To succeed in inbound (content) marketing requires both the creation of valuable, engaging content and the delivery of that content via the most appropriate content delivery channel. If either element is missing then the required result will not be achieved.
To prevent your organisation from being cut out of the loop before they get anywhere near an opportunity it is essential your business information and content is available to potential customers whenever they may need it. Research from Marketing Leadership Council shows B2B business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. They are sourcing information on products, services and suppliers, making comparisons and decisions long before engaging with a supplier.
What Information Do Customers Require
It is clear B2B buyers are sourcing their own information but what information are they looking for and where do they look for that information that is the key. Content delivery is often the number one challenge for any inbound marketer and a subject that is often glossed over. Get it wrong and the entire inbound marketing process can be a complete waste of time and money.
Let’s take a typical example and assume a business is looking for an electronic component for a high reliability application. What information are they likely to search for? Design will often look for a datasheet and perhaps application notes, quality will look for qualification data and supplier approvals, buyers will look for price and delivery information, purchasing and project management will look for financials, potential supply issues and compare suppliers.
If the product is available as standard from a number of known suppliers then, in reality, each member of the decision team will have their own pre-conceptions of the potential supplier. There is little doubt this has a major influence on the ultimate decision. If trying to overcome a weak position all that can be hoped for is a change of that perception based on a positive experience as information is collected at every touch point.
What Content Delivery Channels Are Available
The most likely information resource used by members of the decision making team will be the internet via a simple organic search. If the search is relatively trivial, for example for a part number or datasheet page position is critical. If each possible supplier is shown at position 1, 2 and 3 then there is no real distinguishing factor. It is only if one or more suppliers are down on page 2 or below there is an issue. The key is to make information as easily accessible as possible by employing search engine marketing to boost the profile of the website online.
For none standard products research shows white papers are used extensively for product / supplier research and offline resources like print (press releases) and exhibitions and seminars still have a place. Despite the hype social media is not a well-read medium in B2B markets but video (you tube) can be effective for the right type of business.
Extensive research into exactly which resources potential customers utilise can ensure significant resources are not wasted on content production that has little chance of reaching the audience. The sales department can help if they ask the right type of question during general conversations with customers and feedback the response. Sales and marketing need to work closely together to identify likely touch points for various members of the decision making team at various points in the sales cycle.
For suppliers trying to crash the party of an entrenched competitor where it is difficult to deliver information to a point where it may be read and have an impact then Email remains a useful marketing tool. The key is to forget the traditional salesy type Email and deliver a well-designed E Newsletter instead based on the best content available with links back to the main business website to read more.
The choice of the best content delivery channel then is vital. That choice must be based primarily on detailed research of which delivery channels are used by potential customers. Only with this research in place is it possible to focus on how to best compete for customer attention on those channels.