B2B content marketing sounds like a rather self-important label for old-school copywriting, and in fact many content marketers were at one time copywriters. So, what has changed, and is content marketing really any different from copywriting?
The answer is yes it is, and today it really has to be.
Because to ensure your website stays visible on an overcrowded Internet, with any guarantee of your marketing communications being read, and to create customer trust, engagement and loyalty, your content needs to work very hard indeed.
The reality is that today, prospects and existing customers don’t have the time to read lengthy copy; they want information quickly, and in these crowded and unreliable markets, where anecdotes often pass as facts, they need to have complete trust in your brand before they’ll even consider buying from your enterprise.
Here are five steps you can take to win over these elusive B2B prospects, and convert them to loyal customers.
1. Understanding your audience
Where old-school copywriting and content marketing vary most is in the level of understanding content marketers must have of your target audience in order to communicate with them effectively.
That is because unlike ‘static’ copywriting, content marketing is not the beginning of a one-sided monologue; it’s the start of a real conversation which will grow and become ever-more personal as engagement develops, so knowing what your targets want to hear is critical to success.
This level of insight requires careful research which will allow you to create a profile of your ideal customer, known as a buyer persona. This profile or persona is the very target you will need to engage with and convert to make a sale, and the process is as relevant to B2C as it is to B2B marketing
2. Building engagement
To build engagement with your prospects and existing customers, B2B marketing content must be proactive and be served not only on your website but across different platforms such as email marketing or, more effectively, via a marketing automation (MA) programme.
This proactive approach means that you can reach out to prospects through email in a way that starts to build value into the conversation as recipients begin to recognise that you are thinking about what they want and drawing them back to your website to offer them more information.
3. Personalising the conversation
As this communications programme progresses, so your understanding of prospect and customer buyer personas will grow, and your marketing content in both email and website content will become ever-more closely targeted to each individual recipient’s needs.
As you analyse recipient feedback and continue to build on your buyer personas, this personalisation process develops further as email and web marketing content guide your target audience through the sales journey, to conversion and sales.
A sale in the B2C space may be as simple as a mouse click, but in B2B, this conversion point is most likely to be a call to a meeting, because while your B2B prospect may have already decided on your product or service, high value transactions will normally be concluded face to face.
4. Creating trust
While this email and web marketing content will be guiding prospects and existing customers on the buying journey, to ensure these individuals convert and buy from you, there has to be a strong element of trust in both your enterprise and your products.
This is where good content marketers, and great marketing content win out over static content, as it is the interactive nature of dynamic communications that create an understanding of your company, its products and ultimately develops trust in your offer
5. Sustaining long-term loyalty
If your content marketers understand the buyer personas they are talking to, and can resonate with them throughout the buying journey, your target recipients will learn to trust your company and at the end of the journey, buy from you or set up a meeting to close a B2B deal.
Having built a level of trust through content marketing interactivity, this relationship can be sustained and grown over time through light-touch nurturing emails, guiding recipients to new products on your website, or even third-party websites with published comparative reviews between your products and others in the marketplace.
This light-touch nurturing, and the ongoing offer of relevant information will help build the long-term relationship you need to sustain loyalty, and place your company front of mind when your audience thinks about the type of products you offer.
And that’s the true difference between static, one-hit copy and dynamic, interactive marketing content. Marketing content is produced by skilled content marketers who work to learn how your customers think and know how to develop a conversation with them that ultimately engages and converts prospects to loyal brand advocates for you and what you have to offer them.