Of all the B2B industries we work with, there’s no doubt that industrial companies — manufacturers, material suppliers, logistics service providers, etc. — face some of the biggest challenges in growing their prospects list and closing leads.
You have a long sales-cycle. The sales process always involves multiple decision makers — who in turn answer to a multitude of stakeholders. And to add an olive to your martini, you also have to do deal with complex regulatory issues (environmental, labor, financial, international trade, etc.).
There are mountains to climb before your buyer inks that dotted line.
But that’s assuming you already have enough leads in your pipeline to worry about these issues. Most companies don’t.
In another piece, we explained how traditional advertising — i.e.industry magazines, outdoor signs, bus wraps, radio, television, etc.– isn’t enough. You need a digital marketing strategy to attract modern decision makers to your website and turn them into profitable leads.
Today, we’re diving deeper into a subcomponent of that discussion — using content marketing to drive your industrial product marketing efforts.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B businesses already use content marketing as part of their strategy.
But only 34% of those efforts are at a “mature” or “sophisticated” stage, i.e., properly designed and implemented (and successful).
And that’s what we’re here to help with.
This article will help you plan out your B2B content marketing strategy, set the right priorities, and increase the sophistication of your efforts.
The Industrial Buyer’s Journey
Like any good marketing campaign, we need to start with strategy. And no content marketing strategy would be complete without a buyer journey.
In short, a buyer journey describes the stages of your target’s buying decision process. Generally, these “journeys” are broken down into three stages:
Given the vastness of the industrial space alone, there’s no generic way of describing any of these terms. What you publish will depend on your vertical, niche, and prospect size.
For example, the buyer journey of a jig manufacturer focusing on small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) doing manufacturing for the aviation industry will be very different from a company that produces raw materials.
There’s simply no way to specifically cover every scenario, every vertical, and every lead type in this piece.
What we can do, however, is help you understand the goals of each funnel stage — so you can build a buyer journey that works for your business.
Your Top-of-Funnel Focus
At this stage, the reader is trying to understand their problem.
They’re not yet researching solutions, and they’re not ready to book a sales meeting.
Some marketers refer to this stage of the journey as “Awareness.” Something is bothering your prospect, but they probably don’t even know what to search for.
Your prospect can’t exit this stage until they’re acutely aware of what their problem is.
Like hypochondriacs on WebMD, prospects starting on the buyer journey will first research their symptoms. Instead of searching “chronic dehydration” (which is an identified problem) they might start off with “frequent headaches” (which is a symptom).
You can find the “symptoms” your prospects are researching using an SEO strategy.
The short of it is that, with SEO, you can find actual questions people are trying to answer and — with further research — who those people are.
(Note: Your SEO strategy isn’t just confined to top-of-funnel efforts, you’ll need it for middle and bottom-of-funnel efforts as well. SEO is a constant throughout the process. You need it.)
Your answer can come in many formats, like blogs, podcasts, videos or social media posts.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
However, when it comes to top-of-funnel content, you cannot afford to be useless.
Yes, this is a loaded term. But when the reader finds your website, you must be ready with strong answers — not generic fluff, and definitely not a sales pitch.
If people leave your website without finding anything useful, you’ll have no way to capture them in your sales funnel. If you can’t succinctly explain the potential causes of their symptoms, how will they ever know that your business is a potential solution?
You must be on-target.
This is where SEO plays a critical role because it helps you find both, popular search terms and get an insight of the people searching those terms.
Your success in finding the right readers and converting them into leads is dependent on how closely your content aligns with the reader’s expectations.
Here’s an example:
We work with a major health manufacturer that targets hospital administrators and buying committees who need new medical equipment.
Through our research, we’ve determined that a lot of hospital administrators are worried about the productivity of their staff. Revenues are flatlining, and costs are increasing.
So, worried about a particular symptom in their operations, they might Google something like “causes of delay in operation theatre.”
If we determine this to be a good keyword to target, we’d create a comprehensive article that describes all the potential causes your operating room (OR) might experience delayed start-times. We wouldn’t pitch them our solution, but we’d gently nudge them to read more articles on our website (e.g. How to improve OR productivity).
This lines up precisely with what a hospital administrator would want when searching for “causes of delays in operation theatre.”
And ideally, they either walk away being more informed (and trusting your business more), or they keep reading articles on your website and move further into the funnel.
Besides quality and relevancy, you should also publish frequently.
According to HubSpot, B2B companies that blogged over 11 times per month generated 3X more traffic than B2B players that only blogged, on average, once per month.
Be it finding the right search terms, identifying search intent (and reaching the right readers), developing compelling content, and then repeating the cycle frequently enough to both make and sustain an impact, we heavily rely on our SEO team to keep the wheels turning.
Talk to Jumpfactor See What Kinds of Blogs Will Drive Your Best Sales Prospects to Your Website
If the first stage of your funnel was about helping your audience become aware of the problem, the middle stage is for them to consider potential fixes.
Readers at this stage want to get an overview of all the solutions available.
In other words, while this is a great area to discuss the services you offer, you will also need to offer some insight into competing solutions (and even industries).
For example, an aviation SMB might be looking to decrease manufacturing costs.
If you’re a provider of machining equipment (like cutters or milling), you can write articles about how aviation manufacturers can decrease costs by mentioning new subtractive manufacturing systems.
But you might also want to touch on additive manufacturing methods (like 3D printing), outsourcing elements of your process, or eliminating all manufacturing processes that don’t add value (lean manufacturing).
You can compare and contrast all of these solutions, gently guiding your readers towards your solution.
This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are a subject matter expert (SME), and can provide the answers to their problems.
You could use ebooks and case studies to demonstrate how cost-effective your solution is, how reliable and accurate it is, how adopting it enables end-users to follow known quality assurance standards, etc.
Middle-of-funnel content is also a good way to convert readers into leads.
With calls-to-actions (CTAs) explaining the benefits of your downloadables — like the ebooks and case studies we mentioned above — you can convince readers to offer their contact information and, potentially, additional context for why they’re downloading.
Until now, we’ve been telling you not to turn your blogs or downloadable assets into sales pitches. But that was for higher-level leads.
For those already searching for specific products and services — i.e., bottom-of-funnel prospects — you will need a sales pitch.
This is why many marketers call the bottom of the funnel the “decision stage.” Your prospects have identified their problem, researched and chosen a solution, and are trying to decide on the provider.
For example, prospects searching for “laser-cutter,” “composite fabrication services” or “aero-structure sub assembly manufacturing services,” are probably aware of what they want, and are just looking for a vendor.
This is where you must convince them to start a discussion with your company. Here, you need sharp and succinct copywriting that clearly proves the benefits of your offering.
Why Content Marketing?
Though we touched on this question in the beginning, it’s worth returning full-circle — and remind ourselves about the “why.”
Content marketing takes resources, so you need to be assured of a worthwhile return-on-investment (ROI) before continuing.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Well, 77% of B2B marketers can prove that their content marketing efforts have led to increased audience engagement, while 72% can show an increase in the number of leads.
51% can even link their content marketing efforts to increased B2B sales.
That’s pretty impressive, considering the vast majority of content marketing efforts are not at a sophisticated stage.
Content is Time Consuming
You’re the experts.
For every blog, downloadable asset or multimedia collateral posted on your website, the source of knowledge must – at all times – be you. No one knows your products and services better than you.
But the actual task of converting this knowledge into digestible content — i.e., copywriting, recording, editing, designing, etc — is a resource-intensive, time-consuming process.
You’ll need a full content team with strong creatives to bring your content strategy to fruition on a timely, consistent basis. And building such a team internally is not cheap. You’ll need writers, SEOs, and designers to maximize your content’s reach and effectiveness.
Alternatively, you can rely on a full-service digital marketing agency with a strong focus on content and technical writing.
This way, you won’t have to spend $742,000-$1,019,500 on an in-house digital team — and can channel your budget to generating and nurturing leads as quickly as possible.
Jumpfactor is a full-service digital marketing agency. Our in-house content team comprises of expert writers, designers and multimedia professionals seasoned in helping our clients acquire more leads and close more sales through unique and impactful content.
Contact us today and see what ideas our team has to increase your revenue, accelerate your time-to-market and keep your sales activities alive throughout the year.