There are plenty of things in life that fall in and out of fashion; flared jeans, for example. But I am willing to bet my vintage Levis that outdated inbound marketing tactics will (thankfully) never grace our doorstep again. Certainly not on a meaningful scale.
Inbound marketing — otherwise known as using relevant, credible, and valuable content to move your lead through the buyer journey — is here to stay. In fact, HubSpot's State of Inbound report revealed that content creation is a top priority for 53% of marketers.
Chances are you’re already doing some great things in your content marketing strategy; producing blogs that get a fair amount of clicks in your email marketing campaigns; experimenting with gated content to gather that all-important data in a GDPR world, and so forth. But making your inbound marketing assets stand out is tricky. It’s a crowded marketplace out there and you have some overloaded eyeballs to attract.
But don’t be disheartened — we’ve got your back. This article will give you the full lowdown on how to make your most valuable B2B marketing assets stand out. We’ll explore what makes inbound marketing effective and how you can optimize your content to be as engaging and memorable as possible. Let’s get cracking.
Why is inbound content marketing so effective?
Inbound marketing is effective because it involves both talking and listening. Rather than just scattering opinions and promotions left, right and center, inbound marketing is all about communicating the right information, to the right people at the right time.
Rather than being the bore who rants endlessly at anyone who will listen, inbound marketing is the party guest that everyone is happy to hear from. The one whose insights and ideas benefit those listening, at all times.
So, how do you make your most valuable inbound marketing assets stand out?
Let’s take a look at some popular B2B content assets and explore how you can improve your inbound strategy, optimize your assets to attract and convert more leads, and build customer retention and loyalty.
Blogs are likely to be one of your most effective B2B marketing assets. They’re great for SEO, help build trust and thought leadership, and are great for internal and external link building. Many brands fall prey to the temptation to optimize their blogging performance by simply producing more content. But the focus should be on quality over quantity and maximizing the opportunities for amplifying your content.
Here are a few tips:
- Create eye-catching headlines that resonate They should genuinely reflect the topics you are covering and give your visitor a good reason to click. Use impactful messaging that encourages the user to take action. Include a good amount of searchable keywords, and keep it concise and snappy.
- Write about topics that mean something to your audience. What do they need to know, and why? If you are struggling for ideas use your keyword research or check out BuzzSumo or Answer The Public for inspiration.
- Talk to them in their language. The tone of voice is everything. It should reflect the values and ethos of your brand and your customers. It should be consistent, authentic, trustworthy, and 100% credible.
- Update existing blog posts. Refreshing older posts is a Google-friendly way of delivering more valuable content which saves you time as well. Only optimize pages that are still relevant and warrant updating. Also, be sure to choose content that either gets lots of traffic and high-quality links or has plenty of keyword impressions but isn’t ranking well.
Optimizing your landing pages is central to your inbound marketing activities. If you are new to SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization) it can seem daunting. As long as you keep the following in mind, you should be off to a good start.
- Determine your keywords and include them strategically, sparingly, and naturally throughout your landing page and metadata.
- Keep it simple. Any clutter or unnecessary elements will distract your visitor and could send them straight off onto your competitor’s site. Communicate your offering directly and add relevant links to guides, FAQs, and so forth.
- Build trust and encourage your lead to imagine themselves as a customer by including short case studies, logos, and testimonials.
- Create a clear call to action. Include a sense of urgency and a concise description of the benefit i.e ‘Find out how to improve your ROI today.’
Your website is the hub of all your inbound marketing activities. This makes it one of the most complex assets to optimize, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few tasks to add to your to-do list.
Conduct regular content audits. It’s good to experiment based on creative hunches at times, but make sure you’re consistently experimenting based on real data insights. By analyzing visitor and engagement data you can identify areas for improvement, fill content gaps, discover opportunities for leveraging high-performing content and address weak points in the customer journey.
Monitor your performance. Set time aside monthly or quarterly to review your Google Analytics, along with any other tools you might use (e.g. keyword analyzers SEMrush, MOZ, AHREFs, etc). If you’re using a content creation platform, dive into those metrics. Also, take a look at your CRM — what does the typical customer journey look like? Where are people converting? Is it what you expected or does the data reveal different results?
Identify opportunities to optimize lead generation. This can be done in tandem with your content audit. Perhaps there are pages where gated content could be included without negatively affecting the user experience. Or maybe you could add sign-up forms or stronger CTAs to key pages.
Optimize the buyer journey. Put yourself in your customer's shoes while they are making their way through your website, taking into account what content they will be seeking out at the different stages of the buyer journey. What questions will they need to answer at the research and consideration stage? What information or CTAs will make them convert at the critical stage? Use your Google Analytics data and your buyer personas to inform your decisions.
eBooks and guides
Ebooks and guides are powerful inbound B2B marketing collateral. They offer a shareable, engaging, and entertaining format for communicating your brand, your products and services, presenting research, explaining the usage, and much more. To make them really stand out, we recommend the following:
Choose the right format. PDFs are sooooo over. Today’s customers will get a much better impression of your business if you deliver your information in a mobile-friendly format with plenty of beautiful interactive and visual elements, that can be personalized for their specific interests and preferences.
Intriguing, right? Find out how Foleon Doc stacks up against traditional PDF formats.
Create a gorgeous cover. Today’s customer doesn’t have eons of time to spend reading eBooks so you need to make sure your cover attracts and delights from the get-go. Include a compelling title and a concise strapline indicating the benefits of taking a closer look to get them hooked.
Don’t fall victim to text overload. Your reader may be consuming the content on their phone after a busy day or could just be allergic to trawling through reams of information before they’re introduced to the key points. Create a design using plenty of white space, format the text into digestible chunks with bullets, quotes, diagrams, and illustrations to convey your messages. Every word and image should be able to justify its place on the page.
Customer stories and case studies
Few inbound content marketing assets capture a lead’s imagination like customer stories and case studies. To make them truly effective they should be from a real, named person, not Mary X or Joe Bloggs. If you’re a B2B company, make the company, sector, and product front and center, and include a logo, or photo of the company using the product.
Check out an example here.
Video case studies are great for bringing a story to life and can be powerful elements in your social media strategy. If you opt for written stories, keep them relatively brief and segmented into Problem, Solution, Benefits, Results, or similar. Adding a nice customer quote here and there is great, too.
Here's an example of a video case study we conducted with Dice on content intelligence.
You can view more video case studies here.
Product or showcase pages
Your product and showcase pages are another B2B inbound marketing asset that benefits from video. What better way to show your brand’s offering in action, explain usage, address barriers to sale and generally show them off?
Don’t be shy about getting straight to the point with your sales push here. In a credible, trust-building way of course! Communicate the benefits, cut out the jargon, create an emotional response, and include trust indicators like short testimonials and integrations with review sites like Trustpilot or G2. Here’s an example of how we’ve done this with the Foleon brand.
Your keyword research and inclusion is vital element of your product pages. Focus on one or two keywords per page, include them in the H1 and body text and try to differentiate the pages where possible. This approach helps Google and other search engines to understand the page intent and helps them index the content more effectively; which increases your chances of getting higher rankings on the SERPs.
Share the content love
Naturally, there are more B2B content assets out there that can play an important role in your inbound marketing strategy; white papers, reports, pillar pages, newsletters, podcasts, and webinars to name just a few. We haven’t been able to cover every content format in this guide, but we hope we’ve given you a pretty comprehensive idea of how you can make your B2B content assets stand out from the crowd.
Great content marketing takes time. There’s no use rushing ideation, planning, creation, or delivery. You don’t want to send out substandard content that you haven’t had time to properly research or give the necessary polish. But brands do need to deliver enough content to address the different buyer persona’s needs and desires throughout the buyer journey.
So, how about sharing the content love around your business and encouraging other team members to support your inbound marketing efforts and create their own content? Your sales team, for example, may have some unique customer insights that could make a powerful eBook or how-to guide. Your customer service team might be able to put together a case study that addresses a common barrier to sales.
Get them involved. Get them excited about your inbound marketing efforts. You know the power of content marketing and how it can transform the way a business communicates with its customers and leads. Now is the time to spread the word.