You are regularly creating content to get traffic and conversions, but is it really turning into the lead and email list numbers that you or your executives are expecting? If you know content can help you reach more of your target audience, there are some ways you can increase the value of your content.
Part of this is making it more exclusive. Require an email address or contact information for big pieces of content, like ebooks and white papers. That way you are collecting leads and email subscribers with their permission, and they are in turn getting a high-quality piece of content.
Of course, there are other types of content you can utilize besides long-form content. Webinars, email courses, and downloadables are just some of the types of content that are of high value to users and help you reach more of your target audience through different channels. Before we get into the types of exclusive B2B content you can create, let’s cover the two main reasons to do so: lead generation and email marketing.
Collect Emails for Marketing
For many B2B organizations, email collection counts as a conversion because email campaigns carry large ROI. According to a list of statistics compiled by WordStream, 59 percent of B2B marketers say email is their top source of revenue and B2B email campaigns have an almost 50 percent higher ROI than B2C.
Exclusive content is a great way to grow your email list, as you are offering something immediate that the user can receive instantly. Vague promises of a great email newsletter in the near future likely aren’t enough for many users to enter in their email address. If it’s not specific enough, the user isn’t going to be interested because they don’t know what to expect.
However, offering something specific that a user will receive in seconds if they simply give away their email address is extremely enticing. They know they can unsubscribe from your list if they don’t like the content they are receiving, and you get a chance to impress them with high-quality content that’s directly in their niche.
Gathering Leads for Sales
Another benefit of exclusive B2B content is lead generation, which is not only helpful to marketers (as it proves their value) but also helps the sales team fill their pipeline with qualified leads. In addition, by trading high-quality content for contact information, the sales and marketing departments can get a leg up by already knowing what the prospect is interested in.
For instance, if an organization creates five different ebooks about their core offerings, and a prospect downloads two of them, the sales team knows to angle their initial conversation with him or her toward the two offerings the ebooks covered. Knowing this information can keep the prospect’s interest, as the sales rep is covering exactly what they are interested in most.
Besides knowing what the user is interested in, it’s also important to cater to users by creating the perfect form for them to fill out. While it’s helpful for lead generation forms for digital content overall to be short and sweet, ConversionXL shared data that shows that forms with 8 or 9 fields can actually see an increase in conversions.
The difference was the perceived value that the user was receiving, as well as how hard the fields are to answer. If the fields are questions the user will always know, such as their contact information, it’s pretty painless.
However, questions about company revenue or future plans may require a little more thinking and therefore start to breed hesitation. A/B test form fields to figure out what works best for your forms.
Whether you’re creating exclusive content for email marketing, lead generation, or both, there are a few popular types that most B2B customers will be interested in, depending on topic demand.
Ebooks & White Papers
Ebooks and white papers are some of the most popular forms of exclusive B2B content because they focus on statistics, outcomes, and concrete strategies. These are things that have always fared well in B2B industries, which tend to be more analytical and straightforward in its approach to marketing.
For ebooks, focus on useful strategies and insights that are directly related to your core offerings. If you don’t offer it, it wouldn’t make sense to offer an ebook about a topic. For instance, if you are a digital marketing agency that doesn’t offer social media management, an ebook about social media for B2B likely wouldn’t bring in as many targeted leads. The users that are interested in reading social media ebooks aren’t going to be the same ones that are interested in your services if they aren’t related to social media.
Many times, digital marketers are so focused on writing for their niche that they forget that interest in a niche doesn’t mean interest in your specific offerings. By only covering topics in your ebooks that directly relate to your organization’s products and services, users will be automatically pre-screened to only connect you to users that have a genuine interest in what you have to say.
White papers give you a chance to appeal to users by describing a problem many users in your industry may have, and then offering a solution for it through your products or services. This is different from an ebook in the fact that it’s shorter and more focused on a problem and solution versus an overall educational look at a specific topic. White papers are researched-based, more formal, and have a more niche focus.
To find ideas for white papers, look in the following areas:
- Ask customer service or support reps what questions they receive the most
- Look at site search or SEO data from a software platform (like SerpStat or SEMrush) to see what users are asking in your specific industry
- Look at broader search data tools, like AnswerThePublic.com to find more questions users are asking in search engines that contain your key industry terms (be as specific as possible)
- Run a poll or ask clients through email or online survey what they struggle with the most
- Review industry studies others have done to determine common industry pain points
When in doubt, always look outside your internal department for ideas first as they likely will have pain points your internal team may have not thought of before. After all, working on marketing in an industry is sometimes not as immersive as working in the industry itself, selling and buying products and services.
A blend of the strategy behind ebooks and white papers, but delivered in a more long-term digestible format, is a free email course or drip campaign series focused on a specific topic.
If your industry and organization has historically regularly performed well with email campaigns (and it’s not surprising if they do — email marketing usually is one of the top revenue generators for B2B marketers), offering a free educational course via email can be a great content medium that offers a lot of data points and a longer connection with users.
With email campaigns that are sent over a specific time period, like 5 over a week or one a week for 6 weeks, your organization has more time to connect with the user.
While ebook or white paper downloads can open the door to a long-term relationship by adding the user to an email list, email courses have an advantage. The user has already signed up for the course, knowing that they are going to receive repeated emails from your company. This anticipatory action will likely lead to less resistance to receiving the email, thus increasing email rates and click-throughs.
While many online users “know” that they will be added to an email list after downloading something, they aren’t necessarily wanting it to happen. They are just aware that it’s a consequence of asking for the downloadable content.
Course topics could be distilled using data from your other content. Popular content can be repurposed into an email series that offers more actionable tips about a topic.
For instance, if a long blog post about pricing strategies continues to be your top traffic driver, create an email series about pricing strategies that offers action questions, tool recommendations, and tips from other businesses on what has worked.
Once content has been turned into an email campaign, you have a lot more data than you would when users download a PDF ebook. Most email platforms let you see how often an email was opened and what links were clicked. Most downloadable PDFs don’t have the same depth of data. By taking existing content and leveraging it to turn it into email content, you can see how engaged users are with your content and offer value through emails — something you can use with other email campaigns to those users in the future.
Webinars should be created using the same strategy as email courses, but offer users the opportunity to attend a live event. Knowing that you have users’ attention in real-time offers the unique chance to capture their interest immediately instead of waiting for them to respond to content they can access at any time.
Webinars offer a great FOMO (fear of missing out) factor that lets marketers connect with users in a live event, which is often the hardest way to connect with prospects. By having their attention at the time the webinar is being created, you can offer exclusive deals or discounts at the end of the educational presentation that may have a higher conversion rate, since their attention is already primed toward the topic or service you are offering.
A good example of this would be a webinar about growing sales through Facebook advertising (with good advice and strategies in the presentation) and then offering viewers a discounted monthly rate for managed Facebook advertising services.
Complementary Content Downloadables
Ebooks, white papers, email courses, and webinars are all effort-heavy content that takes a lot of time and energy to produce. The majority of that effort is on the front-end with production (because then delivery is automatic through your email or lead generation platform), but it still takes regular management. If you don’t have the resources to produce an ebook or webinar series, consider offering complementary downloadables instead. These are usually one or two-page PDFs that allow users to take the information offered in blog posts or other content and turn it into something actionable.
For instance, in the pricing strategies blog post and email series example from earlier, a downloadable worksheet could be created for that popular blog post. This worksheet allows users to take the concepts introduced and develop their own pricing strategy that applies directly to their business. If you have graphic design resources, these little PDFs are fairly easy and the call-to-action to download can be introduced in the middle and end of the content in a noticeable CTA box. Here’s an example from Femtrepreneur:
Of course, these content types can all be used concurrently with one another and at the same time. Users could get free downloadable worksheets with every webinar or blog posts that your email courses are based on could feature an ebook or white paper to download.
By building in more opportunities for users to receive free exclusive B2B content, you are making it easier for them to convert to email list subscribers or qualified leads. It may take a while to build up an exclusive content library, but once the process is built into the content creation pipeline, it’s relatively painless to create content that is building your funnel.
Featured image via Pixabay. Screenshot taken in September 2018.