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

Cartoon chess pieces to represent 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?

Many factors could be at play, but another statistic in the report sheds some light on this. According to the report, only 32% of enterprise B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. A strategy shapes every aspect of your content marketing. It tells you where you are today, describes where you want to go in the future and gives you a roadmap to get there. If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, it’s like you are driving to a new location without a GPS. Chances are you will get lost along the way and waste money on gas. 

Cartoon illustration of cars driving on a highway

Here are seven questions to ask when you develop a content marketing strategy:

1. How will you get key stakeholders on board?

It will be hard to get results from your content marketing if you’re the only one committed to the initiative. You’ll need to show others in your enterprise the value of content marketing and why it is necessary. If they don’t see the need, you won’t get buy-in. You should also address their concerns and discuss potential risks. For more information on getting content marketing buy-in, check out this article.

2. Why are you using content marketing?

Before you publish another piece of content, think about why you are doing content marketing. Is it to raise brand awareness, attract more high-quality leads or improve your customer service? Your content marketing strategy should support your larger business and marketing goals. The better you can align each piece of content with a larger business goal, the better your results will be.

Illustration of chess pieces and business icons

3. Who are your target audiences for your content?

You can produce tons of content – even great content – but if it’s not relevant to your target audience, you are wasting your resources. In the latest B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends B2B technology buyers stated that “media is only effective if the information that it features is relevant to their research”. If your content isn’t relevant, your buyers will search elsewhere to find what they are looking for. 

You can create targeted content for each audience based on their role, needs or stage in the sales cycle. However, don’t try to create content for every buyer and influencer right away. Start by focusing on one or two of your key audiences. Spend time getting to know them. What are their needs? What is their typical day like? How do they consume content? It’s better to gain a deep understanding of one key audience than it is to do a half-assed job creating content for lots of audiences.

4. Where are you at today?

Before you leave for your destination, you must know from where you are leaving. Perform a content audit to determine what content you already have and where you need to fill the gaps. For example, are you missing content that speaks to a key audience? Do you need content to support an upcoming product launch? Do you need to publish to your blog on a more regular basis?

Laptop and mobile screens showing data illustrations

When you conduct your content audit, you should refer to your analytics to see how your current content is performing. This will let you know what topics your audience finds the most valuable. You can then create similar content to bring more targeted leads to your website.   

5. What topics are you going to cover?

After you identify your gaps, think about what you want to be the “go-to” resource for. Then, create an editorial calendar with lots of content about these topics. Your editorial calendar doesn’t need to be complex. It can be as simple as an Excel sheet with columns for the following:

  • The content’s title
  • Format (i.e. blog post, webinar)
  • Author
  • Publication date
  • Status (i.e. in development, published)
  • Target audience
  • Keywords
  • Call to action
  • Related campaign

6. What channels will you use?

Before you get excited about the latest social network, find out if your target audience hangs out there. If not, you should focus your efforts on the places where you can interact with your target audience.

Illustration of hands connecting to content on a computer

Also think about how your target audience prefers to consume content during each stage of the buying cycle. Do they rely on white papers to educate themselves about your type of product or service? Do they prefer to view content on desktops or mobile devices? Are they likely to attend webinars or watch videos? Be sure that you create content for all their preferred channels.

7. What resources do you have?

One of the biggest B2B content marketing challenges is finding the resources to produce content.

Creating a content marketing strategy can put you on the road towards marketing success. The most important thing to do is put your audience first. When you create content that resonates with them, you’ll improve your results.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download 15 Marketing Questions That Won’t Make Your B2B Customers Die of Boredom for some great conversation starters.
  2. Read “Why IT Buyers Aren’t Responding to Your Content” to learn how to make your marketing less robotic.
  3. Share this article on Linkedin. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.


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15 Marketing Questions
That Won’t Make Your B2B Customers Die of Boredom

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7 Productivity Hacks for Smart B2B Content Marketers

Title Image and illustration: Productivity Hacks for B2B Marketers

It seems like our marketing “to do” list gets longer every day. The more projects and meetings on your list, the harder it is to get everything done. Here are seven tips that will boost your content marketing productivity …

Every day, I speak with B2B marketing professionals who struggle with their workload.

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.

Many B2B marketers produce record-breaking amounts of content without a large enough team to support them.

And they’re doing it on top of meetings, phone calls, and their other daily tasks.

One of my clients told me that he spends all day in meetings and has to give up time with his family at night, so he can finally get his work done.

This is a sad reality for many B2B marketers.

However, there are a few things you can do to keep the content machine rolling while you free up some of your valuable time.

Here are my top seven productivity tips for B2B content marketers:

1. Block out the first hour of your workday for your most important project.

Block out the first hour of your workday for important projects: Image of a watch

One of my clients recently used my online calendar to schedule a call with me. He joked that he didn’t see any appointments before 10 AM, so I must not start work until mid-morning.

I do start work earlier, but I just don’t take calls before 10 AM. This gives me time to get some copywriting done before calls and emails interrupt my train of thought.

Doing this sets me up for a productive day, because I get important work done first thing in the morning.

If you can manage it, cut out all of your early morning distractions. Say no to meetings. Turn off your ringer. Don’t check your email.

Your co-workers will initially try to distract you in the morning, but over time, they will learn not to interrupt you during your productivity hour.

Try this for a week and see if you notice any improvements in your productivity – as well as a reduction in your stress levels.

2. Ban distracting websites.

Ban Distracting Websites: Image of Computer and Facebook

I recently had to take drastic measures with Facebook.

I was spending too much time on the site, scrolling through my feed and checking out links that my friends posted. Soon, a “quick look” at my messages would turn into 15 minutes of reading articles and commenting on posts.

Plus, a lot of the content that I see on Facebook is very political. While it’s important to know what’s happening in the world, I felt like I was being bombarded with heavy issues all the time. This affected my mood and productivity.

So, I started to block myself out of Facebook during my workday. As soon as I sit down in the morning, I open the Self Control app and set a timer for how long I want to block myself out of Facebook and other distracting websites.

Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and my productivity. I even check Facebook much less during the evenings and weekends, when I don’t limit my access to the site.

3. Roll up your email subscriptions.

Roll up your email subscriptions: Illustration of email inbox

Email is a huge time suck.

According to an Atlassian infographic, employees check their email an average of 36 times per hour. Then, it takes them 16 minutes to refocus after responding to emails.

At this rate, it’s impossible to focus on producing great content. 

I’ve been using Unroll.me to manage my inbox. The app takes all of my email subscriptions and rolls them into one daily email. So, instead of getting promotional messages in my inbox every minute, I now get them once a day.

Whenever a new subscription appears in my inbox, Unroll.me gives me the option to add it to my daily roll up, keep it in my inbox, or unsubscribe from it.

Since I’ve started using this service, my inbox has been clean. It’s easier for me to see important emails since my inbox is no longer full of clutter. I spend much less time managing my emails.

4. Play.

Play can make you more creative: Image of a cafe setting

At Content Marketing World, John Cleese talked about the importance of play. He recommended that content marketers take time out to play. For example, go to a park. Paint. Build a fort. Have fun.

Playing makes you more creative, which in turn can positively impact your content marketing.

5. Meditate.

Meditation increases focus: image of man meditating

We live in a world with a million distractions – from email to social media to click bait.

All of these distractions make it hard to stay focused.

This is where meditation can help.

As marketers, it can be hard for us to sit still and calm our minds. However, studies have shown that just 10-20 minutes of daily meditation can help us stay focused and perform better when faced with tight deadlines.

A University of Washington and University of Arizona study found that employees who practiced meditation had lower levels of stress and better memory when multitasking. They also switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer.

6. Break your content development into chunks.

Break your content development into chunks: Image of graph

It never fails …

I’m writing a piece of content, and the ideas are flowing. Then, my typing slows, and it takes me twenty minutes to write a sentence.

This is when I know that I need to take a break.

Stepping away from your content – whether it’s to play, exercise, or work on something else – is key to improving your productivity.

When you return to your content at a later time, your mind will be fresh, and your ideas will flow.

I’ve accounted for the ups and downs in my creativity by breaking my content development into stages:

a. Planning: Get together with your team and plan your editorial calendar for the next month or quarter.

During this time, you can also plan how you will repurpose your new content. For example, what other pieces of content do you need to support your white paper? What other channels do you want to target? Should you put a different spin on your blog post and publish it on LinkedIn? Will you create a content upgrade or opt-in offer to go with your next blog post?

b. Research: Select a topic and research it. Gather background info and statistics on the topic. Interview your subject matter experts.

c. Outline: Make an outline of your content, as this will help you organize your thoughts, so your content development process goes faster.

d. Development: Draft your content – including the design and writing.

e. Editing: Share your content with others on your team and make any necessary edits.

f. Upload: Queue your content for publication. Also, queue your related posts on your social networks.

g. Promote: Promote your content.

Having a repeatable process in place will allow you to produce more high-quality content. Plus, you’ll avoid sitting at your laptop wondering what you should publish next.

7. Don’t Do it All Yourself.

Outsource you content creation: Image of computer and web communications

Outsourcing your content creation can free up a lot of your time while allowing you to produce more high-quality content.

Look for partners who have the skills that you are missing in-house. For example, your product team may have amazing technical knowledge. But do they have the time to put their expertise on paper in your blog posts and white papers? You might benefit from working with a freelance copywriter who can translate their technical knowledge into compelling content.

Try some of these tips to improve your content marketing productivity. Just putting a few of these in place can help you save your sanity, free up your evenings and weekends, and allow you to focus on the big marketing picture.

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Download Your Copy Of The B2B Content Marketers’ Guide To Getting It Done

How To Have Your Most Productive Day… Every Day.

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3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

1. Download The B2B Content Marketer’s Guide to Getting It Done: How to Have Your Most Productive Day … Every Day!

2. Read How to Scale Your B2B Content – Without Sacrificing Its Quality for more tips that will help you improve your productivity while getting 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.

 

How B2B Buyers Are Engaging With Your Content [Data]

Title Image: The Numbers on How Your Content is Engaging B2B Buyers Magnifying Glass and Chart

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.

Drumroll, please!

The B2B Buyer Journey

B2B buying is a team sport.

According to TechTarget, the majority of B2B buying teams have between two and seven members. A significant number of these teams have 10 or more members.

Google matters.

When business buyers are ready to research a purchase, the first thing they do is conduct a web search. According to the Demand Gen Report 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 46% of business buyers start their research with a web search. Meanwhile 18% of buyers start by visiting a vendor’s website and 17% seek a peer recommendation.

B2B buyers require multiple pieces of content.

Eccolo Media found that 48% of B2B buyers consume two to five pieces of content before making a purchase decision.  

Meanwhile, TechTarget found that 65% of IT buyers require at least four pieces of content to make a vendor shortlist.  

Vendor with the best content wins.
61% of buyers select vendors based on content.

The vendor with the best content wins.

In Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 61% of respondents said they selected vendors who delivered a mix of content that was appropriate for each stage of their buying process.

 

The Most Influential B2B Content

White papers still rule.

The three types of content that B2B technology buyers are most likely to consume are:  

  1. White papers
  2. Product brochures/data sheets
  3. Case studies/success stories tied with detailed technology guides/implementation scenarios

 TechTarget’s findings were similar. The following chart shows the types of content that IT buyers prefer during different stages of the sales cycle:

 

Source: 2014 TechTarget Media Consumption Research Brief

B2B buyers rely on case studies.

A hawkeye study found that case studies and testimonials are important throughout the B2B buying process. Seventy-one 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.  

Buyers value your subject matter experts’ opinions.

According to ITSMA’s 2015 How Buyers Consume Information Study, B2B customers want to know what your subject matter experts think. In fact, vendor subject matter experts were rated the most trustworthy or credible source of information – beating even peers, analysts, and digital influencers. 

Peer recommendations are becoming more important.

The Demand Gen Report 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey found that more business buyers (53%) are relying on peer recommendations when they make a purchase. This number has increased from 19% in 2012.

Marketers aren’t giving technology buyers the right content.

According to Spiceworks, there’s a huge gap between the information that technology buyers want and what information marketers are providing. For example, 92% of IT pros use targeted forums and communities to research products, although only 61% of technology marketers invest in these channels. Meanwhile, 95% of technology marketers invest in social media, while only 23% of IT buyers use it to engage with brands.    

Source: Spiceworks, How to Win Friends and Influence IT Professionals

How B2B Buyers Use Social Media When Making a Purchase

Yes, your buyers use social media to research you.

According to IDG, 86% of IT buyers use social networks and content in their purchase decisions. They are most likely to use social media in the general education stage of their buying process.

LinkedIn is the top B2B social network.

Demand Gen Report found that LinkedIn is the No. 1 network for senior executives who want to connect via social media, whereas blogs are the top social medium for non-executives.  

Recommendations from peers rule on social.

According to hawkeye, the most influential type of social content is relevant posts from peers and colleagues, followed by information about new products and solutions.  

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 7.11.33 PM

Source: hawkeye, “3 keys to B2B success”

How B2B Buyers Use Mobile

B2B buyers consume all types of content on mobile devices.

According to Eccolo Media, 71% of B2B technology buyers check out vendor content on mobile devices. They’re using mobile devices to consume at least 16 different types of marketing content.  

Optimizing your website for mobile is a must.

IDG found that the top three things that business buyers do when researching products on their mobile devices are:  

  1. Visit vendor websites for product information.
  2. Compare prices and products.
  3. Read feature articles about trends and strategies.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download a PDF of these statistics, so you can refer to them later.
  2. Read “10 Steps to an Effective Content Marketing Strategy” to help plan your content. Research has shown that B2B marketers who document their content strategies get better results than those who don’t.
  3. 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.

How to Use Content to Improve Your Customer Experience

B2B buyers are spending more time looking at content online and less time interacting with sales and customers service reps. Here’s how to use content to attract leads, turn them into customers, and keep them coming back …

Here’s a sobering statistic from Gartner …

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

Yikes!

Happy customer with thumbs up and header How to Use Content to Improve Your Customer Experience

If this comes true, your sales reps will have less power to sway customers face-to-face or on the phone. Meanwhile, your customer success team won’t have as many opportunities to deliver an amazing experience.

So, how are B2B buyers interacting with enterprises and getting the information they need to make informed buying decisions?

According to Earnest Agency, 81% of B2B purchases start with a web search. When customers are ready to buy, they’ll find you.

This means that your online content will need to do the heavy lifting.

Here are five ways you can use content to improve your customer experience:

1. Focus your content strategy on your customers.

Cartoon man looking through a binocular to represent being focused on the customer.
Avoid boring customers by creating content that focuses on them, rather than your sales pitch.

Today’s customers can smell a sales pitch a mile away. If you constantly push your products, you’ll bore customers and cause them to tune out.

Instead of creating product-focused content, create customer-focused. Keeping your customers top of mind will help engage them throughout your sales cycle.

2. Personalize your content.

Picture of Charlie looking at a sign with his name on it.
My husband, Charlie, finds personalized 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 produce for their organic delivery box.

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 getting a piece of custom content, they will be more likely to read it. They will also get something that speaks directly to their needs.

3. Make your content accessible.

Different devices that have people connected through them.
People like to consume content in different ways, make sure you have offer a variety of mediums across different channels.

Providing a great customer experience means creating content that customers can view on any device.

Make sure that your content is accessible on all popular devices and that it automatically resizes to look good on different screens.

Another way to make your content accessible is to share it across different channels. For example, not all of your customers will want to read a long blog post. Try turning some of your blog posts into videos, podcasts, or SlideShare presentations, so you can reach customers who prefer different mediums.

Be honest.

4. Honesty is the new black.

Woman taking a lie detector test.
Be honest about mistakes and flaws. People will trust you more.

Addressing your weaknesses makes 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.

I recently attended a content marketing event where the panelists discussed honesty. They said that their most successful blog posts and videos were about their mistakes.

5. Make it easy for customers to take the next step.

Ripped treasure map.
Don’t force customers to go where you want them to, make it easy for them to find the information they need.

Think of your content like a trail. Put up “signs” that lead customers to the next piece of content and further into your sales cycle.

To do this, find out what customers in different stages of the sales cycle are asking. Then, build a trail of content that addresses each question in the order that they ask them. Your trail shouldn’t be about forcing customers to go where you want them to go but about making it easy for them to find the information that they need.

Your content has a huge impact on your customer experience. The more your content helps customers achieve their goals, the more they will sing your praises and recommend you to others.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the editorial calendar template to start planning your customer-focused content.
  2. Check out the Top Dogs of B2B Content Marketing infographic to learn what types of content will help you stand out from the pack.
  3. 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.

Thanks to Jess at Upwork for suggesting that I write about this great topic. If you have any topics that you would like me to cover in a future blog post, please email me at rachel@freshperspectivewriting.com.  

How to Scale Your B2B Content – Without Sacrificing Its Quality

It’s no longer enough to produce high-quality content. B2B marketers also must produce high volumes of content to raise brand awareness and engage customers. Here’s how to scale your content production without sacrificing its quality.

How to Scale Your B2B Content – Without Sacrificing Its Quality

I was always a big believer in producing high-quality content over a high quantity of content.

As content marketers, we’re under pressure to publish lots of content to meet deadlines and keep our social feeds full of fresh posts. According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, 76% of B2B marketers will produce more content this year than they produced last year.

But you don’t want to publish poorly thought-out content just for the sake of meeting deadlines. The only way you’ll engage customers is if you produce high-quality content that speaks to their needs.

However, quantity also matters. At Content Marketing World, several of the speakers talked about the importance of both quality and quantity in B2B content marketing. The more content you produce, the more you’ll raise brand awareness. Each new piece of content also gives you a new reason to connect with customers.

So, how can you increase your content’s quantity without sacrificing its quality?

Here are three tricks that can help:

1. Pick a theme

Pick a Theme For Your Content
Themes are help make planning content easier.

Picking content themes for the quarter can keep your content marketing on track. When you plan a few themes in advance, you will always have something to talk about.

It’s a good idea to select several broad themes for the quarter – such as cloud security or event marketing. Then, you’ll have lots of interesting sub-topics that you can dive into.

Here are some ideas for picking themes:

  • Base your weekly, monthly or quarterly content around a product launch.
  • Find out if customers are asking related questions. Turn these questions into a theme and write a series of blog posts that answer them.
  • Address one of your customers’ top concerns in a white paper and its related content.
  • Make “customer success stories” one of your themes. Share their stories in case studies, videos, blog posts, webinars, social posts, etc.
  • Base your theme on a trending topic in your industry. You can use Google Trends to find out what your customers are searching for. Social Mention is another cool tool that shows you how your keywords are trending on social media.

2. Start big

After you select a quarterly theme, create a major piece of content about it. For example, you may have exciting research that you want to share in a report. Or you may want to publish a white paper or ebook to support a new product.

Creating a major piece of content takes a bit of planning up front. But once you have this content, you can easily repurpose it into other formats for your other channels – saving time in the long run. The Content Pillar Approach shows you how you can get 269 pieces of content from a single ebook.

How-to-Create-269-Content-Assets-Content-Pillar
The Content Pillar Approach by Oracle shows you how to make 269 pieces of content from a single ebook.

When you use the Content Pillar Approach, filling your editorial calendar doesn’t seem so daunting. It will also help you reach a wider audience across more channels.

3. Create a style guide

Create A Style Guide
Style guides help your team align content with your brand.

To produce a lot of high-quality content, you must get your team on the same page. 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

Successful content marketing is as much about planning as it is about producing. The techniques outlined in this article will help you better plan your content, so you can produce more of it without sacrificing its quality. 

content-planning-checklist

Get Instant Access to the B2B Content Planning Checklist

10 Steps to Creating Content That Attracts Leads, Shortens Sales Cycles, and Drives Revenue.

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3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the B2B Content Planning Checklist: 10 Steps to Creating Content That Attracts Leads, Shortens Sales Cycles, and Drives Revenue
  2. Check out the Top Dogs of B2B Content Marketing infographic to learn what types of content will help you stand out from the pack.
  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.

The Top 10 B2B Marketing Posts in 2015

Here’s what B2B marketers were talking about in 2015 … along with a look ahead at 2016 content marketing trends.

TOP 10 B2B Marketing Posts

As you’re preparing your 2016 marketing, now is a good time to look back on what mattered the most in 2015. I rounded up my top posts of the year to find out what B2B marketers were talking about.

The topics range from 2016 content marketing predictions to a post that I wrote in 2013 on how to improve your email subject lines. Without further ado, here are my top 10 posts from 2015:

 1. 5 B2B Content Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016 [Insights From Content Marketing World]

5 B2B Content Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

In September, I attended Content Marketing World in Cleveland.

It was great to get out of the office and meet so many amazing content marketers. I also learned about some key trends that will impact B2B marketers in 2016. You’ll want to check these out.

 2. How to Write B2B Email Subject Lines that Get Your Messages Opened

Email subject lines are often an afterthought.

After preparing your email’s content, you might only have a few seconds to dash off a quick subject line and send out your email. However, since the best B2B customers often come from in-house email lists, you should spend more time crafting subject lines that get readers to open your emails. Here are five ways you can improve your B2B email subject lines to increase your open rates …

3. How to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

10 Ways to Create a b2b Content Marketing Strategy

Research has shown that B2B marketers who have a content marketing strategy get better results from all of their content. To help you step up your content marketing game, I’ve put together An Essential Guide to Creating a B2B Content Marketing Strategy. This curated ebook contains 10 resources that walk you through the key steps of creating an effective strategy

4. How to Create B2B Data Sheets that Drive Sales

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 are five data sheet dos and don’ts that will help you turn more leads into customers …

5. How to Get Your Blog Picked Up by Google News

how to get your blog picked up by Google News

Have you ever wondered why the same sites appear over and over again in Google News and how you can get your blog some Google love? This post explains what Google is looking for and offers advice on what to do if your blog doesn’t meet its requirements …

6. 7 Keys to Successful Content Marketing

7 Keys to Successful Content Marketing

The Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) held a panel on how to get better results from your content marketing efforts. Here are seven things that every B2B content marketer must know

7. 5 Ways Small B2B Marketing Teams Can Win at Content Marketing

5 Ways Small B2B Marketing Teams Can Win at Content Marketing

Ask any B2B marketer about their top content marketing challenges, and they’ll likely say, “finding the time and resources to get it done”.

This problem can be even harder if you have a small, in-house marketing team – or if you’re a marketing department of one. Here are five things that will help your small team win at content marketing

 8. 7 Big Mistakes That Sabotage Your B2B Blog’s Success 

7 Big Mistakes that Sabotage Your B2B Blog’s Success

A blog can be one of your most valuable marketing assets, as it can introduce targeted leads to your content and engage them throughout every stage of your sales cycle. Here’s how to avoid common B2B blogging mistakes – along with a checklist that will help keep you on track …

9. 5 Overlooked Opportunities for B2B Marketers

5 Overlooked Opportunities for b2b marketers

Life is hectic when you’re a B2B marketer.  

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

 10. Reasons Why B2B Websites Fail

5 Reasons Why b2b Websites Fail

Forrester recently identified 10 criteria for effective B2B websites and scored 30 companies against its criteria. According to the “B-to-B Content Fails the Customer Engagement Test” report, only four companies passed the test.

Here’s why most B2B websites are failing

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 …

Top Dogs of B2B Content Marketing

5 Big B2B Website Mistakes That Are Driving Your Customers Crazy

Most B2B websites miss the mark when it comes to engaging visitors, boosting conversions and driving sales. Here are five major mistakes that cause many B2B websites to fail …

cartoon head swearing with title 5 Big B2B Website Mistakes That Are Driving Your Customers Crazy
Discover the five major mistakes that cause many B2B websites to fail.

If you think of your marketing as a solar system, your website is your sun.

Most – if not all – of the content that you create orbits around your website. Your social posts and ads drive people to pages where they can opt in for your content. Prospects go to your website to learn about your products and contact sales reps. Your website contains your thought leadership and is a strong reflection of your brand.

So, why do so many B2B websites miss the mark?

Forrester identified 10 basic criteria for effective B2B websites. Then, it evaluated 30 companies against these criteria. Unfortunately, only four out of the 30 companies passed the test.

One major problem is that B2B websites don’t give visitors enough valuable content. A TechTarget report revealed that 65% of buyers download four to seven pieces of content before they create a vendor shortlist. So, if your website lacks useful content, you won’t get as many conversions, leads and sales.

Here are five more reasons why your B2B website may fail to engage customers:

1. You don’t have enough case studies on your site.

Today’s B2B buyers want proof that your products and services deliver results. When they need a new product, they are more likely to seek peer recommendations than sales content.

Cartoon man with clip board and books and title You don’t have enough case studies on your site.
Over 71% of B2B buyers think case studies are the most influential type of content.

Case studies are an excellent way to provide buyers with social proof that your products and services deliver results. In fact, a hawkeye study found that between 71% and 77% of B2B buyers think case studies are the most influential type of content.

Displaying case studies prominently on your website can enhance your credibility and help you attract more high-quality leads. Telling stories from your customers’ perspective – not your sales team’s perspective – also makes your brand more relatable and human.

2. You talk about your company, not your customers.

As a marketer, you face a Catch-22. Other people in your company may push you to talk about your features, your news and how great you are. However, you know that customers don’t care about these things. Instead, they want to see that you understand their challenges.

Cartoon business man sleeping at a desk and the title You talk about your company, not your customers.
Many B2B websites don’t speak to the issues their prospective buyers are trying to solve

“The biggest problem [with B2B websites] is that the majority of content talks about the company, what its products and services do, and how many awards they’ve won, but doesn’t speak to the issues their prospective buyers are trying to solve,” said Laura Ramos, VP-principal analyst at Forrester.

The more you focus on your customers, the better results you will achieve. Customers will be more willing to opt in for your content, buy your products and recommend you to others.

3. Your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for.

Take a step back from your website and look at it from a customer’s perspective. Is your key information easy to find?

The 2015 B2B Website Usability Report found that most vendor websites are lacking basic information – including their contact details and product information.

Website usability report data and title Your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for.
Most vendor websites are lacking basic information – including their contact details and product information.

If customers can’t find what they’re looking for, your website might be too complicated. For example, you may have important information buried underneath layers of navigation. Or you might put information about Product X front and center, when your customers really want to learn more about Product Y.

Check your analytics to see how visitors are interacting with your website. What are they looking for? Where are they spending the most time? Where are they clicking away from your site?

4. You don’t have enough opt-in offers.

You likely have premium content that customers can opt in for, such as white papers or webinars. And you likely promote these offers on your blog and in ads throughout your site.

However, you can take your offers a step further to give your conversions a big boost. One way to do this is by creating content upgrades or “tie ins” for your blog posts.

Download Icon with the title You don’t have enough opt-in offers.
Boost conversions with content upgrades.

For example, if you publish a blog post on network security, you can offer readers a checklist that helps them determine their level of risk. Since your readers are interested in the topic, they will likely want the additional resource.

Creating a content upgrade isn’t as involved as creating a white paper or ebook. Two-page documents, such as checklists, cheat sheets and tool recommendations are easy to create and useful for your readers.

However, it can become cumbersome to create a content upgrade for all of your blog posts. Start by creating upgrades for your top-performing posts. You can also plan a blog post series around a specific topic and reuse your upgrade on all of these posts.

Click here to download a Content Upgrade Checklist that takes you through the steps of creating these targeted resources.

5. You don’t tell stories.

Stories help you cut past the “sales speak” and connect with B2B buyers.

Cartoon people at a desk telling stories with title B2B Websites don’t tell stories.
Stories help to build trust in your brand or product,

Yesware blogged about the psychology of storytelling for sales. According to the blog post, “A series of experiments performed by neuroeconomics pioneer Paul Zak found that stories that are highly engaging and contain key elements — including a climax and denouement – can elicit powerful empathic responses by triggering the release of oxytocin. Often referred to as the ‘trust hormone,’ this neurochemical promotes connection and encourages people to feel empathy. When released in the brain of your prospect it can help to build trust in your brand or product, and in doing so increase sales.”

Where do you have opportunities to use stories? How can you use them to connect with your ideal customers?

Most B2B websites are missing the mark when it comes to engaging customers.

According to Forrester, the first thing to check is whether your website talks about your company or talks about things that interest your customers. The better you align your website with what your customers want to know, the better results you will achieve.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the Content Upgrade Checklist: 9 Steps to Turbocharging Your List Building with Targeted Resources.
  2. Read “The Most Important Question That You’re Not Asking Your B2B Customers” for tips that will help you better engage your target audience.
  3. 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.

11 Things That You Must Include in Your Next Blog Post

Image with blog post and social icons that says 11 things to include in your next blog post
11 Essentials for B2B blog posts.

Woo-hoo!

You’re ready to publish your latest blog post and bring more readers back to your blog. But before you queue your post, take a moment to review this checklist to make sure that it contains all of the pieces you need to engage readers, increase your social shares and drive conversions.

Here are 11 things to include in your blog posts: 

1.  A compelling title.

Top-performing blog posts tend to include the words “how to” or a number, such as “the top 5 ways to…”

A Your title is what motivates people to click a link and read your post, so it’s worth investing time to come up with something compelling. Studies have shown that top-performing blog posts tend to include the words “how to” or a number, such as “the top 5 ways to…” The reason why these posts perform well is that they promise readers will learn something specific when they check out the post.

It’s also critical to include your main keyword or key phrase in your title, as this will help your blog rank higher on Google. Just make sure that your title reads for humans, not robots.

2.  A summary.

A bullseye with a website and an arrow tip in the summary
A well-crafted summary can convince people to read more of the post.

While a summary is not mandatory, it is often a good idea to include a one- or two-line summary of your blog post just under your title. A well-crafted summary can convince people to read more of the post. You can also copy the summary into the WordPress Excerpt plug-in, and WordPress will automatically display it on your search and archive pages.

3.  A strong lead.

A carnival strength game
Start by showing readers that you understand their biggest challenges.

The opening paragraphs of your blog post must engage your audience so they continue to read the post. You can achieve this by telling a personal story that your readers can relate to, asking a question that the blog post will answer, sharing interesting statistics or showing readers that you understand their biggest challenges.

4.  Sub-headers and bullet points.

Cartoon of bullet points
Make your articles easy to skim.

The majority of people skim articles on the Internet, rather than read them word for word. That’s why you must break up your text using sub-headers, bullet points, numbered lists and short paragraphs.   

5.  A call to action.

Call To Action
Have a clear call to action on your blog posts.

What do you want people to do after they read your blog post? Leave comments? Share your post? Visit another web page? Whatever you want them to do, you must spell it out at the end of your blog post.    

2 planesGet Instant Access to the FREE Blog Post Pre-Flight Checklist

Discover what to include in all of your blog posts to improve your SEO, engage readers and increase your conversions.

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6. An opt-in form.

A cartoon opt-in form
Customized offers on blog posts can greatly increase the size of your list.

In addition to a call to action at the end of your blog post, it’s also wise to tie each post into one of your marketing campaigns. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on how to increase your e-commerce sales, include a banner ad that directs readers to a webinar or a white paper on the same topic. Doing this can greatly increase the size of your list.    

7.  Social sharing options.

Social Network icons
Use social sharing tools that float along the side of the screen as people read.

Be sure that your blog contains a tool that allows readers to share your content with their social networks. One of the biggest mistakes that I see in this area is social tools that don’t allow you to post to newer networks. Another common mistake is including your social sharing tool either at the top of the post or the bottom of the post. This means that your readers will have to scroll a lot to share your content. I prefer social sharing tools that float along the side of the screen as you read, such as Digg Digg and Flare.    

8.  Images.

Images of people, photos and a camera.
Use images to increase blog engagement and social sharing.

Images not only makes your page more visually appealing, but it can also improve your SEO when you use captions and alt tags that contain your keywords.

9.  An author bio.

Cartoon computer screen with author bio.
Author bios show readers that you are not just a faceless corporation.

Instead of attributing your blog posts to your company, you should give authorship credit to your team members. Doing this can build morale and get more of your colleagues interested in contributing to the blog. It also shows readers that you are not just a faceless corporation.    

10.  Search Engine Optimization.

Computer with graph and timer representing Search Engine Optimization.
Streamline SEO with a plug-in like Yoast.

WordPress plug-ins such as Yoast make it easy to optimize your posts. What I like about Yoast is that you enter the keyword that you want to target, and it automatically shows you what areas of the post need more work. This is a great plug-in if your contributors upload their own posts, as it guides them through the SEO process   

11.  Categories and tags.

A computer and websites representing categories and tags.
Categories and tags make it easier for readers to find posts on your blog.

Don’t forget to assign each post to the appropriate category and tag it with relevant keywords. This will make it easier for readers to find posts on your blog. One of the biggest mistakes that I see in this area is blogs with too many categories. Narrow your categories down to five or fewer core topics, and use tags to be more descriptive.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the B2B Blog Post Pre-Flight Checklist, so you can ensure that all of your articles hit the mark with your readers.
  2. Read “How to Turbocharge Your List Building With Content Upgrades” to learn about a new call to action that is making waves in the marketing community.
  3. 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.

 

2 planesGet Instant Access to the FREE Blog Post Pre-Flight Checklist

Discover what to include in all of your blog posts to improve your SEO, engage readers and increase your conversions.

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The Most Important Question You’re Not Asking Your B2B Customers

If you had the opportunity to meet your customers face-to-face, what questions would you ask them? Unfortunately, many B2B marketers leave out the most important question …

“You must get to know your customers.”

We’ve all heard this a million times.

But how do you actually do this?

Header image for blog
Discover how you can learn more about your customers and engage them more effectively.

Last week, I attended SpiceWorld 2015. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sanjay Castelino, vice president of marketing at Spiceworks, where we discussed how B2B marketers can learn more about their customers.

Spiceworks hosts regular Unplugged events, where tech marketers get to meet IT buyers face-to-face and ask them questions.

“The questions that marketers ask at these events are self-serving,” says Sanjay.

Marketers tend to ask the IT pros questions such as “What makes you open an email?” and “Do you read white papers?” Check out this article for questions and answers from a recent Unplugged event in Toronto.

Woman sitting with friends in a movie theatre eating popcorn and looking thrilled while watching the screen
Nothing is more important than getting to know the people you want to engage with.

As you can see, most of the questions center around “What do you think of our marketing?” Instead, marketers should ask, “What is your day like?”

“If you ask IT pros about their lives and their jobs, you’ll get the most interesting answers,” says Sanjay.

Many marketers think they are too busy to talk to customers. Although many haven’t spoken with a customer in a long time, they regularly make decisions on how to engage customers. 

“Nothing is more important than getting to know the people you want to engage with,” says Sanjay. “This is how you will find real differentiators for your marketing.”

The more you learn about who your customers are, the more you can help them do their jobs better. Your customers will see that you understand their challenges and want to help them. Then they’ll be more likely to engage with you and choose you over your competitors.

Customers – whether they are IT pros, executives or consumers – buy from people they know and trust. If you focus on helping – not selling – your customers, they’ll trust that you have their best interests in mind.

A group of people with coloured speech bubbles.
By helping people, you not only create customers, but advocates.

Even if the person you’re helping doesn’t become a customer, he or she may still become an advocate and refer others to you.

Sanjay also adds that speaking with your customers will make you more productive. “If you learn the 10 things that will help your customers the most, you might be able to cut 50 items from your to-do list,” he says.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download 15 Marketing Questions That Won’t Make Your B2B Customers Die of Boredom for some great conversation starters.
  2. Read “Why IT Buyers Aren’t Responding to Your Content” to learn how to make your marketing less robotic.
  3. 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.

 


Get Instant Access to the FREE Resource 

15 Marketing Questions
That Won’t Make Your B2B Customers Die of Boredom

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How to Create B2B Data Sheets that Drive Sales

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 are five data sheet dos and don’ts that will help you turn more leads into customers:

1.  Do press the pain buttons.

Do Press Pain Buttons
You should still highlight your customers’ key pains and drivers in your data sheets.

B2B marketers often discuss their customers’ key pains on their websites and throughout their other marketing materials. However, these drivers tend to get overlooked in sell sheets, as many marketers launch straight into a discussion about the product. While discussing the product is the whole point of a data sheet, you should still highlight your customers’ key pains and drivers, as this will put the rest of the data sheet in context and show your customers that you understand what they are going through. 

2.  Don’t forget the benefits.

Cartoon horse on a stage standing on a ball with a dog balancing upside down on his head. Both have data sheets hanging off them.
You should include both features and benefits in your data sheets.

Many B2B marketers discuss their product’s benefits on their landing pages and its features in their sell sheets. However, you should include both features and benefits in your data sheets, as this will make your copy more compelling and provide customers with more reasons why they should purchase your product. A standard data sheet format includes a benefits list on the front page and features on the back page. However, you can also mention the benefits along with your features.

3.  Do explain why customers should partner with you.

Vintage dressed cartoon couple doing the charleston.
Make sure you explain why you are different.

In addition to features and benefits, you may want to include a sidebar or section that explains why you are different. This section can include your brand messages or proof points, such as a customer testimonial.

4.  Do aim for two pages.

Stick man pointing to a hand drawn white board that says 2 pages.
A data sheet that is single piece of paper makes it easier to distribute.

Ideally, your data sheets should be a two-page document that prints on a single sheet of paper. This makes it easy for your sales representatives to give copies of it to prospective customers.   

5.  Don’t fill your data sheet with visual clutter.

blue print of a rocket ship
Include compelling headers and sub-headers, as well as bullets, bold text and lots of white space.

Many customers today don’t have time to read a document – whether printed or on the web – word for word. That’s why you should format your data sheet for easy scanning. I see a lot of data sheets that cram too much into a tiny space. So, even if the copy is good, many customers won’t read it. Be sure to include compelling headers and sub-headers, as well as bullets, bold text and lots of white space. If you find that you need to cut text to give your data sheet a clean appearance, focus on your top three core messages and drop the rest.     

You should also link to your data sheets from your product pages, so potential customers can learn more about each product. However, I wouldn’t recommend asking leads to complete an opt-in form to download a data sheet. Most people wouldn’t trade their contact information to look at a data sheet, so you’ll get more eyes on your content if you leave your data sheets ungated.

2 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Read How B2B Buyers Are Engaging With Your Content [Data] to learn what your customers want from your marketing. 
  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.

5 Ways World-Class B2B Marketers Rock Their Content [Lessons From Content Marketing World 2015]

5 Ways World-Class B2B Marketers Rock Their

 

Didn’t make it to Content Marketing World? Don’t worry. This article contains my top five takeaways for B2B marketers.

Wow!

Content Marketing World was amazing. The Content Marketing Institute outdid itself with this fantastic event.

A special highlight was a private concert by the Barenaked Ladies – one of my favourite bands of all time. Content Marketing World marked the fifth time I’ve seen them live. They even performed a hilarious song about content marketing. Here it is:

I also learned how world-class B2B marketers are rocking their content. Here are five key takeaways from the sessions that I attended:

1. Be honest.

When it comes to B2B marketing, honesty is the new black.

Doug Kessler from Velocity Partners said that being honest about your weaknesses can help you attract your ideal customers. He shared this example from the Hans Brinkler Budget Hotel in Amsterdam:

Example Ad from Hans Brinkler Budget Hotel
You’ll build trust with your ideal customers when you’re honest.

By being honest about its downfalls, the hotel won’t attract people who expect better amenities. As a B2B marketer, you can also go out of your way to alienate poor prospects. This will save your sales team the effort of following up with bad leads. It will also reduce your customer complaints.

You’ll build trust with your ideal customers when you’re honest about who your product is for, what it can do, and what it can’t do. Doug stated that customers will be more likely to believe the rest of your marketing if they see that you’re honest about your flaws.

2. Focus on quantity and quality.

A waiter's hand pulling the cover off to a laptop with a crown.
With proper planning, you can achieve a balance between quality and quantity.

I’ve always preached that your content’s quality should be more important than its quantity. After all, you don’t want to publish garbage just for the sake of publishing.

However, quantity also matters.

Several of the speakers at Content Marketing World talked about the importance of producing a lot of content.  The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report also stated that 70% of B2B marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago.

The more content you produce, the more leads you will attract. Publishing consistently can improve your Google rankings, bring more visitors to your website and get you more social shares.

However, I still hold firm that your content must be high quality and resonate with your target audience. With proper planning, you can achieve a balance between quality and quantity.

3. Become a master at repurposing content. 

Repurposing to reach a wider audience – without doubling your efforts.
Repurposing to reach a wider audience – without doubling your efforts.

Repurposing your content is a great way to publish more often and reach a wider audience – without doubling your efforts.

Amy Higgins from Zendesk held an excellent session on repurposing your content. She recommended thinking of your content like a galaxy. Start by creating a major piece of content, such as an ebook or essential guide. This will act as your “sun”, and all your other content will orbit around it.

From there, repurpose your “sun” into smaller pieces of content, such as smaller ebooks, SlideShare presentations, blog posts, infographics and social posts. Starting with a large piece of content and breaking it down can make it easy for you to fill your editorial calendar. It also focuses all of your content on one key message. 

4. Set goals.

Graphs
Content marketers who write down their goals get better results.

It’s a fact: content marketers who write down their goals get better results. According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, marketers who document their content marketing strategy are more successful than those who don’t.

In his power blogging session, Rick Short from Indium Corporation recommended posting your goals in your employees’ offices. This will help them stay on task.

Rick also recommended thinking about the root of your goal. For example, you may focus your efforts on increasing your website traffic. But do you really want a bunch of random people coming to your site? Instead, think of your key goals, such as generating high-quality sales leads, and work on bringing the right traffic to your site.

5. Keep it simple. 

A cartoon machine that is full of ideas with a man running away with a answered question.
Content marketing is about answering all of your customers’ questions.

According to Michael Brenner of Newscred, content marketing doesn’t need to be hard or expensive.

Content marketing is about answering all of your customers’ questions. Most of these questions come from early-stage leads. However, many B2B marketers focus on producing content for late-stage leads.

Find all of the questions that your customers have across each stage of your sales cycle. Then, answer them in your content. This will help your prospects make informed buying decisions. It will also give you an advantage over your competitors.     

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

5 Big Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn from Content Entrepreneurs

A cute boy wearing a bowtie and suspenders next to a chalk board that says 5 Big Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn from Content EntrepreneursThis review of Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Content Inc., explores how B2B marketers can think big to take their content marketing to new heights. 

In September of 2008, the stock market crashed.

This was also the month when I left my job to start a copywriting business.

When I left my job, I had one client for whom I’d done some proposal editing work. But I had few industry contacts, no marketing plan and no savings.

Luckily, I was accepted into the Ontario Self Employment Benefits program, which helps entrepreneurs launch businesses. Through the program, I received a one-year start-up grant and in-depth training on how to run a business.

The part of the program that impacted me the most was the sales training. Many of the entrepreneurs in my class were nervous about “selling”. We associated selling with the sleazy techniques used in Glengarry Glen Ross.

However, our instructor explained that we didn’t need to be pushy salespeople. Instead, he said that we should “Stop selling. Start helping.” He even gave us magnets with this saying on them, and I still have mine on my fridge.

During this lesson, I realized that selling didn’t have to be scary. Instead, I could give potential clients information that helps them do their jobs better. I started doing this by publishing articles on my blog.

Soon after launching my copywriting business, I found the Content Marketing Institute and started blogging for them. Content marketing aligns perfectly with “Stop selling. Start helping.” It just makes sense.

To this day, I focus on creating helpful content for my clients – B2B technology marketers. This is a big reason why my business survived the recession and is still going strong.   

Since I’m a huge believer in content marketing, I was thrilled to review Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Content Inc. The book focuses on how entrepreneurs can use content to build massive audiences and create radically successful businesses. However, a lot of the book’s information can also apply to B2B marketers in established companies.  Joe states that the book is useful if your company is developing a new audience – or if you’re selling lots of products and services but aren’t happy with your growth.

Here are five things B2B marketers can learn from content entrepreneurs:

1. Set big goals.

stick man pointing to a chalk board on chalkboad
When it comes to your content, aim to create content that your readers will find irreplaceable.

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, great content marketers do two things differently from others:

They document their content marketing strategies.

They review their strategies on a regular basis.

Without a content marketing strategy, you’ll randomly throw content into the world and hope that it resonates with your customers. A strategy helps you define your goals and learn more about your customers. The more you know about your customers, the more you will create content that appeals to them.

Another thing that great content marketers do is set big goals. “Your ultimate objectives – those big hairy audacious goals – should make you cringe at least a little bit,” the book states. When it comes to your content, aim to create content that your readers will find irreplaceable. 

2. Highlight your subject matter expertise.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying  Highlight your subject matter expertise.
Highlighting your employees product and technical expertise in your blog posts and other content can boost your marketing results.

Your employees have a wealth of product and technical expertise that can help your customers. Highlighting their expertise in your blog posts and other content can boost your marketing results.

Content Inc. gives the example of Indium, a company that develops and manufacturers materials used primarily in the electronics assembly industry. In 2005, Indium’s employees started to share their knowledge on the company’s blog. Through its blogs, Indium now generates more leads at just 25% of its previous marketing investment.

3. Go beyond what everyone else is saying.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying Go beyond what everyone else is saying
To stand out from the competition, talk about things that will get your customers excited.

Many tech products promise to “lower your costs” and “save you money”. While this might be important, it’s also what all of your competitors are saying.

To stand out from the competition, talk about things that will get your customers excited. The book states, “To become the one resource that cuts through the clutter, the people in your audience need to believe that your content can change their stars (from the movie A Knight’s Tale).”

4. Pick the right channels.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying Pick the right channels.
Focus on the core channel that will give you the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

While you may distribute content on a number of channels, you should pick one core channel to focus on.  This channel should give you the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

Ideally, this channel should also be one that you can control. For example, while you can reach a wider audience by sharing content on LinkedIn, you’re at the mercy of the social network’s updates and policies.

According to the book, the safest bet for a channel is building a website or print property that you own. From there, you can use other channels, such as social media, to drive people to your content. Then, you can convert visitors into subscribers and later customers. 

5. Get subscribers.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying  Get subscribers.
Subscribers will often turn into your best customers.

Your subscribers are your top content marketing metric.

Joe states, “When you go to sleep at night, you should be thinking of attracting subscribers. When you wake up in the morning, you should have subscribers etched into your brain.”

Your subscribers will often turn into your best customers. However, not all subscribers are created equal. Joe recommends focusing on building email subscribers to see the best results. The following chart shows the subscriber hierarchy, with email taking the lead and Facebook fans at the bottom.

subscribers

Content Inc. provides valuable advice for entrepreneurs – as well as B2B companies that want to think like entrepreneurs. It also offers tips on building your audience, creating a content calendar and repurposing content to reach a wider audience. 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Read Content Inc. to learn more about how your company can adopt an entrepreneur’s mindset to cut past the content clutter and stand out from your competition.
  2. Read “5 B2B Technology Companies That Are Doing Content Marketing Right” for inspiration. 
  3. 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.

How to Get B2B Buyers to Pay Attention to Your Content

Cartoon cinema with How to Get B2B Buyers to Pay Attention to Your Content  on the screen

 

You only have eight seconds to capture a customer’s attention online. Here’s how to make the most out of every second…

If I gave you eight seconds to tell me about your product or service, what would you say?

Traditional elevator pitches are an average of 56 seconds. However, the average attention span has dropped to just eight seconds.

Eight seconds isn’t long. It was just enough time for you to read the title and first line in this blog post.

Test it out yourself.

Say, “I’m with [name of your company], and we …” See if you can get your message across before the time runs out.

See if you can get your message across before the time runs out.
See if you can get your message across before the time runs out.

How did you do?

Now, what if you had to make your message even more concise? A study showed that 17% of page views last less than four seconds. Almost a fifth of your visitors aren’t even giving you the full eight seconds.

This means that your customers have shorter attention spans than your childhood goldfish. Yikes!

As attention spans get shorter, it’s no surprise that B2B marketers are struggling to make their messages stick. According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 38% of B2B marketers rate their content as “effective” or “very effective”.

Here are five ways to catch and keep your customers’ attention online:

1. Work from a content marketing strategy.

Cartoon cinema with a screen that shows Work from a content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy helps you gain a deeper understanding of your customers, so you can create content that resonates with them.

A study by the Altimeter Group found that 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy.

If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, you’ll randomly throw messages into the world and hope that customers read them. Creating a content marketing strategy helps you gain a deeper understanding of your customers, so you can create content that resonates with them. 

The Content Marketing Institute and MarktingProfs reported that B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy “are more effective in all aspects of content marketing” than those who don’t have a documented strategy.

For tips on improving your content’s results, read “10 Steps to an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy”. 

2. Design for conversions.

Cartoon cinema screen that says Design for conversions
Make sure that your design encourages visitors to read your content, opt in to your list and learn more about your products.

Your website’s design has a huge impact on your customers’ buying decisions. In fact, a study by Rareform New Media found that “48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business”.

When you redesign your website, it’s easy to get pulled into the latest design trends – opting for a site that “looks cool” as opposed to increasing your conversions. However, if your site isn’t increasing your conversions, it’s not doing its job.

Make sure that your design encourages visitors to read your content, opt in to your list and learn more about your products. If you’re not sure how visitors are reacting to your site, you can use heatmap software to see where they look and what they click.

3. Get up to speed.

Cartoon cinema screen that says Get Up To Speed
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

If you only have four seconds to capture a customer’s attention, but your site takes five seconds to load, you’re in trouble.

According to an Akamai study, “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.” Meanwhile, a one-second delay in page-load can cause a 7% loss in customer conversions. 

Look at your bounce rates and determine if your website’s speed is impacting how long visitors stay on each page. Be sure to test your site in different browsers and on different platforms to see how long it takes your pages to load. You can also use the free GTmetrix tool to test your site’s speed.

4. Make your site mobile friendly.

Cartoon cinema screen that says Make your site mobile friendly.
A mobile-friendly site is no longer an option.

A mobile-friendly site is no longer an option.

According to a study by MarginMedia, 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that doesn’t work well on mobile, they take it as an indication that the business doesn’t care.

Google is also giving preference to mobile-friendly sites. If your site isn’t optimized for all devices, your rankings may suffer. 

5. Improve your copy.

Cartoon cinema screen that says Improve your copy
Much B2B copy is boring and robotic. These 5 tips help you improve your copy.

Every word in your marketing has the power to engage leads and convert them into customers. However, much B2B copy is boring and robotic. Here are five ways you can improve your B2B copy:

  • Capture your audience’s attention with strong headlines and intriguing introductions.
  • Use stories to keep readers engaged.
  • Cut the corporate jargon.
  • Focus your copy on your customers – not on yourself.
  • Make sure that all of your content includes a call to action that motivates readers to take the next step.

Also remember that most people don’t read online content word by word. Their eyes dart around the page. Get your key messages across in your headers, sub-headers and introduction to ensure that more customers see them. 

stop-b2b-buyers
Get Instant Access to the FREE Resource
Stop B2B Buyers In Their Tracks!

A 24 Question Checklist That Will Help You Grab Customers’ Attention, Lower Your Bounce Rates and Boost Your Conversions 

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3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download Stop B2B Buyers In Their Tracks! 24 questions you must ask before you publish your next piece of content.

  2. Read “5 Keys to an Amazing B2B Content Experience” to discover why great content is only half of the equation.

  3. 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.

5 Free SEO Tools That Will Help Your Content Get Found

cartoon business man with binoculars

The #1 metric for B2B content marketing success is website traffic. Here are five free tools that will help you get more …

If you publish a blog post, and no one finds it, does it exist?

With 70% of B2B marketers creating more content than they did a year ago, it’s getting harder to make your content stand out from the competition.

One way to – literally – put yourself ahead of your competition is by improving your rankings on Google. The more love you get from Google, the more you can increase your website traffic, blog readership and online conversion rates.  

Here are five free tools that will help your content get found:

1. BuzzSumo

Image of BuzzSumo tool
BuzzSumo shows you which content is trending for your keywords.

 

One of the hardest parts of blogging is finding topics that draw readers in. BuzzSumo shows you which content is trending for your keywords. Simply enter your keywords, and BuzzSumo will display the most-shared content containing those words.

2. Quicksprout Website Analyzer

Example of Quicksprout Grade
Get an SEO grade and recommendations to improve your Google rankings.

 

I recently checked out Quicksprout’s Website Analyzer and learned a lot about my site.

Simply enter your URL and the free tool gives you an SEO grade. It also recommends things you can fix to improve your Google rankings.

For example, do you need to adjust your meta tags, get more social shares or build more backlinks? Is your site too slow? How does it look on a smartphone or tablet?

You can even enter a few of your competitors’ sites to see how yours compares.

3. Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List

Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List
If you want to learn what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to SEO, read this.

It’s time to pull out the big guns …

Backlinko compiled a list of more than 200 of Google’s ranking factors. It includes data on where to place your keywords, how page length impacts your Google rankings and other valuable optimization tips.

If you want to learn what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to SEO, this post is worth a read.

4. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Screen capture of Google Mobile Friendly Test
If your site isn’t optimized for tablets and smartphones, your rankings may suffer.

 

Google now gives preference to sites that are mobile friendly. If your site isn’t optimized for tablets and smartphones, your rankings may suffer. Use this tool to see if your site passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.

5. #SuggestMrx

screen shot of SuggestMrx
Keywords still have their place – especially when it comes to title and meta tags.

 

Google is placing less importance on keywords and more importance on helpful, relevant content. However, keywords still have their place – especially when it comes to title and meta tags.

When you enter a keyword, SuggestMrx will offer a number of related key phrase suggestions. You can search for keywords in domains, such as Google.com, Google.ca and YouTube. You can also narrow your search by language.

These tools can help you bring more leads and customers to your content. But for a bigger SEO boost, regularly add fresh content to your website and blog. According to HubSpot, businesses with websites of 401-1,000 pages receive 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages. The larger number of pages likely results in higher Google rankings and more clicks.

2 planesGet Instant Access to the FREE Blog Post Pre-Flight Checklist

Discover what to include in all of your blog posts to improve your SEO, engage readers and increase your conversions.

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The 4 Pillars You Need to Tell Great B2B Stories

Stories can help you connect with customers on an emotional level, show your value and stand out from the competition. Here’s how to add compelling stories to your B2B marketing mix …

cartoon typewriter that says your story and text that says 4 pillars you need to tell great stories
Discover How to Tell Great B2B Stories

Back in the days of Mad Men, marketers could tell customers how to think and what to buy.

But times have changed.

Customers no longer trust advertising and don’t want to hear companies talk about how great they are.

To stand out, B2B companies must reach customers on an emotional level. I recently spoke with Ira Haberman, Director of Storytelling at Brainrider, about how B2B marketers can use stories to create these connections.

“All B2B companies have a story to tell – whether it’s about technology or piping or financial services,” says Ira. “The best way to connect with your audience is by telling your stories.”

According to Ira, great B2B stories are based on the following four pillars:

1. Your Customers

cartoon people representing customers with their backs to the screen.
Your best stories aren’t about you. They come from your customers.

Your best stories come from your customers.

“Your best stories aren’t about you,” says Ira. “Instead of talking about yourself in a video, show how your customers are using your products and the benefits they are achieving.”

One way to get your customers’ stories is to reach out to your sales and customer service teams. They are on the front line and speak with your customers every day. For example, invite customers to share their success stories. Then you can turn these stories into case studies, testimonials, blog posts and videos.

It’s also important to hear from customers who aren’t happy. Ask reps to send you a list of the top five things customers are complaining about. Then you can address these issues in your content.

You can also hear stories from customers who aren’t achieving success. This will help you learn what you need to do to improve.

Also be sure to speak with potential clients who said “no”. Find out why they decided to go with one of your competitors or maintain the status quo. You may find out that you’re telling the wrong stories.  

2. Your Employees

a cartoon man sitting at a desk cheering
Featuring your employees’ stories can make your company more human and relatable.

Today’s customers don’t want to interact with a logo – they want to interact with people. Featuring your employees’ stories can make your company more human and relatable.

Here are five ways to tell your employees’ stories:

  • Create a video that shows employees talking about why they work for you.
  • Ask employees to write for your blog and share their subject matter expertise. If they don’t have the time to blog, you can ask a ghost writer to interview them and write stories on their behalf.
  • Have employees speak at conferences and other live events.
  • Continually ask for stories. For example, include a “call for stories” in your newsletter. You can also start threads in your internal social network that ask questions such as, “What was your biggest success this month?”
  • Start your employee meetings with a success story.

3. Your Advocates

2 cartoon people sitting a table
Your advocates are champions for your stories.

“Your advocates are champions for your stories,” says Ira. “Connect with them and find out why they love your product or service. Then, when you’re ready to tell a new story, you’ll have lots of information to draw from.”

You likely have advocates who sing your praises online. However, you probably also have power users who aren’t vocal. Reach out to these power users to learn why they use our service and what makes you better than everyone else. When you cultivate these relationships, you can build more advocates.

4. Your Brand

Cartoon hands at a computer.
Focus on how your products or services will make your customers’ lives better.

Your brand stories should be less about you and more about the value you bring customers. Even your “about us” page should focus more on your customers than your brand.

When you talk about your brand, focus on how your products or services will make your customers’ lives better. This will help you show your value and stand out from your competitors.

It’s also important to use personal pronouns in your copy.

“I can’t use personal pronouns enough,” says Ira. “They give your audience a sense of belonging and help to make your stories about your customers.”

When you build stories around these four pillars, you will build an emotional connection with more customers.

You’ll be even more successful if you measure your results on an ongoing basis. This will ensure that you’re telling the right stories. You’ll learn from your hits and misses, so you can better respond to customer needs and improve your marketing ROI.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the B2B Call to Action Cheat Sheet to discover how to get readers to take the next step after they check out your stories.  

  2. Read “5 Ways to Get Your Internal Team to Write for Your B2B Blog” to learn how to get your colleagues to tell their stories. 

  3. 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.

5 Keys to an Amazing B2B Content Experience

Young woman squeezing her hands and smiling in excitement.

Publishing great content is only half of the equation. You also must give your audience a great content experience if you want them to keep coming back for more. Here’s how …   

“If a piece of content is published, and nobody reads it, does it exist?”

This was a question that Hana Abaza asked when she spoke at Pipecon, a B2B marketing and sales pipeline conference in Toronto.

Many B2B marketers produce great content. However, it may not bring them the shares, leads and conversions that they hope for.

According to Hana, VP of Marketing at Uberflip, the problem may not be your content, but your content experience. For example, a lot of prospects may view your content, but you may fail to send them to a landing page where they can opt in for more. Or your content’s format may make it difficult to read.

“If your experience is bad, you’ll lose leads, customers and revenue,” says Hana. “Then, content marketing will turn into a cost center as opposed to a growth driver.”

Hana stated that great content is scanable, actionable, sharable, scalable and you-oriented (SASSY). Here’s how you can make you B2B content SASSY:

1. Scanable

The easier your content is to read, the more likely customers will see the value in reading it.
The easier your content is to read, the more likely customers will see the value in reading it.

Today’s customers are uber busy and don’t have time to dive into a long-form blog post (unless they see immediate value in it). The easier your content is to read, the more likely customers will see the value in reading it.

Here are some ways you can make your content more scanable:

  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Add headers and subheaders to break up long blocks of text.
  • Use bullets and numbered lists.
  • Post write-ups below your videos, in case people don’t want to watch a long video when they only need one point from it. 
  • Make sure your designs include lots of white space.
  • Check how your content looks on mobile devices.

2. Actionable

White shoes on a wooden floor with white arrows.
Every piece of content needs a call to action that asks your audience to take the next step and move further along your funnel.

As marketers, we’re not creating content for the sake of creating content. We’re creating content to attract more leads and turn them into customers. Every piece of content needs a call to action that asks your audience to take the next step and move further along your funnel.

Think about how Ikea stores have arrows on the floor that guide you to exactly where the company wants you to go. Where do you want people to go after they check out your content? Do you want them to view other content, register for a webinar, subscribe to your blog, sign up for a demo or do something else? Include a call to action that asks them to take the next step. 

It’s also important to pair the right call to action with the right content. For example, you don’t want to promote a “Marketing 101” ebook on the same page as a blog post about advanced marketing. Make sure that your ads and calls to action align with your content.   

3. Sharable

 

Hands Holding Speech Bubbles with Social Media Words
Is your content worth sharing?

Is your content worth sharing?

One way to make your content sharable is by focusing on topics that matter to your target audience. The more they see themselves in your content, the more they will share it. Ask your sales and customer service teams what questions they get from customers. Then, address these questions in your content.

Another way to get more shares is by asking. For example, you can include a line at the end of an email that asks readers to forward it to a colleague. You should also make sure your social sharing icons are easy to see and use on mobile devices.

4. Scalable

Make your content scalable.
Now is the time to provide your audience with a great mobile experience.

Hana stated that “scalable” content is content that scales to any screen size.

Google is placing more importance on mobile-friendly websites. If your content isn’t optimized for mobile, your Google rankings may decrease. In addition to the wrath of Google, you’ll also face lower conversion rates if people can’t interact with your content on mobile devices.

Now is the time to provide your audience with a great mobile experience.  You can use this Google tool to determine if your website is mobile friendly.

5. You-Oriented

hands of creation
“Very few people think about optimizing their content experience,” says Hana. “Doing so can give you a huge advantage.”

 Much B2B content talks too much about products and features. However, your audience doesn’t want to know about how great your products are. Instead, they want content that helps them solve their top challenges.

Here are some ways to make your content “you-oriented” and focus on your customers:

  • Personalize your content.
  • Segment your audience and provide them with relevant content.
  • Review your website and ask if it’s easy for your prospects and customers to find what they need.
  • Use the Customer Focus Calculator to see what percentage of your copy speaks to your customers versus speaks about yourself. 

“Very few people think about optimizing their content experience,” says Hana. “Doing so can give you a huge advantage.”

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the B2B Call to Action Cheat Sheet to discover how to get readers to take the next step after viewing your content. 

  2. Read “How to Attract B2B Customers With Personalized Content” to learn how to craft “you-oriented” content that engages customers.

  3. 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.

How to Get More Value From Your Articles

Articles and blog posts are a B2B marketing power tool. Here’s how to get more value from all of your articles, so you can reach a wider audience, attract more leads and turn them into customers …

picture of a typewriter and a megaphone talking to different media
Articles and blog posts are a B2B marketing power tool. Make sure you get the most from them.

 

Articles – including blog posts – are one of the top B2B marketing tactics.

And with good reason …

They can enhance your thought leadership, improve your SEO and bring more targeted leads to your content. Articles are also useful for educating and nurturing leads throughout your sales cycle.

According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 81% of B2B marketers are using articles on their websites. Meanwhile, 80% are blogging.

B2B Content Marketing Tactic Usage Research Chart
Image source: 2015 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

 

However, many B2B marketers bury articles on their websites and hope customers will find them. Or, they promote a new blog post the day it comes out and then move on to the next thing.

Here are seven ways to get more value from your articles:

1. Interlink your articles and blog posts.

Coloured circles that are linked by lines.
Linking your articles lowers bounce rates and keep visitors on your site longer.

 

Many marketers focus on bringing visitors to their website. While this is important, it’s even more important to keep them there once they arrive.

One way you can do this is by linking all of your articles to related content. When someone scans one of your articles, they will see where you have related content and can click for more information. This will lower your bounce rates and keep visitors on your site longer.

Interlinking your posts also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content. This can improve your SEO.

Take Action: Read your last five blog posts or articles and see if you have the opportunity to link to any of your existing articles, premium content or product pages.

2. Make it easy for readers to tweet your content.

Map of the world in chalk with twitter birds and hashtags
Make it easy for your busy readers to share your content by providing them with pre-written tweets.

 

Have you ever pressed a “tweet now” button on a blog post only to have a blank box appear? If so, how often do you decide not to tweet something, because you don’t want to type the name of the blog post or copy and paste a link?

You’re not lazy, you’re just busy.

Make it easy for your busy readers to share your content by providing them with pre-written tweets. This also gives you more control over what people are saying about you on social media. You can hand select your juiciest quotes and insert your top hashtags.

[ctt title=”Pre-written “tweetable” quotes make it easy for readers to share your content. Tweet this now! ” tweet=”Pre-written “tweetable” quotes make it easy for readers to share your content.” coverup=”44K2d”]

Take Action: Check out www.clicktotweet.com. It’s a free service that lets you add tweetable quotes to your WordPress site.

3. Always include a call to action.

Picture of man's hand on a keyboard and a computer screen that says add your text here
Always include a call to action in your articles that asks readers to take the next step.

 

Many B2B marketers create amazing content that educates buyers and leaves them wanting more. But then they leave readers hanging.

Always include a call to action in your articles that asks readers to take the next step. FYI – contacting a sales rep is usually too big of a step for someone who just stumbled upon your article online.

However, you can ask them to check out another piece of content, register for a webinar or download a white paper.

Take Action: Read “How to Turbocharge Your List Building With Content Upgrades” to learn about a new call to action that is making waves in the marketing community.

4. Use images.

computer screen full of images
Articles with images receive 94% more views than those without.

 

Articles with images receive 94% more views than those without. In addition to capturing a reader’s attention, images can also improve your SEO. The better you optimize your images, the more your articles will get found.

A new study has also found that consumers are moving to image-focused social networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram. Since what people do at home carries into how they behave at work, it may be worthwhile to include “Pinterest-worthy” images in your articles.

You can also turn some of your existing articles into infographics to make use of images, repurpose your content and reach a wider audience.

Take Action: Review the images in your last five articles or blog posts. Are they something you would want to share on Pinterest? If not, how can you make your images more interesting?

5. Use your own data in your articles.

A rocket flying over a data chart
Using your own data gives you something unique and highly sharable.

 

According to a B2B Content Preferences Survey, 59.9% of B2B buyers strongly believe that vendors need more data and research to support their content.

While using others’ data can lend credibility to your articles, using your own data gives you something unique and highly sharable.

According to Derek Singleton, Analyst at  Software Advice, “When you publish primary research, you’re not repurposing what everyone else has said. This makes your content more powerful, as it’s supported by original, qualitative data.”

Take Action: Read “How Original Research Can Help Your B2B Technology Company Stand Out” to learn what types of data best engages technology buyers.

6. Turn your articles into SlideShare presentations.

SlideShare is an overlooked B2B social network. According to SlideShare, most of its 60 million monthly users are business professionals. They use the site to find information that will help them do their jobs better.

One great thing about using SlideShare is that you can insert lead capture forms directly into your presentations. SlideShare notifies you when you have a new lead and provides analytics on how your presentations and forms are performing.

SlideShare also integrates directly with LinkedIn. This means that every presentation you upload to SlideShare can boost your presence on LinkedIn.

Take Action: Read your last five blog posts or articles and determine if any of them would make good presentations that you can upload to SlideShare.

7. Turn a group of articles into a white paper or ebook.

Laptop with a collection eBooks
Pulling your best articles into an ebook or a white paper is a great way to make your content live longer, reach a wider audience and influence more buying decisions.

 

Creating a large piece of content – such as a white paper or ebook –can be a daunting project. One way to make this task easier is by collecting your existing articles and turning them into something larger.

This is also a great way to “save” your best articles. Blog posts and articles often get buried in websites. Pulling your best articles into an ebook or a white paper is a great way to make your content live longer, reach a wider audience and influence more buying decisions.  

Take Action: Review your marketing goals and select a topic for a white paper or ebook. Do you have any articles that can form the basis for this content?

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download the B2B Blog Post Pre-Flight Checklist, so you can ensure that all of your articles hit the mark with your readers.
  2. Read “How to Turbocharge Your List Building With Content Upgrades” to learn about a new call to action that is making waves in the marketing community.
  3. 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.

 

7 Keys to Successful Content Marketing

The Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) held a panel on how to get better results from your content marketing efforts. Here are seven things that every B2B content marketer must know …

camp

One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is getting traction.

You may publish an amazing, thought-provoking article on your blog but then nothing happens.

No shares … no comments … no rush of new leads calling …

How can you get more of your ideal customers to read and share your content?

The Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) held a panel on how to get more mileage from your content. Here are the top seven things that I learned from the panelists:

1. Stop thinking like a publisher and start thinking like a reporter.

Mark Evans, author of Storytelling for Startups, believes that many marketers produce content for the sake of producing content. When they do this, they often sacrifice quality for quantity.  However, Mark has seen marketers get better results when they focus on telling compelling stories with interesting angles.

2. Ask your customers for help.

According to Cassandra Jowett, Content Marketing Manager at Influitive, marketers don’t need to go it alone. You likely have an army of customers, fans and evangelists – or advocates  – who are willing to help. Invite them into a formal advocate marketing program where they can take an active role in your sales, marketing and product development. For example, they may share your content, participate in beta tests or send you referrals.   

Jowett said, “People naturally refer others to companies all the time. But you can scale this way up if you put a formal process in place.”

3. Lead customers on a journey.

Randy Frisch, COO/Co-Founder of Uberflip, loves getting content on LinkedIn. Once he goes on the site, he gets drawn into the web of interesting content. Frisch says marketers should mirror this experience by leading customers on a content journey.

Include a call to action at the end of all of your content that invites customers to take the next step. For example, you can ask them to check out more in-depth content or attend a webinar.

“Your call to action shouldn’t be generic,” said Frisch. “You need to make the right ask at the right time.”

4. Focus on your customers.

Today’s customers can smell a sales pitch a mile away. If you’re constantly pitching your products or services, you’ll bore customers and cause them to tune out. The panelists stressed the importance of creating customer-focused, not product-focused, content. According to Jowett, “Your content should be useful without being salesy. Then, customers can draw their own conclusions about what they should and shouldn’t buy.”

5. Content should come from your entire team.

The panelists believe that content marketing shouldn’t be one person’s job. It should be a company-wide mindset, where everyone produces content. This takes some of the pressure off the marketing team, so they don’t feel obligated to spend all of their time producing content. It also leads to more diverse stories, different insights and better content.

However, you also need a content marketing evangelist to oversee your content strategy. This person can empower others to produce content by providing them with the right training and tools.

6. Compare your content against your goals.

According to Frisch, many marketers think content is successful if it gets tons of shares or views. However, you must step back and look at your goals for a piece of content to determine if it was successful. Was your top goal to get a lot of views? Or was it to generate B2B leads? If you don’t know how many leads you’re getting, it may not matter if you get a lot of views.   

7. Be honest.

The panelists’ most successful content included blog posts and videos about their mistakes. Customers will view your company as more human when you admit your mistakes. Being honest and talking about your failures can help you build stronger relationships with customers.  

As you can see, the panelists at CAMP’s event shared a lot of wonderful content marketing insights. Follow their advice to get more traction from all of your content.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Read “5 Ways Small B2B Marketing Teams Can Win at Content Marketing” to learn how to get better results from your content when you don’t have a lot of time or resources.
  2. Read “10 Steps to an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy” to learn how to create a content strategy that brings you results.
  3. 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.

 

How to Attract B2B Customers With Personalized Content

Personalizing your content can help you attract more customers and stand out from the competition. And it may not take as much time or effort as you think …

How To Attract B2B Customers

Today’s marketers are producing more content than ever.

According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago. 

With this flood of new content, it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd. But, unfortunately, most of this content is generic and doesn’t help customers make informed buying decisions.

B2B buyers want to read content that speaks directly to their needs, challenges and goals. Your content must be relevant if you want to engage buyers and stand apart from your competition.

jakeI had the opportunity to speak with Jake Coventry, owner of Matizmo, on the topic of content personalization. According to Jake, B2B marketers have a lot to lose if they don’t personalize their content.

“If you use generic content – or if your content only speaks to a small subset of your audience, you’ll miss out,” said Jake. “You’ll lose leads, customers and sales.”  

Are You Creating Too Much Content?

Content personalization allows you to speak to each of your audiences – without creating completely new content for each audience.

For example, you may spend a lot of time creating completely unique white papers for a range of audiences. With content personalization, you can start with one basic white paper and then change parts of it – such as the case studies and introduction – to speak to a specific audience.

Then, all of your leads can go to the same landing page. From there, they simply select their role or industry to automatically receive a custom white paper.

How Personalized Content Engages B2B Customers

B2B marketers can learn a thing or two from the consumer space.

Today, consumers can customize just about everything – from organic produce boxes to shoes. For example, when someone designs a pair of NIKEiD sneakers, they’ll be more likely to build an emotional connection with the brand. They’ll be proud of their design and want to show it off to their friends.

Jake believes that if you allow leads to have a say in their content, they’ll engage more with you.

“B2B buyers don’t like to complete opt-in forms. However, they’ll be more likely to complete a form if they know that they’ll receive customized content at the end,” said Jake.

If they don’t answer your questions correctly, the content won’t reflect their needs. The more information they provide, the more relevant their content will be. Plus, you’ll receive higher quality sales leads. It’s a win-win.

The Key to Attracting Customers With Personalized Content

There are endless ways you can customize your content. For example, you can personalize it based on a customer’s role, industry, company size or stage in the sales cycle.

But for your personalization efforts to work, you must find out what makes your customers tick.

“Companies get caught up in creating tons of buyer personas and forget what customers want from their content,” said Jake. “Think of the key people who use your service and what they want to know. Make sure your content is speaks to their needs and is useful.” 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Read “5 Keys to Creating Content That Engages Different Verticals to learn how to maintain a consistent voice when personalizing content for with different audiences. 
  2. Read about the missing link to B2B content marketing success to learn how to fill the gaps in your content and better engage customers.  
  3. 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.