How to Increase B2B Sales with Content Marketing
January 13, 2020
Before we examine ways to increase B2B sales with content marketing, let’s take a quick look at what might change for B2B Marketers nowadays
What Might Change for B2B Marketers?
Forrester in its article entitled “Predictions 2020: The CMO Role Must Expand And Evolve” talks about differentiating in the sea of sameness. The article also says that customer experience (CX) will be an essential component of the marketing mix in 2020. In a similar article by Think With Google, the importance of achieving digital maturity has been highlighted as one of the top priorities of CMOs in 2020. Once again, it has been emphasized that consumer interaction will be a core focus area as we move into the new year. Great companies would need to harness data to make consumer interaction highly, personal, relevant and meaningful. Forbes, too, in one of its articles, CMO 2020: The 20 Most Important Pursuits Of Next Year’s Winning CMOs, highlights the importance of interacting with customers, being culturally relevant, building trust and connecting emotionally as some of the 20 traits to be mastered by CMOs in 2020.
What Might Change for B2B Sales Teams?
The alignment between Sales and Marketing departments have been a classic challenge in the B2B ecosystem. However, content marketing will be instrumental in building the sales and marketing gap. Content Marketing has matured by all means and its adoption has been increasing by leaps and bounds. Sales organizations that adopted content marketing reaped benefits in the form of better outcomes and end results. Progressive sales teams did not just adopt content marketing but they participated fully in creation and distribution of content. Sales teams in these progressive organizations helped marketers map content for each step in the buyer journey. Nowadays, more and more sales organizations will be encouraged to participate in content creation and distribution. There will be a better alignment between sales and marketing teams. And the early adopters of Content Marketing will see a significant increase in B2B sales.
In order to understand the impact of content marketing on sales, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and LinkedIn surveyed over 1000 B2B marketers. Then they extracted statistics from 208 B2B marketers who were from North America. Although the survey was conducted in 2018, the results would still hold good in 2020. The research shows that 61% of the organizations that had better alignment between sales and content marketing were to increase their content marketing budget. However, only 35% of the organizations that had lesser alignment between sales and content marketing were to increase their content marketing budget. This finding suggests that companies with highly aligned sales and content marketing teams had proved their value to be able to demand higher budget in the following year.
7 Ways to Increase B2B Sales with Content Marketing
As we have pretty much established that content marketing directly impacts sales, here are seven ways content marketing can be leveraged to increase B2B sales.
1. Boost Organic Search Results with Quality Content
First thing first. Organic traffic is the best traffic source ever. Better the traffic, the better the outcome. Today’s search engines deploy advanced algorithms that rank websites on the basis of content quality, relevance and recency of content. Search engines also give weightage to social engagements such as shares and likes. Only relevant and quality content would be shared and liked more. Websites with high domain authority would also link to your site only if you consistently produce quality content that is not just relevant but original as well.
The era of keyword stuffing and backlink exchange is long gone. Search engines have evolved and become much smarter. Websites resorting to black hat practices are being eliminated and blacklisted. Such sites would never make it to the top on the search engine results page.
2. Generate more Qualified Leads with Gated Content
Common content formats such as white papers, ebooks, research reports and webinar, etc. can be gated with a web form. Depending upon the required filters, the complexity of the web forms can be enhanced. For example, it’s a common practice to add a few custom questions in addition to the basic business card information. Although the practice of gated content has been criticised by a segment of marketers who feel that gated content leads to a relatively poor consumer experience, it’s a great way to produce highly qualified leads.
3. Increase Conversion Rate by Mapping Content with the Buyer Journey
Website traffic has always been an important KPI for traditional marketers. And although marketers have been able to increase traffic to the website, they have not been either nurture or convert at the same pace. One of the primary reasons have been the lack of relevant content.
Google Ads or PPC Ads on social platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn offers enough filters for marketers to be able to display ads to the right audience. However, a large chunk of this traffic goes to just a few landing pages with generic content. The need is to analyze the pattern of content consumption within each subset of the larger audience. There should be enough content for each subset to engage with based on the stage of the buyer journey they are in. From there, similar content can be used to remarket to those leads on different platforms.
4. Reduce the Post Purchase Dissonance and Improve Repeat Purchase, Upsell Opportunities or Contract Renewal with Content
Despite extensive research and thoughtful purchase decisions, post purchase dissonance sets in. This becomes deeper if the customer service and post purchase support services do not meet expectations. In a scenario where customer satisfaction does not meet standards, cost of switching is not much and transition is not painful, customers do jump the fence. For a business, retaining an existing account is more profitable than winning new clients. It’s the collective responsibility of sales, account management, customer service and marketing to continue to engage with clients through content that supports the purchase decision, reinforces trust in the product or services and showcase the value. Product related new updates and releases should be shared with the clients. Marketing should also keep sharing new content regarding new products or services that complement the existing purchase. With constant engagement through new content, thought leadership articles, related case studies, etc. the chances of retention can be increased manifolds and upselling becomes easier. Happy customers are the best advocates and they are always confident of recommending the products and services to potential buyers.
5. Manage Online Reputation through Content Amplification
Online review has become an indispensable part of the research conducted during vendor selection. And negative remarks are bound to come to every business. It’s not a great practice to delete or hide unfavorable comments or remarks. Social listening is important. Every negative remark must be answered as soon as possible. But, at the same time, companies should keep generating quality content to showcase their expertise and thought leadership. It is important to distribute great customer feedback and amplify such content pieces across all possible online channels. Prospects won’t mind a few negative remarks after reading 10x positive comments and feedback. A good online reputation builds trust in the brand. The decision maker feels more confident to take a purchase decision in favor of the given brand. And, of course, all this leads to greater outcomes in terms of increased sales over a period of time.
6. Support the Entire Sales and Marketing Ecosystem With Content
When it comes to content marketing, we think of content that has been created for the prospects or the end clients. Content marketing can have immense impact on B2B Sales if it’s done for just for the external customers but the internal customers as well. Progressive companies consider every member of the sales value chain as an internal customer. These internal customers help the company achieve its collective sales number. These members can be the agency, affiliate partners, value added resellers, inside sales or field sales team, account management team, customer services and of course the marketing team. It is commonly seen that all these members do not have similar levels of product or service knowledge. They are not equally updated about new offerings or the latest upgrades. Similarly, not all the members of the ecosystem understand the company value proposition or the rationale behind the service lines. Most members are not aware of the details of competitive products or services being offered by the key competitors. When a prospect engages with different members during the sales cycle, he gets varying descriptions of the same products or services. This happens primarily because of the lack of internal communication. And this gap in communication happens primarily due to siloed content distribution and overall flawed content strategy. Nowadays, organizations would ensure that targeted content is created for specific channel partners and the content is distributed timely across the channel.
Use Content Marketing Metrics to Increase B2B Sales
As we figured earlier in this article, analytics will be a key differentiator. Apparently, organizations leveraging analytics would see more focused marketing and higher revenue. Analytics would help marketers quickly change strategy and do more frequent and in-depth A/B tests. Content Marketing would allow B2B Marketers to deploy Consumption metrics to understand the content consumption patterns. The component of consumption metrics are page views, video views, content download, social chatter, etc. Similarly, the popularity of specific content pieces can be assessed through sharing metrics such likes, shares, retweets and pins. Inbound links from sites with high page and domain authority is also a very positive sharing metrics. Based on the content consumption patterns and sharing metrics, a very successful retargeting campaign can be designed to follow prospects on different platforms. Finally lead metrics such as download or form competition can help fill the sales pipeline with high quality marketing qualified leads. Not to mention, more high quality MQLs would convert into more sales qualified leads and more closures.
Additional Read: Content Marketing Trends