One of the hardest things about B2B marketing is that you’re trying to reach an audience that has customers of their own to market to and is reading the same blogs, following the same trends, and trying the same new approaches you are. They might appreciate your marketing efforts on a professional level, but you’re not pushing their emotional buttons and getting inside their head the way you might with an individual consumer who doesn’t spend their weekends learning about the latest developments in account-based marketing.
It’s like in a martial arts movie when the rival masters finally face off and all they can do is compare and admire each other’s advanced techniques instead of actually fighting. When flash and innovation can’t deliver the conversions you need, what can you do?
You can give them resources they can actually use and teach them things they need to know. In other words, you can do content marketing. As Seth Godin observed when he was introduced to the term, content marketing “is all the marketing that’s left.” When everything else is exhausted, quality content will still attract interested clicks and eyeballs.
With content marketing, you’re building brand equity by creating and hosting original content that holds real value and relevance for your audience. Content marketing is great for generating organic inbound links, and informative content is evergreen, especially text—video and other multimedia content often rapidly ages out of relevance.
When your audience comes to you for education and problem-solving, you’re building real and meaningful bonds with them that strengthen your customer relationships and facilitate ongoing, passive lead generation.
What Great Content Marketing Looks Like
Content marketing works when it’s based on a strategic plan. You have to know who you’re creating the content for and why they need it—what questions your content is going to answer, or what problems it’s going to help solve.
From there, there are all sorts of tactical questions to consider: what channels you should promote your content through, what media formats your audience will feel the most comfortable with, how often to publish, and so on.
Single Grain is a good example of a company that knows what it’s doing with its content marketing strategy. They’re marketers themselves, and they put a lot of care and effort into their content, but the overall plan is fairly straightforward. They have a blog that covers subject matter relevant to their industry, a regular podcast for entrepreneurs, “Marketing School,” that features known quantity Neil Patel, and all kinds of freely downloadable instructional resources available on their website.
Instead of gating all this content for paying customers only, Single Grain builds brand awareness and an organic following by giving entrepreneurs and startups content that they actually have a use for. Nobody’s going to say “I loved that viral ad from Single Grain—what do they do, again?” Their content makes it clear who they are and what they’re about, and positions them as leaders and educators in their field.
Content Marketing Statistics
That may be all well and good, but do the numbers back up the argument that content marketing is actually effective? They do indeed. As any digital marketer can tell you, it’s a constant uphill struggle finding ways to get people to pay attention to ads and click on them. According to the latest statistics, more than a quarter of all internet users block ads in their browsers. Blog posts and articles are preferred over traditional ads by seven out of ten purchasers.
Your lead generation dollar goes further with content marketing. It costs 41% less than paid search ads, and gets you three times as many leads for each dollar spent.
B2B buyers specifically are drawn to organic, informative content:
- 71% of B2B buyers read blogs to research purchases
- 64% of them find podcasts to be a useful source of information
- 76% find infographics to be helpful
- 64% prefer “credible content from industry influencers”
In a nutshell, purchasers—especially in a B2B context—are hungry for high-quality content that educates and informs. So give it to them! Just be sure you’re prepared to deal with the challenges that frequently accompany any content marketing campaign.
Challenges in Content Marketing
Becoming a trusted source of relevant information and analysis is not nearly as easy as implementing a trendy new tech-based marketing widget. Many companies that attempt to engage in content marketing run up against one or more of the following challenges:
- Insufficient resources to create, curate, and host the kind of content their audience wants.
- Increasing competition in their field, putting pressure on creators to produce not just quality content, but better content than their competitors.
- Consistently maintaining high standards of quality.
- Keeping up with a high-frequency publishing schedule without sacrificing quality.
- Avoiding creator burnout.
Most of these challenges tie back to the central pillar of a content marketing strategy: creating content that’s worth your audience’s time, and delivering it on a consistent basis. The best way to overcome these challenges is with a clear strategy and a strong support system for the production, quality control, and distribution of your content.
As with any challenging job, the right tool can make all the difference in the world. A content calendar platform can save you from the chaos and confusion of improvised content planning and an erratic publishing schedule. The right content calendar solution will help you develop a content creation workflow that makes sense for both your creators and your audience, allowing you to manage writing and publishing tasks more efficiently.
When all of the task management related to content marketing is organized in a logical way, you can focus more on bringing the quality and finding the right channels to reach your audience.
Not sure who to turn to? Here are eight content calendar platforms we think you’ll like.
8 Excellent Content Calendar Platforms
If you’re on WordPress, and most content heavy websites are, then EditFlow’s WP plugin could be the solution for you. The reason we lie it is for its straightforward offering, simplicity, and price (free). However, as with many free solutions, you get no developer support and updates to the software are unreliable. Therefore, there is no Gutenberg support, at least at the time of writing this post. If you don’t need Gutenberg support and you have simple uses cases then this tool should be good.
Content calendars aren’t just for blogs. A social media calendar and scheduler is mandatory for pretty much any size business, let alone large businesses with several departments and different messages that need to be communicated and coordinated. Not being one to shy away from self promotion, Oktopost offers a wide range of integrations that include major marketing automation platforms like Marketo, Salesforce, Hubspot, and more. Oktopost is robust scheduling solution and can also split social posts into organic campaigns and provide reports and analytics per post and campaign. Best of all, Oktopost actually shows you where your marketing dollars are going with sophisticated lead tracking that ties directly back to specific social media posts.
Built especially for marketers, CoSchedule provides a wide range of content management and scheduling tools along with intuitive visuals and handy automated tasks.
Another social media scheduling solution, Buffer lets you automate posting, manage all of your social media profiles from a single location, and analyze the results of your efforts so you can engage more effectively with your audience.
Yes. This is a bit of a cheat. However, if your biggest concern with managing a content calendar is that you want to manage content-related tasks then Trello could be a good enough solution. The Kanban view is very useful and they have content calendar templates too.
6. Post Planner
Post Planner doesn’t just facilitate scheduling, publishing, and performance tracking, it also has tools for content discovery as well. Just bear in mind that they don’t cover a particularly wide range of social media platforms—only Facebook and Twitter.
Edgar allows you to link up as many as 25 different social media accounts and offers powerful features for scheduling, planning, and recycling content. They’re a little on the pricey side, but Edgar’s clients like the excellent customer service and ease of use.
Affordable and user-friendly, Crowdfire may not have as many bells and whistles as competing platforms but when it comes to managing content and growing readership, it delivers.
Content Marketing Done Right
Content marketing isn’t a quick fix for a business looking for short-term gains. Doing it right requires an investment of time and resources paired with a long-term strategy of finding, developing, and curating content that really speaks to your customers’ needs and interests.
When you combine a solid library of content, talented creatives, and a comprehensive plan with the right content calendar platform, you have the means to deliver educational and enriching material that your audience will eagerly seek out. B2B purchasers love nothing more than to buy from smart, knowledgeable industry leaders—especially when, as far as they’re concerned, they found them all by themselves with their own research. Why not step up and become the influencer they’re looking for?