While generating leads is important, you can also use content to increase customer engagement and boost retention. For example, content can help with your onboarding process, especially if you sell B2B technology that has a learning curve. Educating your customers with video tutorials, blog posts, and emails will help them be more successful. The more successful they are, the more they will rave about how great you are.

2. Investing in Content Talent

Curata reported that 42 percent of companies now have an executive position devoted to content marketing. This number is expected to exceed 50 percent by the end of 2017.

If you don’t already have a dedicated content champion, consider how adding this role will impact your marketing. How will it improve your content strategy and allow you to get more done? If your internal team is overworked, you can also bring in freelancers to help you create content that engages more customers.

3. Greater Flow Between Marketing and Sales Teams

Building a relationship between sales and marketing has incredible benefits, such as higher quality leads and more revenue. Providing sales reps with a steady flow of content can help them better educate customers and close more deals. For example, reps can give prospects case studies targeted towards their industries, challenges or goals. Sales reps can also let you know what questions prospects are asking, so you can create content that speaks to their needs.

Marketing and Sales Teams Working Together

4. Personalization and Authenticity in Storytelling

According to the Demand Gen Report 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey, 69 percent of B2B buyers say the most influential aspect of a company’s website is content that speaks directly to their needs. Placing relevant stories throughout your site can help you engage these customers. For example, you can post customer quotes, video testimonials and case studies throughout your site – instead of burying them in a resources section where your visitors may not find them.

Authenticity is also important, especially with Millennials. A greater number of Millennials are becoming decision makers. Using an authentic voice can keep them from dismissing your content as disingenuous fluff. Being truthful about your strengths and weaknesses will help you engage more Millennial buyers.

5. Breaking Through the Status Quo

One of the top reasons why customers fail to buy is because they stick with the status quo. They may think it’s easier to use their current services than to try something new – even if avoiding change is harmful in the long term.

For your content to succeed, you must show customers why maintaining the status quo is a bad move. What are the risks of inaction? Why is partnering with you better than maintaining the status quo? Keep these questions in mind whenever you create a new piece of content.

Customers Staying with the Status Quo

These trends have a similar theme – focusing your content on your customers. While creating customer-focused content is something that we’ve been working on for years, it’s always good to add some new best practices to your marketing mix.

Here’s to your success!

Next Steps

Are you ready to make your 2017 content a smashing success? Download Your 2017 B2B Content Planning Guide: The 5 Questions You Need to Ask to Make Your Content Successful This Year and Beyond.

2017 b2b content planning guide

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.

[Infographic] 7 Essential Ingredients for Attention-Grabbing B2B Copy

How-to-create-attention-grabbing-B2B-copy

We all share a common goal to create copy that converts.

A strong call to action is key to driving conversions. The folks at TechWyse have put together an infographic full of best practices that will help you create copy that grabs your readers’ attention and turns them into customers.

Check out The Best Call-To-Action Copy To Boost Conversions now.

Best Call-to-Action Copy to Boost Conversions

[Source TechWyse Internet Marketing ]

Industry Experts Sound Off About the Best B2B Marketing Tools of 2016

Best-Marketing-Tools-of-2016

This week, I wanted to share a post from the team at Venture Accelerator Partners. They’ve asked experts to reveal their top B2B marketing tools from 2016. Last year was filled with innovations in the way we use marketing technology and productivity tools. Some of these tools sound really cool, and I’m hoping to check a few out.   

Let’s look at what industry experts from Uberflip, Buffer and HubSpot had to say. My top tool is also included in this roundup. Check out The Best B2B Marketing Tools of 2016 now.

The Top 10 Things B2B Marketers Were Talking About in 2016 (and What You Must Know in 2017)

b2b-marketing-top-posts-2016

Happy New Year!

I hope you’re easing back into the swing of things after the holidays. If you’re planning for the year, now is a good time to look back at what B2B marketers talked about the most in the last twelve months.

From top performing content to productivity tips, here are my top 10 blog posts from 2016…

How to Create B2B Data Sheets that Drive Sales

1. How to Create B2B Data Sheets that Drive Sales

Data sheets… sell sheets… technical specifications…

Whatever you call them, they are an important part of any B2B salesperson’s toolkit. However, many B2B marketers load their data sheets with too much text and visual clutter. This not only causes your core message to get lost, but it also overwhelms your readers.

Here’s how to create killer data sheets that drive sales…

The Top 9 White Paper Mistakes That Kill Your Credibility and Chase Away Leads

2. The Top 9 White Paper Mistakes That Kill Your Credibility and Chase Away Leads

White papers are a B2B marketing workhorse.

B2B buyers – especially technology buyers – rely on them for in-depth information when making purchasing decisions. According to Eccolo Media, white papers are the #2 type of content that B2B technology buyers use during their purchasing process. White papers are also used across all stages of the sales cycle – from awareness to decision.

When done correctly, white papers can present a compelling argument for your product or service.

Here are common mistakes that prevent you from getting the most value from your white papers…

5-steps-creating-b2b-brand-voice-resonates-customers

3. 5 Steps to Creating a B2B Brand Voice that Resonates with Your Customers

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

For example, many B2B companies create new voices for new products. But they don’t update their overall corporate voice to match where they want to go in the future.

Over time, inconsistencies in your brand voice can add up to a host of mixed messages, as Marketing and Sales are unsure of how to talk about your products and services. This lack of a consistent voice ultimately leaves customers confused about how you can help them.

Here’s how to evolve your voice over time to keep pace with customer, industry and product changes…

How to Use Content to Improve Your Customer Experience

4. How to Use Content to Improve Your Customer Experience

Here’s a sobering statistic from Gartner …

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with enterprises without interacting with a human.

Yikes!

Here’s how to use content to attract leads, turn them into customers, and keep them coming back…

How B2B Buyers Are Engaging With Your Content [Data]

5. How B2B Buyers Are Engaging With Your Content [Data]

Let’s face it …  

Your content marketing efforts don’t mean anything unless your ideal customers engage with your content and take action.  
To help you get the most out of your content investments, I’ve compiled some recent statistics on how B2B buyers are using content throughout the sales cycle.

Check them out here.

https://copywritertoronto.com/top-dogs-of-b2b-content-marketing/

6. The Top Dogs Of B2B Content Marketing [Infographic]

B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics – from blogging to webinars. But with so many choices, what types of content will help you attract the most leads and turn them into customers?

Here are five winning B2B content marketing tactics…

7 Productivity Hacks for Smart B2B Content Marketers

7. Productivity Hacks for Smart B2B Content Marketers

It’s no surprise…

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, B2B marketers are producing more content than ever. In fact, 76% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did last year. They now use an average of 13 content marketing tactics – from blogging to white papers to webinars.

Here are seven tips that will boost your content marketing productivity…

How to Make B2B Buyers Believe You (Even When You Don’t Have Any Case Studies)

8. How to Make B2B Buyers Believe You (Even When You Don’t Have Any Case Studies)

Case studies are one of the top dogs of B2B content marketing.

B2B customers rely on them to make informed buying decisions, as case studies give customers social proof that your products and services deliver results.

It’s no surprise that 71% percent of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited that testimonials and case studies are the most influential types of content.

Here’s how to create amazing case studies that help convert prospects into customers…

10 B2B Content Marketing Planning Mistakes That Are Stifling Your Success

9. 10 B2B Content Marketing Planning Mistakes That Are Stifling Your Success

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

With content marketing now mainstream (88% of B2B marketers in North America use content marketing), most brands have jumped on board with generating more content in the hopes of boosting brand awareness, engaging a larger audience, and standing out from their competitors.

But only 30% of B2B marketers think their content marketing is effective. This is because they’re going in without a plan. To win at content marketing, you need both a strategy and a plan to implement that strategy.

7 Questions to Ask When You Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

10. 7 Questions to Ask When You Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing has gone mainstream. Most B2B companies now use content to raise brand awareness and stand out from their competitors. However, new research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs has some surprising statistics. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, only 30% of enterprise B2B marketers think their content marketing is effective. Why is this?

Next Steps

Are you ready to make your 2017 content a smashing success? Download Your 2017 B2B Content Planning Guide: The 5 Questions You Need to Ask to Make Your Content Successful This Year and Beyond.

2017 b2b content planning guide

 

 

How to Create Killer B2B Content in 2017

5

The start of a new year is an ideal time to review your content strategy to see what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can improve. Here’s how you can get your 2017 marketing off to a great start…

For the past few years, B2B marketers have been testing the content waters.

According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, 37% of B2B companies have a documented content marketing strategy. Meanwhile, 17% plan to put one in place within the next year.

But having a strategy isn’t enough.

The report also states that the most successful B2B marketers not only have a content strategy but can quickly adjust it when things change.

The start of a new year is an ideal time to review your content strategy to see what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can improve.

To help you out, I’ve compiled the latest research on what makes B2B content a success.  

What Types of Content Should You Produce?

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

Most effective B2B Content Marketing Report
Source: B2B Content Marketing Report

Here’s 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

Buzzsumo and Uberflip also researched the most successful B2B content formats for 2016. The following content formats tend to perform well:

1. Practical guides and helpful content, such as:

  • Guides
  • Tips and advice
  • How-to posts
  • Trending topics
  • Research and insights
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Authoritative industry news

Case studies earned a top spot in both surveys because stories are compelling!

While prospects may not believe what your corporate marketing team is telling them, they will believe what your customers have to say. Telling your customers’ stories is a powerful way to earn their trust.

Are you ready to make your 2017 content a smashing success?

Download Your 2017 B2B Content Planning Guide: The 5 Questions You Need to Ask to Make Your Content Successful This Year and Beyond. 

[gtbutton id=”undefined” link=”https://copywritertoronto.leadpages.co/leadbox/1470a9573f72a2%3A11fe01544b46dc/5700735861784576/” size=”lg” embossed=”yes” background=”#FF564D” border_size=”1″ border_style=”groove” border_color=”#E34D45″ border_radius=”10″ style=”color: #fff “_blank” ;”]CLICK HERE TO GET THE FREE GUIDE[/gtbutton]

What Should You Write About?

According to the B2B Technology Marketing Group survey, the most effective content subjects are:

2016 B2B Content Marketing Report Effective Content Subjects
Source: B2B Content Marketing Report

Again, case studies are topping the charts. They are the most effective marketing tactic and subject. It’s clear that B2B marketers should make case studies a priority in 2017.

For more information on creating compelling case studies, read 5 Ways to Take Your B2B Case Studies From Blah to Brilliant.

Your 2017 Content Strategy Check Up

2017 Content Strategy Check Up

A lot can happen in a year.

Mergers … acquisitions … product launches …

All of these things can throw a wrench in your content strategy. Here are five things to consider as you plan for 2017:

1. Your content marketing goals

What are your top marketing and business goals this year? Did you have any changes in your business within the past year that will impact your goals? If so, do you need to update your content strategy to reflect your new priorities?

2. Your target audience

Do you have a clear picture of your ideal customer? Has this picture changed during the past year? For example, are you going after a new customer segment? Or do your existing customers face new challenges that you need to address?

3. Gaps in your content

Check for holes in your content strategy. For example, did you launch a new product but don’t have content to support it? Do you need to build a library of content for a new customer segment? Do you have content that answers all of the questions that prospects ask throughout every stage of your sales cycle?

4. What you want to talk about

The stats provided earlier in this post give you an idea about what topics resonate with B2B buyers. Would you like to focus on any of these areas? For example, do you want to share more of your customers’ success stories to build social proof that your product or service delivers results? Or would you like to offer customers more helpful tips and how-to articles to display your thought leadership?

5. Your resources

If you’re like most B2B marketers, you’re producing more content than ever. Do you have all of the resources that you need to support your increased production? For example, do you need more copywriters or designers? Do you want your internal subject matter experts to share their expertise on your blog?

Next Steps

Are you ready to make your 2017 content a smashing success? Download Your 2017 B2B Content Planning Guide: The 5 Questions You Need to Ask to Make Your Content Successful This Year and Beyond.

2017 b2b content planning guide

5 Steps to Creating a B2B Brand Voice that Resonates with Your Customers

5-steps-create-b2b-brand-voice

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

For example, many B2B companies create new voices for new products. But they don’t update their overall corporate voice to match where they want to go in the future.

Over time, inconsistencies in your brand voice can add up to a host of mixed messages, as Marketing and Sales are unsure of how to talk about your products and services. This lack of a consistent voice ultimately leaves customers confused about how you can help them.

You need to evolve your voice over time to keep pace with customer, industry and product changes.

Evolve your brand voice

Here are nine actionable steps that will help you rediscover your B2B brand voice:

Step 1: Review Your Brand Persona

Reach out to key stakeholders such as customers, subject matter experts, partners and employees to find out how they view your brand. Ask questions such as:

  • If our company was a person, who would they be? Tell me about their personality traits.
  • What is the tone you feel our company communicates?
  • What do you think is the purpose of our company’s communications?
  • What do you like about our company’s personality? Why?
  • What do you dislike about our company’s personality? Why?

Take these answers and look for ways your brand is either resonating or  miscommunicating with your audience. To do this, you can review a cross section of your content with a critical eye.

Compare your findings with current trends and dialogue in your industry. Also look at conversations between your competitors and potential customers to gain further insights.

Step 2. Establish the Defining Elements of Your Brand Voice

Now that you have the findings from your outreach, it’s time to answer some important questions that will help develop your brand’s voice:

  1. What are our company values?
  2. Why do we do what we do?
  3. What personality traits best define our company?
  4. Who is our target market?
  5. How do we want them to feel when they interact with us?
  6. How do we make our customers feel like heroes?
  7. What first impression do we want to make?
  8. What message are we communicating?
  9. What pain do we solve?
  10. How do we demonstrate our value and results?
  11. What status quo do we break?
  12. What makes us different?
  13. What unique story do we have to tell?
  14. What are we passionate about?
  15. What other brands resonate with us?
  16. What words do we like?
  17. What words do we dislike?
  18. What words describe the tone we will use?
  19. Do we speak formally or conversationally?
  20. If we could summarize our brand in one word what would it be?

Step 3. Create a Comparison of What Your Voice Is and Isn’t

Mailchimp has a fantastic style guide that is worth reading. One standout takeaway is their example of comparing what their voice is and what isn’t.

Mailchimp Style Guide Questions

This is a valuable exercise to go through before developing your brand voice guide.

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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Step 4. Create Your Brand Voice Guide

Summarize all of your answers in a concise guide for distribution throughout your organization. Whether you decide to add your voice guide to your brand bible or have it stand alone, create a document that is informative and engaging.

Create and distribute a brand style guide

A style guide is a valuable tool that helps your writers, designers, and other content team members align your content with your brand. Your style guide can include:

  • A description of your target audience and key personas
  • Information on your content goals
  • A description of your brand voice
  • Notes on spelling and punctuation
  • The name of the style manual that you follow, such as AP or Globe and Mail
  • A list of items to include in your blog posts – such as author bios and pull quotes
  • Links to your logo and other key design elements

Some great examples of Style Guides include:

Skype

Skype Sample of Style Guide

Adobe

Adobe Sample of Style Guide

University of Leeds

University of Leeds Brand Voice Sample

Step 5. Just Because It’s B2B Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Boring

B2B buyers are still people. They want to be informed, engaged and entertained. When you define your brand’s voice, make sure your communications:

  • Are genuine
  • Are concise – don’t overwhelm people with too many details or too much information
  • Drop meaningless adjectives
  • Use your customers’ language and tell their stories
  • Have unique visuals – avoid stock photography whenever possible

With your revised brand voice in mind, go through your existing content and look for pieces that no longer serve your company. What do you need to revamp with your new tone?

Also be sure to give your new brand guide to your content creators so that they can incorporate your changes into future content.  

3 Easy Ways to Apply This Information Now

1. Download The Ultimate B2B Brand Voice Guide and create a brand voice that resonates with your buyers and sets you apart from the pack.

2. Read How to Scale Your B2B Content – Without Sacrificing Its Quality for more tips that will help you get better content marketing results.

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

8 Steps to a Winning B2B Lead Generation Program

copywritertoronto-com_winning_lead_generation_strategy

A targeted, tailored and relevant lead gen program is a vital part of any B2B marketing strategy. And although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are proven ways to ensure that prospects find your business, engage with you and turn into customers.

This week I received an email from a student who, as part of completing her fall semester, is required to share resources that encourage growth for local businesses. She sent through an article from HipB2B.com that I’m happy to share here, as it outlines the 8 Most Effective B2B Lead Generation Methods. Take a look and see if there are any ways you can strengthen your lead generation efforts. Thanks, Katie!