B2B companies will continue to rely on quality content in varied forms to differentiate themselves and their products during 2012. The website is still home base for most companies, but social media and branded content are augmenting their online presence. Marketing budgets are increasing in these areas. Companies are looking for business professionals who can develop content using a strategy that makes sense for their business.
To build relationships online B2B companies are adapting.
On websites prospects are looking for your location, contact information, what you do, a clear message, and easy interaction (click to chat?). Those not familiar with the company head for the About Us page first after reviewing the Home page. They also want to know who your customers are.
For 2012 you may want to consider using a lighter tone in your content to engage prospects. Be genuine and use simple language. Keep evolving with the design of your site to see what works best as your offers or strategies change. Ways to add interest might include a blog, twitter feed, customer reviews/ratings or videos featuring your customers.
For some B2B companies, social media is becoming a customer service outlet. It is on the social channels that they receive feedback and respond to customer inquiries and comments. Using social media this way can strengthen SEO ranking.
According to a recent survey of B2B marketers conducted by the Content Marketing Institute Twitter outdoes all other channels for content distribution with 74% of B2B content marketers using Twitter followed by LinkedIn (71%), Facebook (70%) and YouTube (56%).
Other content statistics from the survey show the following increases in usage:
- Blogs: 45% increase
- Case studies: 32% increase
- Videos: 36% increase
- Webinars/webcasts: 25% increase
A study conducted in 2011 by the Custom Content Council and ContentWise shows that branded content (content produced by a brand that is driven by narrative, not commerce) represents more than 50% percent of the total marketing budget. Why use branded content? The most often cited reason was to educate customers. Branded content has lots of forms including guides with exclusive tips, books, videos, newsletters and blogs that address a particular topic of interest to an audience.
For 2012, more branded content will be used by marketers of all sizes. Nearly three quarters of respondents to the survey believe it is more effective than magazine advertising. Sixty-nine percent think it tops direct mail and public relations.
Content strategists help companies create and position their content. Strategist Ahava Leibtag predicted that in 2012 more companies will rely on content curation (the vetting of information for customers), delivering and displaying content (think mobile devices) and integrating marketing and communications (social media people trained in customer service).
What becomes apparent is that in 2012 investing in quality content delivered by professional content providers is a good business strategy.