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Lovestruck: Why We’ve Fallen in Love with B2B Content Marketing

Falling in Love with B2B Content Marketing Once upon a time, in a land of rainbows, butterflies, and evil content overload, a gripping love story is unfolding. But this love affair isn’t what you’d expect — it’s no “Romeo and Juliet” or “Sleepless in Seattle.” Rather, it’s an unlikely courtship with a bond sealed by three little words: Business-to-Business. That’s right. We’ve said. The secret’s out. For the last decade, we’ve been head-over-heels in love with B2B content marketing. We know what you’re thinking. B2B can’t hold a candle to B2C. B2B is boring. B2B lacks sex appeal. But you don’t know B2B like we do—she’s a knockout and a showstopper. via GIPHY What’s so darn attractive about B2B content marketing? Let us remind you of all there is to fall in love with.

We’ve Fallen in Love With B2B Content Marketing Because …

… It Forms Genuine (Love) Connections

Audiences are made up of people with specific needs and interests. Part of the challenge — and the thrill — is creating a B2B content marketing strategy that addresses those needs and interests to make our audience fall in love. via GIPHY “I love the ever-present challenge of speaking to our audience on topics they genuinely care about and in a way that really connects with them. Seeing big results really pays off all of the audience research and thought behind the content,” Elizabeth Williams, a longtime account managers, says. And speaking of the real people we’re trying to woo with our content, those people are why Influencer Marketing Strategist Jack Fitzpatrick is enamored B2B content marketing. “I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people,” he says. “When crafting an influencer marketing or social media campaign, we are creating content for people. Small businesses, large corporations, and every business in between, started with people having a vision and striving to reach it. That’s a powerful concept to me.” [bctt tweet=”I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people. – @fitzJackrick” username=”toprank”]

… It Nurtures Buyers

Nothing is more rewarding than hearing those three little words from prospects and turning them into loyal companions thanks to our data-informed content strategies. Just take it from our Associate Director of Search & Analytics Tiffani Allen. “What I love most about B2B content marketing is the journey,” she says. “It’s rarely transactional, but instead focuses on providing the right information at the right time. It’s almost like solving a puzzle. You have to analyze the prospect’s journey – not only through your own properties but in the digital sphere at large.” [bctt tweet=”What I love most about #B2B #contentmarketing is the journey … It’s like solving a puzzle. – @Tiffani_Allen” username=”toprank”]

… It Combines Analysis With Creativity

Fresh out of graduating high school, I was confronted with the same question most graduates face: “What do you want to do with your life?” After courting professions like biology, psychology, economics, and several others, I struggled to find exactly what I was looking for. No occupation seemed to fulfill my need for a creative outlet and exercise my analytical mind. Until I found marketing. B2B content marketing allows you to be both analytical and creative. Through analysis, you can uncover powerful content opportunities that produce desired results. And through creativity, you can make sure those content opportunities are executed in a way that excites and entertains audiences. via GIPHY This targeted, thoughtful approach is what helps keep the job interesting and drive such substantial results. Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist, agrees. “B2B marketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client,” she says. “With my job specifically, I am able to work with influencers who may not have millions of followers, but are highly-regarded in their industry.” [bctt tweet=”#B2Bmarketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client. – @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

… It Presents Constant Learning Opportunities

Some of the best dates are where you and your partner experience new things together. And in B2B content marketing, every day can be a new experience, writing about fresh, emerging topics with varying levels of complexity. That is especially true for those of us that do content marketing for large enterprises or a content marketing agency Our own creative content genius and Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite says: “I love the opportunity to learn new things. We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare… when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It’s endlessly fascinating.” [bctt tweet=”We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare… when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It’s endlessly fascinating. – @NiteWrites on what he loves about B2B #contentmarketing.” username=”toprank”]

… It Solves Problems

(Great) B2B content marketing isn’t just putting a message out there for the sake of it. It’s about solving a real, tangible problem for your ideal customers. That’s why Account Manager Jane Bartel is so enchanted. “One of my favorite things about (good) B2B content marketing is that it’s so focused on adding value for the audience,” she says. “More than in the B2C space, B2B content marketers are asking themselves, ‘is the content I’m producing going to help the person consuming it solve a problem?’”

3 B2B Content Marketing Programs We Fell In Love With

TopRank and B2B content marketing is a match made in heaven, and the evidence of our love is in the work we create. The below campaigns gave our team plenty of reasons to fall madly in love with B2B content marketing and we believe they’ll provide plenty of inspiration for you as well.

Prophix: AI in Finance

Interactive. Multimedia. Triple-digit increases. What’s not to love? Several of our team members, including Josh and Elizabeth, are quite fond of our recent content campaigns for Prophix (including our AI in Finance interactive eBook) the most for the reasons listed above and more. AI Finance Influencer Content Campaign “We created something absolutely unique, with the audio plus the interactive interface plus our computer personality, Penny. I love that it’s so original and, quite frankly, cool, and I’m proud of the results it’s getting, too!” Josh said. Elizabeth adds, “I have just LOVED working on our last few campaigns with Prophix. I love the partnership we have developed where we can bounce ideas off each other, get super creative with our concepts, and test multimedia formats and interactive content.” Read the full case study to get a look behind the scenes at how our interactive content drove triple-digit results for Prophix.

SAP Purpose: Helping the World Run Better

Today, business is more about doing “good” than being “good.” In fact, purpose-driven businesses that strive to leave the world in a better state than they found it in have more loyal customers and also feel a stronger emotional connection to the brand. Our team fell in love with sharing inspirational stories from purpose-driven businesses, NGO’s, nonprofits, and thought leaders for SAP this year through their SAP Purpose campaign. Interactive Influencer Content Program Focused on Purpose “Sharing the stories of these Forward Thinkers making a difference in our world inspired our team along with the members of SAP’s audience. Seeing these leaders converge on one project sharing their passions and pursuits was so powerful!” says Jack.

Hyper-Targeted Content Strategies

With continued opportunities to refine and make improvements, Jane Bartel loves our ongoing B2B content strategy programs for clients like DivvyHQ, LinkedIn, and more. “The project I’m most in love with at the moment: Planning and building a collection of resources for one particular segment of a client’s audience. It’s targeted, valuable, and makes great use of new and existing content,” Jane points out. A specific favorite among the team is the seo-driven B2B content program we’ve been working on in partnership with Antea Group USA, a leading EHS and sustainability consulting firm, for the past three years. We’ve made a consistent commitment to each other, and results we love are in the air. From 2017 to 2018, total blog traffic has grown a whopping 149%, and organic blog traffic has grown 183%. One of the pieces we’re absolutely gaga over is this piece featuring hot EHS tips from a Demogorgon. EHS Tips from a Demogorgon

Plenty of Love to Go Around

B2B content marketing is the perfect partner. Our relationship has a solid foundation and we continue to grow together, instead of apart. It affords us the opportunity to learn. It nurtures our buyers. It helps us connect with target audiences. It solves important problems. What’s not to love? We aren’t the only ones who love everything B2B marketing. For more inspiration, make sure to follow these B2B marketing influencers.

The post Lovestruck: Why We’ve Fallen in Love with B2B Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

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The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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