Are you wondering why your content doesn’t get shared, liked, or passed along?
Why it doesn’t rank anywhere in Google?
Are your prospects not finding it?
Or are they finding it but feel less-than-enthusiastic about digesting it?
The answers to these questions are often unequivocally negative, a scenario which is not uncommon in the B2B industry. B2B content takes some in-depth strategy and research to “hit the nail on the head,” and even then, the testing and tweaking never stops.
But, hopefully by the time you are done reading this article, you will have some “aha” moments and the application of these strategies will bring you a positive boost in your content marketing efforts.
Let’s dive right in…
According to a recent CMO Council and NetLine survey, 60% of B2B decision-makers said that online content had a moderate effect on their purchase decisions while 27% said online content had a major impact.
Even more eye-opening, 58% of respondents said online content was integral in helping them find new solutions to their problems.
So, we know that content is an integral component of B2B marketing, but how can you create, target, and distribute it effectively?
First, you want prospects to find your content.
While many traffic-increasing strategies exist, SEO is still one to pursue. I’m not referring to manipulating the search engines by driving low-quality links. I am referring to optimizing your content so Google knows exactly who you want to see it, and then creating content valuable enough to share.
Note: “Valuable content” may look different for each industry. Find out what your prospects really want and give it to them. We will touch on this later.
What type of content does Google really want?
I could answer this question with “high quality content” and end the article there, but we all know that would be a total cop out.
Yes, valuable content is what Google is after, but this doesn’t encompass publishing hordes of grammatically correct, well-researched articles just to satisfy Google’s love of content. Anyone can publish this type of mediocre media.
If you are reading this post, you are most likely in the business of pleasing your audience and possess a desire to focus on quality over quantity. If this is you, read on…
We know that Google wants your visitors happy. If your visitors are happy with your content after finding it in the search engine, they will come back to Google again for their search queries.
They will also share, mention and read more of your content, all of which are signals used in Google’s algorithm. So, essentially, making your visitors happy makes Google happy.
How do you make your visitors happy?
To answer that question, let’s dive deeper into what your prospects are actually looking for as it relates to content.
A CMO Council/Netline survey revealed that 47% of participants said depth of information was the most important attribute of the content they desired, followed by ease of use and readability.
Let’s touch on this in more detail:
Depth of information (In-depth Content)
Depth of information refers to more than publishing one stellar piece of content. It nods to a strategy of supplying your prospects with exactly what they need, exactly when they want it.
Seek to create content that allows you to develop a relationship with your prospects. One single whitepaper won’t get the job done. You may need several pieces of content targeted to several different customers depending on their demographic information and where they are in the buying cycle. By targeting your content to match your prospect’s needs, even during the lifecycle of their decision to work with you, your content will do most of the heavy lifting.
Let’s look at “In-depth content” from where Google sits…
It’s no surprise that the search engine just released an “In-Depth Articles” feature to its search result pages. Google is currently rolling out this feature in stages, but we are seeing glimpses of it in some short tail keyword searches.
A search for “Marketing” reveals these results on the bottom of page one of Google:
Google wants to give searchers the opportunity to access more in-depth, quality content.
According to the search engine, up to 10% of users desire more in-depth information on a topic rather than just a quick answer. So in Google’s quest to please users, it designed this new section in the search results pages to highlight the web’s “In-depth articles” of a related search query.
How do you optimize your article to appear in this “In-depth” section?
The results are ranked via the algorithm and based on several factors, along with Google’s webmaster guidelines.
- Use schema.org markup for articles (headline, crawlable image, description, datePublished and articleBody)
- Google Authorship (you can learn more about this here)
- Proper markup for paginated articles – If you have a series of articles linked together, add markup to your links so Google sees these articles as one in-depth article instead of separate pieces. Use rel=next and rel=prev (click here for more information)
- Optimize your business logo with organization markup and specify to Google which image to use as your logo (the logo is shown below the in-depth article result in Google) or link to your website from your company Google+ page.
Following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and adhering to the above recommendations will help Google find your in-depth content and hopefully feature it in the search results.
Helpful Tip: The articles featured in the In-depth articles section of the search results seem to have several similar characteristics. They all have at least 2,000 words of copy and include many headings, distinct, separate sections, and plenty of descriptive images.
The Type of Content
Not all B2B content is created equal. Simply slapping up any old content will not get the job done.
“BtoB buyers and influencers are turned off by self-serving, irrelevant, over-hyped and overly technical content. They’re migrating to peer-based communities and new sources of trusted, relevant and credible content and conversation. Meanwhile, BtoB vendor web sites are inadequate and hard to navigate. These sites lack the depth, objectivity and strategic context that buyers are seeking to inform and lead them through complex evaluation and purchasing processes.”
According to the survey, 67% of participants preferred professional reports/whitepapers over other forms of content. Content delivered via professional organizations carries with it more influence than vendor blogs, websites, social channels and reports. Why? Vendors have been too preoccupied with ROI and churning out subpar content due to unrealistic expectations of reeling in new business.
Your business prospects know the “game” and understand that content is highly valuable and needed to effectively market a brand, and they expect a certain level of quality and expertise. Businesses are savvy; they know when they are being marketed to; they see through the fluff. They want the good stuff; depth of topic, expert resources, and reputable, trusted communication.
Here are the main reasons why customers dislike B2B content:
The survey featured this quote which I thought was poignant enough to re-post:
“As marketers, we have to be very careful that we’re not simply trying to bring new clients in the door by billboarding content with an expectation that it will result in genuine engagement,” says Jamie Mendez, director of channel marketing responsible for IBM’s global partnering infrastructure, PartnerWorld. “As an example, when I’m trying to understand something, I want to engage with an expert. I don’t want someone sending me a series of billboards.”
Finally, content accessibility is also key to pleasing both Google and your prospects.
The survey showed that while desktop computers topped the list for B2B content accessibility (68%), 41% of participants reported they utilize their smartphones to access content while 30% use tablets.
Mobile accessibility has transformed from a luxury to a necessity for businesses that want to remain competitive. And, as I discussed in my last article, The Successful Marketer’s Mobile Optimization Checklist, Google is now using mobile signals to rank websites.
Your content is a vital component of your internet marketing business foundation. Research, target and build it to last. Rinse and repeat.
What types of content do you publish?