In the previous installment of this series, I highlighted how B2B marketers use content marketing and some of the pros / cons associated with it.
Content marketing is all about building a long-term relationship by establishing your brand’s messaging and providing value to your customers. However, implementing such a strategy can be difficult since marketers need to consider how content fits the context of their business and the conversations taking place in the Social space. An important step in the content marketing process is to understand your customers, and more importantly their consumption behavior. How does a B2B customer search for content, and what are they looking for during their search for content?
Consumption Behavior of B2B Customers
Since B2B customers could be anyone working in a company, marketers need to focus their efforts based on consumption behavior. B2B customers are looking for relevant and engaging content that provides insights or helps them solve potential problems they face. In addition, these customers also look for information that helps them in a decision making process.
When it comes to B2B products / services, most customers do not know where to look or how to determine the best company to buy a product from. In order to solve this issue they take to Social channels or ask their peers via Social Media. Marketers need to be active in such channels so that they can voice their brand and discuss product offerings. However, sharing only text content can get repetitive and make customers lose interest. Marketers should diversify their content to include more visual content that makes it easy to consume and helps promote a positive brand image.
Above all else B2B customers are looking for information, and by providing content that meets their needs marketers control the brand perception and any subsequent interactions with the customer. This allows for a consistent, positive messaging that reinforces the company image and helps gain the customers’ trust. In addition, content should be readily available and easily accessible for customers. Social has changed the customer-brand interaction and marketers need to leverage this new dynamic to drive brand engagement and loyalty.
Next we’ll be looking at some best practice examples, and how two very different companies leveraged content marketing strategies for their business.
A great example of a content marketing best practice can be found at Hubspot. Hubspot uses a micro-targeted approach for their content marketing campaigns. They shared personalized content that is relevant for each of their target audiences. Hubspot uses audience segmentation based on marketing personas and lifecycle stages, which can be found in the table below:
Hubspot then nurtures their leads by combining the marketing personas with various prospects based on their position in the buying cycle. For example, if Hubspot identifies the Marketing Mary persona to be considering a purchase they formulate a variety of content offers depicted in the table below:
Xerox established their content marketing best practice in a different manner. In an effort to gain more leads and improve readership, Xerox created a targeted campaign to connect with their top 30 accounts. They also partnered with Forbes to create a magazine that offered relevant business tips to its customers.
The campaign was a huge success as 70 percent of the targeted companies interacted with the microsite. In addition, readership increased by 300 – 400 percent and Xerox added 20,000 new contacts, which subsequently led to more than 1,000 scheduled appointments. This campaign by Xerox not only allowed them to reach their intended goals, but also yielded $1.3 billion in pipeline revenue.
Shown below is a screenshot of the magazine used in this campaign:
While both examples vary in their approach, they have one underlying goal: create value for the customer. Hubspot segments their customer base and shares content that is relevant to a particular target segment. By doing so, Hubspot not only creates a more efficient process for content curation, but also leverages personalization of content being shared.
Xerox on the other hand targets a much wider audience of potential leads and existing customers by providing pertinent and useful information that helps across their different user base. In this case, Xerox collaborated with Forbes to publish their content, which yielded significant revenue for their campaign.
In Part 4 of this series, I will be highlighting my recommendations when adopting a customer focused marketing strategy, and some content marketing predictions for 2014 from various experts and practitioners.
For more content on this topic you can follow the series on Twitter at #CMforB2B or by clicking here. Please feel free to share your comments on this post or the series below.