In a world where potential B2B customers are spending over 10 hours a day staring at their screens, it’s only natural that B2B marketers would want to show up on those screens, too. Unfortunately, between work and play, not to mention endless notifications and countless distractions, people have never had more demands on their attention. If you want people to pay attention to your content, it better stand out.
We asked our extended community of marketing leaders what their most valuable marketing tactics were during the pandemic. Here’s how B2B marketers leveraged content to start new conversations with prospects, drive market engagement and build a strong pipeline.
As Karine Regev, VP of marketing at Hysolate, put it, "Content is the core of every account based marketing (ABM) strategy, the driver of every qualified inbound conversation. Marketers can’t function without it." Most of her fellow marketers agreed. To help improve the impact of your content, here are a few tips from the marketers we spoke to.
Get to the Point
To cut through the noise in an always-on world, the key to success is content that quickly gets to the point. "As marketers, we’ve had to adjust to people working from home," said Keren Fridman, former director of marketing at Alcide (recently acquired by Rapid7). "People are more distracted now, and to connect, your content needs to be short, to-the-point and memorable."
Ali Jawin, senior director of marketing at The RepTrak Company, shared a similar perspective. "We quickly realized that prospects had the same challenges that they did pre-pandemic, but less time or patience to research solutions. We made every piece of content as digestible as possible, using a lot of video and infographics. Ultimately, the results spoke for themselves."
Related Article: 5 Ways to Stand Out in a Sea of Content
Support Your Customers
Last year was a difficult time for just about everybody, especially during the uncertainty and chaos of the pandemic’s early days. While it may seem like a tired cliché at this point, the idea that "we’re all in this together" served many marketers as a valuable touchstone. As Fred Waugh, former SVP of marketing at Arena Solutions (recently acquired by PTC), put it, "Companies that support their customers through tough times will be winners in the long-term."
For some, customer support ended up being one of the most effective content strategies of 2020. “We had a lot of success with content that advised businesses on how to get through the pandemic,” said Melissa Lapp, senior director of brand marketing at Comcast Business. “Businesses look for partners with expertise and a vested interest in helping them come out of this on the other side. We showed we are there for them in the moments that really matter.”
Jim Somers, CMO at CipherHealth, shared a similar philosophy. “Take care of your current customers first and foremost, and through the trust you build will come growth. Your customers will always be your most effective advocates, so we focused on creating a customer community by connecting customers with each other on social media and sharing best practices on how to make it through the pandemic.”
Related Article: It's Not Just What You Say, It's How You Say It
Personalize at Scale
While it's hard to dispute the value of content, especially in times like these, it’s not about pumping out as much content as you can. Focusing on personalizing the content you have, so it speaks directly to your potential customers, is the better, more targeted way to reach them.
“More campaigns, more content, more channels. In normal times, it might have worked,” said Jawin. “But consumers are more sensitive to time and energy than ever before. Doing more simply wouldn’t move the needle. What would? Identifying companies that showed intent and moving them through the funnel more efficiently.”
Jawin and others got results by personalizing their content at scale using the intent data of target accounts. “Instead of trying to get new email addresses, we focused on accounts with proven interest and built our marketing metrics around optimizing their customer journey. My advice: Take the time to know your accounts, understand their interests, and personalize at scale.”
By targeting content to high-intent buyers and tailoring it to their needs, marketers like Jawin have been moving more prospects through the funnel and ultimately, closing deals. "Generating 10% more leads would not have an effect on our bottom line, but when we focused on improving our conversion rate by 10% ... let’s just say that no one has asked marketing about leads ever since.”
Related Article: Personalization Prep Work: Is Your Content Ready?
B2B Marketers Know the Power of Content
It’s hard to imagine B2B marketing without content. B2B marketers relied on content (white papers, technical briefs, product demos, conference presentations, etc.) decades before “content marketing” became a thing. Nevertheless, 2020 served as an important reminder of content’s continuing power to educate, inspire, and most importantly, convert.
For a killer content strategy that closes deals, stay mindful of your audience’s time and attention span, be empathetic to their challenges, and personalize your content to their concerns — at scale, where possible.
The world will continue to evolve as we recover from the pandemic, but these lessons will surely hold up in 2021 and beyond.