In this blog, Matthew Creswick, Group Marketing Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, discusses the content formats you should be using in 2020 and why they're effective.
By now, you’ve most likely heard the value of content marketing – from how it can help you to attract more website visitors to how it can help you grow your business.
In fact, if you want to succeed in 2020, content marketing is pretty much essential.
That said, there’s a lot of content out there: blogs, eBooks, case studies, infographics, videos, white papers, research reports – so what content should you start with?
In this article, I’m going to highlight what I consider to be the most effective content formats for any business to start with.
What are the most effective content formats you should be using?
For any B2B company looking to get started with content marketing – blogging is by far the easiest (and most accessible) content format.
Thanks to content management systems like WordPress, Weebly, Hootsuite and the HubSpot CMS, it’s really easy to get started with blogging.
But getting started isn’t the issue – getting results is. You’re here because you want to understand how blogging can help your bottom line and grow your business, right?
Well, blogging enables you to:
- Improve search engine optimisation (SEO)
Every blog post you publish is a web page that will be indexed by search engines. The more blogs you have, the higher your chances of showing up on search engine results pages for a specific term.
Of course, you can’t just create blogs and expect them to rank well. If you want to reach the 1st page of Google, you need to do a couple of things:
First, every blog post you create should be optimised for a long-tail keyword term relevant to the topic. The term should have good volume and low competition – this will make it easier to rank well and enable you to drive targeted organic traffic to your website.
Second, you need to ensure every blog post answers a question. You might be optimising for the right terms but are you providing the information people are searching for? If you are, search engines will reward you with higher placements.
Lastly, you can't just recreate content that others have already created. As I mentioned earlier - there's a lot of content out there which no doubt covers the topics you want to cover. The key is to be different in how you frame your content and how much value that content provides readers. Obsess about providing value.
- Attract and convert leads
As you create high-quality content that answers specific questions in depth, you’ll attract more people to your website and – if they like your content enough – convert them into leads over time.
Promoting your blogs regularly on the channels your audience use will help you attract and convert even more visitors.
Also, if you've optimised your blogs for long-tail keyword terms (as I mentioned earlier) you'll be able to drive targeted traffic back to your website. In other words, people who are interested in what you do.
- Grow your website
The more blogs you create, the larger your website becomes. Of all the content assets, blogs are by far the easiest to regularly create.
Over time, your business will be seen as an authority in a particular subject area if your content is detailed and answers questions in depth. You’ll also start to earn links from other reputable websites.
Make sure your blogs link to and from other relevant content assets on your website as this will enable you to move visitors through your website and the buyer journey. Make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for.
Still not convinced about blogging? Well, we went from one blog a week to three and this is what happened.
The volume of video content online is growing exponentially – and by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic – 15 times higher than what it was in 2017 (Cisco).
It should come as no surprise then that 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool and 91% of video marketers consider it an important part of their marketing strategy (Wyzowl).
People would much rather watch a video than read a blog. That’s the reality. It’s easier, more accessible and far more authentic. There’s still a place for blogs in the B2B space but you need to start thinking about your video marketing strategy.
Video enables you to create so much content for your business – from how-to guides and interviews to product demonstrations and explainer videos. You can also create corporate videos for use on your website or in the wider media.
You can use videos to educate and nurture your prospects. But you can’t just create any video, it needs to be relevant to your target audience and provide value!
It’s not even expensive. In the past, video equipment would’ve cost your business tens of thousands, now you can hire equipment for as little as £1,000 or enlist an expert agency to do it all for you.
The benefits of video? Well…
84% of marketers say video has helped them increase traffic to their website.
81% of marketers say video has helped them to generate leads.
83% of marketers say video gives them a good return on investment (ROI).
If you haven’t started with video, you’re late for the train!
3. Case studies
Case studies are one of the best ways to demonstrate to a website visitor or lead the effectiveness of your solutions
More so than ever before, people rely on reviews, testimonials and case studies when making a purchase decision. They want to know that the product or service is what it says it is and that the business can deliver on its promises.
It’s not what you say – but what others have to say about you. You need credibility and evidence.
Think about it. When was the last time you purchased a product or service without reading a review or asking someone who has used the product/service before? Not recently, right?
So, if you have lots of happy, satisfied customers, you need to make a point of creating case studies about how you helped them and put them on your website. It’s the best way to show potential customers that you can help them, too.
You can then break these case studies down to create quotes and snippets for use in the wider media, amplifying your reach and enabling you to reach new audiences – there may be people that haven’t heard of your business yet!
So you've gotten this far... but do you know how to develop a B2B content marketing strategy for your company? If not, we do. Check out our big fat guide here.
If you want to turn website visitors into leads for your business, you need content assets designed specifically for conversion.
That’s where eBooks come in – they are your conversion assets.
Because eBooks are (typically) more detailed than other content formats, best practice is to lock them behind forms on landing pages.
To acquire the eBook, visitors will need to fill in and submit the form. On submission, they’ll be able to download the eBook and a copy will be sent to their email.
You should use eBooks to explore – in depth – a particular topic or question that your audience is interested in. You should also highlight how you can help (but without excessively pushing your products and services).
Our advice? Personalise your eBooks so that they speak to and about the reader – not you. You have all the time in the world to talk about your business, but really you want to show how you understand the reader’s problem(s).
To summarise, eBooks can…
Improve lead generation as they are locked behind a form on a landing page.
Provide incredibly detailed information on a specific topic.
Show readers your knowledge and expertise.
5. Market research reports
Market research reports are your magnum opus – they are (by far) the most comprehensive content assets. From a single market research report, you can create several blogs and eBooks, videos and promotional material.
But what is a market research report?
Market research reports offer detailed analyses about a specific market or a situation in a market or geographical area. Reports may include information on the industry’s landscape, trends, competitors, outlook, challenges and so on.
They’re a great way for you to drill down into your industry and really understand the challenges your prospects face on a day-to-day basis and educate others about those challenges.
If you know just what is keeping your prospects awake at night, you can start to create content to address those issues.
For example, let’s say you run a market research report to uncover the digital communication challenges in the facilities management sector. The report highlights that 80% of facilities management professionals struggle with communication due to outdated technology. The question then is, why?
You can then immediately create a piece of content that explores why it’s an issue (leaning on the research) and provide a solution. And that’s just one statistic from your research report and you’ll likely have 50-100 different stats.
Research reports are just a great way to create content (more on that here) that you know your audience will want to read.
These are our top five content formats and how you should be using them for your business’ marketing activity.
Remember: it’s never too late to get started. Just bear in mind that if you want to stand out from the competition, the content you create needs to obsess over answering the questions your prospects have and providing them with actionable solutions.