How SaaS Companies Win with Content Marketing?

By Michael Brenner on February 8, 2021

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies live in a universe of mathematical code, complex processes, and highly technical jargon.

Potential customers need someone to unpack all that jargon and explain it to them in plain English – or whatever language they speak.

That need makes SaaS companies a perfect fit for content marketing. Can they still win with it, even in a saturated space? A better question would be, “Can they win without content marketing?” The answer, as we’ll explain in more detail, is “No.”

Quick Takeaways

  • SaaS brands need to communicate complexity with simplicity.
  • Since the SaaS business model requires a long-term customer relationship, content that forms and nurtures that relationship is essential.
  • Content marketing builds brand awareness in a crowded field and drives ROI.
  • With a comprehensive content marketing strategy, SaaS brands can showcase their products’ unique value.

SaaS Brands Need a Long-Term Marketing Strategy

One of the most compelling advantages SaaS customers enjoy is convenience. They can set their subscription to renew automatically or at the touch of a button. There’s no need to go online or out to a store to buy a new box of software. It’s a long-term customer relationship.

These brands, therefore, need a marketing strategy that nurtures that relationship. Content that informs potential customers about what the service can do for them can help. Blog posts, videos, and other types of content that enable existing customers to get the most out of their SaaS investment, too, are valuable ways to ensure customer loyalty and referrals.

Content Marketing Builds Brand Awareness

Unless your SaaS company is an industry giant, you need to inform your target customers that you have a service that can help them. Content marketing can do just that. In fact, Neil Patel has steered his SEO software service into a business powerhouse simply by providing customers and prospects actionable information on his blog and newsletter.

For small-to-medium-sized SaaS companies, content marketing is easy on the budget and can drive more sales than traditional marketing strategies. According to DemandMetric, it costs 62 percent less and produces three times more leads than advertising and other marketing strategies.

Informative content can help prospects see the value your service can bring to their business or their lives. SaaS services can differentiate themselves from their competitors with content that points out the advantages of choosing them to do business with.

Image courtesy of Demand Metric

SaaS Companies That Use Content Marketing See a Dramatic Rise in ROI

As Keap’s Pratik Dholakiya points out, statistics show that SaaS companies that leverage content marketing enjoy returns of as much as 657 percent on their investment. Now, that’s what I’d call winning. Whether yours is a startup, a legacy brand, or somewhere in between, those numbers are hard to refute.

SaaS Startups

Many of the SaaS brands who were mere startups only a few years ago have risen to global prominence, thanks to strategic content marketing. HubSpot, for one, has experienced incredible growth from its content marketing, as has SEO software provider Moz.

Legacy Brands

Similarly, technology brands whose roots lie in the previous century can use content marketing to keep a step ahead of the ever-growing number of upstarts. For instance, legacy SaaS giant IBM maintains its relevance even today through a massive library of thought leadership content, much of it created by regular employees, not only its marketing department.

Strategy Is the Key to SaaS Content Marketing Success

Content marketing for SaaS companies, though, needs a solid strategy to drive those numbers into that 657 percent range and upward. Let’s take a look at marketing strategies that have proven to yield results for SaaS brands.

Leverage employee expertise in SaaS content for optimum results

Brands, like IBM, that showcase their employees’ expertise through content marketing build trust among their prospects. Statistics show that employee-generated leads are seven times more likely to convert than traditional marketing messages.

Furthermore, content that non-marketing employees create yields eight times more engagement than ones that come from sales and marketing teams. When you bring subject matter experts in on the content marketing process, your brand’s authenticity shines through.

Make it all about the customer

Today’s customers want to deal with a company that they can trust – a business that is an authority in its field. Customer-centric content marketing is the best way to earn your prospects’ trust.

Study customer data

Content marketing, done right, starts with a deep dive into your prospects’ and customers’ data. Knowing their needs, their desires, and their pain points can give your content teams enough insight to create content that helps them rise to meet their challenges.

Segment your email audiences

Segmenting your audiences is critical, especially when it comes to email newsletters. Microsoft, for instance, has a broad spectrum of target audiences it needs to reach with information about its flagship product, Microsoft 365. From home users to small businesses to enterprises in various fields, they span a wide range.

Microsoft 365’s blog posts reflect that diversity, with some of them directed at meeting the needs of specific customer segments, while other posts provide material of general interest. Using an industry-specific menu of static content, the site’s analytics can differentiate users in the healthcare industry from those in retail, for example. That way, when a user becomes a subscriber, the company can personalize the content it sends to the user’s unique needs.

Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft 365

If you don’t use your users’ online activity to segment audiences, you can also use social media analytics, surveys, or an extra field on your sign-up form to indicate their specific interest.

Tackle your customers’ most pressing challenges

What differentiates effective SaaS content from the mediocre starts here. Defining the problems your customers face is the first step toward solving them. Then, create content in which you outline easy-to-implement steps that they can put into action immediately to solve those problems.

Stand out from the crowd with your USP

You don’t need a boring recitation of all your software’s features in a blog post. Prospects want to see what makes it better than its competitors in solving their problems. Showcase your unique selling proposition with content that shows instead of tells.

Use case studies, customer success stories, and how-to posts to demonstrate why and how its features make it a better fit for your target audience’s needs. Create graphs or infographics that tell the story in numbers, especially if your business is primarily B2B.

Position yourself as a thought leader in your space

As someone in a leadership role in a tech company, you know all too well that yesterday’s “shiny new toy” can quickly become obsolete overnight. Use content marketing to place yourself and your expertise on the leading edge of your industry.

Thought-provoking questions and comments on social media can start some buzz around your brand. Fleshing out those thoughts in blog posts, white papers, and ebooks can start turning heads your brand’s way.

Use current events that impact your target customers’ industries to extend your reach even further. Unless the event has already been covered to death, sharing your take on an event can demonstrate your brand’s leadership and foresight.

Offer a free trial as a call to action in bottom-of-the-funnel content

If your service lives up to the standards that your content promised, serious prospects will likely convert into paying customers after a free trial. Unless they use your software to handle a one-off problem, chances are that they’ll discover how well your software works to make their day-to-day work easier. If the cost to get your product into your prospects’ hands for a few days plus customer acquisition costs is less than the customer’s lifetime value, then a free trial is well worth your trouble.

Provide trial users with specialized content that helps them get the most value out of their trial subscription. When they see the success that your software can provide to them in only a few days, they’ll be likely to pull the trigger and subscribe as a paid customer.

After the sale, keep customers loyal with gated content that only customers can access. Focus that content on teaching your customers better ways to use your product.

Use account-based marketing content to land your big accounts

Some prospects offer the potential for a huge influx of revenue. Usually, these companies are large enterprises with a massive user base (if you price per user).

Or, these firms might be so well-known that having them as a customer will position you as a leader in your field. When other companies see that this company has signed on, they’ll be more likely to jump on the bandwagon, too.

Account-based marketing (ABM) content is labor-intensive, but the benefits of acquiring such a customer are well worth the effort. Start by looking at the challenges each of the target company’s main decision-makers face and create content that addresses those concerns.

Collaborating with your sales and customer service teams can help you identify common objections and feedback that your prospect and similar companies face. Subject matter experts, such as your development and design teams, can provide information about the technical details that make your product the one solution that will answer your prospect’s objections and solve their problems.

As time goes on, you can keep a repository of effective account-based marketing content that you can tweak and repurpose for future prospects. Doing so will allow you to extend a modified ABM strategy to several major prospects at the same time.

Content marketing stands heads above other marketing strategies for SaaS companies. Its adaptability to the unique needs of SaaS brands will make it a major player in the space for years to come.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today – and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Like every aspect of your overall marketing strategy, your content marketing strategy should have two goals: to reach and convert. Therein, however, lies the challenge.

How can you develop content that will reach your target customers, engage them with content they will read, and eventually convert them to buy your products and services?

Even more importantly, how can you develop a content marketing strategy that will grow with your business – in alignment with what content marketing really is supposed to be.

In our content marketing workshops, we teach our clients a seven-point strategy that works no matter what size your business. It will not only help you grow but most importantly, it will grow with you.

How to Develop and Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

Follow this simple strategy, and you’ll have content marketing that will get your target customers’ attention, hook them with useful content, and convert them into eager buyers—even brand evangelists.

7 Steps To Develop A Content Marketing Strategy

  1. Learn and use content marketing best practices.
  2. Develop a mission statement and a business case to provide guidelines for those to whom you delegate content marketing tasks.
  3. Create content that reaches all your target customers no matter where they are on their buyer journey.
  4. Edit all your content to focus on qualified prospects, with your goal to attract and convert them into paying customers.
  5. Find which channels your target customers use—and use those to publish your content.
  6. Calculate and track your content marketing program’s return on investment (ROI), and then adjust your content marketing strategy to prioritize those methods that produce the best ROI on content marketing.

Best Practices for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

  • Define and document your mission: Even though you might know instinctively what your content marketing strategy should include, you need something documented to guide those to whom you delegate tasks, as the Forbes Council’s Elyse Flynn Meyer points out. That strategy should include the “what” and “why” behind your mission. Every piece of content you publish needs to focus on your mission. Learn to edit out those pieces that don’t. Document your mission—and see to it that every staff member knows it.
  • Designate a staff member to be accountable for your content marketing strategy’s success:When you start out, that person might be you. As you grow, you might want to delegate your content to a digital content marketing agency or to a chief marketing officer (CMO) and his or her staff. Spell out your expectations in writing so that your content marketing agency head or CMO can better focus on the tasks that will best achieve your goals.
  • Publish content consistently on a channel your company owns: Social media and other distribution channels can change their rules on a whim. Not only that, but they sometimes fold. Remember MySpace? If you had invested all your content marketing into that content marketing platform, you’d be out of luck. Create email lists, subscription services, and blog posts on company-owned platforms and use third-party channels for supplemental distribution. That way, you can concentrate on your business, not the comings and goings of Silicon Valley’s latest darlings.
  • Map your content to your customers’ buyer journey: Design each piece of content you publish to reach specific customers at a given spot along their buyer journey. For example, a customer who’s looking for a DIY solution to his or her problem might want a checklist or a how-to video. Someone who’s actively considering purchasing your goods or services might want to read over some case studies about how you’ve helped others succeed—or an in-depth white paper that provides a detailed solution to one of their challenges.
  • Distribute your content on both social and paid channels: Most of today’s social media platforms have incredible analytics that you can take advantage of to discover—and target—those most likely to buy from you. Keep them informed at the places they’re most likely to hang out on social media. On the other hand, create opportunities for your customers to interact with you on a deeper basis, such as blog posts, email subscriptions with unique insights targeted at solving their problems, and paid subscription services that publish content whose worth way exceeds the cost.
  • Focus on your content subscribers: When someone takes the time and effort to subscribe to your content publications, that means your content is something they need to make their lives—or their business—go more smoothly. Discover their biggest challenges and publish content that meets those challenges effectively.
  • Track, optimize, and measure your content marketing ROI: Without a way to track whether your strategy is effective, you’re wasting every dollar, every moment you spend on content marketing. Get the jump on your competitors and boost your bottom line with a tracked and well-documented content marketing program. Chances are, you’ll be in the minority. As Meyer points out, only 37% of all B2B content marketers do this. It’s a stunning statistic—yet one you can leverage when you document which facets of your content marketing strategy actually produce results.

Grow your content marketing strategy into maturity when you leverage content marketing best practices to their fullest potential.

Use Audience Insights to Drive Your Content Marketing Strategy

Creating customer personas—brief portraits of your most likely customers—is just the beginning of your customer-focused strategy. Discover your customers’ intent and interests to dig into the topics, types of content, and preferred publications and to get a better grip on their needs.

Ask your customers questions through online or in-person surveys, informal chats, or even over dinner. Plumb the depths of their needs to come up with content they can use to solve their greatest challenges. Here are some sample questions to ask:

  • What topics would you like our content to explore? Getting a feel for their needs through some suggested topics will help your team brainstorm new ideas for posts. Even more importantly, you will be producing content your customers need—not content your writers and video producers think is clever.
  • What types of content would you read and share? Your customers’ answers to this question are the key to unlocking shares—a key component of growth in your potential customer base. You can advertise all you want—but shared content from a trusted colleague is marketing gold.
  • What channels do you use to access content? Delve deeply into what sources your target customers regularly access. If they’re rarely on Facebook except to catch up on the latest family feud, it won’t do you much good to publish problem-solving content there. Perhaps they scan through their email inbox to find helpful content. Whatever channels your customers prefer, prioritize these channels when you publish—and you’ll enjoy increased success.

Create a Content Marketing Mission Statement

You’d never start a journey without a map—or at least a fully functioning GPS device. Think of your mission statement as a GPS for your content marketing. To create your statement, define your audience, the one topic that defines your expertise, and the value your target customers will get from that expertise.

  • Define your audience: Use data analytics from previously published content, as well as surveys and other analyses of your current customer base to determine the characteristics of your target audience. Are they mostly engineers? Homemakers? Dog trainers? Learn who they are, and you can better determine what they want.
  • Define your signature topic: What do you do best? If you do several things well, choose the topic that best addresses your target customers’ needs.
  • Define your topic’s value to your target customers: For example, if you’re an engineering software company, the signature topic might be “better ways to save time and effort through leveraging design software to its full potential.” If you sell baby care products, homemakers might appreciate ways to save money by getting more use out of a single product. Whatever it is, define it.

When you narrow down your audience, signature topic, and its value to your customers, you can create a mission statement that is specific to your customers—one that brings them the highest value for the time they invest in digesting it.

Organize Your Content

To fulfill your mission, you need to provide a place where your customers can access your content easily. This digital destination needs to provide a user-friendly experience that will guide your customers quickly to the content they need.

  • List the categories you cover on the top of the webpage: Define the categories in plain English in easy-to-read fonts. Provide a search box to help them find what they need quickly.
  • Publish articles and blog posts with publication dates and author names: If a customer needs time-sensitive information, they’ll want to know the date of the article. Similarly, if a particular author provides specific insight into a subtopic that interests a customer, an author’s name will help them find that author’s articles.
  • Use strong visuals to keep readers’ interest: Don’t fight the attention curve. Go with it—and provide visuals that hook readers and keep them on the page.
  • Highlight top posts to boost engagement: If an article is performing well, make sure it appears at the top of search results under that topic. That way, it will get even more traffic, driving its appearance in general search results in Google and other search engines as well as on your website.
  • Use social sharing to spread the word: Make it easy for readers to share your content with colleagues and friends.

Define Your Staff and their Roles

As you grow, you’ll need to define which staff members bear responsibilities for which tasks. Avoid jargon and stick to easy-to-understand descriptions of each person’s duties.

  • It all rises and falls on leadership: Look for someone who both produces effective content and who also has leadership qualities. Appoint them to be your managing editor.
  • Manage your community: If you have the resources, appoint someone to manage the readership—someone who can reach out with a listening ear.
  • Own your analytics: Find a great number-cruncher who not only can analyze but who can provide you with the insights these numbers provide.
  • Design gurus: If visuals are the key to maintaining interest, you need a skilled design pro to create pages that not only provide great content but which showcase that content in a dazzling, user-friendly display.
  • Curation: If you’re a smaller company, your managing editor can choose which posts to publish and when. As you grow, your editor might need an extra hand to sift through all the contributions to find those that will best help your customers find what they need to solve their problems.
  • Content providers: Depending on your company’s size, you might have a variety of in-house content providers, including copywriters, video producers, graphic designers, and others. These days, most companies prefer to outsource this work to a content marketing agency so they can focus their staff needs on personnel skilled at what the company actually produces.
  • SEO and paid media professionals: Search engine optimization and media production has become so specialized that only the largest companies can afford to hire the finest SEO and media producers for their in-house team. Most companies find that outsourcing to a specialized agency will produce better results for less money.

Create an Editorial Strategy

Start with your customers’ questions. Next, identify which types of content and topics will best answer those questions. Create an editorial strategy that puts that content to work in a calendar that provides those answers when they need them.

Recycle previously published content to get maximum leverage out of every piece of content. For example, when you give an executive presentation, share that knowledge with your customers through SlideShares. Just published a white paper? Create an easily digestible series of blog posts from the information in the white paper for potential customers that aren’t quite ready to read a detailed, highly technical white paper. Curate others’ content to produce insights of your own.

Just like recycling and reusing raw materials and equipment, get the most out of your content marketing investment with creative recycling.

Tailor Your Content to Your Customers’ Buyer Journey

Dig deep into Google Analytics and your customers’ in-person questions to define and address the topics they want to learn about. Find out what questions they’re asking each step of the way. Learn what they’re reading. Look at what they share on social media.

From those questions and the reading list data, choose which ones fit each stage along your customers’ buying journey. Next, target content that addresses those questions and concerns to buyers on each stage.

When you plan your content to each stage of the journey, it will create a logical flow of information that builds trust, positions you as an authority, and eventually triggers more sales.

Create a Distribution Strategy that Maximizes your ROI

The film industry spends up to 60 percent of its budget on distributing its content. Businesses should do the same. If you’re a startup, learn to leverage free resources you can use to distribute content through channels that reach the right customers.

Google Analytics and most social media platforms have data analytics that are free to use. Learning how to use them, however, takes time. If you have more time than money, it’s time well spent. Look at the results each piece of content rakes in on each distribution channel—and plan future content distribution from those data.

Content Marketing Measurement and Planning

First, define your business objectives. Begin with the objectives you defined in your business case, and then look at the data to see if your content has reached those objectives. Measure your reader engagement, conversion percentages, and how well you retain customers that wouldn’t have found you were it not for your content marketing. Use a chart like the following to track your key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Measure KPIs over time: Even if you’ve hit the jackpot with a couple of viral pieces out of the box, it’s a better idea to look at your content’s KPIs over time. It will give you a more accurate picture of your reach and conversion. Track engagement as well as your conversion rate versus your total spend.
  • Create a content marketing roadmap: After you see how your content performs over time, you can create a roadmap for future content distribution. Look at what keywords you want to focus on. Plan to create content that helps you rise in the search engine results–content that brings in more conversions and revenue.

For an interactive planning guide and checklists to help you develop your content marketing strategy, use our user-friendly content marketing strategy workbook. It will lead you through each step—just like you were at one of our live events. Download your workbook today.

If you’re interested in getting more traffic and leads for your website, or documenting your content marketing strategy, check out our Content Builder Service. Setup a brief consultation and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books!

This post has become so popular that we even developed a content marketing infographic about the 7 steps to developing your content marketing strategy:

Infographic describing 7 steps to content marketing strategy

How to Create Content Your Customers Will Love to Read

By Michael Brenner on February 5, 2021

As a content marketer, I rely on data and analytics to create robust strategies for our clients.

However, when I talk to fellow professionals, I do not need these tools to guess what perhaps is the biggest obstacle we face: how to create content that your customers will love to read.

The research backs me up. SEMRush and Content Marketing Institute surveyed over 1,800 content practitioners to identify the 15 top challenges of content marketers. 33% of strategists identified developing pieces that ring true with their target audience while 38% of content marketing writers identify understanding the target audience as an issue.

Understanding other people, especially when we do not know them, is challenging. This makes creating content they find valuable even more difficult. That said, we have tools and strategies to help you alleviate the struggle and ultimately give your target audiences what they want.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Research your audience in depth before you create content.
  • Use tools to help you research keywords and analyze traffic to your digital platforms.
  • Your sales team will have a great opinion on what your customers actually want. Base your content strategy on this information.
  • You need to create content in a variety of different formats if you want to reach a wider audience.

Research Before You Create Content

A doctor would not treat a patient without researching their symptoms and the best ways to treat them. Content marketing is no different.

First and foremost, we start with our target audiences and answer the following questions: Who are they? What do they like? Where do they consume media? Where do they live? The list goes on.

While it may seem daunting to answer these questions, we recommend you use these tools and strategies to help you get to know your audiences better.

Keyword Research for Content Creation

Keyword research helps inform you about the language your target audience is using to describe your product or services. You can take the information you gleen to help you craft your content.

  • Google – The most popular search engine has several free tools to assist you in your keyword research. Google autofill provides clues as to what people are searching for around any topic based on the number of searches performed. Google Trends allows you to see how many searches there have been for a keyword or term over a period of time. The Keyword Planner takes it a step further and gives data on each search term you are targeting and how much competition you will face if you decide to use it.
  • Answer The Public – This free resource scrapes Google to identify and categorize the questions people ask around a keyword.
  • BuzzSumo – With a limited number of free searches, BuzzSumo allows you to search for the best-performing content based on social engagement. Not only is it ideal for generating content ideas, but it also allows you to see how your competition’s content has performed.

Analytics

  • Google Analytics – For brands with an established website, Google Analytics is a robust tool that can help identify who is already visiting your site, how long they are staying, and what existing content resonates.
  • Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics – Similar to Google Analytics, brands can look at their existing social media platforms to see the demographics of the current followers and the days and times they are most active.

Check out how I used my own Google analytics to create this article about the Storytelling Lessons Marketers Can Learn From Game of Thrones:

Engage the Sales Team

Now you have done your research. You analyzed the data and decided on your keywords. There is one more step you need to take to truly understanding your target audience: talk to those who know them!

This is an opportunity to engage with your brand’s sales team as they have interacted with your audience and have an understanding of their desires and pain points. This step will likely give you the best idea of what you need to include in your content.

What to Consider While Creating Content

Now that we have given you resources to help identify your target audiences and where they consume information, let’s talk about strategies to use when creating content.

Content creation is on the rise. The results from the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing report indicated that 56% of brands with a content marketing strategy plan to increase their creation efforts. With so much content being produced, it’s easy to feel like you’re getting lost in the shuffle.

B2C-Research-content-creation

Here’s what you need to keep in mind in order to avoid getting lost.

Creating Content Requires Empathy

A study by Dr. Johannes Hattula discovered that when 480 experienced marketing managers were asked to use empathy to predict how their customers would reply in a market test, they failed.

Why?

They used their personal biases and preferences to make their predictions instead of getting to know their target audience’s desires. This result suggests that empathy will make them a better content marketer because they’re able to identify with their target audience.

B2B Lead Blog founder Brian Carroll writes “… empathy is a superpower. It’s a superpower for sellers to connect – to understand another person’s feeling and experience. If we can do that we can relate.”

How can you use empathy to create more engaging content? Carroll identifies several considerations to keep in mind.

  • Build a connection with your audience before focusing on conversion.
  • Check your assumptions and biases before you do any new marketing efforts.
  • Ask yourself if your message will resonate with your audience.
  • Understand what motivates your customers.
  • Craft messages and experiences that resonate with customers.

Create Different Types of Content

We can use empathy even if we move beyond the written word. It is a common mistake to think of content only as written content. It’s not. The internet affords us the opportunity to create other content forms such as infographics, white papers, and videos.  While it requires the integration of graphic designers, videographers, and additional production time, indications point to the fact that it pays off. According to a 2018 HubSpot survey, 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business.

Here is to Winning Content Creation

If nothing else, I hope this helps you understand how critical understanding your customer is to create effective content. Through the use of the right tools and strategies listed in this article, I hope it makes the process more enjoyable for you.

Need help with your content creation? Contact us today!

5 Essentials of User Experience (UX) For eCommerce

By Michael Brenner on February 4, 2021

Providing a great user experience in your eCommerce shop is the ultimate win-win. It delights your customers, making shopping enjoyable and easy. That creates more sales for you, helping to grow your shop.

User experience matters. A smoother path to checkout means more sales for your shop. Let’s learn five essential strategies you can use to improve your eCommerce user experience.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Your eCommerce site’s accessibility is everything.
  • Have a multi-platform strategy right from the beginning.
  • It pays to tailor your website’s experience as per your visitors.
  • With an increasingly lower attention span of users, your website’s speed is everything.
  • Data says that offering support via email and live chats increases eCommerce conversions.

Make Your Site Accessible

In the competitive world of eCommerce, you can’t afford to lose 20% of your page views. Yet, if your site isn’t accessible, then this is exactly what’s happening. According to Akea, nearly a fifth of the population faces disabilities, making everyday tasks challenging.

So, what does it mean to be accessible? Here are a few examples of how to accommodate more users:

  • Screen-reading software helps those with visual impairments experience your content. You can help that software by providing cues like alt-text and captions.
  • Color blindness impacts users in a variety of ways and makes it hard to scan and read your content. Implementing higher contrast color schemes built for this in mind is helpful.
  • If your eCommerce shop includes many audio or video clips, make sure to add subtitles and captions.

Your business can’t afford to be inaccessible. Not only will you lose page views and sales, but you also run the risk of litigation. In 2019, over 10,000 companies were sued in the United States alone. That’s increasing every year.

The best solution, if you’re hosted on WordPress, is to plug into a tool like accessiBe. Instead of rewriting your site and checking it page-by-page for accessibility, this tool automates the work. It also ensures that your site is always up-to-date with accessibility compliance.

Accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do: it also helps your eCommerce shop. You’ll include more potential customers, grow your sales, and stay compliant.

Optimize For Every Platform

Will your eCommerce shop be viewed on smartphones, laptops, desktops, or tablets? The answer is “yes, all of the above.” It’s not enough to build a single-device experience. Instead, your site needs to be fully responsive for the best user experience.

Unfortunately, too many marketplaces assume how their shoppers will see the site. They focus all of their design efforts on a single experience.

  • At a bare minimum, your eCommerce shop should work on computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Too many shops have desktop-only views that require zooming in and out on mobile to see the content properly.
  • Create well-labeled forms. This helps your user’s device autofill them with the information they typically have saved to the device.
  • Make it easy to sign in on mobile, such as sending a “no password” login link to reduce the friction of signing into the user’s account.

eCommerce site builders like Wix go a long way to helping you accommodate every device with no extra programming. The best eCommerce themes are built “responsive” so that they respond to the specific device. That changes the layout and view so that you make the most of the limited screen space.

The platform supports an array of pre-made templates with great functionalities and allows merchants to set up their stores quickly and seamlessly.

Don’t forget: analytics are your friend. Leading eCommerce platforms (or Google Analytics added on top) will capture device statistics. While you should try to accommodate all devices, it also makes sense to focus more effort on leading devices.

Tailor The Experience To Your Visitors

Who wants a “one-size-fits-all” experience as a consumer? The truth is that we don’t want to all be treated equally in our online shopping.

A better consumer experience is to tailor your shop to the visitor. Part of this is what we’ve already covered, responding to the device specifics. The next level is to use what you know about the user to tailor the content.

  • Let your users play a part in their experience by adding a “save product” option. They’ll appreciate returning to the shop later to review a product they saved on mobile for research.
  • Use technology like tracking pixels and cookies to target and re-target your audience. With these tools, you can show your audience the best content for them based on their history.
  • Add a digital rewards program. As the old saying goes, it’s always easier to retain a customer than it is to go and find a new one. A rewards program helps ensure that your current customers become repeat customers.

While it’s impossible to create an individual site for each visitor, you can leverage the power of AI to tailor your site.

Use an eCommerce personalization tool like Dialogue AI to harness AI with user data to show highly tailored content and product recommendations. This is the best way to improve the customer journey of your eCommerce site, leading to overall more successful and customized journeys that increase the likelihood of a sale.

Dialogue has employed a machine learning algorithm that continuously discards less successful customer journeys and perfects ones that were successful.

Losing too many potential buyers during the checkout? It might be time to implement an abandoned cart reminder. This is a helpful feature that sends a reminder or follow-up offers to shoppers who left their site before completing a sale.

The key to differentiating your eCommerce shop is to personalize it. Use these techniques so that you don’t feel like a faceless brick-and-mortar experience.

Speed Up Your Site

There’s nothing worse than waiting for pages to load while you’re browsing for the perfect product. Your customers feel the same way, and it’s one of the most common reasons that your audience will jump to another site.

Speed is so much more than the page load times. Here are two ways that you can optimize the purchase process and keep your shoppers moving efficiently through the sales funnel:

  • Use device-specific features. Users with Apple Pay and Google Pay Send have the easiest possible checkout, so make sure you support these features. It takes fewer taps and clicks, saving your users time to make more sales.
  • Speed up your page loads. Above all, make sure that your site isn’t slow! Hosted platforms like Wix solve this for you, but if you’re self-hosted (like using WooCommerce) then tack on a CDN to speed up your shop.

Speed kills. A sluggish eCommerce site is bound to lose shoppers to the competition, so implement these options so that your site doesn’t lag behind the competition.

Offer Live Chat (And Other Support Options)

Sometimes, a single question is all that stands in the way of converting a visitor into a purchaser. How do you resolve that before you lose the sale to another site?

The answer is clear: you have to support your guests by offering options like chat and email. According to a survey by Forrester, 44% of respondents said that having questions answered by a person led to making more sales.

(Image source: Envato Elements.)

Part of the reason that brick-and-mortar shipping still has a foothold is due to the personal service that many customers need. But, you can bridge this gap by adding live chat (and even video chat!) with tools like Podium.

Make Your eCommerce Shop Easy-To-Use Today

It’s the small touches that set your shop apart. In the world of Amazon and unlimited competition with other shops, you have to provide a smooth experience.

In this article, you saw five strategies and countless tactics to improve your user’s experience. User experience makes it more fun for your users to shop and helps your site grow. Start using them today to take your shop to the next level.

Help your e-commerce store get found. Our custom Content Builder Services involve industry expert strategists and down-to-earth writers. Take a hands-off approach to content without sacrificing quality.

Feature Image source: Envato Elements.

9 Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing SEO Ranking

By Michael Brenner on February 4, 2021

Content marketing for SEO ranking is still a major priority for marketers across brands. It makes sense – think about it. When was the last time you searched for anything online, be it business insights or hotel reviews, without going to Google?

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, 62% of content marketers look at their website traffic when measuring success. Additionally, 39% believe that content marketing SEO rankings are crucial.

Despite the importance of SEO, content marketers still have trouble mastering it. It requires them to tip toe around Google’s frequently shifting guidelines, and approach the goal of ranking high from a variety of angles. There is no set method that’s been mastered; instead, content marketers have to throw a bunch of darts and hope they make a bulls eye.

The only way to have a chance at ranking high is to keep up with Google’s standards and find out what has worked for others.

Improve Your Content Marketing SEO Ranking

1. Create original, high quality content 

Google’s algorithms are always looking for the highest quality content based upon the relevant terms that searchers are inputting. Google crawls through websites, and determines relevancy based upon keywords that appear on them.

The search engine figures out whether a website is high-quality or not if other high-quality sites link to your website. Plus, it looks at the amount of engagement from users with your website, and how much content on your site is distinctive. Engagement means, are they clicking on you in a search engine and immediately returning to their search? Or are they staying on your page for a distinct amount of time and perhaps pursuing more content there?

Brandon Leibowitz of SEO Optimizers says that when it comes to content, marketers should focus on quality. “A lot of people want to put out as much content as possible. People are fixated on quantity, which is a 2012 SEO strategy.” 

To start, Leibowitz suggests writing content for the benefit of the reader, and not fixating on SEO. You should use a relevant keyword in the title of your content, but don’t try and grab someone’s attention with clickbait. Instead, think about how you can answer a question relevant to your consumer base, while incorporating keywords relevant to your brand.

Writing long-form content, especially when you’re initially trying to rank high, is more effective than content that’s light on word count.

Study after study has shown that long-form content performs quite well with Google as well as audiences,” says A.J. Ghergich, Founder of Ghergich & Co., a content marketing agency. When people are first starting out with content marketing on their blogs I actually encourage them to start with long-form content.”

In terms of length, Ghergich recommends 1,500 to 3,000 word posts that contain visual assets. These include images and video peppered throughout the content that are helpful to the readers.

Images and video are important because they decrease the likelihood of a person leaving your page quickly. If someone goes to your site and only browses for 30 seconds before leaving, and this occurs often, it means you might have a high bounce rate. Long form content that is broken up with visuals, headers, and bullet points will draw in your prospects.

These puppies are cute, please keep reading.

2. Modify your URLs

Along with putting keywords in the titles of your website’s content, Moz’s Rand Fishkin recommends placing them in your URLs as well.

When a person hovers over anchor text, he or she will see that the website is actually relevant based upon the URL. If there is no anchor text, then he or she will recognize the relevancy within the text.

Plus, URLs show up on Google, and help people decide whether or not to click on your website. If the title matches the URL, they’re going to trust it and go to your website.

The URL should be short (50 to 60 characters or less) and as readable as possible. Avoid having anything but words and dashes within your URLs. A bunch of numbers, symbols, and random letters confuse people and discourage them from clicking. Even if the title of your content has words like “the,” “and,” or “a” in it, you don’t need to include them in the URL in order for it to still be coherent. Finally, don’t use too many folders (slashes) within your URL.

3. Utilize SEO keywords 

Keywords need to appear within the title of your content, as well as in the body of it. While SEO used to be all about the keywords, it’s since expanded into broader territories. Still, keywords are very important.

To effectively utilize keywords, you must first do your research and find ones that’ll apply to your content. This must be an ongoing practice, and not something you do one time. Keyword popularity is always changing, and you have to keep up with it in order to rank high.

When deciding what keywords to use, brands can run free searches on sites like Keyword Tool. On it, you’re able to see which keywords are popular so that you can then integrate them into your content. WordStream, which provides ideas for keywords related to whatever keyword you input, is also useful. For example, if you type in “content marketing,” other popular keywords include, “original marketing content services” and “how big is content marketing agency.”

You don’t want to use keywords too many times within your content, or else Google will think you’re spammy (so will your readers). If you don’t use them enough, Google won’t know what your site is about. SEO firm Bruce Clay recommends naturally using the keywords where they work best within your content and not forcing them in there.

However, a good rule of thumb is to include your keywords in the first 200 words of your content, and one time within the first 160 characters of the meta description of the page. Along with existing in your written content, keywords should be integrated within your optimized images. According to Content Marketer Jayson DeMers, your keywords need to be built into your logo and header images, as well as your buttons and graphics on your site in your alt image text.

4. Design for the user

If you want users to be engaged, you need to design your website so that it’s easy to navigate and user-friendly. Make sure that your site has:

  • Good color contrast
  • A sensible, logical order to it, i.e. navigation at the top and content below, calls to action at the end of content, attractive visuals
  • Larger fonts
  • Content in various divided sections
  • An apparent search bar
  • White space

Your site also needs to be responsive to all different types of devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This means that it resizes and adjusts itself to the device that it’s being viewed on. Mobile friendliness is key, because mobile devices are what many consumers use when deciding whether or not they’ll make purchases.

If you want users-on-the-go to click on your website link on Google, as well as spend a decent amount of time browsing through it, you should:

  • Get your business to show up on the local search section, which appears near the top of Google and is easy to click. When you’re establishing or editing your business’ online listing, include your website, address, hours, and phone number.
  • Make sure that your site is loading fast enough. According to one study, 64% of people expect pages to fully load within four seconds. People are impatient, especially on mobile devices, and won’t hesitate to go to a competitor if the website is faster. To do this, optimize your images for mobile and reduce your website’s file size by minifying CSS and HTML. When you minify, you remove repetitive or redundant data, unused code, and unnecessary comments, and use shorter function and variable names.

5. Delete duplicate versions of pages 

Duplicate pages can be a big problem for your ranking. This is because the wrong page might get indexed, and Google will split link metrics between different versions of the page instead of attributing it only to one.

Duplicate pages can be caused by a number of factors. Perhaps you use them for click tracking or you provide a printer friendly version of your page on your website. To remedy this issue, canonicalize your duplicate pages by using a 301 redirect to the correct page. This is a tag you can place within your HTML code (“rel=”canonical”). 

If a few pages on your website are naturally similar, write more content on each of them. That way, they’ll be distinctive to Google and your site will receive more clicks all around.

6. Try out helpful tools 

There are a variety of tools on the web that can assist you with the search engine optimization process. Some of the best ones are:

  • Buzzsumo, which shows you who the key influencers are within your niche. Simply type a keyword into the site, and it’ll let you know who creates content that is popular that includes that keyword. Once you pinpoint these influencers with high-quality pages, you can reach out in hopes of having them link back to your content.
  • Google Search Console, an all-in-one platform that shows you if your content is Google ready and friendly.
  • BrowserStack, a site where you can check out how your website looks on different browsers. If it doesn’t look good across the board, you then have to modify it.
  • Google Trends, where you can view trending topics and stories. When there is a popular news item that you can relate to your company, jump on the opportunity to use the applicable keywords within your content.
  • Alexa, where you can see the most popular sites on the web. There is a category section that allows you to narrow down your search. Once you know what the popular sites are, you can aim to have links placed on them.
  • Seoptimer, which will do a free SEO audit of your website. Input your website address, and it’ll tell you where your strengths and weaknesses lie in regards to content, linking, keywords, images, headers, and social media links.
  • Moz, is a great tool that I’ve used in the past to track our SEO success and learn new tools and tips.

7. Make valuable connections 

You can produce great long-form content that is rich with images and links to credible websites. However, if you’re not actively promoting your content and seeking distribution on high-quality websites, it’s not going to be seen.

Aside from using Buzzsumo to locate and contact the influencers within your niche, you could:

  • Send these influencers emails or social requests when your company makes an announcement or to share a great infographic or piece of content. Show influencers how this news or data could benefit their audiences.
  • If these influencers are writers, pitch them on story ideas and offer interviews with your company’s thought leaders.
  • Ask influencers if they accept guest posts on their own blogs. Write high-quality content for them and see if it’s possible to link back to content native to your website.

8. Check your website’s loading time

A slow loading time is going to lead to a high bounce rate whether users are on desktop computers or their mobile devices. Aside from following the aforementioned rules for mobile, there are some other strategies you can use to make sure your site quickly loads.

Start at Google’s PageSpeed Insights. On this site, you can type in the URL for your website and see what your load speed is, out of 100. Google will tell you what you need to improve to make your site load faster on mobile and desktop devices.

For example, they may recommend optimizing images for both platforms, as well as minifying HTML and CSS. The rules are generally the same for both mobile and desktop; the difference is just that you can have bigger images (20-100kb), flash, and more intricate designs on your desktop page.

9. Invest in SEO

Some content marketers think that they can achieve business results with a high ranking from organic linking and traffic, and discard the need to use paid promotion as well. In reality, both are required in order to succeed.

Whether you’re paying for a press release distribution service, taking out native ads on high-quality websites, or hiring an outside firm to handle your SEO, realize that all of these efforts are an investment in your company. There is only so far you can get with organic. Paid promotion has great potential to spread your company’s message and help you reach your core audience.

According to Ghergich, when looking into firms to help you boost your rankings, it’s important that you already know the bare bones of SEO. “You will make a much better hiring decision if you at least know the basics,” he says.

To avoid wasting your time and resources, before you sign up with a firm, ask to see examples of sites that the firm has gotten placement for their clients on in the past. “If your SEO agency can’t get you on sites like The Huffington Post they are doing it wrong,” says Ghergich.

Start ranking high on Google

SEO can seem confusing, but these techniques have been proven to help with ranking. By utilizing them, you’ll have a better chance at reaching your audience, making connections with prospects, and getting them started in your purchase funnel.

Want to learn how you can reach, engage and convert new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. Or subscribe here to receive my latest updates.

Content Marketing Agency Vs In-House Writers

By Michael Brenner on February 3, 2021

The measure of any marketing strategy is in its effectiveness.

In content marketing, we measure effectiveness by the amount of organic search traffic and rankings we deliver for our clients. And that is derived from the value our content brings to a brand’s prospects and current customers.

In-house writers are too often measured on whether they completed their tasks, and if the leadership team is happy with the content. But they are often surprisingly not judged on how well the overall content marketing program works.

content marketing ROI

There are always pros and cons to in-house vs. outsourced decisions, but we believe strongly that a content marketing agency like ours can deliver more return for every dollar you invest. Because that is our goal: content marketing ROI.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Content agencies like ours start with an assessment and a content plan to reach, engage and convert more customers.
  • We staff our teams with experts in writing quality copy that builds trust and drives conversions.
  • We focus on the quality of your content but only in order to make a significant impact on your business.
  • We measure our success in quantifiable ways: search traffic, rankings, subscribers, leads, and new customers

What a Content Marketing Agency Does

Marketing agencies are specialists in what they do. The best among us concentrate on a specific niche, whether it be graphic design, video, or written marketing assets.

Content marketing agencies specialize in written content. Writing content that converts into leads and paying customers is a tough skill to master. Content agencies hire expert writers who can persuade, inform, and attract search engines in the process.

Content Agencies Bring Quality to the Table

An agency that specializes in content can zero in on producing top-quality material: writing that sets your brand apart as a thought leader in your field. Since they don’t need to branch out into design, backend development, or anything else, they can bring a wealth of expertise to bear on creating world-class content for their clients.

A content-specific agency’s quality advantage doesn’t end there. Other advantages include:

  • Agility amid change: If 2020 taught us anything, it is that adaptability is a must, both in content and in life. Agency writers already face that need every day of their working lives. For example, your team might tackle a set of social media posts for a retailer for the first half of their day, while during the next half, they dig into heavy research to craft a white paper for a medical equipment manufacturer.
  • A broader perspective on marketing: Agency writers have a greater perspective of the marketing world at large. Since they create content for a broad range of companies, they can adapt to changes in brand voice and SEO best practices at the drop of a hat.
  • Industry-specific expertise: A content agency will likely have deep insights into your industry. Since they write for so many clients, the likelihood that they will have an excellent grasp of the latest trends in your sector is high.
  • Writing that informs and motivates: Top content marketing writers stay at the top of their game. Whether it’s in-depth research, skillful use of motivational language that entices rather than spurs, or grammar that would make your high school English teacher stand up and salute, content agencies insist on quality work.
  • A deep bench: Hiring an agency means that you’ll have a team in your corner. The depth of talent and diversity that such a group brings will ensure that your content is both consistent in quality and creativity in its perspective.
  • A strategic perspective: Content agencies have the experience to evaluate your input with an expert eye. They know what kinds of messaging can work and what cannot work. That perspective can save client companies a lot of grief. An agency has your back, while an employee might be less likely to push back on an idea that simply doesn’t work out of fear for his job.

Those are just the advantages that agency writers bring to your content itself. Hiring an agency can also benefit your company’s bottom line by cutting costs and reducing risks.

Benefits a Content Agency Brings to Your Business Model

You might think that hiring a content marketing agency is only for giant corporations. Actually, startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses benefit more from an agency from a purely cost-to-benefit angle. Here’s why:

Image via The Center for Sales Strategy
  • Hiring a content agency streamlines payroll and HR tasks: Permanent employees require a salary and a mountain of tightly regulated paperwork. Benefits and workers’ compensation are the employer’s responsibility. An agency takes all those tasks out of your hands, at least for your content team.
  • Content production won’t stop when a writer becomes ill: Furthermore, without an agency, it’s tough to find a replacement when someone becomes ill or is on vacation while an urgent assignment comes in. With the collective brainpower of an agency behind you, there will always be other writers that can take over when your regular ones are out.
  • With an agency, it’s easier to rapidly scale your content production: Without an agency, scaling up can go painfully slow. Again, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding take time. During that time, a competitor who uses an agency can simply phone her agency, ask them to step up production, and it’s done. Similarly, if you need to scale back, you won’t have to deal with all the bureaucratic tangles and bad will that come from layoffs.
  • An agency’s work is easier to evaluate than in-house creatives: Agencies already have a track record. Likely, you’ll find online reviews, as well as an extensive portfolio of their work. It’s easy for a candidate to pad a resume. It’s more difficult for an agency to hide a disaster.
  • Your company will spend less on digital tools and other miscellaneous expenses: Hiring an in-house team means that your company will need to spend money on collaboration, writing, and editing software, printer, ink, and paper to print out reference materials, laptops, and other devices your writers will use, and the energy these devices require. When you outsource content production, the agency takes on these costs.
  • You can spend more time doing the work you and your teams love: Most businesses don’t have the time to meet their customers’ needs and write content on the side. One or the other will certainly get short shrift. With an agency, you can relax, knowing that your content production will be in good hands.

Most importantly, hiring a content agency makes sense even if you have an in-house team. Research shows that the more content you publish, the more your web traffic and conversions rise. In fact, if you can publish a blog post daily, the number goes up exponentially – and soars from there.

Image by Marketing Insider Group

But, What If Our Industry Has…?

We often hear these kinds of conversations from companies whose products and services are highly technical, tightly regulated, or difficult to explain, such as breakthrough innovations. Those situations, however, are ones in which hiring a content marketing agency makes the most sense.

Highly technical subject matter

There’s no one better to explain difficult-to-grasp subject matter than a gifted writer. Writers who specialize in marketing spend their working lives simplifying complex concepts into plain English (or whatever language they write in).

You and your team know your products and services inside out. Yet if you’re not trained writers, your communication often comes out like gobbledygook to potential customers. That’s why people make jokes about “doctor-speak,” “lawyer-speak,” and “tech-speak.”

Every industry has a jargon of its own. That’s fine when you’re communicating among yourselves. Yet to get that message across to consumers or business executives in another field, you need to communicate in words your prospects understand.

Content agency writers can collaborate with your subject matter experts to get a grasp on your work. Then, focusing on the benefits your products and services can provide to your customers, they can create content that communicates those benefits in clear, easy-to-understand blog posts, white papers, and social media posts.

Tightly regulated content

Many industries, including health care, nutritional supplements, food products, and insurance, face tight regulations regarding what topics and terminology they can communicate with. Content agencies can work with your compliance and legal departments to ensure that all the content meets the criteria for your industry and organization.

Furthermore, agency writers familiarize themselves with all the standard style guides, as well as your company’s internal style guide. If a message is unclear, they and the agency’s editorial team will likely flag it before it goes out. In today’s litigious environment, such attention to grammatical detail can make the difference between a successful resolution or a costly settlement, as one Maine dairy company discovered.

Breakthrough innovations

New products and services, even from established corporations, face a whirlwind of challenges in getting off on the right foot. Educating potential customers about the value these products can bring to them is an essential part of meeting those challenges.

Informative blog posts that position your company as an expert in your field, along with case studies on those who have tried the new product, are effective in building confidence in whatever you produce.

White papers that explain how the product can solve common problems that your target customers face, too, are effective tools to get the attention of a company’s decision-makers. Material that explains how a new product works, as well as instructions on how to use it, can also drive buying decisions.

Content agencies have the writing expertise to create compelling stories around your brand and its products. Positioning your product as the “sword’ that helps your customers conquer the “dragons” they face in their personal and business lives helps them see themselves as the “hero” of the story, giving them a personal stake in the ending.

That’s what content agencies do. We turn your customers into heroes.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today – and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

marketing channels choice road

Chances are, not every digital marketing channel available to you will benefit your business. It all depends on your marketing goals, target audience, resources, budget, industry, and competition.

Some decisions are more obvious than others for most B2B businesses – like having a responsive, active website and a social media presence.

Others are more like electives in school. You may have to test them to see how they work with your business model. If you find success, great. If not, you can adjust your strategies accordingly.

To help you decide which channels to drop and which to add to your marketing plan this year, we’ve created a guide. Walk through each step to determine which channels will move the needle forward for your business in 2021 and beyond.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Before choosing digital marketing channels for your business, you must understand your primary objectives, audience, competitors, and budget.
  • Different channels will give you different results. Your goals should guide your choices.
  • Content marketing and SEO are two channels virtually every marketing team should use to build a strong online presence.
  • Email marketing is another must-have channel – with an ROI of 4,200%.

Part 1: How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels for Your Business

First, consider the essential elements of an overarching marketing plan. Then you can narrow down and select the digital marketing channels that will help your business most.

Understand Your Objectives

A CoSchedule study found that goal-setting marketers are 376% more likely to succeed than marketers who don’t set goals. Organized marketers are 397% more likely to report success.

To be successful, you must know where your business is heading. You can start by setting strong marketing goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART).

Here are some ideas to get you thinking. Do you want to:

  • Become a thought leader in your industry?
  • Build authority and trust with consumers online?
  • Build brand recognition?
  • Nurture and generate high-quality leads?
  • Drive traffic to your website?
  • Build a social media following?
  • Make sales?
  • Boost ROI?

Source: Semrush

Your goals will lead you to choose the right channels for your business. In Section 2, we’ll dive into some of the best channels for accomplishing common goals for B2B and B2C businesses.

Study Your Target Audience

Another factor to help you decide where to spend your marketing budget and resources is your target audience. If you’re unsure about which channels your target audience prefers, do some market research to learn more.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What types of content and topics are they interested in?
  • How do they consume content?
  • Who are they following closely online?

Look at your direct competitors to learn more about your audience. BuzzSumo, Alexa, SEMrush, and iSpionage are helpful tools that dig into competitor data.

Set Your Marketing Budget

Your marketing budget will undoubtedly play a role in which digital channels you choose to use. Some options are much more costly than others. For example, posting on social media can be virtually free, but paying for Google Ads or investing in a comprehensive content marketing strategy can be pricey.

That said, don’t forget to consider the return-on-investment potential. Using standalone platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram for marketing may not pay off as well as a killer content marketing strategy that includes weekly blogging, quarterly ebooks, and SEO.

Let’s say you write a blog post and optimize it within the week. You also create a week’s worth of social media posts. It takes you longer to write and publish the blog post, and you don’t get much traffic from it the first week. Your social posts, however, receive some engagement. They receive an average of 20 likes a piece and drive a handful of people straight to your website.

Fast forward to six months. Those same social posts are nowhere to be found. Your blog post, however, is getting 500 views per month and growing steadily even though you haven’t touched it.

Generally, the more you spend on marketing, the more success you’ll have. If you invest more up front, you could start seeing results faster. If you start slowly and build, substantial results may take longer.

In the U.S., marketing executives generally devote 7-10% of their company’s revenue to marketing. Determine your marketing budget, and then figure out how much each of your marketing activities will cost. That way, you can see which ones you can afford and which ones you’d like to add later.

Here are a few costs to consider when building your budget and choosing your channels:

  • Hiring a marketing team in-house vs. outsourcing the work to an agency.
  • Content creation, web design and development, and strategy.
  • Marketing tools and software.
  • Your budget for paid advertising
  • General costs for each digital marketing channel (to compare)

Study Your Competitors

Which channels are your top competitors using? If their digital marketing strategies are more successful than yours, go where they are to catch up.

Another option is finding gaps – where your competition isn’t spending time and money. If there’s enough opportunity there, take advantage to grow your audience.

Part 2: Effective Digital Marketing Channels to Consider

Different channels will give you different results. Understanding your options and how each channel works will enable you to make better business decisions.

Choose the channels you want to adopt based on the data you collected in Part 1. You can always adjust your strategies later if you don’t see the results you desire.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing (CM) is a channel every marketing team should use to build a robust online presence and authority. 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. According to Demand Metric, CM costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads per dollar spent.

Every successful business needs a website. The way people find your website organically online is through quality content. It’s that simple.

By giving consumers exactly what they’re looking for – addressing their pain points and challenges – you’ll gain authority, increase traffic to your website, and generate quality leads.

Here are some types of content you can choose from to fill up your content calendar:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • Guides
  • PDF downloads
  • Reviews
  • Interviews
  • White papers
  • Research articles
  • Listicles
  • Infographics
  • Press releases
  • Pillar pages
  • Thought leadership
  • Tip sheets
  • Comparisons
  • Datasheets

Content marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Generating ROI
  • Building authority
  • Brand awareness
  • Education
  • Storytelling
  • Boosting website traffic

2. Email Marketing

With an ROI of 4,200% ($42 back for every dollar spent), email is another must-have digital channel for B2B businesses. Unlike some other forms of media, virtually everyone uses their email daily – some as many as 20 times per day.

Email marketing is an effective channel for building trust with people by developing authentic relationships. It’s inexpensive and allows you to personalize content and segment lists. It’s easy to track how your emails perform and conduct tests to improve your open and click-through rates. It’s also a great way to nurture leads and sell successfully. Need I go on?

Source: OptinMonster

Email marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Generating ROI
  • Relationship building
  • Brand awareness
  • Direct sales

3. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media is where you can have one-on-one conversations with people. In some ways, it’s the most personal channel. It can make your brand feel approachable and down-to-earth. You can also be less formal here by adding humor, getting creative, and commenting on current topics when appropriate.

By speaking with followers via chat or replying to comments on posts, you can use social media to build genuine relationships with prospective and current customers.

Social media is also useful for researching and understanding your target audience. Use the demographic data available to businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Consider placing targeted ads to get in front of a bigger audience and generate leads.

With social media, you can spread content fast. If people love what you’re sharing, they’ll expand your reach by sharing it with their friends, family, and followers.

Source: Review42

Consider these social platforms for sharing content and building relationships with people in your target market:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • TikTok

Social media marketing is best for:

  • Relationship building
  • Brand awareness
  • Direct sales
  • Audience targeting

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO goes hand in hand with content marketing. It encompasses keyword research, page optimization, link building, and other activities that help people find you organically.

People will search for products or services closely related to yours and have questions you can answer in depth. That’s when you want to show up as one of the first-page search results.

If you have an organic result in the #1 position, it’s 10 times more likely to receive a click than a result in the #10 position. On average, moving up just one place on the SERPs will increase your click-through rate (CTR) by over 30%.

Some of the top ranking factors in 2021 are:

  • Domain authority
  • Mobile usability
  • On-page SEO
  • Quality content
  • Backlinks
  • Referring domains
  • Organic CTR

For users to find your website on Google and other search engines, you have to put in the work. Or your content will be lost in the noise.

Source: Ahrefs

SEO is best for:

  • Link building
  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Building authority

5. Mobile Marketing

Another modern option for digital marketing is communicating with people via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Reach out to people by text, email, your website, or an app.

If you want to add mobile to your digital marketing plan, make sure your website, ads, and landing pages have a responsive design. If you send out SMS messages or develop an app, ensure they’re mobile-friendly. Creating an engaging user experience for your consumers should be a priority.

Mobile marketing is best for:

  • Lead generation
  • Direct sales
  • Sending instant updates

6. Video Marketing

In 2020, 85% of businesses used video as a marketing tool. 87% of video marketers claim video has increased their website traffic. 80% say video has directly helped increase sales, and 83% say it helps generate leads. Nearly nine out of 10 say it offers a good ROI.

 

Source: Wyzowl

Video marketing is at the top of its game, and it’s not going away soon. Video has the power to spread brand recognition, tell powerful stories, inform purchase decisions, drive traffic, and improve conversion rates.

You can combine video with your content marketing strategy to create hybrid pieces. For example, create a vlog to complement an educational blog post. Or use video to raise awareness of a problem in your next campaign that includes a link to your website.

Here are some video ideas to get you thinking:

  • Interviews
  • Presentations
  • Ads
  • Sales
  • Live stream recordings
  • Testimonials
  • Demos
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Explainer
  • Vlogs
  • Webinars

Use platforms like Vimeo and YouTube – where you can optimize your videos. That way, they’ll have a much better chance of appearing in search results. Share your video content on social media. Also consider publishing it on your website.

Video marketing is best for:

  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Driving traffic

7. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising (a type of paid search) is when marketers pay for their ads to appear at the top of SERPs – above organic search results. Unlike organic traffic that finds you naturally, PPC advertising involves “buying” traffic.

With PPC advertising, you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad. Search engines are common places to find PPC ads. In the example below, the top four results are paid search ads.

For your ad to appear, you must bid on keywords you think people will use to find a product or service like yours. You can also target specific demographics. If your ad appears for searchers, they can click and land on your website. When they do, the service provider charges you a fee.

Here are some examples of popular PPC ad systems:

  • Google Ads
  • Bing Ads
  • Google Shopping Ads

Google Ads – the most popular form of PPC advertising – determines your ad’s position by looking at six key factors.

  • Your bid (how much you’re willing to pay for each click)
  • Ad and landing page quality
  • Competitiveness of an auction
  • Context of a user’s search
  • The impact from ad extensions and formats (additional information you add when creating your ads)
  • Ad Rank thresholds (minimum requirements for ads)

PPC advertising is best for:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Direct sales
  • Audience targeting

Invest in One of the Best Digital Channels: Content Marketing

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Our Content Builder Services involve developing smart strategies that target a specific audience. Our expert writers will then produce quality, optimized content that speaks directly to your ideal customers.

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How to Attract B2B Buyers with Killer Content

By Michael Brenner on February 1, 2021

rush hour people b2b buyers

Content marketing is still booming.

According to research from Content Marketing Institute in July 2020, 70% of B2Bs listed content marketing as their number one investment priority for 2021.

37% of B2Bs also admitted that they hadn’t spent any money on paid ads within the past 12 months. Hear that? Nothing!

Another 24% said they even shifted money away from paid ads in favor of content marketing over the same period.

Content Marketing Institute

And yet most companies are not creating effective content. Want proof?

74% of global B2Bs say they have no concrete formula for attributing content like thought leadership to direct sales impact.

It gets worse.

89% of decision makers say they use thought leadership content to inform their opinion of a brand but only 15% would call the content they consume “excellent.”

Your content and sales competition grows more intense every day, with avalanches of new content sliding into the market. And let’s face it, creating compelling content is hard.

In short, many seem to believe that content creation, in and of itself, will win the day.

It won’t.

You really need the right content. The best content. The most relevant and useful content.

Mastering the five critical steps below will help you create content for B2Bs that resonates with them and appeals to their direct needs.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Find your niche after carefully analyzing the market to create the right content.
  • A deeper understanding of your target audience is a must to create relevant content.
  • Identify and articulate your true value right from the beginning.
  • Define your objectives as well as you can before creating content.
  • Be respectful and empathetic with your prospective customers.

Step 1: Analyze the Market and Find Your Niche to Create Content for B2B

Media companies, marketing agencies, and our own egos often lure us into the crazy idea of expanding our target market.

We do so in the name of economies of scale or because we fear missing out on revenue opportunities.

Don’t do it. Focus, focus, focus.

Start with a rigorous exercise of looking at your current customers for the solution you are trying to sell.

Begin with qualitative intelligence-gathering. Talk to the best salespeople, the product team, the post-sales team, and the sales engineers:

  • Who are your most profitable accounts and why?
  • Which accounts have the greatest longevity and why?
  • What do these accounts have in common?
  • What accounts are unprofitable and why?
  • How can we avoid them?

Then do quantitative analysis, ideally matching your customers to third-party databases to add dimension to your profiles.

Share your findings with the most relevant stakeholders to build a consensus on the ideal customer profile.

Define account characteristics next.

Break your market into two or three segments, based upon their potential value. If you can only afford to speak to one of the segments through content, choose the most valuable one.

(That’s often the market leader. If you can win them over, they’ll influence the rest of the market.)

Please understand.

Your content niche definition today will change tomorrow.

Make this research exploration an annual exercise for every solution you sell. For new solution categories, you may need a running dialogue until you find the ideal customer profile, experimenting as you create content for B2Bs.

Of course, find different ways to test and optimize your content messaging hypothesis.

For companies with multiple products and services, you’ll generally want to find one solution easiest for opening the door to your other products and services.

Think Long-Term Demand Generation: Create Content for B2B Markets You Can Eventually Corner

Look at Microsoft. Here’s a snapshot of the company’s milestones up to their Skype acquisition in 2011:

Microsoft

That timeline actually leaves a lot of critical stuff out…

Microsoft started out making tools for programmers.

Those sales attracted the most technically savvy people, a group with enormous influence over the next wave of early adopters.

Next, Microsoft created an operating system. (Well, Microsoft bought one and licensed it to IBM, to be perfectly accurate).

That operating system opened a huge door. It created a demand for desktop productivity products like Word and Excel. Microsoft’s relationship with developers encouraged them to build other desktop software and utilities.

Microsoft gradually expanded from the desktop to the network and the applications on the system.

Initially, the enterprise applications were back office-focused but gradually turned customer-facing, like Dynamics CRM, Bing, and now LinkedIn.

This sequencing idea is the essence of product strategy and a key to demand generation success.

It should also be a central concept behind your long-term strategy as you create content for B2Bs. Enterprises plan for years or decades. If you want to play with them, you must too.

Step 2: Understand Your Audience to Create Relevant Content for B2B

Once you are clear on the target account segments you want to attract and the precise value you offer them, it’s time to understand the decision dynamics for marketing your solution in those accounts.

While you will want to look at the entire path to purchase, let’s focus our attention on the top of the funnel…

Who Would Be Your Biggest Cheerleader?

End-users might rave about your product but that doesn’t mean they can vote in buying decisions.

Search for one person inside an organization who can influence others. Who cares about this person’s opinion? Where does that person fit into the buying process?

 

Gartner

Many try. Few succeed. Think about the functional role, the attitudes, the personality type, the credentials, the likely beliefs, and so on.

This persona is who you are speaking to as you create content for B2Bs.

Keep them in your head as you write, like you’re having a conversation.

  • What language/tone do they use?
  • What stats do they need to convince stakeholders to see what they see in you?
  • What benefits can they leverage in their discussions with stakeholders?
  • How can your product make them look better to stakeholders or improve their standing?

Don’t ever withhold information from them, hoping they’ll reach out for details to back up their claims about you. Empower them from the start with interesting content.

What Trigger Events Motivate Your Audience’s Decisions?

Trigger events are the situations that would make your target audience seriously consider your solution.

The content you create for B2Bs should straddle problem identification and solutions exploration:

Gartner

Essentially, they bring detailed context and relevant examples to the standard “what’s in it for me?” question.

Trigger events can be positive or negative. (Although, people are usually far more motivated by pain-avoidance than by gain-attainment.)

These events can happen within a company or externally. They can happen on a day or over an extended period.

Ideally, these are problems your company can help address if not completely eliminate.

You’ll want to understand what those trigger events are, like:

  • Layoffs
  • Leadership changes
  • New regulations
  • Rapid growth
  • Competitive encroachment
  • VC funding rounds
  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Economic tectonic shifts
  • Industry disruption

Leverage one or more trigger events to connect what your cheerleader cares about to the possibility your solution might make a material difference.

Make sure to research the prevalence of these trigger events in your target market to gauge the possible volume of demand that might exist. Use stats and examples you’ve learned as you create content for B2Bs to back up your points.

Visualizing these trigger events through content builds a clear bridge between what your prospect understands and what they haven’t considered.

Plus, it shows you’re tapped into their problems and equipped to provide long-term proactive solutions.

What High-Risk Looming Dangers Has Your Audience Ignored?

For people to change, the status quo must become unsafe or be at risk of imminent danger.

Businesses are no different. Plus, they don’t like to fix things that aren’t broken because it always involves risk.

Of all the problems on their plate and other well-known issues, why should they care about the problem you solve that isn’t even on their radar?

You must help your audience see what they do not see as you create content for B2Bs.

Jill Konrath in her excellent book, SNAP Selling, talks about “crazy busy” buyers.

These people get so enthralled in the day-to-day whirlwind of their jobs, they get tunnel vision and lose perspective.

You want to help them see their situation with new eyes. This is the heart of the story you must tell as you create content for B2Bs.

To tell this story well, you really must understand the implications of these unmet needs:

  • Who is impacted by the status quo?
  • What will doing nothing cost in worst/best case scenarios?
  • What will addressing the issue cost?
  • Does addressing the issue now, through you, come with other benefits?

If you can quantify the benefit financially, you will empower your cheerleader with the universal language of money, a language that everyone understands.

Consider now which of these points you’ll insert yourself into and with what types of content:

Gartner

What Do You Need Your Cheerleader to Believe?

You are not trying to get a cheerleader to buy your solution at this point.

You need to trigger your cheerleader into sharing your story enthusiastically with others.

To do so, they need to believe a few things:

  • Your solution offers so many groundbreaking benefits it must be considered above everything else.
  • The problem your solution solves is such a threat that ignoring it is dangerous.

Enforcing one or both of these beliefs is a gradual process. Move too fast and you risk appearing exploitative, aggressive, or sensational.

Steppingstone beliefs are important.

For example, I was just looking at a cool software program that understands written email responses, including their tone and sentiment:

  • One steppingstone belief is that the AI engine can actually understand the nuances of the written language.
  • Another is that my prospects won’t know they’re communicating with a computer.
  • A third might be that the program won’t inadvertently annoy my prospects.

Finally, I get to the question: Do I need this program right now to fix my status quo?

Consider this thought process as you create content for B2Bs.

What’s Your Evidence?

Remember, your audience for this content isn’t the person you have to convince into buying.

Your cheerleader isn’t the decisionmaker. They’re already rooting for you.

You are only trying to earn enough commitment to move the prospect from their status quo to interest in having a conversation with your company.

Still, you need sufficient evidence to make the promise you are making credible enough to warrant the time for a deeper look at your solution.

You need to marshal sufficient evidence to address the key beliefs your cheerleader must have, both about your solution to the problem and the viability of your company.

Remember your job is to help them. That delivers the best results:

Gartner

Ideally, you get most of this information through direct interviews and/or focus groups, augmented with simple surveys.

Usually, five to ten interviews will give you what you need.

If the information you hear gets redundant, you’ll know you have talked to enough people.

One tip: Talk to these individuals during the purchase process or shortly after that while the experience is top of mind.

Commissioning original research also arms you with statistics on your target prospect’s peers, their concerns, their problems, and their behavior.

Step 3: Clearly Articulate Your True Value as You Create Content for B2B

Duh! Right?

Yet, how often do you see words like “leading,” “exceptional,” “largest,” “greatest,” and other unbelievable, vague, vacuous claims?

One reason social media is so popular is that people want another source of information they can trust: information from their friends. Really, anyone but the vendor and its media conspirators.

Unsurprisingly, 45% of buyers say they wish vendors would improve transparency:

Marketing Charts

In fact, they rank your website and any material you provide as the least trustworthy source on your company and product.

Part of the problem is you have too many remarkable things to say about your solution and your company.

But verbosity is confusing and boring. If you really research your market, you’ll have far more to share than you will need at the top of the funnel.

To find your value, look at your solution through an honest, competitive lens and through the eyes of your customer.

You’re looking for something your ideal customer wants and your competition doesn’t have. If your customers don’t want it, it doesn’t matter. If your customers want it and your competitors can also provide it, you’ll be in a low-margin commodity business.

Instead, look for your only factors, the ones your customers care deeply about and that only your company can make.

Half the battle is getting your key stakeholders in a room to really grapple with this problem and come to a consensus.

Look for three specific areas where you stand out and then build your messaging and story around these three value positions as you create content for B2Bs.

Step 4: Define Your Objective Before You Create Content for B2B

Your objective isn’t to build your brand either

That can certainly happen as a by-product of your efforts, but it’s not the goal.

The role of content at the top of the funnel is not to generate clicks, traffic, inbound calls, or even leads, either. It’s also not to sell your product or service. That may be the endgame, but it’s not the objective at the top of the funnel.

I like to think of the objective as going to a party.

Yes, you might secretly hope to meet the man or woman of your dreams, but you don’t go around asking attractive people to marry you.

Rather, you’re just trying to spark a conversation, typically by being observant and interested in the other person.

That’s the goal with demand generation.

Show enough insight and interest to spark a conversation and pique interest. Within the demand generation framework, each element must support that objective. If not, trim the fat, using your objective as a knife.

Marketing Insider Group

Step 5: Love Your Prospective Customers

It might seem obvious, but there is a reason sales and marketing often have bad reputations in the public square.

Loving your customers starts with being respectful and empathetic toward them. And that means being authentic and honest, even if your tone needs to be playful or real.

Treat them the way you would want to be treated. To the best of your ability, you want to climb behind the eyes of your would-be cheerleader and experience the world the way they do.

The more deeply you connect with them, the more effective story you will tell.

This emotional connection to your audience also helps you find the right tone and voice, just as it does with people in your personal life.

Don’t Create Content for B2Bs – Educate, Inspire, and Connect Through Media

The idea that you must “create content for B2Bs” got us to where we are today: Generic content flooding search results, social media, and inboxes with nothing to show for it.

Remember why you bother investing and creating content. Your job is to enable buyers to make more informed decisions, understand your industry’s market, and learn about your company.

Transparency and thoroughness are key. Narrow down your audience to a single cheerleader at a company in your target segment. Consider the full range of the company’s status quo, fears, problems, goals, and beliefs.

Use content to demonstrate your knowledge of specific trigger events they face and how you can either prevent negative events or improve positive outcomes.

Keep your brand’s long-term integrity and reputation at the forefront, and content marketing gets much simpler and less generic. That’s better for everyone!

We hate generic content too. That’s why our custom Content Builder Services involve industry expert strategists and down-to-earth writers. Take a hands-off approach to content without sacrificing quality.

How to Capture Buyer Intent in B2B Marketing

By Michael Brenner on February 1, 2021

b2b marketing buyer intent

Individual users and businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet as a research portal.

In 2019, 90% of all U.S. adults (100% of adults under 30) were already using the internet. Compare that to twenty years ago – when only about 50% of adults used the internet.

Source: Pew Research

The digital era has led to changes in the way brands market their products and services.

You’re familiar with the B2B buyer’s journey: moving prospects through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buying process.

Similarly, your business can benefit from understanding the age-old yet somehow underutilized buyer intent concept.

Source: G2

Buyer intent comes down to understanding what makes an excellent lead for your business. With a holistic perception of buyer intent in your business, your marketing and sales teams can improve the lead-qualification process and enhance sales conversions.

To attract ideal leads to your business, you must place your customer’s needs, wants, and interests at the center of your sales and marketing campaigns.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Customer experience is a leading priority for modern businesses.
  • Buyer intent data will help you learn “why” a lead is looking for a solution to their problem.
  • To holistically capture buyer intent data, you should study prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey, trace customer touch points, and use third-party vendors.
  • Using buyer intent data will improve your content marketing, lead generation, copywriting, and keyword optimization efforts. It will also help your sales team increase customer conversion rates and minimize the cost of acquiring new customers.

The Shift to Customer-Centric Marketing

Decades ago, businesses could generate leads by telling people how fantastic their brand was and how brilliant and valuable their products and services were. In other words, it was more about the company than the clients and customers.

Now, it’s about how well you can deliver what your target market wants in terms of communication, products, and customer service. For modern businesses, customer experience (CX) has become the top priority.

Source: SuperOffice

Your business should aim for this kind of customer-centered approach by providing…

  • the right products and services
  • for the right businesses
  • at the right time
  • using the right channels
  • to address pressing wants and needs.

Leads, consumer behavior, and the buyer’s journey are the core elements of a customer-centric marketing campaign.

By learning everything you can about your current audience, you’ll better understand who you should target in campaigns and how likely your prospects and leads will make it through the sales funnel. In other words, you’ll understand buyer intent – the probability that a consumer will purchase your product or service.

What is B2B Buyer Intent Data?

Simply put, collecting buyer intent data involves learning information about a company (or individual users in B2C cases) and their online activities. Information can include various forms of online behavior data like visiting a website, clicking on an ad, attending a webinar, or downloading a PDF.

This data will help you determine the intention of a lead during the buying process. By tracking a lead’s digital footprints, you can learn about their pain points, interests, and habits.

B2B marketers use data analytics tools to measure their marketing efforts and gain insights into buyer intent. Here are a few metrics that will help you understand which companies are more likely to buy from you:

  • Keyword searches
  • Engagement rates
  • Email open rates
  • Behavioral data
  • Demographic information

With this data, you can get a clearer picture of where potential buyers are in the marketing funnel. You can map out buyer intent and determine where buyers are in their purchasing journey to improve your targeting strategies. You’ll also better understand how to keep their attention and convert them into paying customers or clients.

There are two types of intent data you can collect:

  • Internal/first-party intent data: Taken from business-owned properties (e.g., your website, CRM)
  • External/third-party intent data: Taken from external sources (e.g., competitor websites, target keywords, review sites)

How to Capture Buyer Intent in B2B Marketing

Here are several effective ways to capture buyer intent for your business.

1. Analyze Your Sales Funnel

To uncover buyer intent, trace the process that buyers go through before committing to a purchase. Today’s B2B buyers usually enter the sales funnel after they’ve identified their problem.

Source: Moz

The B2B buyer’s journey can vary depending on your organization and industry. But this is the usual process a lead will follow to make a purchase.

  • Interest: The journey begins with either a change in the status quo or the need to address a problem. Once an organization approves the proposed change, the buyer will commit to finding a solution.
  • Consideration: Next, the buyer conducts extensive research to compare solutions and explores different avenues for solving the problem.
  • Decision: After pinpointing a solution, the potential buyer commits to that solution before purchasing a specific product or service.
  • Purchase: The length of time it takes a business to make a purchase usually depends on the company’s size and the urgency of their situation. For smaller companies, it can take a couple of weeks. Larger companies often take months or even years to finalize a significant purchase.

2. Trace Customer Touch points

Gone are the days of buyers approaching companies for services with little to no knowledge about their options. Pre-packaged sales solutions no longer work. Modern buyers do their research and educate themselves about their company’s problems and solutions before making initial inquiries.

The research they conduct leaves behind “digital footprints” or touch points (intent data). Every website a buyer visits, the articles they read, and their online actions can give you tidbits about their motivation and purpose.

By determining buyer intent using customer touch points, you can focus on engaging the prospects most likely to buy from you. You can also utilize this data to gain a competitive advantage over other businesses.

3. Use Third-Party Vendors

As we already mentioned, capturing external intent data involves using tools that track users offsite. Examples of trackable metrics include competitor website data, online subscriptions, keywords, and product reviews.

During the initial research stages, analytics platforms can gather data on search behavior, content engagement, and social media behavior to provide you with buyer intent insights. Combine this data with your internal intent data to form a holistic view of your buyers and a more accurate buyer’s journey map.

Source: Gartner

4. Ask “Why” Instead of “What”

Start by learning why a business needs a solution like yours, rather than what that solution is. Traditionally, marketers have analyzed buyers from the “outside-in” by answering questions in this order:

  • What does Company A need?
  • How do they achieve this?
  • Why do they need this?

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle tells us that when we “return to our natural, latent state of being from the inside-out,” we discover the true intent of why. As a B2B marketer, you must start with why when asking questions concerning your prospective buyers.

Here’s an example:

  • Why is Company A visiting these websites?
  • How did they find those websites?
  • What are they learning from those websites?

After addressing the why, you’ll gain a more accurate depiction of what motivates your buyers. Using your intent data, you can personalize future marketing efforts to increase relevancy and value.

How to Use Buyer Intent Data for B2B Marketing

Imagine capitalizing on all the data you have about a company in your target market. It’s like holding an ace in poker. You just need to know how to use it and when to play the card to win the deal.

Using buyer intent data, you can improve your content marketing, lead generation, copywriting, and keyword optimization tactics to engage with prospects at the optimal time.

Content Marketing Strategy

Why are buyers reading your weekly blog content? Why are they downloading your ebooks? Why are they visiting your product or service pages?

Once you understand their intent, you can identify which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in and create educational or informational content to push them to take a desired action (usually a purchase decision).

Source: Freshworks

Awareness Stage

Buyers with the intent to learn usually search for broader, more generic terms. For example, they might search for “content marketing strategies,” “content marketing best practices,” or “how to create a content marketing strategy.” The keywords they use won’t typically indicate an intent to purchase.

Consideration Stage

Buyers with the intent to compare will look for more specific products and solutions. They might search for “content marketing agencies” and look for reviews, benefits, and recommendations to help them find and choose a specific solution.

Purchase Stage

Further down the funnel, buyers with a clear intent to buy will search for a specific product, service, or company. These buyers’ search queries are focused and precise. They know what they’re looking for and rarely look at other sites to continue researching their options. Prospects in this stage are ready to buy.

To capitalize on the insights you’ve gleaned from studying the buyer’s journey, create content using relevant headlines and keywords that indicate your target audience’s intent. Creating specific content for prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey will provide leads with resources that meet them where they are and encourage them to continue their journey.

Keyword Optimization

You can also use buyer intent to map out your keyword strategy. Answer this question when seeking keyword opportunities: “Why are businesses using specific keywords to search for products and services online?”

Connecting keywords to B2B buyer behavior will make your SEO efforts more effective. Once you’ve identified relevant keywords, you can determine the best types of content to create for leads at each stage of the sales funnel. You can also focus on incorporating more keywords that reach buyers further down the funnel (those closer to making purchase decisions) to increase conversions.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer and SERP Analysis tool allows you to analyze competitor rankings for target keywords. If you’re a new business or in a highly competitive industry, focus on targeting long-tail keywords. They’re easier to rank for than shorter keywords. Also, look for alternatives to short keywords that your competition isn’t targeting – those with a low difficulty score.

You can work with your sales team to determine which keywords generate more bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) leads. This should help you streamline your SEO efforts and increase your sales conversion rates.

Copywriting

When you have buyer intent data, you should never base your content and copywriting on trial and error. Determine what types of content and writing styles are suitable for businesses at specific stages in your funnel. By creating content backed by buyer intent data, you can cut through the noise to make your brand stand out online.

Source: Smart Insights

Awareness Stage

In the awareness or discovery phase, people usually have the intent to learn. At this point, blog posts, guides, how-to articles, and resource lists are ideal content formats for potential buyers. Buyer intent is probably low. Focus on helping visitors understand their problems. Your goal is to get viewers to position your brand as a trustworthy industry source.

Consideration Stage

In the next phase, buyers have the intention to compare and explore solutions to their problems. They already know the problem, so your goal is to highlight benefits that set your brand apart from the competition. Videos, presentations, product reviews, testimonials, and product images are appropriate types of content to create for this stage.

Purchase Stage

In the final stage, buyers are ready to purchase. They already know what solution they want to use to solve their problem. They don’t need any more convincing. It’s time to provide them with a quick, easy option for purchasing from you. Landing pages, sales pages, and product pages are some of the best types of content to create for users in the purchase stage. Lead them to the right place so they can purchase immediately.

Lead Generation

Segmentation and lead qualification highly increase your chances of converting leads into customers.

Using the comprehensive data you’ve collected on buyers, you can enhance your lead qualification process to determine whether a prospect is in-market and ready to buy. If they are, you’ll know how to target them effectively.

Take advantage of your intent data when designing and developing your lead management strategy. You can find the best leads according to how well they score during the lead qualification process. Rather than wondering whether your leads will buy, you can shift your focus to when they will buy. You’ll have the information you need to determine the most effective way to pursue qualified leads.

With your intent data at the helm, you can also create more accurate advertising campaigns and marketing automation workflows. Personalize content and messages for consumers by segmenting your audience based on where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Bringing It All Together

With intent data, you don’t need to focus on generating a mass number of leads. Instead, you can target more specific leads who have a higher potential of purchasing from you. Your sales team can approach potential buyers with a high purchase propensity, which should increase your conversion rates and minimize the cost of acquiring customers (CAC).

Using buyer intent is a no-brainer. Businesses must take intent data seriously to develop performance-driven marketing strategies. The age-old marketing technique of broadcasting to everyone you can think of who fits your buyer persona is outdated and ineffective. With intent data, you’ll have a clear picture of your target audience so you can meet them where they are and give them exactly what they’re looking for.

Use B2B Buyer Intent Data in Your Content Marketing

Marketing Insider Group can help you use your buyer intent data to create and publish content that targets your ideal prospects, leads, and customers. We will also focus on delivering content based on where your prospective customers are in the buyer’s journey.

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The Importance of Developing Trust Through Branding

By Mark Schmukler on January 28, 2021

If you’re a marketing professional, you’ve undoubtedly been taught that there are a few key elements of branding—trust and reputation.

Today, brand trust is more important than ever before. Brands are up against a lot, namely, a global pandemic, economic recession, and societal turmoil.

With each of these crises, brands face new challenges and must completely reevaluate their values and strategically plan their responses, because their audiences are watching very closely, and can easily verbalize their experiences (both positive and negative) in real-time.

This blog post provides a quick refresher on what brand trust is, why it’s important to maintain, and the benefits of successfully doing so.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Brand trust is arguably the most valuable intangible asset of a company. It’s defined by consumer expectations and measured by how well a brand delivers on the promises it makes with its products and services.
  • Marketing and communications professionals need to carefully cultivate and deliberately protect trust for their brands.
  • To be successful in the long run, companies must understand the importance of establishing trust through branding and focus on building it as much as they do on launching new product lines and services.

Why Is Brand Trust Important?

For brands, establishing and maintaining trust with clients and customers is a critical component to the long-term success of a company. To simplify even further, without trust, you can’t have clients or customers. And without clients or customers, your company won’t survive in the long term.

People now have access to a wealth of information about companies worldwide. At any given time, they can find reviews, testimonies, and criticisms that will play a part in determining their purchasing behavior. And find them they will.

Social media and technology have also radically changed how people interact with brands. Gone are the days of visiting a company’s Better Business Bureau profile and calling it a day. Now, people are reading reviews on the company’s website itself, and supplementing their takeaways with additional information from business review websites, comments on social media platforms, and even seeing what influencers have to say.

Expectations have also changed. Because companies now have social media managers and customer service teams, clients and customers require timely responses to their questions, complaints, and comments.

What’s happening in the world also impacts buying behavior. People want to see brands advocating for change, improving society, and using their platform to inspire hope.

And it’s no longer as simple as releasing a statement and calling it a day. Now, it’s critical for brands to follow through on what they say and truly walk the walk—for the long haul. If they don’t, they face being called out and scrutinized, which can damage their reputation overnight.

At the end of the day, companies exist to provide products and services that improve the world. To do this, they must create brands that are authentic, and most importantly, human. However, you can’t expect results overnight. Instead, focus on establishing trust slowly over time, by utilizing milestones and long-term goals.

Benefits of Establishing Brand Trust

As a brand, when you successfully establish a trusting relationship with your clients and customers, you reap a range of benefits that can hugely impact the success of your company long-term. Let’s take a look at some of the top ones:

Create Loyalty

Customers that trust and believe in your brand are going to be loyal to you. With how much time and work goes into finding new products and brands to try, it’s often easier, less expensive, and less risky to stick with what you already know and love.

Source: https://www.criteo.com/blog/customer-loyalty-research/

Build Advocacy

Similarly, when you have a legion of loyal customers and fans of your brand, you will inevitably have built in advocates for your brand because people love telling other people about products and services they’ve had good experiences with. It’s called word-of-mouth marketing and it will always be relevant.

Drive New Business

Loyal fans and brand advocates ultimately contribute to one thing—driving new business for your company. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Developing Trust Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult

Clients and customers today may have a lot of expectations—but meeting them and developing trust along the way doesn’t need to be a difficult process. With a consistent brand message, visual identity, and a focus on honesty and transparency, building a trustworthy relationship with your audience will be easy.

If you’re still looking for guidance on how to take your company’s brand identity to the next level in the year ahead, we welcome you to download our new toolkit, Creating a Compelling & Relevant Brand Identity.