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Today the majority of B2B content tends to support an inbound marketing process. Much of that content is (obviously) prospect focused. But we suggest there are two types of inbound marketing content. Without both types working in unison, the inbound marketing process can fail.

When comparing ABM and Inbound marketing we defined inbound marketing as:

“A general approach to answering a prospect’s questions or concerns. Its purpose is brand/credibility building and progressing a percentage of prospects to request more information.”

Let’s assume you are starting out on your inbound marketing journey. In our experience, you will soon encounter a problem. You can publish the best, relevant, in-depth, researched content, but if your website has no authority that content is unlikely to rank.

No rankings equal no prospect visits to your site. It equals no brand or credibility building, little interaction and no leads. You might read in-depth content wins in Google. That’s true, but only if your website has some authority.

If you distribute your post by other means, and it is picked up by others with (perceived) authority or a large following then you have a chance. Without that (significant) push, forget it.

What gives a website authority (as perceived by the search engines)? Many things, but one of the most important is relevant backlinks.

Content For Prospects And Content For Links

So let’s run with the assumption you need backlinks to make your content rank. How do you persuade someone to link to you? Simple (in theory), you deliver something they consider of value to them and their readers.

Here’s the issue: the content that persuades someone to deliver a backlink is often not the content that provides value to your prospects. There are two types of inbound marketing content. They are content for prospects and content for links.

So someone reads your content and finds it useful. Who is that someone? Hopefully, it is a customer or a prospect. Or it could be one of your suppliers or distributors?

Do any of these groups have a web presence they can easily access to insert a link to your website? We suggest not. Linking is purposeful, it is not trivial. In most cases, whoever does link to you has their own agenda.

Generally, those prepared to link out have a readership interested in a short snappy read. They know that is the content the search engines tend to surface. That is why there are specific types of content focused on links. These include:

  • Listicles.
  • Product/service reviews.
  • Comparison blogs.
  • Infographics.
  • Resource roundups.

And more

Read a sample of that content and you will find it is superficial at best.

If someone is to link to your in-depth, authoritative content it needs a push by some third party (see above).

What Drives Prospects To Conversion Focused Content?

So let’s assume you do produce two types of inbound marketing content. One type for prospects, the other for links.

You generate content that answers common questions or concerns your prospects could have. You address potential objections and try to soothe concerns over potential risks.

The majority of prospects who reach your site are in learning mode, not in buying mode. They read your carefully crafted content. If you are lucky they may view the second piece of content, then they are gone.

Have you raised your profile and credibility? A little, yes. Will it be enough to persuade your prospect to return? Possibly but most will not unless you have a strong brand.

Wait, you say my B2B content plan includes content for every stage of the cycle, from learning mode to buying mode. I produce content to collect contact details and to re-engage with my prospects. All valid points.

But most B2B purchasing decisions are not trivial. It is unlikely a prospect who finds you in search at a late stage in the buying process will be convinced by your buy now type content. Marketing funnels don’t work well in the real (B2B) world. At least not with complex products or services.

The content for buying mode tends to be different. It tends to be shorter and more focused. It often uses re-targeting and Ads to drive prospects, who have already interacted with your website, to that content. Or email can work well if a large (clean) list is available.

Of course, taking the advertising route has a significant cost but so does SEO and inbound marketing. Before diving into implementing a prospect focused B2B content marketing plan it is important to assess your priorities and budget allocation.

Towards Account Based Marketing

If you sell high-value products or services, then you could take a sniper rather than a shotgun approach. You could develop an Account Based Marketing strategy and deliver content specific to your most important target customers and individuals in those businesses with an influence on purchasing decisions.

The ABM process depends on content found in search to a point but it is not the main focus. However, It only covers your most important prospects so you still need a process for the rest.

It is important to take a step back and review if your B2B content plan is delivering a return on your substantial investment. Should you need a sounding board to help with your analysis, we will be happy to help.