It’s well known that content marketing is most effective for B2B companies. That being said, just because manufacturers and other B2B industries understand that they need to emphasize that element of marketing doesn’t mean they know what form it should take or what content they should prioritize. In fact, 82 percent of B2B companies don’t think their own content marketing efforts are effective.
That’s not to say they aren’t trying. B2B content marketing is expected to rise this year, with three-quarters of respondents in a Content Marketing Institute study saying they expect to produce more content than they did in 2015. It makes sense—93 percent of B2B purchases begin with a simple web search and content marketing is the most effective way to rise up the search rankings.
Suppliers have a unique set of challenges in converting sales leads. Their prospects are more methodical during the purchase process, and several people usually make the buying decisions, not just one person. For manufacturers to create content that actually helps move prospects along the buying journey, they must hone the focus on these unique issues.
1. Create content for each decision-maker
Personalization means something different when marketing B2B manufacturing. It involves focusing on the different positions in a company involved in choosing a supplier and the different questions they want answered.
Start with defining your buyer personas well. Know the questions a company’s buyer will ask versus those that a CFO or CEO will. Go into detail about the basics of your company and its products often so your content shows up when a prospect is looking for it. Then, use more intensively focused pieces like case studies or profiles of established customers of yours to address the concerns members of the C-suite may have.
Use the experiences you’ve had courting previous customers to anticipate new prospects’ challenges. Questions and concerns recur, so use that to your benefit and have the content ready to answer them beforehand.
2. Go beyond thought leadership
Prioritize using the “expert voice” in your inbound content, the logical conclusion of a more professional sales interaction. B2B prospects don’t care about the emotional components found in B2C marketing; they just want to hear the facts from a thought leader in the industry.
But that alone does not make content compelling. Pair expert commentary with the criteria mentioned in the previous point by answering the questions and concerns of prospects by providing use cases and success stories.
Your thought leadership content should take the form of good journalistic writing. Have a clear point to make, use empirical evidence to demonstrate it, tie it into a larger point, and provide valuable, actionable insight. By doing so, you create content that informs and compels action.
3. Tailor content to the different stages of the buyer’s journey
Focus your content marketing focuses on raising awareness. That ties directly into attracting prospects and is, understandably, the top priority. But you must do a great deal of work beyond that to build on that awareness and convert prospects into customers.
As a manufacturer, you can’t ignore the inbound marketing elements of lead nurturing and customer retention. Nurturing prospects along the purchasing journey requires some variety. You can’t just hammer them over the head with thought leadership piece after thought leadership piece. Retention-focused content, too, needs to find new ways to keep customers engaged and pleased about their association with your company.
Use targeted emails (not too frequently, of course) to start or continue a dialogue with prospects. Utilize platforms you may consider to be solely the purview of B2C marketing. YouTube videos, for example, are a great way to tell a story about how your products are involved in other companies’ day-to-day successes.
Content marketing takes on greater importance for manufacturers simply because there is so much room for improvement in B2B inbound marketing on the whole. By focusing on these points, you’ll not only get better at drawing prospects closer to your company, but you’ll also gain an edge on those in your industry failing to properly adapt.