Content marketing in the B2B space can seem difficult. After all, your company’s products and services are a little more niche and a lot less sexy than most consumer goods. Despite all that, it is possible to create great content for your B2B that generates leads and enhances your brand reputation. Not only is it possible, but it’s necessary as more and more industrial sourcing is done online. So how do you develop successful content for your B2B? It just takes these 5 simple steps:
#1 Identify a target
Or, as writers like to say, know your audience. You need to have an idea of who you’re writing to in order to create successful content for your B2B. As the content creators, we really only see our half of the process—the creation—which means from time to time we fail to account for the fact that content is a conversation with other people.
So, who is your target audience? It’s the people who are buying and using your product or service. For example, if you manufacture components for motorcycle engines, your target audience could be Sourcing Specialists or Product Engineers at a motorcycle manufacturer. Learn as much as you can about this target audience, what challenges they face in their role, what they’re looking for in a supplier, and how your product or service offerings could make their jobs easier.
#2 Say something worth saying
Once you know who your target audience is, and what they do, use that information to create content that is relevant to the challenges they face and the value your offerings could have for them and their company. Overtly promotional content that is focused on your company/service/product is not going to engage your readers—it needs to be useful to your readers; so, instead of a post outlining all the reasons why your company is the best supplier of your product, say auto parts for example, write a post on how to select the right auto parts supplier. That will be content that is both useful and relevant to your readers. Not only do you help them with one of their challenges—finding good suppliers for the components they need—you frame frame your company as one of those good suppliers.
#3 Say it well
We know that your engineers and technical guys are smart, and that they know what they’re talking about. But your readers might not know what they’re talking about, and the content you create needs to be accessible to your readers. That means it needs to be well-written (good grammar is important), it needs to use the right keywords for SEO (search engine optimization), and it can’t be too technical for your audience to understand—so don’t let your engineers write your content. Don’t. (Or if you do, have it edited by a writer.)
#4 Promote like crazy
If good content is published on your site and no one reads it, does it still compel your target audience? No! For your content to be successful, people need to see it, and to see it, they need to know it exists. How? Promotion. When you publish new content, you need to let your target audience know where it is and that they should check it out. Share it on LinkedIn, include a link in your email newsletter, use all relevant platforms to get the word out, and get people interested.
#5 Set a schedule
Nothing will kill your readership like sporadic publication. Once you know how to create quality content, do it on a regular basis. Quantity is almost as important as quality here, so make sure you’re posting at least once per month. This keeps your company fresh in the minds of your target audience, and ensures that what you’re creating really is successful.
If you follow these guidelines, and you follow them regularly, your content is going to start to attract readers from your target audience. So long as you keep them interested, those readers will convert to leads, eventually becoming clients! If you have more questions about creating compelling, successful content for your B2B, or even if you’re looking for a hand with your manufacturing company’s inbound marketing strategy, give the experts at Evenbound a call. We can help.
What if we told you there was a way to get clients to call your B2B sales team, instead of the other way around? You’d be interested, right? Well there is a way to do this, and it’s called inbound marketing. The principle is simple: produce content that attracts leads to you, rather than traditional methods of push marketing, in which you put yourself in front of the potential lead, whether they wanted you to or not. (Want a longer explanation? Check our complete guide to inbound marketing.)
More than ever, buyers are performing thorough online research before making purchases. This isn’t just the case in the consumer market; B2B clients are using online search to increase their efficiency when sourcing products and services for their businesses. What that means is that a digital presence, and an effective one, is crucial for any B2B manufacturer or service provider who wants to stay competitive. Using inbound marketing in that digital strategy can support your sales team in many ways.
Creating content that is useful to your potential buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey is one of the ways that inbound optimizes your B2B sales team’s time. If your clients can get the information they need about the product or service you provide from your website, without ever having to call you, that means that a) when they do call, they’re qualified leads and b) your sales team is spending less time fielding calls about general awareness topics from unqualified parties who are not ready to make a purchase decision. Awareness stage content will inform readers about the value of your product or service and allows them to self-qualify or disqualify, before ever making contact with sales.
This content also helps you to build buyer trust. Buyers are more skeptical than ever of salespeople, who ultimately have an agenda—make a sale. When you create content on relevant topics that address the needs, concerns, and challenges that your potential customers face without an obvious sales pitch or pressure to make a purchase, these readers come to trust and appreciate your brand.
The formula is simple: produce quality content → attract leads → make sales. If your content is informative and compelling enough, it can practically make the sales for you. Investing time writing content saves you time—you invest the time writing once, but it’s read numerous times—and effort—non-leads will disqualify themselves, and buyers at the decision stage will contact you. When your B2B sales team isn’t busy fielding calls for awareness stage information, they can focus their energy on qualified leads who are ready to make purchases, and investing their time in these leads will increase sales and produce satisfied customers.
If you’re interested in what inbound marketing can do to support your B2B sales team, or how you can implement digital marketing strategies for your company, let’s talk. For more information on inbound marketing for B2B manufacturers, check out our comprehensive guide.
If you’re not using LinkedIn as part of your marketing strategy, you are missing out on an insane number of leads—LinkedIn is the top lead-generating social network for B2Bs. In addition to creating a company page, connecting with industry professionals, and publishing and promoting engaging content on LinkedIn, you should also be taking advantage of LinkedIn ads to target your ideal clients.
What’s a LinkedIn ad like?
If you’re an active LinkedIn user, you’ve likely seen LinkedIn ads in the sidebar or underneath the navigation bar, and in many ways they’re similar to the ads you’ll see on other social networks or on Google partner site: ad copy and a link, oftentimes with a logo or other small image or video. LinkedIn offers both text-and-image ads and video ads, as well as some larger ad formats, on a PPC (pay-per-click) or cost-per impression basis.
As with any digital ad, a good LinkedIn ad will have compelling copy that encourages viewers to click, upon which they are directed to a landing page where, ideally, they’ll convert to leads.
So what’s so great about LinkedIn ads?
LinkedIn has over 450 million members, and it captures information from these users on their on job titles, industries, company names, and more, all of which can be useful in targeting users who are potential clients. LinkedIn ads can be very specifically targeted by criteria that is relevant to your marketing strategy, industries, companies, company sizes, job titles, job functions, seniority, location, and more. According to the 2016 Salesforce Advertising Index Report, the audience of a LinkedIn ad has two times the buying power of the average web audience. What this means is that you can put your ads in front of the exact people who will have use for your product or service, and will have purchasing power, in a way that you can’t target them on any other platform.
Additionally, LinkedIn provides reporting on ad campaigns that includes aggregated data on who clicked on your ads by job title, industry, and seniority. This information is extremely useful in determining the effectiveness of your ads; is your target audience clicking? If not, you can use this information to make adjustments to your campaign.
What does this mean for you?
Using LinkedIn ads can generate leads like crazy. For example, if your company does plastic injection molding of components for automotive interiors, you can target your LinkedIn ad to product designers and sourcing specialists at the Big Three automotive OEMs. You’ll maximize your PPC budget by reducing clicks from users with no lead potential, since your ad won’t be reaching those users, unlike in paid search, where your ad is tied to a search term that is not necessarily completely specific to your target audience, and you’ll know that your target audience is seeing your ad, instead of trying to predict their search behavior.
Marketing for B2Bs has never been easy. Your audience is different than the general consumer market, and your product or service is esoteric, technical, and industry-specific. If your company is like many B2Bs, your marketing efforts are limited to industry trade shows and networking, if you do any marketing at all; if you make or do something super niche, you might be relying on limited competition and industry reputation to garner sales. In the digital age, those strategies are no longer as effective as they once were–integrating digital marketing techniques into your marketing strategy can help keep your company competitive as the marketing landscape changes.
If you have an unsexy, complicated product, how do you market it? There’s a reason your product exists, and a reason that you produce it: businesses in a specific industry need it. So what you need to do is educate your potential clients on what your product is and why they need it. Digital marketing for B2Bs comes into play when you create informative, educational content on your product/service and make that content available to prospective clients where they can find it–online, when they’re searching for your product or for solutions to the problems that your product solves.
Content serving consumers throughout the buyer’s journey
Since buying cycles are long for B2B purchases–if the equipment you’re selling costs $1M+, you can expect a long consideration stage before a customer commits to purchasing–you can keep your brand and your service or product top of mind for your potential customers throughout their buyer’s journey by providing content that addresses their needs, questions, and concerns at each stage. Your awareness stage content will inform readers about what your service or product is and does, consideration stage content will show the value of investing in your product or service, and decision stage content will prove why future customers should make this purchase now, and why you’re the right supplier to purchase from. You can tailor content format to buyer’s journey stages, as well; perhaps a e-book to provide them awareness information then a free trial when they’re in consideration.
Addressing each of the decision makers
Additionally, when it comes to B2B purchases, there are numerous decision makers. Often there is a long chain of necessary approvals before a business purchase can be made. Creating content that addresses these different audiences and expedite this process. The person who is purchasing your product or service will need informative content on how your service or product works, and how that will improve their process or efficiency; those who the purchaser needs approval from will be interested in information on cost vs, benefits: ROI, impact on bottom line, etc. Type of content matters here, too. While purchasers will be interested in long-form content like e-books and blog posts, a purchase approve is going to want something that is easily digestible and understood, like an infographic.
Marketing in the world of B2Bs can seem impossible, but digital marketing provides new opportunities for B2Bs to reach their ideal audience and provide them with the information necessary to make informed purchase decisions.
If you have questions on how your B2B company can develop a digital marketing strategy, contact us. For more information on optimizing your B2B’s digital marketing strategy, check out our case study of a cleanroom manufacturer we worked with below:
When it comes to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, you’re going to hear the same old adage repeated everywhere, “You have to spend money to make money.” While that’s true, it’s still important to be smart with how you spend it, especially since it’s easy to run through your PPC budget. Click costs are high, but there are several things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best possible return on your PPC costs.
1. Bid on Brand
Bidding on brand is essentially bidding on terms that are part of your brand, like your business name. This can be beneficial for numerous reasons:
It’s highly relevant to your business, duh, it is your business
People searching for your brand are already aware of your brand and closer to the decision stage (i.e., likely to convert)
Branded terms are usually inexpensive
You don’t want your competitors to bid on them
If your business is like many B2Bs and your product/service/industry is in your company name, it will show up in results for people searching for what you do
2. Optimize Deployment
Make sure your ads are optimized for location, dates, and time of day that generate the most qualified leads. Showing your ads when your ideal customers won’t see them isn’t generating you many qualified leads or conversions, so focus your efforts only on those locations and times that demonstrate high clickthrough and conversion rates. This is particularly relevant for B2Bs; with consumer products, people may be searching keywords at all times, but with B2B products and services, your customers are likely performing their searches during business hours–target your ads for those times.
3. Use Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are keywords for which your ad won’t show. Using negative keywords can eliminate irrelevant and unqualified clicks from visitors who aren’t actually searching for your product or service, or aren’t ready to convert. This can reduce your average cost-per-click andincrease your clickthrough rate.
4. Bid on Long Tail Keywords
There is typically less competition, and therefore lower cost for long tail keywords. Yes, the search volume for these more specific keywords will be lower than a more general keyword, but the specificity will attract more qualified searchers.
5. Bid on Bottom of the Funnel Keywords
If you want to maximize conversions and sales that result from your PPC activities, bid on keywords that are targeting prospects who are already at the bottom of the marketing funnel, in the decision stage. These searchers are closer to making a purchase than those searching for general awareness keywords.
If you implement these strategies and you’re smart with your PPC budget, the high cost of clicks won’t ruin your ROI, but will instead, boost it. If you’re interested in maximizing your ROI when it comes to PPC and paid search, or are interested in developing your digital marketing strategy further, be sure to get in touch.
Remember word of mouth marketing? It used to be the number one way for B2Bs to generate qualified leads. Well, online B2B reviews are kind of the new, improved version. B2B buyers love to read reviews about companies they’re considering purchasing from, because it gives them a clearer idea of what to expect, and how to judge the quality of service they’ll be receiving.
The average buyer does about 60% of their research before they even consider contacting a B2B company. And since we live in the 21st century, they do most of that research online. Having a decent amount of online reviews can seriously boost your conversion rates. It’s a way of providing potential clients with the information they need to decide to pick up the phone and call. What’s more, it’s information they largely trust, because it’s given by objective third parties who have had direct contact with your B2B. So what all do you need to know about online review for B2Bs, and more importantly, how can you generate quality online reviews for your B2B manufacturer? Let’s get into it:
Reviews are a search engine ranking signal
First and foremost, if you’ve been looking for a way to boost your B2B’s SERP ranking on Google, reviews can really help. A study conducted by Moz, a respected SEO guru, shows that online reviews account for about 8.4% of Google’s ranking factors. Though that’s not a huge percentage of Google’s ranking algorithm, reviews are certainly one factor that can work to boost your SERP ranking and generate more qualified leads at the same time.
B2B Reviews show up in search listings
When you get reviews on Google, your overall star ranking will show up next to your company name in search listings. Research shows that consumers are more likely to click on starred search result options over those that don’t have any stars. That’s because stars show clients that the business has been vetted, even if only cursorily, by other clients. Google estimates that you can increase click through rates by as much as 17%, just by having star reviews next to your company name in search results.
But what about negative reviews?
We get it, when you open yourself up to reviews from customers, it’s possible that you’ll get the odd negative B2B review. And sure, that’s scary. Your company does everything it can to keep clients satisfied, but there are just some customers who can’t be helped, and they’re often the ones to leave a negative review. Many companies we talk to are concerned about inviting customer reviews for just this reason, but in fact, negative reviews can have more of a positive impact than you’d think.
Believe it or not, most consumers are more likely to trust a company that has a few bad reviews over a company that has all five star reviews. Today’s consumer is very aware of scams where companies buy reviews to boost their overall rating. A few negative reviews show a consumer that people are giving their actual opinions, and the reviews listed are unsolicited.
It definitely hurts to get those negative reviews, but you can also use them to your benefit by replying to the negative commenter, and doing what you can to resolve or explain the situation. Now, don’t try to refute their negative claims, even if they’re wrong or unnecessarily critical. The best thing you can do with a negative review is to comment, say you’re sorry for the commenter’s poor experience, and offer to fix it. From there, it’s up to them. A tactful, apologetic response will go a long way when future customers are looking into your B2B. Whatever you do, don’t respond while you’re angry. That will only make matters worse.
Improve trust in your brand, lower ad costs, boost conversion rates
It’s important to remember that 60 percent of research for a B2B purchasing decision is done before the buyer ever contacts your company. That’s why reviews for B2B manufacturers can be such a great help. They work to make your company stand out from the competition by providing a solid star rating. Additionally, it’s a form of advertisement that costs you almost nothing, except the time it takes to send an email to a client requesting a review. Online B2B reviews on platforms that your ideal clients regularly surf, like Google+ and LinkedIn, will ultimately have a positive effect on your conversion rate. They provide potential clients a barometer with which to judge your products and customer service, and they help to boost your online presence, getting more eyes on your website and your company. So on to the biggest question of all:
How do I get B2B reviews, and where?
It’s easy to say that B2B reviews are great and that you should have them, but how do you get people to write them?
First, it’s important to decide where you’d like to have your reviews show up. The best, most influential platform is probably Google+, because that’s most every researcher’s first stop, but Linkedin, the Better Business Bureau, and Angie’s List are also great options.
From there, devise an email that thanks previous customers for their business, and requests their honest feedback. Your email should make it as easy as possible for people to review you, and should link to those outlets you’re looking for reviews on.
Let them know what’s in it for them, too. There are a variety of incentives you can provide that make writing a review seem more enticing, and work to further your relationships with those existing customers. For example, you might consider entering all reviewers into a raffle where they could win a prize, or you could offer a small discount on their next parts purchase from you. This is a great way to turn first time clients into repeat customers, and it gets you the reviews you were looking for!
The biggest part of successfully requesting B2B reviews is timing. You’ll want to figure out the best time to ask for reviews by determining when people are most apt to fill them out. In most cases, the sooner the better. You want to ask for a review when your excellent customer service is in the forefront of their minds. However, depending on your B2B’s product, it might make sense to wait until they’ve had your product for a few weeks, and are starting to realize the real benefits of your great product. Test out review requests a few ways, and see when you get the highest number of responses. After a bit of trial and error, you should be able to send out review requests that get a pretty good response rate, especially when you’re offering incentives.
Quality online reviews are invaluable. They show Google that you’re a real, legitimate company that does great business, and they offer new potential clients an insight into how your company works, and the level of service you provide.
If you have more questions about boosting your online presence or requesting more reviews for your B2B, feel free to get in touch with us at Evenbound. We’ve been working with B2B manufacturers for some time now, and would be more than happy to answer any questions you’ve got on inbound marketing, online reviews, or web presence. Get in touch with us today!