Since the days of company newsletters sent via snail mail, business-to-business (B2B) marketers have used content marketing as a lead generation and customer relationship technique.
Digital makes content marketing easier—but not easy, according to a new eMarketer report, "B2B Content Marketing: Best Practices for 2013." eMarketer defines content marketing as using content that is not, at its core, promotional material, but which is interesting or valuable for its own sake. B2B marketers should add one qualifying sentence: It is content geared to help businesspeople do their jobs better.
An August 2012 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs survey, sponsored by online video platform Brightcove, found that more than nine out of 10 B2B marketers in North America used content marketing. CMI is a consultancy that walks marketers through the process of content marketing.
And surveys of B2B marketers suggest content marketing is only getting more investment. For example, the CMI and MarketingProfs study also found that the majority of respondents had planned to increase content marketing spending for the last two years. Fifty-four percent of B2B marketers in North America said they planned to increase spending in 2012, with 60% reporting the same in 2011.
On average, B2B marketers planned to spend 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing this year, according to the study, up from 26% in 2012. Ideally, B2B marketers can use content marketing effectively throughout the customer lifecycle. These marketers endeavor to not only attract customers' attention but also engage them.
A survey by content curation software provider Curata found that engagement was the most frequently cited objective of content marketing among US B2B marketers.
As marketers put more time and energy into content creation and dissemination, there are certain best practices that B2B brands can apply across digital channels.
B2B marketers that care to keep the conversation with the customer vibrant and flowing craft content for particular segments. The more personalized the content is, the more helpful and necessary the content—and therefore the brand—becomes to the customer.
Mobile brings new opportunities for B2B content marketing as well. Marketers can bridge offline marketing with mobile by, for instance, creating mobile apps that direct prospects through an industry trade show.
And content marketers must also keep the content flowing. A customer community is like a pump that one must prime. The marketer must remain an active part of the conversation.
[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPad]