Do you want to create B2B content that your audience actually wants to read in 2018?
Are you struggling to find great B2B content ideas?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 business, there are two questions that you should asking yourself to ensure your content sticks:
Do you know what your audience wants?
Do you know what format they want it in?
For most B2B brands, the answer is no.
And that’s why we’re going to dive into the processes you can start taking to really understand your audience and craft B2B content that resonates.
Let’s get to it…
Use B2B Data To Understand Your Audience Better
If you ask any business owner who hasn’t gone through a persona process to describe their customer, you will hear a response that describes a perfect human. Ok, some entrepreneurs and marketers are more tuned into reality, but for the most part, we base our “target audience” solely on assumptions and guesses.
I can remember when I worked in advertising. We would spend hours chatting with clients about who would use their product. Generally, the first hour would be spent simply gazing into the stars and describing the people we wanted to be. Instead of playing guessing games with our target audiences and personas, it’s important to base your logic on insights and analytics.
First, let’s start by describing exactly what a B2B persona is:
A persona is a hypothetical description that highlights key attributes of your businesses target audience. It highlights their demographic, psychographic, needs, wants and their lifestyle. But not all personas are created equal.
You have to differentiate between two groups:
Your B2B Brands Audience
The audience is the folks who consume your content, share your content and frequently act as supporters of your brand. It’s these folks who are influential within your industry and, while they might not use your product or service, they are most certainly willing to spread the word.
In many ways, your brand audience is somewhat of a little PR & Marketing Military that goes out to channel after channel singing your praises.
Your B2B Brands Buyers
These folks are the ones who actually by your stuff. In many instances, they are influenced by your brand audience and, at one point in time, could have even fallen into that category.
Your buyers are the ones who get deeper into understanding the value that your product or service offers and see’s where that value would benefit them. It’s at this point where the exchange in value takes place and they go from potential buyer to existing customer.
To identify the persona of each of these groups, you need to do a lot of research. I tend to look at my clients’ existing databases to review everything ranging from their client list to their mailing list.
From there, I look to more traditional avenues to understand the audience such as the PRIZM lifestyle lookup. Once I’ve done my research with both PRIZM and social media listening, I try to understand what these people are all about!
I analyze their content habits on social media and the web to understand where they spend time and how they use the channels.
For example, research would show that developing a Slideshare marketing plan might make sense to target a business professional, but a brand looking to target college students would be better off marketing on Instagram.
It’s this knowledge that helps you understand what content will make your audience keep coming back for more.
Repurpose & Reuse Your Old Content Assets
Could it really be that simple?
Could the content that you’ve created in the past play a role in determining what content your readers want in the future? Psychology studies dating back to the 1960’s have determined that the answer to this question are yes.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Psychology claims as an established “psychological fact of life” that, “when it comes to human beings, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”
End of story.
Years later, Psychological scientists who study human behavior still agree that past behavior is a useful marker for future behavior.
In marketing, some of the key things to consider is how many people actually consumed your content, how they got there, what they did after they read it and whether or not they got in touch with you!
Think about the many different types of content that you’ve created over the years:
It’s likely that you’re already sitting on a gold mine of assets worth sharing!
Which takes me to my next point…
B2B Brands Need To Distribute Their Content
Too often do B2B businesses feel as if it’s enough to simply create the content and overlook the fact that it’s important to invest in content distribution. Content that isn’t distributed to a large sample size will taint the results of using historical data to better understand what they want.
In fact, the lack of content distribution is one of the two most important factors that many marketing organizations overlook and that’s why they often see their efforts fall flat:
A few ways to better predict the future of content success is to look at which blog posts have generated the most social shares, traffic and conversion rates. Evaluate the topics of the posts and truly analyze what it was about those posts that made people want to share them.
Ask yourself if there’s any similarity between the most frequently shared content and those that are barely shared at all. Look close at the language you use in your posts, how you sign off your content and even compare the language used in the headline.
For me, one trend that I’ve noticed, is that inspirational blog posts are consistently shared more often than posts that break down the power of content marketing or social media. When I write blog posts about overcoming fears or life lessons, they’re more likely to generate traffic and shares.
At the same time, I’ve also noticed that these inspirational posts don’t drive as much conversion in comparison to my marketing posts which makes for an ongoing battle to balance the two.
You don’t have to give away prizes and run a handful of promotions to keep visitors coming back for more. Making strategic decisions around what type of content you should create and truly understanding what your audience is interested in, will give you a chance to build a strong community.
As you learned above, history can help predict the future. History shows us that most people are going to be too lazy to actually implement these tactics and simply move on as if they never read it.
You however, need to break the trend.
You need to be different.
You need to be a round peg in a square hole.