Have you ever taken the time to look at your B2B customer journey?
Companies and brands ought to connect with their customers, but amid taking care of customers, sales and a gazillion other things, it is easy to forget about building relationships with those who are just walking into your marketing funnel.
The old way of sending out collateral, brochures, and other marketing material to customers and prospects is not enough anymore.
Empowered B2B buyers: The current state
With the rise of the internet, the B2B buyer has the privilege to access information available to the B2B vendor.
Before speaking with a sales rep, they may be already armed with more information than they used to.
What that means is that a buyer of a B2B product (or service) does not revolve around a company anymore.
Contents to use for your B2B customers’ journey
What content marketing mix do you have for each stage of your customer journey?
Needs in each journey vary. And your company can help by creating and providing share-worthy and helpful contents focused on your audience’s “felt” needs.
According to a research, there are 10 popular content types that B2B companies use.
There are also tools and resources you can use to make each content to work for your business.
Social media content | 1
One of the biggest mistakes that B2B companies make is ignoring the fact that social media is a part of their customer journey.
Social media is an effective way to keep in touch with customers.
Social media is a platform that is excellent for B2Bs to build brand awareness, thought leadership; and it has slowly shifted (which is great!) to establishing business relationships.
Customers are no longer looking for one-off content, but rather, also, the ability to have a conversation with your brand.
And by engaging in social media, the company can make the experience more personalized and memorable, which increases the chances of a positive outcome.
Social media tools
If your B2B company manages several social media profiles, you can use social media management platforms. It can help you save time to schedule posts and track your posts. You can try:
B2B focused blog posts | 2
Blogging, in its simplest form, is a way to connect with your audience by providing them valuable information that is helpful to them – and build a relationship.
But blogging isn’t always the tool of choice of some B2B companies for digital marketing strategy.
I can think of several reasons this is so; but one of them is that some companies do not find enough value on business blogging, hence the lack of investment.
Three common “rejections” regarding corporate blogging
“No time for it.
My advice: “Buy time” by hiring someone who has the expertise to craft the corporate blog post for you.
“But the writers don’t know our industry.”
My advice: I know it’s hard to hire someone who does not have skin in the game, but you can provide your writer a content brief that will help him/her craft a winning content for you.
“No budget for it.“
My advice: I heard it said and I believe it, “You’ve got to spend money to make money”, and this rings especially true for the marketing and sales process.
Questions you need to answer in-house if you decide to blog for your B2B company
It doesn’t matter whether you are doing this in house or if you are going to have someone do this for you. You should have these taken care of:
- Your business blogging goals
- Content formats
- Content distribution plan
Here’s the fundamental key to make your blog a success: focus on your customer’s needs.
When you are ready to take your B2B company blogging further and want to make sure that it is done right including getting found on search engines, let me know. Scale the learning curve, get training. (<~ shameless plug)
Email newsletters | 3
Nurture your leads and customers using email.
Separate the email for your leads and for your existing customers.
The needs of your existing customers are not the same as the needs of your leads.
You can create your own email content or simply curate on-topic and on-target content that will go straight to the inbox of your clients and prospects.
Use Sender, it allows you to use it for free for up to 2,500 subscribers. It has tons of e-newsletter templates. You can customize using images and text or personalize it for your recipient.
If you like to track the subscribers who value your emails the most, try SendPulse.
It shows you the open and click rates and the read and unread rate of each subscriber.
In-person events | 4
Person-to-Person Interaction (PPI) remains to be valuable for engagement.
It establishes rapport with your audience and helps nurture existing business relationships. It also helps you connect with a wider network.
To optimize your marketing efforts using this strategy, you can use:
- Attendify, an app that lets you create a private social network for your event. Attendees can post photos and videos from your event and build conversations with each other.
- If you like an app to handle several events at the same time and to provide you with interactive profile listings, notifications that you can send to your attendees, and a business matchmaking function, Jublia event app will help you do the work.
Videos – Live or recorded | 5
According to ReelSEO, “73% of B2B organizations say that video has positively impacted marketing results.”
Topics for your video content can vary depending on how you intend to use it and your target audience.
How-to and product or service features and professional reviews are the most common content, but you need not limit yourself to these.
- doing a web calls,
- conducting web seminars,
- virtual shop floor tours, which is what manufacturing companies did to celebrate #mfgday last year
Some B2B marketers use Wistia to host a maximum of three videos for free. Wistia can analyze lead engagement, so you can easily identify videos which you can use for leads conversion.
For live video marketing, go for ClickMeeting. With user-friendly features, it guides you in conducting live streams from preparation to actual presentation.
Case studies | 6
Build your credibility and provide evidence of solutions you provide. This is best achieved through case studies.
Case studies are unique to your brand and are a perfect medium to attract potential clients.
Case studies resources
There is no one-size-fits-all template for case studies, but you can use these free resources to inspire you into writing compelling stories:
- Gizmodo:“The 22 Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar”
- HubSpot:“How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide and Template”
- TED Talks:Video Playlists About Storytelling
Infographics/charts/photos/data | 7
If you have complex ideas to share, simplify them through infographics, charts, photos, and other visual representations.
This type of content does not only present information but also captures a broad range of audiences using engaging and creative elements.
It has templates and hi-resolution photos are available to share and publish.
Webinars/online events | 8
Webinars and online events are affordable and easy to produce and set no limits to the number of people you can reach at once.
You can reach as many prospects as you like in one session.
Livestorm is a webinar platform that comes with emailing tools and unlimited recording storage.
Another tool is EverWebinar with more advanced tracking features like webinar behavior tracking and an option that allows you to track your profit from a particular webinar.
White papers | 9
This type of content lets you highlight your expertise not as a seller, but as a knowledge leader in your industry.
White papers also help you build a mailing list when used as a tool that will call people to subscribe or sign up (to your social media account, newsletter, and the likes).
White paper references
To inspire you in making white papers that work, you can adopt effective strategies from successful companies, such as:
- Tableau software uses resources aside from their in-house content and features white papers from other thought leaders.
- DocuSign highlights how their services impact various industries. They translate complex ideas to simple and easy-to-digest type of narrative.
eBooks/Guides | 10
Ebooks can combine tests with visuals, making it an easier read than white papers. It is a tool that can empower your readers with practical tips, checklists, and actionable insights.
eBooks tools and resources
Learn from these model ebooks:
- Salesforce (educational and in-depth without being pushy);
- Intercom (with endorsement from influencers and uses an attractive design); and,
- Microsoft (uses a data-driven approach by presenting massive statistics)
Mapping content of the B2B customer journey for each stage
Keep in mind that 67% of B2B buyers would not hesitate switching to another product/service provider who offers a more optimized consumer experience.
Customers need to be able to access information and resources at the time that is convenient for them, making a seamless customer journey and experience a top priority for marketers.
It is your responsibility as a B2B company to focus on how to fit your product (or service) into the lives of your buyers.
A 2020 survey taken among B2B marketers, suggesting certain types of content assets that work best for each customer journey stage.
Here are the stages of the B2B content customer journey that can lead toward conversion.
(Note: Each stage includes suggested pieces of content for each state of the journey)
Stage 1- Brand awareness
At this stage, you need to pique the interest of your audience and leave them wanting more.
Basically, the goal is for them to visit and browse through your website so they can get to know who you are and what you offer.
Aside from curating social media content that reflects your personality as a brand, you can provide blog posts and short articles that will differentiate yourself from competitors. In-person events with hands-on stations and exhibits, or workshop events attended by influencers in your industry can leave a lasting impression to prospects.
Stage 2 – Securing leads
After knowing who you are and what you offer, your prospect must be curious enough about your brand to make them dig deeper.
Provide your clients with content that gives solutions rather than simply advertising your B2B company.
It is equally important to highlight that your prospect’s problems/issues are worth solving and can yield benefits.
Your content should be able to convince your prospect to act on their questions/issues. Hence, it must be absolutely helpful.
Conduct an interactive webinar providing the solutions you can do that are available to them.
You can also hold a lecture event where you can feature client testimonials or thought leaders to help establish credibility with the solutions you offer.
When creating an ebook, keep your target audience in mind, involve influencers in the content making, and nail a short yet effective landing page like this.
Stage 3 – Nurturing leads
A key principle to remember at this stage is, “Do not lose touch with your prospect or you will lose the sale.”
Nurture your leads by staying top of the mind.
Send them an e-newsletter highlighting your brand’s unique offerings, success stories, and other resources.
Focus on those leads that you have contacted in the last 12-24 months.
Blog posts, and short articles at this stage are crucial and must include a smart call to action.
Internal linking or linking to other pages in your site is a great way to boost your page’s credibility.
You can also hold In-Person events and level up the game by creating a theme with interactive elements.
Incorporate contests or giveaways in your event. Case studies highlighting success stories are great tools for nurturing leads.
Tip: Launch Marketing gives a good example of how you can nurture your leads through a series of emails and content:
1st email – Start with an educational thought leadership asset on a specific topic.
2nd email–Follow with a third-party analyst report explaining why this topic is relevant and how to choose the right solution (ideally ranking you very well, of course).
3rd email – Provide a customer case study or video praising your solution.
4th email–End on a more salesy messaging explaining why you are the right solution provider for them to partner with.
Stage 4 – Converting leads to Sale
You’ve provided your prospect with clear answers and solutions.
They’ve done their own research and did comparisons along the way.
Now it’s time to amplify your content and strategies to convince them to choose you.
In-Person events, case studies, and webinars need a supporting follow up at this stage.
For events, identify the challenges of your event attendees (or leads) and design your event around it.
Then send relevant updates to your guests after the event through email or using one of the apps/tools we’ve shared earlier.
If you’re conducting webinars, send a post-event survey right after the webinar or send an email follow up within 24 hours of the webinar.
You can also personalize follow-ups for your hot leads.
This way, you’ll be able to gain additional insights from your attendees and see if most of them are interested to use your services.
A recorded live interview with one of your loyal clients is one type of case study that can help you convert leads.
Video case studies are sincere and compelling, with real people talking candidly about their challenges and how you’ve helped them.
Ready for your B2B customer journey?
When creating a piece of content your focus should not be on a specific content but on the broader scope of aligning your content marketing strategies to your business goal to match that with your customer’s journey.
The right content executed at the right time for the right audience will make a huge impact on your business.
Try these strategies when you plan and curate your content and see how it works for you.