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The world of B2B email marketing is always evolving. As technology and business progress, so do the tactics brands use to get in touch with past, current and potential clients. However, while new developments in social media, mobile marketing and other mediums emerge, it's clear that permission based email marketing continues to thrive as both companies and recipients benefit from the communication outreach method.
Content marketing and email go hand in hand in an effective branding and lead generation strategy. In fact, email is among one of the most important channels through which clients and prospects receive information from brands, whether through newsletters, case studies white papers, e-books or other content. A newly released study revealed several hot trends in B2B content marketing that brands should consider as they develop their upcoming drip marketing series and other email endeavors.
What's Hot in B2B Content Marketing
According to this year's "B2B Content Marketing Report," customer testimonials and case studies are among the top-performing content types for content marketing in the business-to-business sphere. The report compiles the results of a survey of 815 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. Content marketing was clearly popular among respondents, as more than 82% plan to boost content production in the coming year, and 32 % expect to do so significantly. Additionally, 61 % of marketers use marketing automation software this year, up from 43 % last year.
Here are some other important stats from the report:
- 37 % of marketers use email marketing automation to generate leads, 36 % use it for lead nurturing.
- 93 % create content from scratch.
- Lead generation, though leadership and market education and customer satisfaction are the top three goals behind B2B content marketing.
Among survey respondents, the top content marketing tactics – in order of effectiveness – were:
- Customer testimonials
- Case studies
- In-person events
- Online articles
- White papers
- Product demos
- Webinars and webcasts
- Social media
- Research reports
Other content types that received positive effectiveness scores were e-newsletters, slideshows and presentations, press releases, infographics and online events. Meanwhile, printed books, podcasts and branded apps were among those that marketers deemed ineffective in achieving their strategic goals.
While content marketing is popular, it certainly isn't easy. According to the report, more than half of B2B marketers polled said finding enough time and bandwidth to create content is their top challenge. The next biggest concern was producing engaging content, which nearly half reported is difficult, and being able to produce content variety to meet marketing campaigns' needs ranked third with 39 percent of respondents reporting this as a challenge.
Tips to Clean Up Your 'B2B' Content Marketing Strategy
If you're using the best email marketing software, you likely agree with the report's conclusions on the effectiveness of content marketing and automation. However, with B2B brands planning to produce more content in the coming year, you may realize your emails are competing harder for attention in recipients' email inboxes. In addition, you may sympathize with marketers who report facing hurdles when it comes to generating original and enough content. To overcome these obstacles, consider the following tips to give your content marketing strategy the wake-up call it deserves.
1. Make a content calendar: One of the best practices in email marketing and all other outreach endeavors is to be organized, which is impossible without a plan. Creating a thorough content marketing calendar isn't easy, but the effort you put into developing one pays off greatly. When planning your content for the months or quarter ahead, first consider any events that require promotion, such as sales, product launches and webinars. Be sure to determine when and how you'll start informing audience members of these special events. It's a good idea to place regular newsletters on your calendar as well.
Once you have your dates marked, you'll have a better idea of how much original content you need to generate. Working ahead means you'll be able to deliver higher quality information, reduce editorial and delivery errors and capitalize on every marketing opportunity you're presented with.
2. Don't stop believing … in the power of real-time data: You may be relying on customer data collected ages ago, assuming it's still applicable today. However, as technology changes, so do people's content consumption habits. Your audience may be more mobile than you assume, which means you may not be delivering the right emails to them and therefore are losing relevancy in their minds. Keep collecting behavioral data on your clients and prospects. In addition, if you're using the best marketing automation and email software, split-test your messages to ensure you're crafting messages that get read. Be sure to segment your audience and tailor content accordingly to make sure each recipient gets information that he or she deems interesting and worth the read.
3. Align your brand personality: A major part of establishing a unique brand for your business is creating a universal voice and personality for all the channels you use. While content marketing strategies vary in terms of text length, media type and other factors for email, social media, direct mail and other platforms, your business should be recognizable across all of them. In addition to using a unique logo for all your communications, decide how your clients and prospects want to be addressed and stick to that style.
4. Try multimedia … carefully: Plain old text doesn't cut it these days when it comes to audience engagement. People have become accustomed to visual and audio stimulation when using the Internet. While your website, social media profiles and blog satiate these needs (don't forget to optimize for mobile!), sharing images, graphics and videos via email can be risky business, especially if you're not sure how to do it right. Because users often have the option to view images included in the emails they receive, if they opt not to see them, your message can become incomprehensible and even frustrating. For video, consider following our tips on embedding clips in email, and Gmail more specifically.
Content marketing certainly isn't a walk in the park, but when it's done right, the payoff is huge.
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