7 must-know insights for B2SMB executives
Each year, the Content Marketing Institute partners with MarketingProfs to survey B2B content marketing benchmarks, budgets, and trends. The survey always provides great insight into what’s working in content marketing, and where the most successful marketers are focusing their attention and resources. There’s plenty to unpack in this year’s report. Here, I want to highlight a few findings that are 1) not always obvious, and 2) suggest crucial action steps for most B2SMB brands in 2019, along with our take on each one.
Document your strategy
Of those surveyed, 81% agree that the two biggest benefits of having a documented strategy are that it 1) aids alignment around a common mission and goals, and 2) makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.
Our take: We see the difference this makes. Companies that take a proactive approach to content and engagement produce better results. Seriously, if you don’t have a documented content strategy, develop one now. Unsure where to start? Talk to us.
Build trust with your audience
Of the survey’s top performers, 96% say that their companies have successfully built credibility and trust with their audience.
Our take: Notice the word audience. We are thrilled to see this word being used more often, since B2SMB brands need to build an audience. Just as important is trust. When someone trusts you, the hardest part of making a sale is behind you.
Only 42% are going beyond researched personas to talk with real customers and understand their needs.
Our take: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if your marketing team does not speak with SMBs regularly, it is impossible to understand this audience and create, commission, or review great content for them.
When someone trusts you, the hardest part of making a sale is behind you.
Tap into your sales team for their customer insights
When researching their target audiences, 74% of marketers surveyed use feedback from their sales teams. The survey showed 73% and 65%, respectively, use website analytics and keyword research; 50% use social media listening; and only 42% use direct conversations with customers (see above).
Our take: We are happily surprised to see that almost 3 out of 4 respondents are looking to their sales teams for target audience research. SMBs often don’t know what they don’t know, so website analytics and keyword research won’t work well in many cases. Salespeople, at least the good ones, educate SMBs so they do know, and they understand where the gaps are. We also do not believe that social media listening can be relied on to provide insight into SMBs. Again, as above, more direct conversations with customers (and prospects) are strongly recommended.
Enhance your email
Email is a valuable tool for 87% of respondents to nurture their audiences.
Our take: Email campaigns and newsletters are among the most effective of marketing tactics. The key is to consistently publish content that your audience craves, so they look forward to your email just as they do from their favorite publishers and bloggers.
Leverage current customers to convert
During the later stages of the buying journey, 40% said that case studies were most effective for boosting demand.
Our take: SMBs want to know how other SMBs are using and having success with a product or service. Also helpful for moving prospects toward the close: preempting spoken and unspoken objections with content.
Use social media for the right reasons
The survey showed 80% use paid social media to build their audience, making it the #1 reason for using social media to distribute content. Of top performers, 71% used paid social to distribute content in the last 12 months.
Our take: Using paid social to distribute content is a great idea. By using your marketing budget to distribute content and bring visitors back to your site, you’re using the social platforms to build a dedicated audience for your brand—an audience you can reach consistently with messaging you control.
From all the above, perhaps the most important takeaway is the idea of building an audience for your content. In a recent post, I encouraged marketers to “act like a publisher.” Why? Successful publishers have a trusted relationship with an audience that relies on them for high-value, relevant content and keeps coming back for more. Your brand needs its own audience of customers and prospects who view your content the same way. With your own audience, selling is both easier and less expensive than to the public at large.