Marketing Content Development: Top 5 Tactics

B2B marketing content development can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others.  According to CMO council research on content ROI “only 22 percent of respondents say they are very satisfied with the caliber of technology content” and this issue is not just limited to technology brands.  But smart companies have learned how to tackle the challenge efficiently and effectively.  How do they do it?

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Twitter for B2B Marketing: 5 tips

While 140 characters of text hardly seems enough to say much about anything, Twitter is a useful B2B marketing tool – especially when it comes to gaining insights about content and customers. With its simple publishing, connectivity with social media platforms, and capacity to track and measure engagement, Twitter is a great tool for curating, sharing & testing content.

Here are 5 tips to get the most out of Twitter:

Its not all about you Too many businesses use their Twitter stream like a one-way pipe, pumping out dreck best left for an in-house corporate newsletter. (“Our new product launch is just 16 months away!”). Don’t link to your own stuff all the time. The web is a big place full of things that are of interest to your potential customers. Link to those things from your Twitter stream and folks will be more likely to follow you. And less likely to unfollow you.
 
Don’t be vanilla Don’t use the plain vanilla Twitter page background that came with your sign-up. It’s a sure sign that you don’t care. Upload your own background to make your page inviting, engaging, professional. Even the free ones are nice. Add your company logo, or your own photo, in your profile area in the top right corner of your page. Then link to your website or blog. Okay, there’s room for only one live link, not much space for text—and none for pictures—in your profile area. But that shouldn’t stop you.
 
Follow people to get followers A quick way to get followers list is to follow people. Search for analysts, publications and influencers in your market and follow them. Then follow their followers. Search related keywords and #hashtags (like #B2B) to find other tweets in your category and follow their authors. Now watch your tweet stream, who’s joining in the conversation and follow the accounts with something useful to add. Not everyone you follow will follow you back, but a lot will.
 
Schedule your tweets Start with 2-3 tweets a day. Use a tool like Hootsuite to bulk schedule your tweets in advance. Don’t send them all at once but trickle them out and test different times of day. You might have a morning, afternoon or evening audience or even followers in a different time-zone. You can tweet in real time too, but scheduling ensures a steady stream and let’s you post tweets more efficiently and strategically.
 
Use your analytics Here’s where you get the insights that makes Twitter so useful. Use a tool like Hootsuite to track how many people mentioned or clicked on your link. While retweets and mentions might suggest if you’re on the right track, clicks are a better measure of content engagement.

More B2B Marketing Resources

Visit the BrainRider Knowledge Center for lots of free tools and best practices.

SEO for B2B Marketing: tips to reach more customers

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of any Business to Business (B2B) marketing and lead generation program designed to reach more customers.  With most purchase decisions involving web research at all stages of the decision process, getting found by search engines is key.  While many companies need help, the good news is that SEO is quickly moving from a hard to understand technical discipline to a marketing discipline focused on strategy, planning, prioritization, and execution.

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and key SEO priorities for B2B Marketers.

Unlike B2C SEO marketing which often concentrates on technical optimization and “black-hat” specialists who try to “cheat” the system, improving SEO results for B2B comes from a combination of technical optimization and content value.

Technical optimization is similar to hygiene.  Without good hygiene it is hard to get a date (ask any 14  year old boy!) but hygiene alone will not get you many dates.  To become successful in the dating game you need more than good hygiene, you need to be interesting, and even more importantly interested in your date’s interests.  You need charm to be truly attractive.  SEO for B2B marketers works in a similar way. (more…)

B2B Marketing: How To Understand What Your Customer Wants To Know

At BrainRider, we’re always evolving our content planning tools to follow lead generation best practices.  The following tip is one of of our favorites from Marketing Sherpa and how we apply it.

Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“.  While you likely agree that you should be focused on your customer it is hard work to get it right.  Just think of all the “about us” content that is sent your way every day!

Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is the strategic question we ask in order to apply discipline around this best practice.  But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, you need to know more about your customer.  While traditional customer research methodologies can provide rich and robust data their cost can be more than they are worth for companies with a limited research budget.  The good news is that you can still get lots of customer learning with the following quick and dirty — but effective tools.

Four ways to profile what your customer wants to know

1. Start by looking at your web analytics.

Google analytics is a great place to start tracking your site if you don’t do so already. Because every visitor to your website leaves a digital footprint you can check your site’s referral data which shows you where your traffic is coming from and if the visitor used a search term to get to your site.  Ignore the table-stakes referrals that just mention your company name, product names, or URL.  These visitors were just navigating by search.  Instead look for terms that indicate what a visitor was looking to understand.  But don’t forget that searches will only get to your site if you have at least some information about what they are looking for.

Here are some examples of recent searches that brought prospects to BrainRider.com:

  • “how to increase b2b sales”
  • “find b2b customers”
  • “how do I nurture new customers”
  • “85% of B2B customers use the Internet”
  • “enforcement of pipeda usa”
  • “inconsistent brand b2b”
  • “increase B2B sales”
  • “privacy legislation in Canada b2b”
  • “what are sales nodes”
  • “understanding decision stages”

2. Next, ask the people in your company who speak directly with your customers.

Sales, customer support, who ever picks-up the phone when customers call are great places to start.  They will have a real understanding of customer needs and especially what customers want to know.  Work hard to get them to remember all the questions they get asked, ESPECIALLY the questions that were harder to answer.   It is sometimes easier to dig deeper for this insight if you do a small team brainstorm or at least an in-person conversation.  We use questions like these and lots of repetition of the same question phrased different ways to get the conversation started:

  • Who is your best customer?  What are your 3 best client opportunities?  Who are the key stakeholders?What are some of the questions they ask?  What are some other questions that might get asked?  What are the more general things they want to know?
  • What keeps them up at night? What does their boss want to know?  What information would they love to get?
  • What industry information do they search on the web for?  What are they Googling?  Where else do they go for information?
  • What do they care about most?  What kinds of problems are they trying to solve?

3. Ask your customers to share what they want to know.

Start by putting a search box on every page of your site and tracking what visitors are searching for.  Consider a question form with a call to action like “Ask our experts”.  Include a question on your telemarketing scripts.  Ask existing customers, customers who use your competitors, or new prospects.  Ask them over lunch, coffee, or breakfast.  Even non-customers can sometimes give you great insights about what a customer might want to know.  So ask over cocktails in your neighbourhood!  And the good news is that customers who know that you want to know what they want to know usually think you are smart because you want to know what they want to know.  (Or something like that.)

4. Listen to the questions your customers are asking in other places.

For example, LinkedIn groups, industry forums, association message boards, tradeshows, industry publications can all be a rich source of intelligence.  And don’t forget the questions that analysts and experts in your industry are answering.  These sources are often paid to keep current with high-value questions from your customers.

Using these quick and dirty research approaches you can start to build an understanding of what your customer wants to know.  And that is the first step to practicing Marketing Sherpa’s lead generation best practice advice that it is “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU).”

And one last point.  We would really love to know what you want to know more about.  So please send your question to info@brainrider.com.  We promise to try and answer it!

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Quick follow-up and thanks for the emails!  Check out laddering as a tool to gain more insight on what your customer wants to know.  See this post from @Savvy_B2B: Steps to Success – Using Laddering in B2B Marketing  https://www.savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/629611/steps-to-success-–-using-laddering-in-b2b-marketing

Decision Stages

Understanding the decision stages B2B customers go through as they decide to buy from you and developing the content they are looking for at each stage is an essential B2B Marketing best practice.  Creating and sharing the information your customers want at each stage of their decision process will dramatically improve the findability, relevance, and ultimately the value of your content and increase qualified traffic, visitor engagement, and conversions.

Marketing Sherpa’s #1 lead generation best practice is: “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM (NOT YOU)“.  Understanding “What your customer wants to know” is how we apply that discipline.  But in order to understand what your customer wants to know, first you need to know more about your customer.

That idea leads us to Marketing Sherpa’s #2 lead generation best practice: “SEGMENT BY PROSPECT TYPE“.  We recommend starting with the natural segments in your audience.  For example, a C-level segment vs technical users.  While it is always helpful to have a formal segmentation analysis, our experience is that these segments can be roughly mapped out with learning from sales and other customer-facing teams. You can refine your segments over time with more robust analytics and data but a quick segmentation is a great place to start knowing more about your customer and what they want to know.

Let’s look at Marketing Sherpa’s #3 lead generation best practice: “CREATE CONTENT FOR EACH STAGE OF THE SALES CYCLE“.  This is all about optimizing the content assets you already have and identifying gaps you should fill.  At BrainRider we take this best practice one step further by mapping content against each stage of the decision process.

Here is a quick guide on how to map content for each stage.  First, model your pipeline by understanding the different stages a customer goes through when deciding to do business with you.  They key is to keep it simple while identifying meaningful differences in “what you customer wants to know”.  Here is the model we use as a strawman for our clients.

Key Decision Stages by Information Need

  1. Defining the problem: education and thought leadership
  2. Evaluate alternatives: solutions & product suitability
  3. Negotiate & commit: credentials and decision support

And at each stage of the decision process you need to target your content to address differences in what your customer wants to know

1. Defining requirements: education and thought leadership

  • They are casting a wide net and may or may not have an idea what the solution will be
  • The information seeking has a broad focus using more generic and high-level search terms and keywords
  • They may be seeing assistance with definition, scope, and internal buy-in.

2. Evaluate alternatives: solutions & product suitability

  • They are searching for available options that will meet their requirements
  • Keywords and search terms will be more specific and will start to reflect solution alternatives or categories
  • Their goal is developing a short-list of viable alternatives

3. Negotiate & commit: credentials and decision support

  • They have a solid understanding of how each alternative measures up and the decision maker is trying to get comfortable with committing to one of the decision alternatives
  • Keywords and search terms will be much more specific and will be focused on specific solutions
  • They are managing questions and building a case with various stakeholders

We then map specific differences in what each segment wants to know.  The chart below is the tool we use to simply map decision stages and content opportunities against existing, repurposed, and curated content.

B2B Decision Stages: Understanding what your customers want to know at each stage of their decision-making process from defining the problem to evaluating alternatives to negotiate and commit. Including: Trends & Statistics, News & Analyst coverage, Benchmarks, 101 Education, Need & Gap Assessments, Solution comparisons, Implementation plans, Product roadmaps, How to buy, Credentials, Real case-use studies, ROI/TCO, How to build their business case
Understanding what your customers want to know at each stage of their decision-making process

As always, we would love your input on how this planning compares to how you are marketing to your customers.  Let us know if you have any questions or would like to see real life examples of this tool in action.

 

Decision-stages content map

Understanding What Customers Want To Know At Each Stage of Their Decision Process

B2B Decision Stages: Understanding what your customers want to know at each stage of their decision-making process from defining the problem to evaluating alternatives to negotiate and commit. Including: Trends & Statistics, News & Analyst coverage, Benchmarks, 101 Education, Need & Gap Assessments, Solution comparisons, Implementation plans, Product roadmaps, How to buy, Credentials, Real case-use studies, ROI/TCO, How to build their business case
Understanding what your customers want to know at each stage of their decision-making process