Content marketing is a key component of every organization’s digital marketing efforts simply because it is one of the most effective ways to connect and interact with audiences. But what about B2B businesses? Is content marketing still as indispensable for them as it is their B2C counterparts? You bet! And if it’s not, they’re missing a trick.
There’s a lot of talk how consumers and B2B buyers have already made up their minds when it comes to a purchase before they even reach out to a potential supplier. But this actually isn’t always the case.
Indeed, research from the RAIN Group shows that B2B buyers, for example, want to hear from sellers, and they want to hear from them early on in their buying journeys. In fact, 71% of B2B respondents in the RAIN research said they want to hear from vendors while they are ‘looking for new ideas and possibilities to drive stronger business results.’
Furthermore, in terms of the type of content B2B buyers want to see before they accept a meeting invitation to connect with a particular vendor, primary research data that relates to their business is the most influential kind, cited by 69% of respondents. Content that describes the vendor’s capabilities and content that’s 100% customized to the buyer’s specific situation are joint number two, cited by 67% of B2B respondents.
So, the bottom line, according to the RAIN research, is that B2B buyers want to see content that’s full of primary research data relevant to their businesses; content that outlines and describes a vendor’s service offerings/capabilities; and content that’s super customized to their specific situations.
But what else should you be focusing on?
First And Foremost, Know Your Audience(s) And Tailor Your Content Accordingly
As with any content marketing strategy, it is imperative that you know your audience(s). Actually, this is particularly important when it comes to tech audiences because there are often many different personas you have to engage with your content.
The 2017 IDG Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker survey shows that many different IT decision-makers (ITDMs) are involved throughout the IT purchase process. In fact, an average of 16 influencers (people who can influence the purchasing decision) are involved.
That means that organizations wanting to target their content marketing efforts at tech professionals need to potentially tailor their content for a wide-range of individuals if they want to have the greatest impact.
An approach like this makes sense when you think about it. After all, while a highly-technical product or service specification data sheet is likely to make sense to a technical lead or network administrator, it’s not going to resonate too much with a business decision maker. These individuals want solutions to their problems, their paint points, not a load of technical jargon and gobbledygook that doesn’t address those issues in layman’s terms.
That’s why your content has to be tailored for the specific individual you are trying to target. The good news is that these individuals can be segregated into several more generic personas.
For example, you may choose to produce two separate product/service data sheets: one that’s aimed towards highly-technical individuals which features a lot of jargon and tech specs, and another that’s for business decision makers which outlines how said product/solution solves common challenges, issues, and pain points.
These two different product/service data sheets can be used to satisfy the content needs of both technical individuals and business decision makers across a number of different organizations, which makes it easier for you to realize a return on your investment – that is the time and effort you have put into creating the content.
Tech Audiences, In Particular, Embrace Social Media
Social media is a fundamental ingredient in most organization’s digital marketing strategies. However, it’s something that often (wrongly) gets overlooked when it comes to content marketing for B2B tech companies.
The reality, though, is that tech buyers are voracious social media content consumers.
According to the LinkedIn report, “Tapping Into the Minds of Technology Professionals,” published in March 2017, which was created using the survey responses of 1,472 members of the tech community, tech audiences have large appetites for content.
In fact, technology professionals consume content more frequently than individuals in other industries, perhaps due to the rapid pace at which the tech industry moves. A whopping 80% of tech professionals consume content on LinkedIn at least once per week, while 45% consume it every week and 35% consume it every single day.A whopping 80% of tech professionals consume content on LinkedIn at least once per week, while 45% consume it every week and 35% consume it every single day.Click To Tweet
The vast majority (81%) of tech professionals rely on LinkedIn to keep up with industry trends, news, events, and peer activity.
In other words, if you aren’t publishing fresh content on social media – especially LinkedIn – at least once a week, you’re missing a massive opportunity to connect with the people who matter to your business.
Moreover, tech audiences also engage more with content than their non-tech counterparts. For example, tech professionals are 5% more likely to ‘like’ a particular piece of content and 9% more likely to share it than non-tech professionals.
Finally, tech audiences spend longer consuming content, often reading posts and articles to the very end. So, if you invest time and effort developing a high-quality, always-on content strategy, chances are your tech audiences will reward your undertakings by reading and engaging with them on a regular basis.Tech professionals are 5% more likely to ‘like’ a particular piece of content and 9% more likely to share it than non-tech professionals.Click To Tweet
B2B buyers love stuff that relates to events. The aforementioned LinkedIn report shows that tech-minded individuals engage more heavily with events than their non-tech counterparts in other industries.
Today’s tech professionals are highly knowledgeable and enjoy sharing that knowledge at events that are geared towards their interests, pain points, and overall experience areas.
The tech industry hosts tons of events throughout the year, events that tech marketers should view as opportunities to showcase their knowledge, make a great impression, and create lasting relationships. The key is to engage, inform, delight, and offer more – all of which add tangible value to the purchasing journeys of B2B buyers and business decision makers.
Your technical leads are inevitably highly-knowledgeable individuals who are at the top of their games when it comes to following new industry technologies, news, and trends. This puts them in an excellent position to establish themselves (and your business) as thought leaders in your industry.
By creating and publishing technical posts on a regular basis on platforms like LinkedIn, your technical leads can seek to establish themselves as thought leaders in your industry, providing what they are publishing is high quality, informative, and useful.
Now I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way my tech guys have got spare time to write stuff. It’s a common problem, but one that’s easily overcome by taking advantage of the tech-focused content marketing services offered by reputable digital marketing agencies.
Such services allow you to have high-quality, tech-focused content crafted for you to publish. Instead of writing a complete post or white paper from start to finish, all your tech guru has to do is give it a once over to ensure accuracy, before signing it off for publication.
It’s also important to look to solve your audiences’ problems with your content. So rather than writing a blog post on what you think your audience wants to hear about, write one that actually addresses a current issue they have.
A great way to identify these issues is by actively listening and participating in online group discussions that relate to your industry – think LinkedIn groups, Tech Target’s IT Knowledge Exchange, and even Quora.
Don’t Be Scared To Mix Things Up
Many people hear the word “content” and immediately assume it relates to written assets – blog posts, white papers, opinion pieces, articles, etc. And while a lot of the time it does and these types of content should absolutely be leveraged by marketers looking to engage with tech audiences, they aren’t the be all and end all.
For example, 30% of tech professionals actively listen to podcasts and 20% watch webcasts (source: aforementioned LinkedIn research) – considerably higher than their non-tech peers.
Nevertheless, as already mentioned, more traditional content is still very relevant, with 30% of tech professionals downloading white papers, as opposed to just 9% of their non-tech peers.30% of tech professionals download white papers, as opposed to just 9% of their non-tech peers.Click To Tweet
Infographics are another type of content that tech professionals seem to love, with 43% of them regularly engaging with infographics they discover online.
When creating content that you want to resonate with tech audiences, remember:
- Understand your audience, first and foremost
- Tailor your content to the different ITDMs involved in the purchasing process
- Include plenty of primary research data relevant to your customers’ businesses
- Never underestimate and neglect social media
- Take advantage of events
- Establish yourselves as thought leaders
- Diversify and utilize different content types
A high-quality, always-on content strategy that sings to tech professionals can be achieved providing you inherently understand the habits, pain points, and preferences of all your audiences and look to solve their issues through your content.
COO and co-founder of Creative Mindscape. Lover of marketing, psychology, tech and all things sport. Family man with a passion for living life outside the rat race and chasing your own dreams.