Many a picture can be found of me rocking the denim overalls…in elementary school. What can I say, they were in style! Thankfully those pictures have “mysteriously” disappeared (sorry, Mom!) along with the fashion trend. But now, overalls are back! A little more stylish, but still back in vogue.
Trends come and go, constantly changing and developing over time. One day, everyone’s talking about it; the next, shunned to the clearance rack of shame. It’s the same when it comes to marketing strategies.
Content marketing has become one of the newest, most talked about trends in the marketing world, with 93% of B2B marketers using it today! I can’t scroll through one tweet or Google+ post without seeing some type of reference to it. But is it just a trend, or a new, permanent aspect of the overall marketing mix? I for one hope it’s here to stay!
So what exactly is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines it as:
“a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing encompasses a wide range of marketing tactics, such as infographics, newsletters, video, and case studies. One of the most popular tactics is blogging, with 76% of B2B marketers using the strategy to reach their audience.
B2B blogging is used to both educate and generate leads. The content and articles are either created by employees, usually in the marketing and sales departments, or by a separate content creation team.
Some of the main benefits of a B2B blog include:
- Cost effective – you don’t need to pay to publish your content on your own site!
- Education – use different types of content other than text (video, photos, charts, etc.) to educate your prospects at different points in the sales cycle.
- SEO – a new and different way to drive people to your site (other than product pages) by utilizing important keywords and getting quality backlinks.
- Real-time feedback – comments sections of blogs allow for immediate response from your target audience, with questions, concerns, and interactions that could lead to a sale!
The Three Rules of Effective B2B Blogging
1. Be consistent and on time. A blog can be a big time commitment. You need to post regularly and on a strict schedule. Some companies can post once a day while others can only post once a month. Whatever your capabilities are, make sure you stick to that schedule, so that your readers will remain engaged. If they don’t see new content when they expect to, they won’t come back.
2. Don’t promote your product (too much). Save this type of content for the “Features” page of your website. Sure, you can talk about your product and what it has done for other companies, but if your blog is just one post after another about your “incredible, fancy, life-changing” product, aka a sales pitch, you’re going to lose your readers.
3. Above all, remain focused and write for your audience! If you’re a fundraising software company and want to blog about that industry, make sure each topic has something to do with fundraising or nonprofits. If you’re a CRM software company and want to blog about marketing technology, you probably shouldn’t write content about complicated accounting policies. While it might be useful, keep it to what you know and what your audience wants to read.
Your readers will come to your blog for your expertise. They don’t want to read mediocre content that has nothing to do with your knowledge; they can go to another blog for that. But you want them to read your blog (and no one else’s!) for your specific thoughts and expertise.
Check out these B2B software companies who are great examples of how to have a great B2B blog:
HubSpot is an inbound marketing software company, including features such as marketing automation, email marketing, and landing pages. Their blog is divided into four categories: Marketing, Sales, Insiders, and Opinion. They have new content every day, and offer their readers the ability to subscribe to whichever category they want for daily email digests of new posts.
Wild Apricot provides software for small associations and nonprofits to manage their membership, website, and events. Their blog covers the topics that affect their audience, including resources for nonprofits, advice for successful fundraising, and tips for associations and membership organizations. They also use current events to spice up their content, such as the Oscars. New content is posted a few days a week and offers a way for readers to subscribe for emails when the latest content is published.
Mhelpdesk sells field service management software, used for job tracking, invoicing and billing, and work order management. Their blog is updated less frequently, about every one to two weeks, but covers a wide variety of topics focused on their customers’ needs, including product updates, how-to’s, tips & tricks, and more! They also share important information about their company, letting their customers in on the inner workings of the business, making them feel like more than just another customer.
There are many, many more blogs that epitomize the best in B2B blogging. What other B2B software blogs do you read? Add your favorites in the comments below!