According to a Forrester Research study of 113 B2B marketing executives, “[A] majority of B2B content practices focus too narrowly on early-stage buyer acquisition—which fails to engage buyers throughout their lifetime.”
Basically, when it comes to B2B content marketing, most businesses spend the majority of their time attracting new prospects as opposed to reengaging existing customers across the funnel with content catered to their experience at each stage.
To properly move past this problem, B2B brands must elevate conversations past the features and unique functionality of their products and focus on the content-marketing tipping point.
Here’s how to offer value to your customer base at every stage of the funnel, beyond talking about what they can buy from your company next.
Blog posts, eBooks, white papers, presentations, and other forms of quality content are important to help acquire new leads, but more advanced versions of this and other types of content are required to educate and provide value to your existing customers in order to retain them.
One way to engage customers already familiar with your business is to offer content that teaches them new lessons and shows examples of how to use your offerings to generate results. Case studies can illustrate what other well-known businesses have done while working with you to achieve worthwhile results.
According to the Forrester study, 71 percent of surveyed marketers say their content features case studies or customer stories of some form, but only 3 percent say these types of content were a primary focus.
In order to develop more meaningful information for existing customers across the funnel and reengage them on a regular basis, have more of a focus on creating content that better matches their unique needs at each stage.
It’s critical that your content is regularly validated with data points, research, and the input of external experts to support your findings. This information helps add another layer of credibility for customers that aren’t necessarily early-stage leads and require a higher level of expertise in order to be engaged properly.
These deeper-level data points and insights can help make your content more actionable for engaged leads and existing customers. According to the same Forrester study, only 12 percent of respondents make publishing research and unique perspectives the primary focus of their content marketing. Also, no one in the study claimed to use the input of outside experts in their content.
B2B content marketing isn’t as effective for deeper levels of the funnel if not approached with an added layer of transparency about the research and data points collected as well as additional third-party validity.
For example, well-known PR agency Edelman releases the Edelman Trust Barometer report every year to inform businesses and marketers about the value of trust as a commodity in today’s consumer environment. This is a widely read piece of content since it provides actionable insights for both early-stage leads and existing customers.
To continue building loyalty with existing leads, since it’s already there to some degree through past content-marketing efforts and other interactions, release content that both suits your audience’s interests at that stage and also heavily supports your new materials with strong data points and outside perspectives. You’re already trusted by existing customers because of your content—now work to improve upon that trust for the future.
It’s really important to strike a healthy balance between continuing to acquire new customers and supporting your existing customer base with quality content. However, many businesses lack the insight to fuel quality content creation equally across the funnel, and fall into the trap of solely creating top-of-funnel content at the expense of fostering strong relationships with their existing customers.
Only 5 percent of Forrester’s survey respondents claimed to prioritize regular communication with their customer bases, further stressing the need for a focus on driving loyalty with all customers.
Enterprise software company SAP strikes a strong balance of content that engages customers at every stage of the funnel. The business blogs on its own properties, helping to cover a lot of interests related to its top-of-funnel prospects and existing leads, while also blogging on Forbes, Business Insider, and other media sites to capture the same type of prospects from a brand-new audience. SAP also regularly runs a radio show focused on engaging its existing audience with niche topical coverage, in addition to its many content hubs—like this one on big data—centered around providing industry-specific insights with white papers, analyst reports, interactive videos, online events, and more, all catered to different customers with their own needs.
The biggest lesson to learn from SAP is to consistently diversify the types of content you’re creating and the topics you’re covering. The variety of topics comes down to how well your business understands the different needs customers have throughout the purchasing funnel.
How does your organization diversify the content you’re creating for your audience? What types do you find your business creating the most, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.