The key to knocking the socks off of your B2B clients this year is creating and delivering value (and then creating and delivering MORE value). When your clients feel that they have received greater value than they paid for, they will feasibly align with your brand.
How are you allowing outside businesses to express themselves and align with your brand? This is where your content strategy comes in. As you use your content to address their questions, needs and concerns, you are creating a culture of reciprocity that will determine the livelihood and, ultimately, the success of your brand.
In 2016, marketing and sales will work closer than ever. Sales teams will be driven to use more targeted marketing content in their sales processes in order to guide the customer through the lifecycle.
Marketers will need to focus on the customer experience and use content to solve problems at every touch point on the path to purchase. More importantly,content creation and curation will be directly related to feedback from your prospects and customers. This is why sales and marketing will benefit from intertwining.
Here are the steps to take in order to collect relevant feedback and build your 2016 strategy.
1. Create a survey funnel that will reveal the answers to the following questions:
- What are their biggest challenges?
- How would they describe your product or service to a friend in three words?
- What do they dislike about your current product or service?
- What would they like to add?
- What types of resources are they currently searching for?
- How can your business help them solve their problems?
2. Make free lunch exist.
Invite your customers to lunch. Who doesn’t want free lunch? As a marketer, I purposefully observe everything and anything as I enjoy a meal with clients. I use this time to ask strategic questions that allow me to evaluate my business as a whole.
Specifically, I want to find out what their current problems are so I can offer solutions. I document each and every area that they currently need help with and then use the answers to create an editorial calendar and content strategy.
3. Collaboration is key.
One of the most successful ways to enhance the relationship between you and your top customers is through account-based marketing. Account-based marketing focuses on key accounts that drive the most revenue and helping them succeed. By spending extra time and effort on these accounts, you give these account owners the sense that a dedicated team is working on their behalf (because they are!). As these customers receive the benefits of your extra sweat, the value of the relationship (and consequently, the value of the account) grows.
Map out a plan of where the current customer is now and where they want to be in the next four quarters. Then do all you can to help them achieve their goals.
Note: Customers care about experiencing fast, convenient service. The on-demand economy isn’t a joke, so prioritize delivering convenience and speedy resolutions to problems.
There are three main stages of the customer journey: awareness, consideration and decision-making. These three phases can shed light on the answers from the feedback described above. Use the feedback to develop content for each touch point of the lifecycle.
Once you have the feedback in place, you can develop personas for each customer journey. Remember, each customer has a different path and the more personalized it is the more receptive they will be. The personas should be based off of real information gathered from real customers and research from the feedback process. They are not made up people.
- Awareness: This stage is all about building interest and attracting customers to your product or service. It can be thought of as the “first look” or “first impression” phase. The content surrounding it should perk interest, increase curiosity and intrigue prospects to continue on the path to receiving more content from you. You are using content to help them become aware of their problem. They do not know they have a problem so the content is an integral part of helping them realize they must become aware and do something fast to resolve it. A marketer typically uses blog posts, whitepapers, reports and guides during this stage of the process.
- Consideration: This stage is when the customer finally realizes they have a problem and now they need a solution to help them succeed. During this phase I typically use templates, infographics and roadmaps to assist the customer in determining better solutions for their problem. You want to provide as much training as possible to help them understand the value they are receiving from you.
- Decision: This is the final stage where you help the customer visualize success. You have to reverse engineer the process to help them understand what success “looks” like after they use your product or service. During this stage we really want to amp up all we got in terms of case studies, testimonials, and other social proof to build that last bit of trust and overwhelm them with value. Most marketers provide real-life case studies, consultations, testimonials and even gifts. Reciprocity is huge at this stage.
Build Authority through Value
The whole customer journey is about building trust with your customers. It is the true process of turning strangers into passionate users of your product or service. When you take a solution-based approach and allow some transparency, you build trust. For example, I used to direct mail my customers to notify them of awards I won and publications I was featured in.
Here are the top three ways you can deliver value and build authority through your content at the same time:
- Make sure your content is engaging. This means there are actual shares, comments, and “likes” on the content.
- Conversations matter. This directly correlates to creating content that is highly engaging. One way to go about this is to include influencers and link to them in your content. This will give them a reason to share it within their own network.
- End each content asset with a question or a survey. Input from your key customers is important for driving marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and development of future content strategies.
The measurement plan starts with your metrics. What are the hard metrics? Determine whether you are trying to drive qualified leads, increase your conversion rate, or attract unique visitors to your website. Whatever the case may be, your ability to understand your customer’s needs early on can enhance your content plan.
One of my favorite tools for this is PDF Analytics. It allows me to measure conversions on every page of my content. For more in-depth information on conversions check out Conversion XL’s blog offering highly effective CRO tips.
Check out this graphic pertaining to three of the best tools to enhance your B2B content program in 2016.
What are some unique aspects of your 2016 content strategy plans? Share below.