Historically, B2B marketers have been the wallflowers and consumer marketers have been the industry rock stars. They’ve always had the biggest budgets, been the first to dive into new platforms like Snapchat, and the first to benefit from new philosophies like “shopping missions” and the “Zero Moment of Truth.” B2B marketers have always had to wait to see how trends played out in the B2C space before dipping a toe in and molding ideologies to work in the unique B2B space.
With the growing popularity of content marketing, the tables have turned. Now, B2C marketers are playing in our sandbox, and we may have a thing or two to teach them. The concept of content is relatively new to many of these marketers, and they are just now learning the importance of detailed buyer personae, of buyer journeys, and how content needs to change along their path to purchase.
To dig into greater detail, there are a few specific key practices B2C marketers can learn from their B2B contemporaries.
Get disciplined around metrics.
B2B marketers have always been compelled to report on the number of leads generated, where those leads are in their buying journey, how many of them have converted into customers, and how long the journey took. B2C marketers have, in contrast, generally paid greater attention to more nebulous brand metrics, relying on tactics that we in the B2B world would consider “top of funnel.” For example, Oreo’s famous “Dunk in the Dark” tweet may have been considered a huge success in the B2C world, but a B2B marketer would never call anything a success unless they could quantitatively measure how all those retweets positively impacted lead generation, movement of leads to opportunities, or closed sales.
What B2B marketers have always known is that the right metrics matter, and they need to be measured properly. It’s not enough to show your CEO how many impressions an ad received, or how much traffic your site’s homepage got. It’s critically important to understand what that traffic means. What did those visitors do when they clicked through your ad and onto your landing page? Did they take an action that indicated they’re considering a purchase? The better a marketer understands how a campaign is performing—what’s working and what’s not—the better able they are to optimize that campaign, and drive better results with the next one.
Brand matters, but results matter more.
B2B marketers have historically paid far less attention to brands and aesthetics than our consumer marketing friends, especially in smaller enterprises where budgets are limited. It’s not that we don’t care about the brands, we understand that it’s important, it’s just that our time and budget is dedicated to driving measurable results. So, how does this apply to content marketing? For us, it’s less about a really slick video, and more about a great, engaging article that accurately addresses where the customer is in the buying cycle. It’s also very much about relevance and a powerful call to action. Generally, a B2B marketer on a budget will be less likely to invest in a full-page takeover, and more likely to invest in several keyword-rich articles that solve prospects’ problems, and then invite those prospects to learn more via a free consultation or white paper.
B2C marketers should consider what their products can do to improve the lives of their target audience members, create content that tells that story, and include a call to action that brings them closer to that product. Doing so will not only create a better experience for their customers, but also lay the groundwork for more data-driven marketing.
Quality content attracts qualified leads.
It’s all well and good to create a “dunk in the dark” tweet, but at the end of the day, are you really selling more Oreos? Quality content needs to be relevant and entertaining for sure, but it should also be effective. Effective content typically identifies a problem – one that the audience can easily relate to – and then points the way toward a solution. That problem can be anything from the sore nose caused by cheap tissues, or the more complex problem of data security. And that quality content could be a video, a blog post, an infographic, a meme, a podcast—anything.
The real key to creating high-performing content is to know your audience and know it well. To do that, you need to create personae. What is a persona? It’s essentially an audience profile. As a marketer, you should know each type of person who buys your products. If you’re selling baby foods, your audience isn’t just “moms.” It’s potentially a mix of stay-at-home moms, working moms, younger moms, older moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and unrelated caregivers, like nannies and au pairs.
A marketer should understand the subtle differences between each of these audiences and their needs. A stay-at-home mom may be less concerned with convenience than a working mom. A caregiver may be much more concerned with allergens or quality issues. You need to know these things, and you need to address them in your content. For eons, B2B marketers have been profiling and learning to understand the various stakeholders involved in any given purchase decision. It’s worked for us; it will work for you, too.
Ultimately there’s a lot B2B and B2C marketers can learn from each other, but when it comes to content marketing, we business marketers are old hats. We know what works, and how to fix the things that don’t. That said, we’re pretty confident our consumer counterparts will catch up quickly, and we can’t wait to see what new skills and tricks they’ll bring to the party.
Dennis Syracuse is the CMO and general manager of Madison Logic.