Content marketing is the process of creating and publishing valuable content like social media posts, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc, intending to attract, engage and retain a target audience.
While 91% of the B2B marketers use content marketing in their overall strategy, only 51% of them have found it to be effective in driving sales and the rest are still unable to measure the ROI and growth.
When 60% of consumers are still looking for information in the form of content to make purchase decisions, what’s going wrong?
The way content marketing is being used to fuel sales. In this article, we’re going to address how can content marketing drive sales for B2B businesses.
Importance of content marketing in sales
Content marketing is important because it not only helps drive traffic to the website, it also increases engagement, and builds trust and credibility, in addition to boosting conversions and generating leads for the business. However, for content marketing to work, you need to put in consistent efforts.
Here are a few statistics to back up the claims of how important content marketing is:
- 60% of people get inspired to purchase a product after reading content about it
- 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement
- B2B organizations with successful content marketing spend 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing
- 60% of the marketers say content marketing helps in building loyalty with existing customers
How B2B content marketing boosts sales efforts
Content marketing acts as the backbone for client acquisition for B2B businesses. It gives 3x more returns while costing 62% less than traditional marketing. Now that we’re talking about returns, let’s learn how content marketing drives the B2B sales funnel.
1. Content boosts brand awareness
Brand awareness is a marketing term used to indicate the level of familiarity an audience has of a brand, its products, and services.
Brand awareness isn’t confined to just familiarity. It also includes brand recognition and remembrance by the audience. And, content marketing plays a vital role in helping businesses achieve brand awareness.
The customers get acquainted with the brand through content – ads, social media, blogs, podcasts, etc. and the content has to be compelling enough to make the user land on your website. Hence, brand awareness helps increase website traffic which in turn contributes to conversion.
2. Establish thought leadership
Thought leadership is the expression of unique ideas and opinions from an experienced professional in the industry. Any experienced and successful company or professional can be a thought leader in their respective markets.
Thought leaders are the go-to people when it comes to seeking information. Thought leadership content like ebooks, newsletters, whitepapers, case studies, etc., educates and gives unique industry-specific insights which leads to an increase in engagement from the audience.
Whenever someone is looking to buy a product or service similar to a thought leader they know and admire then, the individual purchases from the thought leader. Hence, thought leadership content is a content marketing tactic that helps in scoring sales.
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3. Generate leads
The main intention behind content marketing is to generate leads. Strategic content has the power to turn the website visitor into a lead.
Here thought leadership content can be traded in a newsletter loaded with value in exchange for email IDs. Newsletters are a way to keep the sales pipeline fresh and moving.
However, people won’t share their emails unless they are getting something in return. That’s where your strategy needs to include in-depth case studies, eBooks, whitepapers, reports, and more to let an audience feel it is a win-win situation.
4. Nurturing leads
Making sure the audience is being served with relevant content at all stages of their journey is the way to nurture those leads.
The content marketing funnel is divided into 3 stages: awareness, evaluation, and conversion. You have to analyze at what stage your audience is at and provide the content that helps them to get involved and pushes them onto the next stage of the funnel until they convert because B2B sales take months to close.
Here’s a pictorial representation of the content marketing funnel to help you understand it better:
5. Convert leads
With the reference to the content marketing funnel, you have to churn out valuable content which keeps the leads hooked, and engaged and drives them towards the last stage of the funnel – conversion.
Content like consumer case studies or video testimonials helps a lead to remove the last-minute doubt, trust the business, and encourage them to convert.
6. Reduce drop offs and churn
Most of us think that the work ends at conversion but, it’s so not true. After the lead converts, the other task starts – keeping the customer away from the buyer’s remorse.
Buyer’s remorse means the guilt a consumer experiences after making a purchase. For the consumer to feel satisfied after the purchase and become a loyal customer of your brand you should guide them on the next steps and keep delivering value constantly. For instance, a video tutorial on how to use your product/service.
Now that we’ve discussed how content marketing effectively drives sales, let’s understand what type of content performs well in driving sales.
What type of content should you create for B2B sales?
Let’s look into the types of content that drives conversions for B2B businesses.
50% of the marketers leveraging blogging into their content marketing strategy say it’s effective and 10% of them say it generates the highest return on investment. The statistic alone explains the importance and need for blogging to be introduced into the content marketing strategy.
Whenever someone is looking for a specific product or service on the search engine, blogs often make it to the top of the results page. The blog post not only answers the question but also provides significant relevant information and certain details about the business. This helps in positioning the brand as an authority in their industry.
Even with the decreasing human attention span, the majority of people read long-form content and prefer articles that are up to 2000 words long. In-depth content performs better as it comprehensively covers the topic. Long-form content also boosts brand awareness and increases session duration, whilst establishing you as the thought leader in the industry.
It is found that companies with blogs and long-form articles generate 67% more leads monthly than the businesses that don’t blog. Hence, experiment with the length of the blogs, analyze the data and do what works best for your business.
While blogs and articles are a great way to build familiarity, eBooks are what actually allows you to turn an interested prospect into a lead for your sales pipeline. But unlike blogs and articles, eBooks need to be more strategically planned – this includes looking at what makes for a good eBook topic, and how you will be covering the same.
But more importantly, an eBook needs to offer more value than what you can in open formats such as blogs and articles.
For example, if you write about HR tech as a blog, your eBook should cover an in-depth look into how HR tech should be used in different departments.
3) Email marketing
Email, even though it is the oldest medium of communication, beats the contemporary communication channels through its effectiveness.
Email marketing generates the highest ROI than both social and searches combined. For every $1 spent, email marketing helps you generate $42. That’s a whopping 4200% ROI making it the most effective channel for marketing.
Here are a few statistics to prove to you the importance of email marketing:
- There are 4 billion daily email users and it is expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2025
- 99% of the email users check their inbox every day; of those individuals, 58% of them check emails first thing in the morning
- The average email open rate is 19.8%, the click-through rate is11.3%, and the bounce rate is 9.4%, across all industries
- 81% of the B2B marketers’ most used form of content marketing is email marketing
- 31% of the B2B marketers say newsletters are the best way to nurture leads
- 4 out of 5 marketers say that they’d rather give up other social media than email marketing
4) Case studies
Case studies are the one content piece at the bottom of the funnel that can make or break your strategy’s success and sales efforts. These typically include the success you have been able to achieve for clients using your product or service. It details the challenges they faced before you and how you helped them achieve their business goals and objectives.
It’s important to note that this content format is angled primarily at helping a prospect make the decision, and is no-fluff in nature. It needs to be packed with concrete results and actionable for someone to take notes from.
5) Whitepapers and Reports
SaaS buyers have become selective about the content they consume. They rely on sources like their peers and industry leaders to educate themselves on the industry. As the buyer’s journey of a B2B SaaS business has grown complex, whitepapers are here to save you the trouble.
But what is a white paper?
The whitepaper is an informative, authoritative, and in-depth guide that discusses complex problems on a certain topic and provides solutions.
White papers act as the lead magnet and also can be used to nurture leads. SaaS businesses should be using whitepapers as a tool for lead nurturing, as the sales cycle is long and complex.
Here are a few facts to prove the importance whitepaper holds specifically for B2B businesses:
- 60% of the B2B buyers engaged with whitepapers before making the purchase and 35% of customers believe them to be the most sought-after content for research before buying.
- Whitepapers hold the 2nd position among the top three content types that are effective in engaging buyers.
- 48% of the B2B buyers are willing to share their contact details in return for a whitepaper.
6) Social media
Social media is the easiest and best way to connect with customers and drive sales, simultaneously. It helps B2B businesses in shortening the sales cycle by promoting sales.
Social media with 3.36 billion users worldwide helps businesses in showing up in front of potential customers. And, for it to happen, you need to make sure to do the following:
- Create interactive posts
- Make use of user generated content
- Add customer testimonials
- Publish engaging stories leading to the sale
- Keep a balance between value driven posts and promotional posts
- Stay consistent with the posting schedule
- Stick to your brand guidelines
If you follow all of the steps above, you will have success in your social media marketing.
Driving sales is the main goal of every business and content marketing helps you in achieving that. Content marketing has little to do with content and has everything to do with all the interactions you have online.
Publishing purposeful content will help you increase brand awareness, improve website ranking, generate leads, and ultimately help you in scoring sales.
Content marketing keeps evolving as the audience is always changing. Hence, content marketing when implemented with the right strategies will be proven effective and successful for your business.
Want to discuss your business’s content marketing? Reach out to us today.