5 Practical Content Marketing Tactics to Educate & Inform Your B2B Audience
If you’re anything like me, when you hear the words “Cinco de Mayo,” your mind immediately veers in the direction of a margarita.
But, of course, this holiday celebrated in the U.S. and Mexico is much more than just an excuse to celebrate with tequila. History shows the day commemorates the famous battle of Puebla, in which Mexican liberal forces defeated an occupying French army and its Mexican conservative allies during one of Mexico’s series of 19th century civil wars.
On this anniversary of the historic battle that occurred more than one hundred and fifty years ago, it’s important to keep in mind what it is, exactly, that we’re celebrating.
Now comes the part where I’ll draw a parallel between Cinco de Mayo and content marketing…
In the spirit of educating ourselves on the significance of this festive holiday, let’s take a look at 5 practical content marketing tactics you can take to educate and inform your B2B audience (we are still in the office until 5:00 pm, after all):
Attend In-Person Events
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “non-interruption” marketing. “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent,” says CMI. “The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
What better way to deliver valuable information to buyers than to walk a mile in their shoes?
To discover the issues most important to our clients in the manufacturing space, our team has attended a series of industry-related tradeshows in recent months. The primary objective is to make connections with leading-edge organizations (manufacturers, distributors, and industry publications) with the end goal of creating blog post content that captures key trends, challenges, and innovations happening in the space.
An interesting byproduct of attending the events, however, is the opportunity we’ve had to educate ourselves on material handling discussions and trends.
By hearing first-hand what our clients’ customers and industry partners want from manufacturing solutions, we’re able to tailor our content strategies around those needs in particular. It’s one thing to read about a certain technology or piece of equipment; it’s quite another to watch a live demo on how it works and translate that information into a blog post that anticipates and answers questions about that particular solution or technology offering.
Compile & Highlight Research
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most website visitors stay on a site for one minute or less.
What does this mean? If you’re not doing something to grab their attention in that length of time, you’ve probably already lost them.
Buyers are busy, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there searching for the information that you can provide for them. One way to grab (and hopefully) keep their attention is to compile and curate recent, relevant, and quality research – in other words, information that your target audience is likely seeking out to inform their buying strategies.
For one of our clients in the call center industry, we created a blog post highlighting 6 “must-read” research reports on the future of the industry. At the beginning of the post, we provided quick links to each of the reports, with a detailed abstract of each (title, summary, thumbnail) coming toward the end of the piece.
More than a year later, the post is still one of our client’s top-driving landing pages, which speaks to the value of providing quick, easy access to industry-related research.
Going out and doing the legwork on priority research and reports to highlight for buyers is just one way to educate and inform your target audience. Another tactic is to do the research yourself.
KoMarketing’s 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, for example, provides B2B marketers with valuable insight into what buyers want from a vendor website: Which content elements are most important to their target audiences? What causes them to leave a website and not return? What website factors will encourage prospective buyers to take the next step in the sales process?
While research reports such as these are a window into the mind of a prospective buyer, it’s, of course, not always possible to conduct custom research due to budgeting constraints, bandwidth, etc.
Another way to uncover questions buyers are asking – and build content around those questions – is to tap into forums like Quora or Yahoo Answers. These types of resources can be a goldmine for blogging material that specifically addresses the questions buyers are asking.
When it comes to high-quality content aimed at educating a target audience, there’s something to be said for industry expertise. After all, the so-called “experts” in any given industry will undoubtedly have all the answers, right?
It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but industry expertise doesn’t have to mean a blog post authored by a renowned figure in a particular industry. Sometimes, the best industry experts are other clients or customers who’ve gone through a similar buying experience.
That’s where client testimonials come into play.
By offering prospective buyers a slice of the experience others like them have had with a client’s company or services, you’re essentially handing them a certificate of validation. Not only can they learn a bit more about what they can expect from your client, but they can also feel reassured that they’re making the right decision by choosing that client in particular.
Think about it this way: When you’re looking for a new restaurant, aren’t you more likely to try someplace that’s been well reviewed on Yelp than a place that no one’s ever heard of? Word-of-mouth can be a powerful motivator and in no industry is this more apparent than marketing.
The four tactics outlined above are all well and good from a practical perspective. But what does it take to stand out and connect with a target audience from an emotional perspective?
As noted in a Skyword article on immersive content experiences, scientific research proves that stories activate the brain regions associated with memory that are inactive when processing factual information.
“To develop memorable B2B editorial content, the concept of storytelling must be executed—and high-level storytelling isn’t enough,” says Skyword blogger Christine Warner. “Authors must incorporate anecdotes to elicit emotional responses and humanize their messages.”
So what does all of this mean?
Whether recounting a personal experience or offering up a hypothetical scenario or an analogy that the target audience might be able to relate to, etc., the surest way to a prospective buyer’s heart is by showing your human side.
Oftentimes, it’s the friendly, digestible content that’s the material most likely to be heard by the target audience. And isn’t that the business every content marketer is in? Creating content that actually gets read?
If you’ve gotten to this point in the post, it’s likely because you’re biding your time until you can dash out of the office and consider the most pressing questions of the day: Shaken with ice, blended with ice, or without ice? Salt or no salt?
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we’ve outlined five practical content marketing tactics that can be used for educating and informing your B2B audience. Of course, there’s no one way to identify the topics and information foremost in the mind of your target audience. But the above can be used as reference if you’re just starting out or to further refine content strategies already in place.