28 Content Types For B2B Marketers
76% of US B2B marketers plan to increase their content creation in 2016 according to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs research.
Further, 51% of US B2B marketers plan to increase their content budget.
As a champion of content marketing incorporating a documented content strategy, I believe marketers must be strategic in their resource use to maximize their results in line with their business goals.
28 Content types for B2B marketers
B2B marketers use an average of 13 different types of content from a list of 24 content types.
As you examine this list, I dare you to figure out what content type is most important to improve your organization’s content marketing success. To help you, get your content marketing success checklist.
- 93% use social media content (Note: Doesn’t include blogs. Assume that it doesn’t include LinkedIn Publishing or Medium.)
- 82% use case studies – traditional format
- 81% use blogs
- 81% use enewsletters
- 81% use in-person events – traditional format
- 79% use articles on their website
- 79% use video
- 76% use illustrations/photos
- 71% use white papers – traditional format
- 67% use infographics
- 66% use webinars/webcasts
- 65% use online presentations
- 49% use research reports – traditional format
- 47% use microsites/separate websites
- 42% use branded content tools
- 39% use ebooks
- 36% use print magazines – traditional format (Note: Content Marketing Institute publishes a print magazine, Chief Content Officer.)
- 30% use books – traditional format
- 29% use digital magazines
- 28% use mobile app
- 25% use virtual conferences
- 23% use podcasts
- 22% use print newsletters – traditional format (Note: The surprise is how high this percentage remains.)
- 12% use games/gamification
What B2B content types are missing from this list?
- Charts and graphics. These differ from photographs or illustrations as content types. They’re powerful visuals to convey data quickly and efficiently.
- Guest articles, posts or columns on third party sites. Guest posts leverage an established audience, often larger than anything you can build internally. Includes posts on LinkedIn Publishing and Medium. Writing ClickZ’s Actionable Analytics column contributed to my standing in the field.
- Customer forums. These allow customers to ask questions of their peers who can help them based on their own product experience.
- Customer training including worksheets, workbooks, classes and other resources. Training can help your customers develop the skills they need to use your products better. This builds long-term customer relationships.
Like you, I didn’t need to see this research to know that social media is the most common B2B content type. Since social media is where we spend our time, it’s where we put our content for maximum visibility.
That said, social media content is rarely the first piece of content that a business creates.
The problem with these survey results is that they exist in isolation. As a result they don’t provide actionable content marketing insights to help you improve your performance.
Focused on marketers, the survey overlooks one of the major B2B marketing challenges, namely that in many B2B companies the sales and marketing organizations often don’t communicate or work with each other.
3 Steps to maximize B2B content creation resources (without more budget!)
Here are 3 tactics every B2B marketer needs to maximize content creation resources across your organization.
1. Integrate content creation into your overall business plan.
Think beyond marketing, sales and PR. Incorporate content creation across your organization as well as into your overall business plans.
Remember: Content marketing does NOT exist in a silo.
Each year, your business creates new information and promotions as well as updating and re-envisioning existing content.
Your content creation goal should be to create all of the related content elements at the same time. Include every form of information that you’re developing throughout your business as part of your content creation plans. This saves creation costs as well as employee time.
In addition to broadening your view of your firm’s total content production, it’ll enable you to tap into greater resources without necessarily increasing your overall business’s content spend. Examples of non-marketing content include product manuals, sales correspondence and customer service support.
Actionable Content Marketing Tip:
- Have your legal team check that you can extend any content including advertisements into other content formats without additional fees.
Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:
- Know your overarching business goals. Each piece of content should contribute to helping your organization achieve them.
- Understand the specific target audience for each piece of content. Without knowing this key information, it’s difficult to create effective content.
- Create marketing personas for everyone who might purchase your goods and services.
- Define the specific information needed at every step of the purchase process. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Be able to answer: “What do I need to know before I’ll purchase from this company?” Here’s an in-depth review of the B2B purchase process.
- Audit your existing content across your organization. Determine what you can continue to use, what needs updating, what needs to be deleted and what needs to be added.
- Check all of your content related plans. Include your promotional plans, your editorial calendar and other company information.
2. Provide the content prospects actively seek before you’re aware they’re in market for your products and services.
Research shows that B2B companies are 57+% of the way through the purchase process before the vendor realizes it.
Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:
- Make the 5 key content types your prospects want available and easy-to-find. Translation: Quality content, not expensive sales collateral that no one reads. Otherwise, you risk loosing your prospect before you even know your firm was under consideration for the sale.
As they relate to B2B customers these 5 basic types of content are:
- Detailed product information. Pull out all the stops. Include every minor detail that your prospect could possibly want as well as photos and videos where applicable.
- Respond to every potential customer question. Go to your sales and customer service employees to determine what your prospects and customers are asking. Do this well and you’ll create a win-win.
- Explain to prospects how to use your products and services. Put yourself in an educational offering mindset. This means that you have to go beyond just providing basic information. You must make it easy-to-consume and help readers to apply their learnings to your products.
- Show your offering in the context of your customers’ businesses. This is the equivalent of styling for consumers. Where possible, spotlight your product in use in your customers’ businesses. (Tip: Get customers’ permission to take photographs. Skip the stock photos of busy professionals. Prospects know the difference.)
- Offer customer ratings and reviews. For high-end B2B sales, your prospects are going to check with their colleagues and connections. Think case study where you get input from satisfied customers and how your firm helped them to increase sales or reduce costs or problems.
3. Humanize your business through content creation to build relationships
There are two sides to this tactic: Your employees and your customers.
Understand the objectives, needs and concerns of everyone involved in the purchase decision and the day-to-day product use.
This is particularly important if you’re the new company on the block. Many B2B buyers will select a known brand over a lesser known competitor. As the saying goes, “No one ever got fired for buying from IBM.” Personally, I’ve chosen more expensive alternatives to avoid potential issues with my boss later.
Actionable Content Marketing Tip:
- Remember: people buy from people. This is why your content needs to present the people behind your business.
Actionable Content Marketing Tactics:
- Get everyone in your organization to participate in content creation. Take a page from Jay Baer and Marcus Sheridan: Make it ridiculously easy for employees to contribute to your content creation.
- Remove barriers to employee action. It can be as simple as BCCing a special content marketing email address. Of course, someone must be responsible for transforming this information into prospect-friendly content.
- Encourage your employees to show themselves. Get even the most recluse engineer to open up. When I speak and given training programs, this is one of the key questions I get. Use video so that your experts are in their element as teachers.
The key to maximize B2B content creation resources without using more budget is to plan ahead and get your entire organization involved.
Do your homework. Assess the information that you’ve got across your organization, how it’s used and distributed to customers.
Most B2B purchases aren’t once and done. The reality is that most B2B purchases require on-going support and interaction. This provides opportunities to solidify and expand your relationship.
Be aware that in many companies the on-going users weren’t involved in the purchase process. Get these employees to be part of your content offering. Make them real people. Find out the types of challenges they face. Get their insights on how to have a successful install of your product. Use video to explain what to do.
How do you maximize your B2B content creation resources without additional budget?
BTW, here are more insights on the 2016 US B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks research.
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