For almost 90% of B2B marketers, content marketing is central to customer engagement, lead generation, nurturing, and sales opportunities — but why? There’s a simple reason: because content marketing works. It works better than traditional outbound strategies because it understands how today’s consumers think.
Think about it: today’s consumers have been inundated with TV commercials that interrupt the programs they want to watch, direct mail pieces they don’t need, promotional emails they didn’t ask for, and annoying telemarketers who don’t seem to understand the meaning of “no.” It’s the reason hundreds of millions have registered on do-not-call lists, and millions more ‘click to skip ads’. Marketing only works when the content is relevant to the audience it’s speaking to. That’s where content marketing comes into play.
When you send your customers content that answers their key questions and solves their most pressing problems, you build trust in your business. That trust makes them more likely to buy from you than from one of your competitors when the time comes.
How well does content marketing work?
A host of recent studies points to the unparalleled effectiveness of content marketing. Take a look at a sampling of key marketing metrics gathered by Content Marketing Institute:
- Compared to outbound strategies, content marketing generates 3 times more leads, and costs 62% less
- When businesses implement a content marketing campaign, they boost conversions on average by 6 times
- The best content marketers push approximately 8 times more traffic to their websites
Why are some content marketing programs better than others?
Of course, those numbers reflect averages. Some content marketers do far better, and some don’t do nearly as well. Those who achieve an unusual degree of success understand the need to be creative, to execute their strategies in a way no other company has or has done as well.
Here are 5 B2B brands that took content marketing to the next level through innovation and creativity:
Lenovo sells computer technology and wanted to increase brand awareness. To achieve this goal, Lenovo created TechRevolution, a mobile-first, digital content hub that delivers latest and most-trusted tech news to IT decision makers in SMBs — Enterprise businesses across the AP region. TechRevolution broadcasts relevant content to the right people at the right time, heavily engages the target audience, funnels qualified marketing leads to the site and directly connects Lenovo executives to consumers.
Their strategy was to build awareness and trust by helping their target audience (primarily IT professionals) make informed buying decisions. That meant educational (and actionable) content which they offered across multiple channels. The strategy was wildly successful and has been established as a Thought Leadership site that features 252 articles with 34m impressions, 308k link clicks, 170k new web users and $30m attributable sales (in just 9 months).
The audience for Hubspot’s inbound marketing software is small business. As such, they face some stiff competition from companies like Marketo and Pardot. Hubspot developed a content marketing strategy designed to educate its audience, for many of whom the nuances of inbound marketing are obscure, at best.
Hubspot’s informative content (in the form of blogs, case studies and webinars) teaches inbound newbies the basics of social media and email marketing, along with SEO and PPC. That trust-building content took a company that started in 2006 with less than $80 million to a 2016 valuation in excess of $1 billion.
As a seller for CRM products, Salesforce is the unquestioned industry leader. They did, however, have a significant challenge with Salesforce UK, which was lagging in website traffic and lead generation.
Their solution was the creation of innovative and entertaining content, the kind which immediately captures the attention and the imagination of their core target audience. They distributed “fun videos” to educate customers about CRM for sales and marketing, rendered customer testimonials with the help of Prezi, and created what may have been the world’s first stop-motion slideshare. The results were dramatic, including an 80% increase in web traffic and 10,000 downloads of their customised eBook.
LeadPages designs and sells mobile-optimised landing page templates. Their problem was their small size and lack of cash flow, not to mention that they were going up against industry giants like Infusionsoft.
LeadPages’ CEO and founder, Clay Collins, decided to make a virtue of necessity, determined to prove that a content team of 4 marketers could successfully compete against one with more than 80. To prove his hypothesis, Collins offered prospective customers an engaging marketing blog on subjects like lead generation and A/B testing, weekly webinars about digital marketing, and a popular podcast, ConversionCast. The result: LeadPages garnered 35,000 new customers in 3 years, boosted revenues to $16 million in 2016 when it was named #148 on the list of fastest growing companies in America.
How does a company get to the front of the pack in the competitive world of cybersecurity? That was the content marketing challenge for SecureWorks.
To meet that challenge, their marketing team created a series of nuanced buyer personas which reflected the needs and pain points of key decision makers, like VPs of security, CEOs and other top executives. They engaged decision makers with a host of educational resources in the form of case studies, solution briefs and videos. Using content marketing as the lever to effectively align their sales and marketing teams and engage customers better than anyone else, SecureWorks, increased conversions by more than 50% and closed sales with more than half of all new leads.
These companies succeeded by creatively pushing the envelope, but also by understanding their audience and delivering content that met their needs and solved their problems. They might be outliers in terms of the extent of success they achieved, but they’re not alone in achieving key business objectives with a comprehensive content marketing strategy.
If you’re tired of wasting budget on marketing tactics that just don’t work, consider investing in content marketing for your next campaign. We’re always ready to share ideas and talk shop. Let’s chat.