We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see that marketers need to rethink their approach.
If buyers are not engaging with brand social media and content, then where is their attention?
This is not a new question and the way we’ve been finding the answer is through insights about buyer preferences for solutions content: discovery, consumption and action.
The Customer Information Journey. Buyers pulling themselves through the majority of the research process for finding solutions do so with content. But where do they discover that content? What are their preferences for content types, topics and platforms for consumption? What sources do they trust? Of equal importance is what signals of credibility produce the confidence to inspire action within that content?
Customer Empathy. As B2B marketers are faced with an ever growing list of demands for content and channels, empathy with the customer experience is more important now than ever. What’s also important are the solutions for attracting, engaging and inspiring action that actually work.
Optimized And Influencer Activated Content. At TopRank Marketing we are fortunate to work with an innovative team and brave clients that trust our advice on how to optimize B2B buyer experiences. By leveraging integrated SEO, Content and Influencer programs, we’ve been able to achieve marketing performance results like 500% more leads and generating 22% of all sales pipeline revenue for the year tied to a single integrated content program.
To help marketers make the shift from dead end social media and brand-centric content that buyers don’t trust, here are 3 reasons why now is the time for B2B brands to capitalize on content optimized for search and influence:
1. Keyword Topics are King:
Customers ignoring social and brand content means they’re paying attention to something else. It comes down to trust and credibility. At every stage of the buying cycle from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers use search engines to find solution content.
With virtually every B2B marketer on the content marketing bandwagon, many marketers are so focused on creating content they’re not allocating much more than an afterthought of paid social and ads to content promotion.
With content optimized for the solutions information and keywords that buyers are looking for, B2B brands can be useful at the very moment of need. That kind of credibility is what drives confidence, engagement and action.
The challenge: Is your content optimized for specific solutions keywords / topics? Have you done the homework to find out if those are the keywords buyers are using? That are in demand? Are you creating topical hub and spoke content for focused internal linking that drives organic search visibility? Is your content “the best answer” for what customers are looking for?
2. Influence is Queen:
B2B marketing industry research shows buyers trust peers and experts more than advertising. Whether it’s a question to an expert in a forum or reading authoritative advice in an industry publication, B2B buyers seek useful information from credible sources.
B2B brands are still behind when it comes to engaging influencers to add expertise and credibility to content. Our research with Traackr and Altimeter found that only 11% of B2B companies have ongoing influencer programs vs. 48% of B2C companies. B2B content without influencer contributions is like eating a baked potato plain. Boring! Including influencer contributions to B2B content is like adding your favorite toppings (salt, butter or sour cream) to that potato.
The challenge: Who are your brand’s influencers? Who is actively evangelizing your products or services? Which influencers could really make a difference for your marketing if they were associated with your brand? What are you doing to build quality, ongoing relationships with industry experts?
3. Activate Influencers & Optimize for Search:
When content programs leverage keyword and topic research to optimize content and use those same topics to help identify credible industry experts to contribute to that optimized content, it creates information that is both trusted and credible.
Many B2B brands do optimize their content for customer focused keywords. And others are moving from experimentation to implementing ongoing influencer programs. B2B brands that integrate both SEO and influence into their content marketing create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters most and to be trusted when it matters more.
The challenge: Are you leveraging your keyword research for SEO to also find influencers that are relevant for the same topics? Are you engaging those influencers to co-create content on those topics? Are you inspiring the influencers to publish keyword rich content on their websites linking back to your brand? Are those influencers also engaged for earned media in industry publications and blogs on target topics with links back to your brand?
With an understanding of keyword demand, B2B marketers can tap into the opportunity to be the best answer for buyers with content at the very moment of need. Even better is that influencer contributions to that optimized content will give it the credibility and engagement needed to inspire action.
Here are a few steps to get started with an Optimized and Influencer Activated Content Marketing Program:
- Identify top, relevant search keywords
- Create hub and spoke content architecture (big topic & derivatives)
- Map keywords to to content
- Keyword optimize content + links
- Leverage keywords to identify & recruit relevant influencers
- Ask influencers keyword rich questions
- Incorporate influencer contributions in mapped content
- Encourage influencer promotion and linking to content
- Implement media and blogger relations using influencer content
- Repurpose content according to best performing keywords/influencers
You can go a lot deeper than this and there are a number of sub-steps, but this list should provide a good overview. Of course we specialize in B2B programs that integrate SEO, content and influencers, so feel free to check out our influencer content marketing case studies for inspiration.