Are blogs valuable in b2b marketing?
I was asked this today. The first time in a while actually. It surprised me as I was under the impression most people now know the value of blogging. We certainly do.**
Then again it can be easy to forget if you’re working in a traditional b2b marketing environment. Social media and content production may be spread across different teams or functions. Your b2b marketing remit may still revolve around classic outbound marketing tactics e.g. direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, events etc.
If you are questioning whether a blog is right for your b2b marketing mix, here’s three great reasons why b2b marketers should jump in with both feet:
1. Key Hub for your Inbound Marketing
Producing content in spades is nothing new for b2b marketers.
We have all invested countless hours and budget producing white papers, reports, product specifications, analyst briefings, presentations… the list goes on. These are the assets you have typically used in lead gen campaigns or at events – the bread and butter of b2b marketing. Nothing at all wrong with that.
However with inbound marketing you need to take a slightly different approach.
Rather than producing collateral about your products, its core features and benefits, your focus needs to turn to your customers’ needs and challenges. Your collateral should provide the answers to questions they are looking to solve.
For example if your message is typically ‘our new server consumes 15% less power to run 10% more transactions’, translate this into ‘how can I reduce power consumption while increasing transaction throughput?’
This is the very nature of a blog. It’s less formal, more conversational and much more customer focused. Make your blog a key strand of your inbound marketing machine and start generating more leads into your sales funnel.
Of course continue to produce the whitepapers, reports etc too. But introduce them through your blog and encourage interaction and engagement online.
Stop. Don’t throw out the content you already have. You can reuse and repurpose that too. Here’s how:
- Step 1: audit all of your content and categorise it based on the customer need or challenges each piece addresses.
- Step 2: examine your marketing plan and align your new content resources to your messaging and generate an editorial plan.
- Step 3: repackage and humanise your existing assets. Remember that white paper on transaction processing speed, translate it into a great blog post about the impact faster processing speed made for your customer Acme manufacturing. Tell the story and close with a call to action to download the original white paper that sits behind a data capture form.
- Step 4: use your website analytics and simple measures such as the number of comments, or volume of data captured, to identify which topic areas are creating cut through with your target audiences.
- Step 5: rinse and repeat.
2. Supports Search Marketing Campaigns
Assuming you’re running search marketing to support your b2b lead generation campaigns, you’re going to love the power of blogging. A properly optimised blog, aligned to your key search terms, will improve your search rankings. Fact.
Regularly updated content, on message, with the appropriate keywords, with rich media (i.e. copy, images, video, audio) will be regularly indexed by the search engines and as an added bonus should generate inbound links also. These are signals to the search engines that your content should be indexed and found.
Joined up with promotion through appropriate social media channels and you start to create social signals to the search engines too. If you haven’t created your business Google+ page and established authorship there’s no time to lose.
Google also uses social signals in its search algorithm. Make sure you don’t get left behind. There’s no excuse for b2b marketers to be behind the curve on social.
3. Demonstrates Brand Personality and Company Culture
Finally you can use a blog to more clearly show the personality of your brand and the team behind it. Blog content is often more accessible than typical b2b marketing collateral and presents the opportunity for your target audience to interact with you socially in an environment you can control and easily measure.
Inject some personality, demonstrate this through a variety of media formats and start a conversation. Don’t forget the old adage that people buy from people.
If you would like some additional advice and ideas for how to introduce a blog to your marketing mix, or to kick-start a floundering blog, we’d love to talk. You can reach us here.
** We’ve been analysing our own marketing performance in the last 12 months and we’re rather pleased by the value our blog has created. Not only has it been a great source of leads but we can track actual revenues back to our blog. OK it hasn’t generated the largest volume of leads, but from a conversion point of view it is very strong.