November 11, 2019
Content marketing is an area of data driven marketing which is growing in importance year on year.
And with good reason - it’s become an integral weapon in the business arsenal, with its capacity to delight audiences, convert customers and deliver strong ROI.
According to the B2B Content Marketing 2019 Report, commissioned by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 58% of B2B marketers spent more on content creation in 2018 than in any other year.
Why has content marketing exploded? Because it can deliver a raft of benefits to a business:
That final point - B2B lead generation and closing business - will be the focus of this article. What are the best techniques for using content to close deals?
Your guide for today is Tom Bangay, Director of Content at Juro, the end-to-end contract management platform. Tom has a wealth of experience in content management and production and knows better than anyone how B2B startups and scaleups can leverage the power of content to grow quickly.
We interviewed Tom and he gave us his top five content marketing tips. His advice will help you to think about content in a strategic way, using it to speed up the sales cycle and get your target prospects to sign on the dotted line!
Personalisation is an extremely powerful facet of content marketing. Everyone likes to feel like they’re being spoken to directly, after all. Personalising your content is one great way to build trust and get crucial buy-in from key stakeholders.
Personalising every bit of content, though? It sounds like a lot of work - but it doesn’t have to be. Tom’s top tip is not to create new personalised pieces every time. Instead, adapt the content you already have.
Let’s say, for instance, you have a prospect who’s really close to signing. Your B2B sales team is desperate for a relevant case study that nails their exact use case - but there isn’t one! In this scenario, don’t think you have to create a new case study from scratch. Take a look at the ones you’ve already written. You might be able to rephrase a couple of lines to make it perfect for that specific prospect: specialised for an audience of one.
It might not need a great deal of time and effort, either - changing a few words here and there might do it! Just make sure you’re focused on the prospect’s pain points and how your product can provide the perfect solutions.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy. For the best results, you’ll need to keep churning out content that’s relevant at every stage of the sales funnel. This is where content marketing comes into its own. It helps to guide prospects through the funnel, nurturing and delighting them, until they eventually become customers.
To make the most of this process, you need both marketing (the content creators) and sales (the deal-makers) singing from the same hymn sheet. Set up regular cross-team meetings to identify…
If you’re a salesperson who’s got an account that’s very close to closing - bring in your content creator! Maybe there’s a content piece that will help you get the deal over the line. Startups and scaleups often target an incredibly narrow niche - if sales have become hyper-focused, content should too.
In business as in life, everyone is different. Everyone responds to content in different ways. Some people love videos, for example, while others prefer good old-fashioned text-based content. So, you have to choose the types of content you produce wisely. How can you make informed decisions around content?
The first step is to go back to your buyer personas. What do they tell you about your target prospects? What kinds of content do they typically enjoy? Use the insights to prepare a content plan for each prospect.
Bear in mind, though, that people will be looking to engage with different types of content throughout their buyer’s journey with your brand. At the Awareness stage, short-form top-of-funnel content is best. Prospects might only have the appetite for long-form content when they reach the Decision stage. LinkedIn Marketing Labs has identified that, on average, buyers consume 10 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision.
Want to make your content marketing more effective? Check out our step-by-step instructions and free template for mapping your content to the buyer’s journey!
Just as important as knowing the types of content that resonate with your buyers is knowing which channels to reach them on. Again, your buyer personas will tell you which platforms your prospects are primarily using.
Another good source of information is your sales team. Ask your salespeople where their conversations are happening. Are your prospects engaging with sales over social media (LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) or on email? Don’t forget the power of direct mail in this regard. Handwritten letters and physical gifts can be very successful drivers of engagement, especially in this digitally-saturated age. Sending a prospect a hard-copy book you wrote establishes a permanent physical reminder of your value proposition and ensures that your brand stays on their desk.
Tom’s top tip? Define the best place to engage with your target accounts - and then double down on it. If you have one paid content channel that beats the rest consistently, ditch all the others and increase your cadence on the winning channel. Keep pumping out relevant content in the right place and you’ll be in a much better position to steer your prospect towards closing.
This is perhaps the hardest part of the content marketing puzzle. Marketing Donut has highlighted that only 2% of sales are closed on the first meeting; the other 98% will buy only once a certain level of trust has been built up.
To get higher close rates, you need to build up trust around your brand. Content marketing is your path to getting there. Here’s how.
Bring in experts to front your content. Find influencers and thought leaders in your industry, people who other people respect and listen to. Connect with them and set up as many interviews with them as you can.
This isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Someone who’s achieved influencer status in their career is unlikely to reject a request to help influence even more people - there are people keen for the spotlight in every industry vertical, whether it’s outbound lead generation or contract management. Use their interviews as the basis for your content - just as we’re doing now with Tom, in fact!
There are three benefits to using contributors in this way:
Thanks to Tom for sharing his content marketing knowledge! We hope you found his insights to be useful and actionable. To see more of Tom’s content, head on over to the Juro blog!
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