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by Bunny Tharpe  |  March 1, 2022

It’s Still the Age of the Customer

content-strategy

Don’t Push Your Luck by Not Optimizing Your Content Strategy to Satisfy B2B Buyers

Since the dawn of the internet – and especially since the rise of Facebook and Twitter – organizations have been under pressure to develop communication and content strategies to connect with buyers and drive higher engagement and conversion rates.

Today’s customers are better informed, more influential and more empowered than ever before because of the technology on their desks and in their pockets. With easy, 24-7 access to information and pricing about products and services, they can purchase from pretty much anyone at any time.

On the flip side, they have the power to criticize companies or products and services that don’t meet their expectations. Those negative reviews can dissuade other potential buyers and tarnish brands.

Customers are in the driver’s seat, having more choices, voicing their opinions, and taking a self-service approach to research to navigate their buyer journeys. Therefore, organizations must optimize their content strategies to satisfy their customers’ content appetites.

Although the thesis of this blog applies to both B2C and B2B customers, I’m focusing on the importance of a sound content strategy for B2B buyers because it tends to be more complex.

Why Quality B2B Content Is So Important

According to the CMO Council, B2B buyers value content because it keeps them informed about new technology, it helps them identify potential solutions, and it shapes purchase specifications. B2B marketers are on the front lines of creating effective content and therefore can’t afford to invest in assets that don’t raise awareness, speak to specific needs, and urge consideration to turn a prospect into a paying customer.

B2B Marketing explains that “when suppliers provide good information to enable ease of purchase, the buyers are more likely to value these suppliers.” The agency refers to this as “buyer-enablement content” and suggests the importance of it being relevant, credible and easy to use and share. It also should align to the buyer’s emotional needs, instill confidence, and point to unique differentiators.

And regardless of device and format, consumers want a quality experience when interacting with a brand, notes Tech Jury. That means you must create compelling, credible and helpful content to support all your customer touch points.

Trew Marketing sums it up this way: “Content is a valuable business asset that should be managed as carefully as any product, service or differentiating intellectual property. A company’s ability to efficiently and effectively manage content throughout the entire content lifecycle can mean the difference between marginal, mediocre or magnificent results.”

Customer satisfaction is one of the most important roles of content in modern business and why your content strategy must address it.

Common B2B Content Types and Challenges

It’s important to deliver the type of content your potential buyers expect and can rely on to make informed purchasing decisions. Following are a few examples of the content most commonly used throughout the B2B buyer journey:

  • Blog posts, like this one
  • Social media posts
  • Explainer videos
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Analyst reports
  • One-on-one demos
  • Proposals
Gartner illustrated the B2B buying journey in the following diagram, showing all the non-linear back-and-forth but with four clear “buyer jobs.” The prospect must 1) identify the problem, 2) explore solutions, 3) build their specific requirements, and 4) select a supplier. Content Strategy While you can’t control the order of interactions or if or how prospects will respond, you can ensure the quality of those interactions and the content they’re based on. You want to help buyers do their jobs by supplying information that speak to their needs, how your product or service can address them, provide sound advice and data to help shape requirements, and make them feel confident about choosing you. And once you’ve closed a deal, content remains critical to growing the relationship.

All the opportunities to communicate with prospects and customers – especially through expanding digital channels that make it faster and more efficient to connect and facilitate decision-making – has put unprecedented demands on organizations to develop and distribute content, with a growing emphasis on information management needs. These challenges include:

  • Determining which content to produce
  • Keeping content up to date
  • Quickly reflecting changes across all channels
  • Ensuring delivery to the intended audience
  • Enforcing brand guidelines
  • Optimizing content for display on any device

The B2B Content Strategy Starting Point

With digital channels powerfully affecting how customers interact with and are influenced by content, what you decide to create must deliver a standout experience. Publishing content that has the power to convert prospects to buyers and customers to advocates requires understanding what content they need and what value they expect it to provide.

When evaluating options, a customer will choose NOT to buy from a vendor whose information does not answer their questions or is inconsistent, outdated and difficult to use. A customer will make a fast purchase decision if information is relevant, answers their questions, and is delivered when, where and how they want it.

Therefore, your content strategy must start with identifying your ideal customer(s). Then, get to know them to determine what sort of content they will value and how best to publish it so they will have access to it. You also need to evaluate what type of content experiences you currently provide and through which channels. With this data, you can determine how to improve customer engagement and ultimately revenue.

Here are some questions to consider to better understand your prospects and customers, plus how and where they interact with content:

  • What events trigger target customers to begin their buyer journey?
  • Which channels do prospects/customers use to learn more about their specific challenges and identify solution providers?
  • Looking at customer wins you’d like to replicate, how did they find you?
  • How quickly does your prospect/customer expect you to respond to their inquiry before losing interest or forming a negative perception?
  • How personalized do your prospects/customers expect interactions with your brand to be?
  • What types of content and formats do your buyers prefer at each stage of their journey?

Now you need to assess what sort of job your organization is doing currently to reach your prospects/customers. These are some key questions to consider for optimizing your content strategy:

  • Is your content easily found and accessible in all the channels your customers use to gather information?
  • Is the information you’re publishing accurate and consistent across all those channels? For example, does the product data you’re presenting on your website match the data in the PDF of the data sheet?
  • Are you publishing content with device-appropriate presentation and interactive features to improve usability and experience to reduce the chance your reader will abandon the message?
  • Are you creating, or capable of creating, the rich media experiences expected on digital devices that can be shared, such as videos, interactive presentations and dynamic charts/graphs?
  • How quickly and easily are you able to publish finished content across both print and digital channels?
  • Are your content processes automated or reliant on a lot of manual work or rework?
  • How well does your current technology stack and processes support all of these needs?
  • Does the production of marketing content across channels impact your ability to enter new markets in a timely and cost-effective manner?

Your content plays a critical role in delivering outstanding customer experiences. And don’t forget the role of operational content across your organization. For example, the information you supply to your sales and support organizations also must be relevant, accurate and timely so they can answer questions and provide proper guidance.

Quark is here to help with all your content creation, automation and intelligence needs. Contact us if you’d like a demo of Quark Publishing Platform for end-to-end content lifecycle management, including the content you use to attract and retain B2B customers.

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