A strong B2B content marketing strategy can help your brand grow. B2B content marketing is a comprehensive system that focuses on attracting buyers, generating leads and strengthening buyer partnerships through helpful and engaging content. It doesn’t speak at people. It’s like sitting down with a lead to have warm cups of coffee as you ask about their business challenges and then share the solutions offered by your brand.
But is blogging really good for your B2B content marketing strategy? As a brand in the home furnishings industry, you may think it’s not the right time in your marketing strategy for content marketing. Let’s take a closer look at what B2B blogging is and how it works, starting with the difference between B2B blogging and B2C.
Difference Between B2C and B2B Content Marketing
B2B blogging is notably different from B2C in several ways.
Oftentimes in business to business marketing, you’re targeting multiple decision makers in the same company. Sometimes this is a brand buyer/liaison and a boss. Sometimes it’s a small committee of peers. Content, therefore, isn’t trying to get a single person to make a snap decision. You’re providing a person with information that they can share with other decision makers to make the case over a matter of weeks or months.
Opposed to this method is the business to customer marketing which often focuses on entertainment to generate awareness as a primary goal. In B2B, there’s no reason you can’t occasionally share something fun. You should create content that’s engaging. But your primary goal is to educate and become a forward-thinking thought leader in the eyes of your retailers.
When you do this, B2B blogging benefits your brand in several ways.
The Benefits of Blogging for a Home Furnishings Brand
Let’s break it down by looking at the numbers.
1. Increase Brand Awareness
57% of the business buying decision now happens online. If you don’t have a presence online, they only see other brands. And retailers don’t see demand among their customers for your products. It’s hard for brands to catch up if they miss out on this first 57%. While your best work may be done by reps in the field or during a furniture Market, how will you engage with buyers before and after those touchpoints?
B2B content marketing gives you more high-quality content that people see and want to explore. Your brand becomes top of mind and more people look for you by name.
2. Capture Leads
Blogging leads a buyer through 57% and onto the phone with your sales reps to close a deal. Blogging done right is a lead magnet. As part of your B2B content marketing strategy, you develop a very direct way to capture leads through your blogs.
47% of business buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before making the buy decision. Brands that blog generate 67% more leads than those who don’t.
3. Support the Buying Decision Process
As we mentioned, B2B buying is complex. Status Quo reigns. Buyers need ample content to consider a new brand or decide to carry more from that brand. Maybe there is pushback from your buyers about a certain collection or even about carrying your brand in the store. How will you stand out from the other brands competing for space in the showroom? Content. Content is, was, and always will be King.
4. Increase Social Media Engagement
Having a regular blog to share on places like Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter means it’s easier to keep your page active and attracting new followers. When you can elevate your brand on social media, you are staying in front of buyers when they’re the most vulnerable–downtime. This is a perfect time to showcase the beautiful product photography from your marketing team. When a buyer sees the potential of your brand, they buy into the brand. Plus, an unintended consequence is better visibility among the end-consumers in the marketplace.
5. Improve Brand Visibility in Searches
That gets us to brand visibility. We wrote an article recently about how brands can expand their online presence. It’s one of the biggest pain points for any manufacturer marketing team today. Companies with blogs get 55% more visits and people stay longer. Brands that blog have 97% more inbound links to their site.
All of this is great for SEO. Over time, your site will rise as long as you’re following Googles rules (eg, not buying links, not duplicating too much content, etc.)
6. Build Trust
Buyers call blogs the 5th most trusted source for information. When you consider that news sources, industry organizations, company reviews, professional recommendations, and government regulators are competing for this trusted place, this says a lot.
But in order to achieve these kinds of B2B blogging benefits, you need to do things right. Blogs don’t do any of these things without a plan and consistent execution.
Let’s take a look at how a home furnishings brand develops a B2B content marketing strategy.
How to Build a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
You’ll go through several well-defined steps to create a B2B content marketing strategy, remember to…
Create a Documented Content Strategy
The first step is to get out a notebook, Word document or another source to write this down. A content strategy stored in someone’s head is not a strategy. Other people can’t use it. You’ll forget parts of it. People will add to it as they go. And you won’t know what’s working and what’s draining your budget.
Do you have that notepad ready? Now we can move on to the next step.
Define Your Audience
In order for a blog to feel like a one-on-one conversation with a relationship management team member, understand who you speak with. This way you can address their goals and challenges directly. When people are looking for blogs through a search engine, they usually search for a solution to a problem. You become the answer to that problem.
Retailer problem: How do I get more millennials into my showroom?
Your answer: 10 Ways to Get More Millennials into Your Showroom
►►(By the way, download our ebook about the Buyers Journey of Millennial Shoppers to get more insights.)
In addition to delivering what is promised, you could highlight how your brand appeals to millennials, what kind of engagement you get from millennials ( Have that data ready) and why partnering with you solves their problem. To define your audience, create several buyer personas that you can speak directly to in your blogs.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
Use real customer data to create 5 or more unique personas based on things like:
- Job role
- Company size
- Challenges / Goals
- Geographic location
- Other relevant factors
Write down each persona. Give them a name and a stock image face so that this feels like a real person you’re speaking with when you write a blog post. But, also, consider where a person is in their journey. The 3 basic stages are Awareness, Consideration, Decision. Let’s take a closer look at how this fits into the persona. Check out our full guide to creating buyer personas.
Define Where Leads are in the Buyer’s Journey
It’s important to note here that you’ll create content for each of these primary stages. All of that content may not be blogs. Your goal is to reach people in one stage and guide them through the stages.
You can also think of this as a sales funnel. It’s simply written from the buyer’s perspective instead of yours. We’re putting ourselves in their shoes, something every great salesperson knows how to do well.
- Awareness – The person is newly aware of this problem, challenge or your brand. They’re looking for answers. If you are overly promotional in a blog during this stage, it could halt the journey. Focus on high-level education and taking this person deeper into the sales funnel through fact-based persuasion followed by a call to action to learn more.
- Consideration – In this stage, they’re well aware of the problem and likely your brand. They know that there are several solutions and they’re exploring which one or ones are best for them. Present straightforward solutions and the data to back them up. Compare and contrast options. List pros and cons. Explain concepts more in-depth. Discuss the specific benefits you offer.
- Decision – The buyer is creating their short list to take to the boss or a committee. Offer them visual aids, information sheets and lists to share with their colleagues. Make all of your offerings clearly available for this buyer. You may be more hands-on at this point, so make sure the person closing this deal is aware of these stages and can smoothly transition into a contract.
But a B2B buyer signing a contract doesn’t end their journey with you. You’ll continue to provide content that keeps them informed about new lines, specials and industry changes.
Stay a trusted resource in the eyes of these buyers. But before you can do that…
Create a Content Marketing Budget
Content marketing isn’t a tag on to your other marketing budget. It requires some investment of resources. Having a well-defined budget helps you ensure that those resources are in place to execute your B2B content marketing strategy consistently and effectively.
At the very least you need a budget for:
- User-friendly website (if not already completed)
- Research & Planning
- Content creation & uploading to your site
- Social media management to share those blogs
- Analytics to track performance
Now it’s time to think about what you’re going to write about. The best blogs are updated frequently, at least a couple of times a week, so you need a reliable way to generate endless blog post ideas. Consider how you’ll do this up front so you don’t get a few months in and then run out of ideas.
How to Generate Content Ideas
Tracking hashtags and your competitors on social media are two great ways to generate consistent ideas. You’ll see what others in the industry are talking about and sharing.
Then you can build many ideas off of what you find there, never just copying ideas, but synthesizing them into something new. You’re adding value to your industry.
Also, consider these places for new ideas:
- Industry news stories
- Reports & Studies
- Partner with a retailer to do a case study
- Do keyword research to find out what retailers and their customers are searching for
- Existing blogs or other content that could be elaborated upon, clarified, updated or repurposed
These ideas not only help you consistently come up with ideas. You’re creating valuable, relevant content that your target audience is looking for.
How B2B Content Marketing Captures Leads
It’s great to get all of this traffic onto your website and social profiles. But you need a way to convert them into leads. And saying “give us a call”, usually isn’t the best way to do this during awareness.
Instead, you might:
- Ask them to sign up for a newsletter. Then use email marketing to further nurture that lead.
- Offer an in-depth buying guide in exchange for an email. This should be something highly desirable to the lead and not your run of the mill information packet.
Now it’s time to evaluate promotion.
How Will You Promote Your Blog?
We’ve already discussed that a blog needs a promotion strategy. Search engines like Google need proof that you’re a trusted and useful site before they’ll begin lifting your blogs in the ranks. Without that visibility, it’s hard for people who don’t already know about you to find you.
If you haven’t already built up your social media presence, you’ll need to do that to have a platform for your blog to reach those looking for this content.
Let’s take a look at 2 platforms that work great in B2B content promotion.
Twitter is a great place to test your content’s viability. It’s easy to build a Twitter following by following retailers who will then followback. Once they follow you, they can see anything you share. And you’ll almost instantly be able to see how many people are looking for that kind of content.
Test ideas without going all in by creating a small piece of content like an infographic or short blog post. If it gets a lot of attention, then it’s worth creating a more in-depth piece. Add appropriate hashtags to expand reach.
When you create the expanded content, consider boosting it to reach more retailers.
Facebook’s content has more staying power. But Facebook’s latest updates have made it harder for businesses to reach people organically. You’ll need to rely on more post boosting, like campaigns and other paid social media to build your initial following.
Once you have a bit of a following though, Facebook is a great place to share your blog. Reach not only your followers but also the people they share it with. Those others are likely to be decision-makers as well.
With either Facebook or Twitter, getting the help of non-competitor industry influencers on social media is a great way to expand your reach and earn trust faster.
How to Measure Content Marketing Success
Your brand awareness blogs don’t serve the same purpose as consideration blogs. Holding them to the same standards would do your B2B content marketing strategy a disservice.
So next, set clear objectives for each type of blog or other content.
Some common measurable objectives include:
Some of the immediate objectives for which you can collect data include:
- # of leads generated. For example, Number of email subscriptions generated ( you can get a subscription plugin on your blog to track this)
- # of people signing up for events, webinars, downloads, etc. More leads!
- Social media engagement. (eg, number of shares/likes/comments/views)
- Number of visits
- How long people stay on the page
- Whether they click on another page from that page (for example another blog post or lead form).
Then, over time, you’ll be able to measure things like:
- Increase in retailer value
- # of external links (good for SEO). Rising in the search ranking is important. Organic searches have a 14.6% close rate compared to <2 for an outbound call.
- Page ranking in Google for keywords
- Number of new searches for your brand
Consider what you expect this content to do. Then use analytics to determine whether or not the content met its objectives. When content doesn’t meet objectives, it’s important to identify why. This isn’t always obvious.
That’s why it’s important to review multiple measures together to get the whole picture. Through these measures, you’ll see clearly how blogs contribute to your marketing efforts.
Should You Write Blogs for Your B2B Content Marketing?
The answer is “yes”. Blogs reach buyers early and help with the buying decision. They establish trust and help your brand rise in search rankings. They generate leads and help you establish strong retailer partnerships.
If you’re struggling to get ROI on your B2B marketing efforts, we can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.