Who do you trust? If you’re like two thirds of B2B buyers (64%), you consider user-generated feedback, peer reviews, and third-party publications and analysts as credible sources of information. That’s according to the Demand Gen Report “2018 Content Preferences Survey Report.”
As consumers and business buyers, we trust what we consider objective and knowledgeable sources to give us reliable information. After all, they don’t have a vested interest in the company or its products and services.
As B2B marketers, we can seek out these objective and respected voices to speak for our brand.
If you’re not looking to these third parties to help you create content, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity. Not only will they add credibility to your content, but they will also help you generate more content—faster and more easily.
There are three avenues you can pursue: user-generated content, advocacy, and influencer marketing. Each offers slightly different opportunities and advantages. What’s the difference among these three? Glad you asked.
User-Generated Content: Taking a Page From B2C
When we’re not wearing our professional hats, we rely on product reviews on Yelp, Amazon and just about every website we visit when we’re looking for opinions on restaurants, hotels, sites to see, shoes, and anything else we want to buy. It’s no surprise that our consumer behavior is now spilling over into our business life.
G2 Crowd is one of the leaders in this arena, offering software and services reviews for business buyers. Looking for Marketing Automation software? Get 125 reviews and see where the brands fall in the Grid® Scoring.
User-generated content is about to become a big play in B2B. If you’re not looking at sites like G2 Crowd, beware. It could be a big mistake. You need to see what people are saying about your brand so that you can help move it to the leader quadrant.
Then there are those customers that you know love you.
Advocacy: Let Your Customers Sing Your Praises
If you have happy customers, let them share their experiences with others. Advocacy is all about finding customers who are excited about your product and turning them into successful members of your sales and marketing team.
A formal customer advocacy program can be a powerful component of your content marketing strategy. Begin with a pilot program if you’re not ready for a full-blown one.
In a Marketing Insider Group article, “Why Customer Advocacy Should Be at the Heart of Your Marketing,” author Brian Carroll cites IDC research showing 67% of B2B companies had a customer advocacy program in place in 2017, up from 10% just the year before.
Laura Ramos, Forrester VP and principal analyst, in her report, “Advocate Marketing Creates B2B Customer Relationships That Last A Lifetime,” says, “The most powerful tool B2B marketers have in today’s hyper-connected world is genuine word of mouth from their customers…”
We can have customers spread the word through social media channels like blogs and YouTube, at live events, or in other content you create. And they don’t have to be limited to talking about your products. They can also serve as thought leaders.
Influencer Marketing: Reaching the Hard-to-Reach
What about those who may not be customers, but can still have a major influence over potential buyers? Influencer marketing is no longer a fad; it’s an important component of your marketing strategy.
What is an influencer? It’s someone who has the credibility and reach to change the opinion and behavior of others.
Besides adding credibility and clout to your content, influencers amplify your content to a broader audience and give authenticity to your content and your brand.
The facts support this. A 2016 TapInfluence study with Nielsen Catalina Solutions shows that influencer marketing content delivers an 11X higher ROI than traditional digital marketing.
In the “2018 Content Preferences Survey Report,” 65% of those surveyed said they prefer credible content from industry influencers.
Influencers don’t have to be highly paid consultants or industry analysts. They’re simply people who have a strong following in social media communities that you’re trying to reach. They might be professionals in the industry, journalists, or bloggers.
Don’t forget about two often overlooked sources for influencers: Partners (anyone with whom you have a strategic relationship) and internal influencers who are recognized industry thought leaders.
Where do influencers make their voices heard? Videos, podcasts, social media communities, webcasts, and blog posts can all be in the mix.
Users, Advocates, and Influencers, Oh My!
Incorporated into your overall strategy, users, advocates, and influencers can have a major impact on your content marketing success. If you don’t know where to start, or don’t have the resources to do it all yourself, you can look to trusted outside resources to help you develop your strategy, put a program in place, find influencers, or develop your content.