What do today’s B2B customers want? Research reveals that 88% of B2B marketers have used content marketing to reach their target audience this year, but only 30% rate their efforts as effective. So what is lacking in the approach of 70% of these marketers?
There is no doubt that the B2B marketplace is more crowded than ever, and it is getting increasingly difficult to cut through the noise and engage your target audience with quality content. It’s up to you, as a B2B marketer, to pinpoint where your audience is hanging out and to target them with the right message. To achieve this, you must first understand your audience and what they need.
Understanding your audience
When determining your audience’s needs, it’s important to consider what’s happening on the buyer side. The path to purchase is getting longer – there are more people involved, more options to consider and a greater need than ever to prove ROI. This tells us that your first touch point with a buyer should not be pushing your product. They are not interested in what you sell – they are interested in how you can provide the right solution for their key business pain points. They may even need you to remind them of what these pain points are and why they exist.
Always assume your target audience is not ready to buy. Brands should move away from product-led messaging and focus on how to provide value for the potential buyer. It requires more than just making your audience aware of your brand – you must also give them a reason to engage with your content. Stop talking about your brand and your products and talk about your audience. Address their concerns, their needs and their aspirations. How can you add value to their working lives and make their day more productive and successful?
It is critical to keep your brand front of mind from the inception of this journey, and nurture your prospect every step of the way. A Demand Gen report revealed that of the top reasons why a buyer chose a winner vendor, 84% said the vendor solved a pain point and 64% said they ‘demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and the business landscape.’ You need to consider how you can make your audience think about your brand, ever before they are actively considering a purchase.
To achieve this, you need a solid content strategy that covers all stages of the buyer journey, from top of the funnel awareness content, through the consideration phase and right down to the bottom of funnel conversion content – plus added value content to engage your current customers. More importantly, you need to deliver this content at the right time in the buyer journey, and the delivery is the key to success.
How to make your brand stand out
B2B content marketing tends to focus on rational arguments and logic, and can often come across as quite dry. As a general rule, B2C marketing efforts seek to entertain, while B2B seeks to inform. So mix it up! Be funny. Be inspirational. Be entertaining. Think about how you can appeal to your audience on an emotional level. Just because you are targeting a business, it is important not to lose sight of the human being at the centre of the buying journey. This is an area that B2C marketers are excelling in and it works. It’s time to consider getting more B2C with your B2B marketing efforts, if you really want to stand out. Stop addressing the business and get more conversational with your tone. You want to engage your target audience, bring them into the conversation and let them trust you. Don’t let your delivery scare them away. After all, your B2B customers are people too.
Learn from your audience.
Test, test, test, and then test some more. Let your audience tell you what they like, and listen to them. A/B testing of content, images, headlines and CTAs is the key to an effective content marketing strategy. Never assume that you know what your target audience want – they may very well surprise you. A/B testing allows you to gain more insight into the kind of content that really resonates with your target audience and you can use this insight to inform and optimise future content and strategy initiatives. Personalisation is becoming increasingly important to B2B buyers and learning from your target audience is the only way to achieve this. Be fluid with your strategy and allow your insights to guide your approach.
1. Always assume your target audience is not ready to buy.
2. Remember the human at the centre of the buying journey.
3. Test, learn and optimise.