elcome to Chapter 3 of A Master Guide To B2B Content Marketing.
In this chapter, we’re going to review the most popular types of B2B content assets, and best practice tips for creating them. Even if you're outsourcing most of your B2B content creation, you still need to know how to brief and what to look for in submitted work.
There are plenty of options when it comes to B2B content formats, but which will work best for your audience?
Choosing the best content format partly depends on the channel and platform you’re publishing it on. It also depends on your audience's typical consumption preferences. You’ll need to monitor engagement over time so you can keep optimizing content for your own unique following.
You may not have the resources to create every type of content for every audience persona. Instead, start with maintaining a production cycle of what already gets results, and gradually supplement any obvious gaps you have in your optimal content matrix.
Do ensure you have bottom funnel content as the first priority before you put effort into attracting new readers with your blog or lead magnets (gated content). It can be easy to forget about the impact of bottom funnel content to maximize the effectiveness of your top-of-the-funnel content.
In this chapter:
- B2B Content Creation
- What Content Formats Do B2B Marketers Say Work Best?
- What Content Formats Do Buyers Prefer?
- Blog Articles
- eBooks + White Papers
- Case Studies
- Buyers Guide
- Social Media Posts
And next up, we’ll dig deeper into distribution and promotion tactics in Chapter 4!
1. B2B Content Creation
There are many types of content options, from long-form and snippets to multimedia formats.
Choosing the right content length and format will depend on the marketing channel used, your buyers consumption preferences, and what stage of the customer journey the target audience are at.
Whatever content you produce, you’ll need a defined process for workflow efficiency, publishing scheduling and quality control. Project management tools such as ClickUp and Trello will help you manage the production process from start to end.
The content creation process needs to be planned and managed. Here’s an outline of how to do it!
- Ideate topics to meet your content marketing objectives.
- Create a content calendar several weeks in advance, allowing time for briefing, detailed research, feedback and editing.
- Assign resources, including team and budget.
- Use collaboration tools for project management and communication.
- Create clear and detailed briefs for writers and multimedia content creators, breaking content into sections in a logical flow.
- Include deadlines.
- Provide content specific reference material, such as customer personas, keyword research, brand guidelines and key messaging.
- Provide access to editing and SEO tools, such as Grammarly and SEO Writing Assistant.
- Factcheck by cross-referencing multiple sources.
- Use a professional editor if possible.
4. Get Approvals
- Get approval from internal project owners.
- Get approval from clients if relevant.
- Upload and preview content.
- Check meta description, title tags, image alt tags and links are correctly configured.
- Index new blog or website pages on Google Search Console.
- Provide article links to team members responsible for social media, email or paid distribution.
- Repurpose written and long-form content such as videos into snippet or image format for distribution.
7. Content Auditing + Maintenance
- Audit content to help you understand what’s working and what’s not, and where you have content gaps to fill.
- Create a content maintenance tracker, periodically reviewing and updating content to keep it relevant and maintain SEO performance.
Now let’s explore what kind of content formats to use, and when.
2. What Content Formats Do B2B Marketers Say Work Best?
From a marketers perspective, a Content Marketing Institute survey of 1,275 B2B marketers globally found that webinars or virtual events delivered the best results, followed by research reports and short articles:
“Long articles/posts stood out as an area where those who are most successful reported better results than respondents overall (43% vs. 32%).”
These results make sense given that buyers are looking to stay informed about industry trends or technical developments. It’s the type of content that business readers will allocate most time for, whether they are currently in an active buying process or not.
So what about content preferences by customer journey stages?
A survey of 350 global B2B and B2C marketers conducted by Semrush explored the effectiveness of content types and channels for specific stages of the customer journey and sales funnel:
But, do the content formats that marketers say work best match up with what B2B buyers prefer? Let’s have a look.
3. What Content Formats Do Buyers Prefer?
The proportion of time spent on content formats will reflect the fact that most B2B readers only consume high level thought leadership or news regularly. A small proportion of B2B audiences will be participating in an active purchasing process at any given time.
A survey by Demand Gen Report asked B2B buyers what content they found most useful for purchasing research:
These results favored ToFU/MoFU content more heavily than BoFU content, reflecting a greater focus on the earlier customer journey stages as being most influencial.
However, a 2020 Showpad buyer survey found that the most popular content formats were technical specifications and case studies:
Showpad’s survey also found that 60% of C-suite executives preferred peer reviews over all other forms of research.
These two survey's findings give us an idea what might work best and where to start. They also demonstrate the content preference differences that can exist across B2B audiences and between journey stages.
Visual Multimedia Content
Visual learners account for 65% of people!
Whatever your content format choice, do incorporate photographs, graphics, diagrams or charts, screen grabs or video imagery. Particularly at early stages of the sales funnel. This will help you grab attention, explain a concept or solution more easily, and help convey a brand identity or feeling you want to evoke.
Not everyone has the time and desire to read long form content. Imagery can get your messages across to time-poor readers quickly and clearly, especially when they are less invested at early journey stages.
Now let’s explore the individual content formats, and best practice tips for creating them!
4. Blog Articles
Blog posts and short articles are B2B marketers go-to content format:
- Blogging is used by 93% of marketers in 2021.
- Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages on average, making your site far more visible to search engines.
- B2B blogs featuring educational content based on audience interests and search trends capture 52% more organic traffic.
Blogs are a ToFU-friendly content format. You’re not looking to heavily promote your business or offerings here, other than occasional mentions when context allows using brief CTAs that point to your mid-funnel content. Focus on industry trends, challenges, best practices, or areas where buyers' knowledge might be lacking. This will help drive more quality prospects to your website.
Blog articles should strategically use keywords to bring relevant traffic directly, as well as help boost your website domain overall within your niche. Google is ultimately assessing how helpful your content will be for users based on their searches, so always make this your north star for SEO optimization and article creation.
There’s a vast amount of blog content out there, most of which gets no shares or backlinks, so here are some top tips to stand out.
Top tips for blogging:
- Use Short Lists for Share-ability - These are great for social media distribution. Listicles make content very easy for you to structure, easy to incorporate headline numbers, and easy for users to digest. Listicle headlines are very clickable, piquing interest easily. List posts get an average of 218% more shares than how-to posts, and 203% more shares than infographics. Stay within 2,000 words to optimize the effect.
- Use Longer Headlines With Questions - Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines. In addition, headlines that pose a question get 23% more social shares than headlines that don’t.
- Use Long-form Articles for More Backlinks - Content that’s 3,000-10,000 words in length gets the most backlinks. Backlinks are an important SEO factor for assessing a website’s domain authority. As long as your backlinks are coming from high quality websites, they will help you gain more reach, grow brand awareness and attract high-intent traffic through the referrals.
- Provide Data - Back up your messaging with plenty of data and statistics to support it. 66% of surveyed B2B buyers say they want vendors to use more data and research to support their content. More factual credibility makes it compelling for buyers to share content, whether internally or socially.
For more SEO guidance, please refer back to Chapter 2.
In 2022, 69% of marketers plan to spend budget on video. I’d say that’s a good strategy, considering 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout their path to purchase.
Research suggests that video is a particularly important research component for larger deals. As the cost of purchase price increases, so does the preference for videos.
- Buyers viewed video content in 41% of deals over $100,000 compared to 10% of buyers in deals under $5,000.
- Video content is most likely to be shared with colleagues by B2B buyers (42%).
As with any content, your audience’s needs and behavior in regard to video will vary according to their stage in the customer journey. ToFU content would feature challenge and industry oriented thought leadership, including ‘How to’. MoFu would feature solution explainers and the highlights or USPs of your offering. BoFU would be focussed on customer testimonials or case studies featuring ROI and successes.
Top tips for video marketing:
- Production - Write a script with key messages, and have your interviewee or narrator practice delivering in their own words. A natural and conversational delivery works best, using relevant language and examples for your personas. Use a prompter or hold up cards if your subject needs a little help to remember all the points. Film the subject a few times until they feel comfortable that they have nailed their presentation. Corporate videos for your website should be filmed and edited by a professional videographer. However, social media clips benefit from a user-generated feel when filmed on a higher spec smartphone. Depending on budget, you could train an interested candidate on your team to use video editing software, or find yourself a freelance video editor to support your process.
- Optimize MoFU & BoFU Videos for Desktop - Buyers proactively conducting research will watch videos on desktop around 87% of the time, so prioritize a desktop-friendly video format rather than vertical orientation. At least for your website and LinkedIn. However, videos on other social platforms are more likely to be viewed on mobile.
- Minimize Video Length for ToFU - For social media, don’t go over 60 seconds, and 30 seconds is optimal. However, if your video is on your website, positioned further down the sales funnel to target users with more intent, then you have more leeway with time. But do make every second count using the right level of meaningful content. Create two edits of your videos if you want to share on social media, but also need a slightly longer version for your website or vlog. Vlogging is a growing B2B content marketing format, and when contained within your vlog area or platform, can naturally be longer in length to provide value. Video-specific platforms like YouTube show better engagement for slightly longer videos.
- Use Captions, Subtitles + Compelling Imagery - The majority of videos on social platforms are watched without sound; 85% of Facebook videos are played without sound. So do always include subtitles. Pair that with compelling imagery to capture visual interest and increase the number of views to completion.
- Videos Need CTAs - Finish your video with a call to action according to the customer journey stage objectives. It could be a ToFU video promoting viewers to subscribe to your social channel. A MoFU video on your website prompting viewers to get in touch with the sales team for a scoping conversation. Or directing viewers to click on the provided link to read the full white paper discussed (behind a landing page form, ideally!).
A type of gated content, webinars help you capture new lead PII data during the sign up process on your registration page. Due to the time investment, webinar leads are usually high quality.
- Buyers are willing to spend the most time engaging with webinars, at 30-60 minutes.
- 63% of buyers say they are willing to share information to access webinars.
Top tips for webinar marketing:
- Platform + Promotion - Choosing a webinar platform depends on the number of participants, what features are needed, and the price of course. Three weeks of promotion is great, but four weeks will allow more scope within the diaries of busy senior buyers.
- Format - The most popular webinar formats are one speaker, interview style, and moderated panel discussion. Besides presentations, make sure that you have an introduction slide, a slide for each presenter, and a slide with the agenda. Remind speakers about the importance of visuals to accompany their message, and help them improve slides during your brand review process.
- Follow-up - Follow-up with attendees, whether this falls to marketing or sales, contacting every participant individually. Share the materials and ask what motivated them to participate. If a person didn’t join a webinar, offer access to the recording. Track if they have watched it, and use the standard follow-up process when they do.
7. eBooks + White Papers
eBooks and white papers are similar forms of information-rich content, typically providing more in-depth coverage than a blog might.
They are mostly used in mid funnel research stages. That means after listicles and videos, but before case studies and buying guides.
However, they are targeted differently.
eBooks - Designed for a broader audience, these digital assets have interactive features made with eBook creator tools. They tend to be less data oriented and more visually driven than heavy hitting white papers, providing easier or higher level topic overviews. They can feature embedded videos, links and interactive navigation. eBooks have wider appeal and sit slightly higher in the research funnel than a white paper would, so use these nearer the top of the funnel at interest stages.
White Papers - More academic and technical in style, white papers cover challenges and solutions for specific audiences. Write them for specific industry verticals, business types or departmental roles. They are data or research led, use plenty of graphs and charts, and explore an issue in depth. This can make them more ‘expensive’ to produce. White papers are traditionally downloadable PDFs, which some B2B readers can prefer for printing and file saving. Use them at the consideration stage to help qualify leads for bottom funnel content. However, if your solution or audience aren’t particularly technical, a white paper may be overkill!
Top tips for creating eBooks + white papers:
- Use a 3-Step Structure - The basic structure for long-form ‘How to’ assets should be 1) identify and clarify a problem, 2) explore methodology or solutions, and 3) propose a recommended resolution or conclusion.
- Build Authority - Get the tone right. The primary goal is to demonstrate technical expertise and authority, not to be biased in promoting your offering with a sales focus. Stick to solution categories rather than individual products and keep product comparison guides for bottom funnel content. This builds trust with your audience, getting them ready to explore deeper funnel content as the next stage.
- Shareable vs. Gated - eBooks can perform better as highly shareable content without requiring a form-fill for access, while white papers should require data in exchange for access. Content offering more detail and technical depth will tend to attract readers with greater intent on average.
8. Case Studies and Customer Stories
Testimonials and case studies are highly influential, particularly for decision makers!
- 92% of buyers give most credence to peer reviews or feedback than any other content type.
- 59% of buyers use third-party sites to read peer reviews.
- C-suite executives are most likely to prefer peer reviews (60%) over all other forms of research.
Case studies mostly come into play at MoFU and BoFU stages. They should provide social proof and tangible evidence that your solution will deliver, and how well.
Top tips for creating case studies:
- Speak to Customer Challenges - Promote the best projects, not from your company’s perspective but from the customer’s perspective. Base it around their primary challenges and motivators. It’s likely that you’re speaking to high level decision makers with this content, but other personas in the buying process may also have mid to bottom funnel questions to be answered too.
- Focus on Outcomes - Case studies are most frequently read deeper in the purchasing consideration process, so make sure to spell out exactly how your other customers have benefited from your product or service. Include scenario-specific delivery information, resulting outcomes and ROI data.
- Provide Social Proof - Include customer testimonials as evidence where you can. Ideally name the client and person providing an endorsing testimonial. An accompanying video testimonial is great if you can get it!
- Be Concise - Senior executives or decision makers are notoriously time poor and statistically have shorter attention spans. Create a clear structure covering context, the challenge, the solution and the results, only mentioning the most relevant details. Use headings and bullet points to make the case study skim-able, and pull out numerical figures in simple infographics or larger text.
9. Buyers Guide
A Buyers Guide is a crucial piece of BoFU content to help buyers make a decision and take action.
Whether it’s a webpage or downloadable asset such as an eBook or PDF, tracking engagement with your buyers guide content will help you qualify sales leads. Use this type of content as a self-assessment for buyers.
Presenting information in tables, as bullet points or graphics is ideal.
Top tips for creating a Buyers Guide:
- Working With Us - Lead with your brand and product-specific USPs. Why should clients want to work with you? Trust is a huge B2B decision-making factor, so explain valuable brand elements like post-purchase support provision.
- Qualifying Checklist - If there are any criteria leads need to meet in order to be a match for your provision, provide them. State clearly what type of business the guide is written for. This either confirms to the reader that they have found the right provider, or will help filter out unqualified leads.
- Specifications Or Capabilities - Provide as much detail about your product or service as possible. Or provide the key capabilities and processes your team uses when delivering a bespoke service. List out the pain points and challenges that it solves. Depending on your business model, you may or may not wish to provide information about your pricing and contractual model at this stage.
- Supporting Evidence - ROI information and the benefits of implementing your solution should be detailed. Include numerical data and customer testimonials to back up your statements. Link to customer testimonials on third-party review platforms.
- Comparison Chart - These are particularly helpful for products. Check off the important features your product has in comparison with best-known sellers in your competitive bracket. Include any relevant gaps to help your leads pre-qualify themselves. Perhaps your product does offer more features than competitors. Or customers could be happy to forgo some unessential features for a provider that’s overall a better fit on criteria such as support or pricing. Saving prospects the time researching and comparing options will build trust and speed up the purchasing process.
- How To Take Action - Conclude with helpful information so that buyers can take action, such as how the purchasing process works. Provide contact details and next steps.
Infographics are a valuable part of the buying process according to 76% of B2B buyers. They’re great for summarizing a topic or lots of statistical information quickly - ideal for top to mid funnel stages! There are plenty of tools with infographic templates that make the job easy if you don’t have enough design budget. I recommend Canva or Picktochart.
Top tips for creating infographics:
- Consider Graphic Types - Decide which type of infographic will best help you convey the key takeaways. You could depict process flows, comparisons, timelines, statistical data or listicles, and so on.
- Use Logical Hierarchy - Bring structure to the data or list of points to create a narrative. Progress in logical order in terms of information that builds upon earlier information, or gives deeper levels of detail. This will aid readers in quickly understanding and retaining the information.
Given that podcasts are lower down the list of most marketers current content priorities, there’s more space to stand out and capture podcast listeners’ attention. It’s also generally more cost-effective than professional video production.
- In the US, 62% of the population (12+ years) are now weekly online audio listeners, representing around 176 million people.
- Podcasts appeal most to higher income earners - people earning between $50K-75K (34.1%) and $75K-100K (32.6%) listen to podcasts daily.
- A Nielsen study found that 45% of podcast listeners are more likely to have a household income of at $250k+, while also being 51% more likely to work in management.
- Among senior decision-makers, VPs, owners and C-suite executives, 44% specifically make time to listen to podcasts.
The popularity of podcasts among high earners is understandable, as it’s much easier to multitask when you’re listening rather than reading. Perfect for the drive home, while grocery shopping, cooking, at the gym, or en route to a meeting.
Apple and Spotify provide the best known podcast publishing platforms. Most people (64%) learn about podcasts through social media, and there are also audio SEO techniques you can put into play to improve your channel’s visibility.
Top tips for podcast marketing:
- Gather Tools - The basic podcast toolkit consists of a microphone and voice recording software. It doesn’t have to be high-end to deliver clear sound. However, someone with the skills to edit and stitch episodes together is best for a professional result. There are 4 main structural elements to incorporate: a recognizable brand jingle, an introduction, main interview, and conclusion. Aim for no more than 20-30 minutes per episode.
- Feature a Variety of Guests - An interview-style podcast is the most popular format. You can use your podcast to amplify the voice of your internal brand ambassadors, subject matter experts and business leaders. Interviewing external guests is also a good idea to keep your content fresh and interesting, bringing in a variety of perspectives. LinkedIn is useful for researching and reaching out to a talent list, or you could contact a speakers agency for a big name, budget allowing. Ask your senior business leaders (or their assistants) to send a drafted invitation email. An invitation from a CEO, VP, Founder or Partner is more flattering and harder to refuse.
12. Social Media Posts
In its simplest format, social media posts are standalone content snippets. You can use them to pose simple statements and thought provoking questions, or share pictures and videos live from an event. However, social media is unsurpassed as the most popular channel for distributing B2B content marketing materials such as blogs and videos. It’s used by 89% of surveyed B2B marketers.
On social, your goal is to grab the attention of your target audience at the start of the customer journey, and then keep your brand top of mind as you build brand awareness. That said, 53% of buyers said they use social media to research purchasing information, so a mix of top to mid funnel content is required.
The following content mix is a good ratio to aim for so you can keep things engaging while still achieving your aims:
- Drive website traffic (sometimes including direct links or using a Link In Bio tool): 50%
- Curated from external sources or UGC (repost influencers or customers content, industry publications, independent market experts etc): 25%
- Lead-generation campaigns (promos and gated content): 20%
- Convey company culture: 5%
Content that resonates on social media platforms is different from website content. Ideas can travel far on social platforms, allowing you to reach a larger audience if you get it right.
- Focus on attention grabbing titles and summarized messages.
- Find unique ways to express messages so you stand out.
It can be harder for B2B marketers than for B2C marketers to develop content that works as naturally on social media. The impulse appeal can be harder to compete with, and it takes thought and effort to get engagement. But audience insights and some experimentation can go a long way.
It’s ok to go a little off brand occasionally to show human personality within your brand identity. Humorous content gets attention and can help build a sense of connection and community using insider references. After all, businesses are made up of people, and even the most senior business leader appreciates a little humor! Just steer clear of any controversy. Or share content from other non-competing industry influencers who use humor well.
Be genuinely interesting, whether it's through insightful statistics and perspectives, or valuable educational content. And whatever you do, don’t go in heavy with the promotional content. An audience that feels spammed creates negative brand sentiment.
- Irrelevant content is the top reason to unfollow a social account (51%), followed by too many ads (43%) or promotional posts (35%).
Features across the biggest social platforms have progressively homogenized, and there are core social tactics to use for them all.
Top tips for social media marketing:
- Feature Industry Statistics or News - People enjoy the credibility of numbers and keeping abreast of the latest industry news. They want to stay informed as easily as possible, and a quick scan of social media headlines is popular for this. Give people an engaging snapshot summary within the post, and link to the long-form version of the content snippet for further reading (or viewing).
- Use Hashtags - Hashtags make content discoverable to help you organically expand reach, particularly for people following relevant topics but not your account (yet!). You can use paid social media tools to help you research popular hashtags for your niche, plus get inspiration from industry influencers, your target audience and competitors. Aim for 2 or 3 hashtags per post with most topical relevance. A huge list of hashtags in a post can be irritating, spammy and diluted.
- Share User-generated Content - UGC is a great way to engage your audience by endorsing their content and shining a spotlight on them. Mix it up with the content formats or messages you repost according to what your audience will appreciate, including any genuine advocacy for your brand.
- Leverage Groups + Communities - Active groups within your industry are a great place to grow your brand's reach. However, corporate feeling 'SPAM' posts are ineffective and may not even be allowed. Ask more prominent employees or allocated authors to use their accounts to post personalized summaries of your content. Engaging content based on insights and personal experience delivered in a conversational style works best. Create a draft for your primary content sponsor to finalize + share, and encourage them to respond to any questions or comments.
- Be Consistent - Consistency is key for success on any social platform. Pick a sustainable frequency for your publishing schedule and maintain it.
- Track Links + Measure Success - Shorten links, and use UTM link parameters to track generated traffic by individual posts. Experiment to see what content formats and topics will get you the most engagement and conversions. Identify common traits among your most engaged with posts and links so you can replicate the approach.
- Try Native Newsfeed Ads - Boost your most popular organic ToFU posts with paid promotion. This content may be more likely to appeal more to new prospects too, improving brand awareness and reach.
- Prioritize Video Content - Video content is consistently the best performer on all mainstream social platforms.
- Optimize for Mobile - Social content is mostly consumed on mobile devices, so optimize images, videos and landing pages for vertical mobile screens.
- Provide Company Information - Fill out your bio or ‘About’ section on all social platforms, including relevant keywords and #hashtags, plus backlinks to your website and contact details.
- Use Calls To Action - Remember your strong calls to action, particularly for lead generation campaigns. Use specifically designed landing pages by user case; don’t send users to your homepage.
In Chapter 4, we’ll look at more advanced tactics for optimizing your social content specifically for each of the top 4 B2B social platforms of choice.
As with social media, email can be considered both a content format and a publishing channel.
Newsletters are an effective way to stay top of mind while gently growing brand awareness for your offering, and are unsurpassed as a lead nurturing tool.
- Around 87% of marketers utilize email, and 77% produce email newsletters.
- Email is the preferred communication channel for B2B consumers; 77% say it’s how they prefer to receive business communications, and 70% say it’s how they share content internally.
- PostUp data showed that email newsletter readers visit twice as many webpages per session than visitors from social.
- In terms of ROI, it’s hard to beat. Litmus says that on average, email generates $36 for every $1 spent.
- It’s the number one lead nurturing tool (online), with people who’ve subscribed to an email list being 40x more likely to convert.
Newsletters are the most popular email format, followed by stand-alone (79%), lead nurturing (71%), and transactional (62%). Hubspot has some great inspiration for email formatting.
But again, a quick disclaimer not to be overly self-promotional with your email content. 43% of users say too much advertising from the brand is the top reason to unsubscribe from a newsletter.
To get people signing up to your newsletter:
- Make the sign up form easy and visible on your website.
- Consider using a website pop-up for sign up.
- Provide a compelling reason to subscribe.
- Include a link in email signatures.
- Directly ask customers if they want to sign up.
- Ask sales staff and event presenters to promote it via word of mouth.
- Create a small reward for signing up, like a free email question answered by a consultant.
To build an automated email nurturing sequence:
- Marketing Automation Platform - You’ll need email marketing automation software to build a chain of emails into ordered and timed sequences. These will be triggered to start on an individual basis depending on the trigger criteria you set. For example, a trigger could be someone signing up to your newsletter or starting a free software trial. Ideally you can use a tool which gathers and compiles data from your website and email platforms in order to build better triggers for greater personalization.
- Audience Segmentation - Build email nurturing sequences that cater to specific audience needs. You can build in multiple triggers, email sequences and timing depending on the level of segmentation you need to deliver. For example, two different services will have different marketing assets that can be sent to leads who demonstrate interest in them (page views, time on page, clicks, downloads). Build email sequences depending on the content your distinct audience segments will find most helpful and influential in order to convert.
- Build Journey Sequences - For nurturing sequences, your email content needs to move recipients through their individual customer journey from top to bottom funnel. The goal is to build familiarity, authority and trust. Order email sequences starting with introduction content. Provide access to gated ‘How to’ content such as eBooks, trials, downloads and webinars before proceeding to BoFU content. If emails remain unopened, you can trigger a re-engagement email rather than sending BoFU content before it’s time. Email sequences are a powerful tool to help you qualify leads based on their engagement (opens, link clicks, downloads).
Top tips for email marketing:
- Segment Email Lists - Customers' expectation for personalization continues to increase, and 55% of unsubscribes are because people find email content irrelevant to them. Using segmentation for your campaigns can result in revenue increases by as much as 760%. Utilize your CRM database (and client-facing staff) to full capacity to help you accurately segment customers by their persona, journey stage and interests. Ask people to check their main areas of interest during the signup process, as long as it's quick and easy for them. And if you don’t already, use personalization tags to include the recipients’ name at least once.
- Optimize for Mobile - Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 email campaigns are not optimized for mobile devices? Although B2B buyers mostly use their professional email accounts and make decisions from desktops, news or thought leadership content is still accessed from mobile devices. Don’t ignore the UX on any part of the customer journey if you want to optimize favorable brand opinion and conversion rates.
- Use Compelling, Short Subject Lines - Email recipients often use the subject line as the basis for opening an email (or not). It’s best practice to get your message across within the subject line using a limit of 60 characters. On mobile, with the iPhone email app for example, only the first 30 characters of subject lines appear. Experiment with the type of subject lines your audience are most likely to open. A/B testing is advised to help you optimize your subject lines, and make sure that they reflect the contents of your email.
- Observe Permission Practices - Adhering to privacy policies is absolutely not optional. First, never buy an email list or email people without their opt in. Email subscriptions have to be earned over time with engaging content. Second, always action unsubscribe requests, or people will perhaps correctly assume you’re ignoring their wishes and don’t respect their privacy. Break either of these rules and not only will you destroy trust, but you can get yourself into legal hot water. There are differing international email policies you must adhere to. On top of this, consistently use good list management practices. If contacts have’t opened in a few months, ask if they are still interested. Delete contacts that don’t respond, or bounce. Lots of unopens, bounces and unsubscribes will result in your account being flagged as SPAM or as a security threat, blocking your email delivery.
- Get the Frequency Right - Send too few emails and you can miss opportunities, or people forget about you. Send too many and you can overwhelm or irritate people. ‘Too many emails’ is the top reason to unsubscribe, accounting for 57% of unsubscribes in both the US and UK. Two to three emails per month is the most popular frequency for both B2B and B2C email marketers. If content generation is a challenge, create bite-sized emails a couple of times a month instead of one longer email.
MailChimp has compiled a helpful table of industry-specific email benchmarks you can reference for comparison.
A range of content is required to move leads from awareness to conversion. Different content formats and topics are required at each stage of the sales funnel.
- Blogging forms the foundation of a content strategy for SEO purposes; B2B blogs featuring educational content capture 52% more organic traffic.
- ‘How to’ guides are the most popular form of ToFU purchasing content.
- B2B audiences are willing to spend the most time on webinars at 30-60 minutes, and 63% are willing to share information to access them.
- 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout their path to purchase.
- Infographics are a valuable part of the buying process according to 76% of B2B buyers.
- 53% of buyers said they use social media to research purchasing information.
- Research reports are ranked well by B2B buyers and marketers as effective purchasing content.
- Email is the number one lead nurturing tool (online), with people who’ve subscribed to an email list being 40x more likely to convert.
- Product overviews and customer reviews are the most popular BoFU content.
- 92% of buyers give most credence to peer reviews or feedback than any other content type.
To explore KPIs for assessing your website, social and email content performance, see Chapter 2.
This concludes Chapter 3 of Half Past Nine’s four-part B2B content marketing series.
Ready to discover more of the series now? See the rest of the chapters below. If not, do bookmark them for later!