Top Types of Content That Attract and Convert
All of today’s top B2B content marketing strategies work by putting the audience’s informational needs and demands ahead of the company’s own sales and promotional messaging. Content needs to be informative and helpful, while providing value to your target audience. This is the single most effective content marketing practice you can employ to generate more leads, boost your conversion rate, get repeat customers, and enhance their purchasing experience in one go.
High-quality content sits comfortably at the center of marketing automation. Without it, you won’t be able to achieve most of the benefits mentioned above. Today’s B2B customers are way too savvy and digitally-connected to waste their time on mediocre content. With so much quality content out there, second-rate material simply won’t cut it.
What types of content should you consider creating?
When it comes to B2B marketing, email rules. According to the statistics, 66% of people have made at least one purchase as a direct result of an email marketing message. Also, consumers have highlighted email as the top communication channel for initial product introduction and post-purchase follow-up. What’s more, email was shown to be 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than both Facebook and Twitter combined.
Emails that are sent at the top of the sales funnel are meant to inform and educate, not sell. People at this stage of their buyer’s journey are not ready to commit. They are looking to inform themselves about a specific problem or a question they have. If you attempt to sell at this stage, you run the risk of driving them away because quite simple, they’re not there yet.
Now, in terms of whether you should be using plain text emails or HTML, Hubspot surveys say that two-thirds of people think that they prefer the latter. However, based on Hubspot’s own A/B testing, text emails actually win. GIFs were shown to decrease open rates by 37%, while HTML emails had a 25% lower open rate than plain text emails. When it comes to email, simple performs better Click To Tweet.
In terms of the actual email content, less is more. Bullet point information, sidebars, minimal links, and clear and prominent CTAs are best. Attaching how-to content and lead magnets (eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, etc.) are great for advancing them through the sales funnel.
Blogs are equally important as email. Blog posts will not only build your social media and email campaigns, but they also boost brand recognition, generate leads, increase website rankings on search engines, and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. This is essential for building your audience’s trust so that they want to do business with you.
A strong content marketing strategy is a step by step process that involves knowing the customer (developing buyer personas), figuring out how much content you need, and conducting some content assessments and syndication. Content quality should always be top-of-mind.
Listicles and How-to’s are known to gain a lot of traction. Guest blogging is also a good option to fill your content calendar and expand your influence. Presentations and case studies can be converted into blog content, while content atomization will allow you to get into the details.
That said, between long-form and short-form content, long-form blog posts are the best way to go. Long-form content refers to blog posts that have a minimum of 800 words. In a series of tests conducted by Marketing Experiments, long copies had a 40.54% better conversion rate. As far as return on investment, short copies had a negative ROI of 66%, with long copies proving out a positive 50%.
That doesn’t mean you should fill pages with meaningless words to hit 800. Content needs to be good and it needs to be substantial, particularly when you’re looking to convert. When creating long copies, there will need to be more research, more attention given, and more valuable information provided. That’s how you increase conversion. Long-form copies also help with ranking in search engines, increase the time spent on the site, have better success on social media (particularly on LinkedIn), and put you in a position of authority.
Statistics show that 82% of buyers rely heavily on whitepapers when making a B2B purchasing decision. Likewise, 79% said that whitepapers are the type of content most likely to be shared. Whitepapers help in establishing you as a thought leader in your industry. Since they’re more data-driven and go more in-depth, they are generally consumed by the very decision-makers you are looking to attract and convert.
To be successful, however, whitepapers need to dissect a relevant topic targeted toward a specific audience. As such, you will first have to develop buyer personas and understand their needs. You also need to know the subject matter like the back of your hand. The point of a whitepaper is to distill more complex subject matter into an easily consumable final product. Be sure to back it up with reliable data, graphs, charts, and other authoritative sources.
When compared to whitepapers, eBooks tend to be lighter reads, covering a more generalized topic. They are less content-heavy and data-driven, making them easier to skim through. They also have a more conversational tone and include more graphics. This type of design-oriented layout will be more visually inviting and less intimidating, drawing in a broader audience.
An advantage of eBooks is that they’re great for repurposing via content atomization, providing a source of additional content. Chapters can be broken down and turned into long-form blog posts, emails, and the like. You can also create eBooks using reverse content atomization by bringing together multiple guest posts from different contributors. As such, eBooks are less labor-intensive to produce than whitepapers and have more versatility in terms of their use and audience. They are no slouch on conversions either, with 67% of B2B buyers using eBooks for purchasing decisions.
In the world of B2B digital marketing, infographics have a major role to play. Some 66% of B2B buyers base their purchasing decision on infographics. This is huge given the simplicity of creating and sharing them. Infographics boil down complex information into easily consumable, visual content.
The biggest mistake marketers make with infographics is trying to do too much. Coupled with a poor design, what you end up with is just visual noise that gets you nowhere. Infographics need to state the facts as clearly and as simply as possible, drawing the eye where it matters most. They are highly-shareable content material, best used for top-of-the-funnel messaging. Some effective and easy-to-use infographic design tools are Infogram, Piktochart, and Canva.
Somewhat similar to infographics, product sheets thrive on simplicity, an eye-catching design, and conciseness. The main difference, however, is that product sheets focus on your products or services, whereas infographics can tackle a greater range of topics and customer pain points. That said, product sheets also have a specific target audience and focus on what’s most important to that particular audience. However, this isn’t a place to go “down a rabbithole”. These lists are not meant to be exhaustive, but informative and concise.
The layout is also essential. People will generally start by looking at the images of the product itself, then move their gaze momentarily to the logo and name, then drop down to read the list of features. The backside goes into further detail about the product’s features and benefits. B2B product sheets should also look to add some social proof in the form of a testimonial or an expert endorsement, along with a clear CTA, and contact information.
While on the topic of social proof, customer success stories in the form of case studies will highlight the practical effectiveness of your product. In fact, 73% of B2B buyers base their purchasing decisions on case studies. They are perfect tools for bottom-of-the-funnel leads looking for a reason to take the final step.
Emails and dedicated product landing pages are generally ideal places for case studies. Nevertheless, they can easily find a home all over your website, including in blogs and articles. You can use these real experiences to paint a clear picture of what the client’s problem was, the goals they hoped to achieve, the solution you offered, and the resulting success.
Video case studies and video testimonials, will have an even bigger impact. It’s far easier for viewers to relate to another’s problem and eventual gratification if they see it instead of reading about it. Having a social proof library will help your sales and marketing teams look up specific cases at a moment’s notice. They can use them in their emails, presentations, nurture campaigns, newsletters, webinars, on social media, and wherever else they are needed.
No such list would ever be complete without talking about video content. The benefits of using video up and down the sales funnel and on different channels cannot be overstated. According to Aberdeen, “companies using video in their content marketing mix show a 66% higher average website conversion rate,” while “the average cost per marketing-generated lead is $93 for companies using video compared with $115 for those who aren’t.” In fact, just using the word “video” in an email’s subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-thru rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.
In terms of actual content, how-to videos are a great place to start. They are a go-to for many looking to pick up a new skill or looking for a solution to their problem. As mentioned, video testimonials and case studies are other great examples. Also, product demos, instructional videos, thought leadership video blogs, and behind-the-scenes videos to showcase your company culture are all incredibly useful.
Today, creating a video won’t cost you an arm and a leg to produce. New, high-quality video-capturing technologies are now easily accessible and have brought video production costs down substantially. Some of the most useful video editing tools include Adobe Premiere Pro, Filmora, or Animoto.
When dealing with the middle of the sales funnel, webinars are a perfect fit. Once you’ve attracted website visitors with top-of-the-funnel content such as blogs, short videos, and infographics, webinars come into play. They are incredibly effective at influencing decision-makers looking to make big-ticket purchases, with 77% turning to this form of content when considering a provider or product. In fact, 3/4 of decision-makers attend at least one webinar per month.
They are great for creating trust, promoting repeat-purchases, and allowing for direct engagement with consumers in a way that other types of content don’t. You can also repurpose it as streaming content for years. The key to a successful webinar is clear, focused messaging and a strong, compelling call to action. Webinar speakers and topics have the biggest impact on the number of registrations/leads you will generate on any given webinar. Avoid having speakers whose primary job function is sales i.e. Vice President of Sales. Your audience will think your webinar is a sales pitch instead of an educational program and the number of registrations you will generate will suffer as a result.
In recent years, podcasts have taken the marketing world by storm. A podcast is a series of digital audio and/or video files which can be downloaded or streamed directly over the internet. As part of your demand gen strategy, B2B podcasts can help increase brand awareness, promote your products and services, connect you with your ideal customers, and build a community around your brand.
B2Bs are starting to experiment with this type of content format at a time when podcast audiences are growing. eMarketer predicts that by 2022, there will be 83.8 million people in the US listening to at least one podcast per month, which is up from 73 million in 2018.
That said, podcasts are new to the B2B market, and their exact effectiveness is still unknown. This, however, also means there’s far less competition with the potential skyrocketing early adopters in their respective niches. Some popular podcast hosting sites include PodBean, Buzzsprout, or Transistor.fm.
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