Content marketing is progressively working its way into the marketing strategies, budgets, and job titles of B2B organizations. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing and 58 percent plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014. As B2B content marketing gains greater organizational buy-in, pressure to prove its business value is mounting. HubSpot’s 2014 State of Inbound report shows that demonstrating return on investment (ROI) is the top challenge among marketers. Faced with justifying additional spend and differentiating in an increasingly competitive space, marketers must develop content that satisfies both audiences and stakeholders. But can B2B content be both engaging and conversion oriented? Certainly. These three data-backed tactics prove it.
The inherently immersive nature and minimal consumption effort of video capitalizes on the eight-second attention span of today’s consumer. Currently, 73 percent of B2B marketers use video as part of their content marketing mixes. This majority is justified since B2B audiences actively seek business-related video content on a weekly basis. Research conducted by Forbes in collaboration with Google finds that 66 percent of executives view videos on business websites at least once a week; 50 percent view business videos on YouTube. Video content not only engages B2B viewers, but also inspires them to take action. Animoto finds that 73 percent of US adults are more likely to purchase a product after watching a product or service demonstration video. After viewing video content hosted on an external platform, 65 percent of executives will visit a marketer’s website. By establishing emotional connections with viewers, video also improves a brand’s perceived personalization: 77 percent of consumers consider companies that create digital video to be more engaged with audiences.
Additionally, video content decreases customer-acquisition costs. According to research from the Aberdeen Group, marketers who use video as part of their content marketing mixes achieve an average website conversion rate of 4.8 percent compared to 2.9 percent of marketing efforts without video. The average cost for marketing-generated leads is $93 for companies using video while those without had an average of $115. To reach business executives, video content should be hosted on both branded and external destinations. In addition, eMarketer‘s research shows that marketing professionals believe hosting video on both owned properties including your website and social channels such as YouTube and Vimeo produces the strongest results.
In-person events allow consumers to associate real-life experiences with brands. What better way for a B2B buyer to witness brand messaging in practice than through face-to-face interaction? Not only do events successfully build customer relationships, but they also produce results for each phase of the purchasing process, from awareness to conversion. For the fourth consecutive year, marketers reported that in-person events are the most effective B2B content marketing tactic. Additionally, a Sagefrog Marketing Group study of B2B marketers finds that events were the most successful channels for driving ROI. Since 80 percent of the most successful B2B marketers cite lead generation as their organizational goal, marketers should deploy tactics that achieve their desired results.
Events are immersive experiences that surround attendees with valuable information and professional connections. Whether brands participate as hosts, sponsors, or attendees, events are powerful sources of content creation. Event-based content allows B2B marketers to build interest and drive registrations leading up to the event, engage attendees with real-time coverage during the event, and maintain momentum after the event. By creating a shared experience, brands can enjoy the earned exposure from organic social conversation and unsolicited event coverage. In-person events solidify a brand’s association with an educational experience and generate new business opportunities through the impact of one-to-one engagement.
Editorial content is the core content type of many B2B content strategies and should continue to be. It can operate as a standalone channel or part of an integrated platform for other types of content, such as video and infographics. HubSpot’s report found that marketers who blog are 13 times more likely than their peers to achieve positive ROI. According to Content Marketing Institute’s research, 79 percent of best-in-class B2B marketers consider blogs to be the most effective content form. In contrast, only 29 percent of the not-so-successful marketers rate blogs as an effective content type. Of the two marketers, whom would you trust?
Developing quality, informational editorial content is critical to inform and educate B2B audiences. But every brand has information to share. B2B content marketing can no longer default to filtered, corporate messages. B2B buyers are business oriented, but are still individuals with emotions and a personal narrative. To develop memorable B2B editorial content, the concept of storytelling must be executed—and high-level storytelling isn’t enough. Scientific research proves that stories activate the brain regions associated with memory that are inactive when processing factual information. Therefore, authors must incorporate anecdotes to elicit emotional responses and humanize their messages. Common anecdotal sources include personal experiences, hypothetical scenarios, analogies, shared experiences, and current events. To break through to B2B buyers, editorial content must be wrapped in relevant stories.
With the basics of B2B content marketing in place from a documented strategy to internal roles, marketers are challenged to stand out from the competition and clutter while proving the business results of their content activities. Immersive experiences through video content, real-life interactions at events, and literal executions of brand storytelling through anecdotes are effective ways to appeal to the interests and demands of audiences and stakeholders alike.