The explosion of social media marketing was initially driven when direct-to-consumer businesses saw new, rich platforms for reaching highly segmented audiences. Business-to-business companies have been far more skeptical and slower to adapt to social media as a way to reach customers. While avoiding hype is prudent, getting left behind isn’t. Fortunately, there is a social media tactic that builds on familiar practices and works well with business-to-business interactions.
Tactic: Content Marketing
Content marketing refers to the frequent, strategic production of highly valuable media – from written articles to videos. As an extension of familiar practices like Press Releases and White Papers, content marketing is a comfortable initiative for B2Bs to undertake. If search results and web traffic are important to your business, then leveraging content media is an important strategy for business.
- Search engines no longer rank sites based on keywords stuffed in the metadata and pages of links. Create a content calendar and begin producing quality content on topics related to your business. This is the only way to get to, and stay at the top of, organic search results.
- Show off your expertise by producing content that is both helpful to your potential customers and unique to your business. 94% of B2B buyers say they perform some online research before purchasing, meaning online content is your best “first impression.” A strong content marketing strategy helps customers find the information and see the expertise they want to reach out.
- As the saying goes “People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people.” Content marketing keeps your brand top-of-mind and builds trust over time. Create content that’s personal and reveals the people behind the brand.
- Quality content gives you something to trade. Ask people to join a mailing list or answer a quick survey before they download your White Paper. Lead nurturing may happen in email campaigns or offline, but content marketing builds your list.
- Once you have quality content, you have an easy way to create social media posts. Promote your articles on LinkedIn™, Facebook®, Twitter® or another platform that best fits your business. Drive even more traffic to your lead-generating website and spin off a no-hassle social media presence at the same time.
What to Measure:
Much of the skepticism around social media is around the question of ROI. The confusion, however, is due more to an inability to know what to measure rather than not being able to measure. When you evaluate your content marketing efforts you need to know one thing first: How much is a new lead worth? Then, measure these things:
- Use analytics to measure and analyze user traffic to your website. You should see more overall traffic going to deep content pages. Highly specific posts bring highly specific searches to your site. Your job, then, is to funnel them from there to your contact us page. Watch your bounce rate and time on site. When customers are spending more time on the site, you know they are reading your great content and looking for more.
- Most B2Bs don’t make sales directly on their website; moving leads deeper into the sales funnel is highly valuable. Instead of measuring sales, measure leads in your CRM that come from online sources.
- Once you promote your articles on social platforms, you can measure engagement – likes, shares, comments, etc. – to learn what topics your audience likes and which ones bring in leads. This insight also informs other marketing channels like direct mail, cold calls and advertising.
Once you get a measurement of which articles and platforms are bringing you leads, then you can calculate ROI by evaluating the cost to create the content against the value of a lead.
The difficult part of content marketing is the relentless production of, well, content! Business owners just want to run their business and writing long-form pieces is not always a marketing specialist’s cup of tea. Keeping up with content marketing requires either a determined commitment from your in-house team, or outside help.
You may still be skeptical about social media for B2B, and rightly so as not all social media tactics are right for all businesses. Content marketing, however, is a straightforward strategy that has become a “must have” to compete for search rank. Leveraged well, it can provide a lot more than keywords for search engine algorithms.