In B2B marketing, your customers begin their buyers’ journeys long before they even consider your product. By answering their most pressing questions with clarity and authority, you can draw qualified leads to your website like moths to a light. This is the methodology at the heart of content marketing. A B2B content marketing agency know all of the necessary components when it comes to content.
Content marketing is highly effective in part because it can be used to target potential customers at much earlier stages of their buying journey. Well-crafted ads provide positive results, as long as they reach the buyer at the right time. If they’re not ready for a purchase yet, it’s a waste of budget.
Content marketing gives qualified leads a reason to visit your website, even when they aren’t actively searching for a solution, or to make a purchase. Content marketing can also be an amazing tool for brand awareness and positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
So far, so good. But when searching for a B2B content marketing agency, it can be difficult to know exactly what to look for. In this article, we’ll explore how to find the right partner for your business, so you can reap the full benefits of great content marketing.
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What Makes B2B Content Marketing Unique
B2B companies, on average, have far longer sales cycles than their B2C counterparts. Why? In part, because of longer chains of command. The typical B2B sales journey includes six to ten decision-makers. When you compare this to B2C sales, which are often to a single buyer, it makes sense that you’d require a very different approach.
B2C marketing can often find great success when it caters to impulsivity, with ‘first-month free’ trial periods and cancel anytime policies. Conversely, B2B buyers will lose money if they invest in methods that they then have to cancel and replace in a few months – so trust, rather than convenience, is prioritized.
Hopefully, as a company, you’ve defined a gap in the market and determined the need for your product – but that doesn’t mean your customers will know to look for it. B2B marketing can also often struggle to transcend its niche and gain traction. That’s where a great B2B content marketing agency can make a difference. By identifying what your potential buyers are searching for, they can tailor their content to get your product into their periphery.
Know Your Brand Before You Go In
For that reason, your first step to finding the right B2B content marketing agency must be to understand who your business caters to. Identifying the ‘why’ of your business will help you communicate with potential agencies without getting too easily swayed.
Take the opportunity to research and define your buyer persona – a semi-fictionalized representation of your ideal customer. Why are they buying your product or service? What role does it play in their lives? Does your current brand positioning reflect this?
Starting your business, you might have had quite a strong vision for how your product would make a difference – and that can be hard to shake. Pay attention to any differentiation between your hypothetical customer base and actual customers, and ensure your value proposition meets your real customer’s needs. You’ll want your B2B content marketing agency to be focused on marketing to the latter for the best quality content.
Best Practices for B2B Content Marketing
So, once you feel confident in describing your company and its buyer personas to your potential B2B content marketing agency, what criteria should you expect them to meet?
‘Content Marketer’ is a job title that anyone with access to a laptop could technically claim to have. Thanks to gig economy websites like Fiverr, there is a huge range of skill levels in the industry, from long-established agencies, to professional freelancers, to those casually bashing out blog posts on the weekends for extra cash. It’s up to you to do your due diligence.
Here are five failsafe commandments:
- Your B2B content marketing agency will be properly accredited. Look for certifications from SEMrush, HubSpot, and Google Analytics. When writing for a website, knowledge of SEO is a must, even if the agency won’t be playing a technical role. Make sure they can talk cogently about keyword research, competitor analysis, and designing a strong content plan. Great B2B content marketing goes beyond just quality content – it’s also all about strategy.
- Your B2B content marketing agency will have evidence of its success. Look for testimonials, positive reviews, and relevant clients in their portfolios. Obviously, being an agency’s first customer is a huge gamble. In a similar vein, so is being its first B2B customer, even if your agency of choice has had huge success in the past with a B2C product, those tactics don’t always transfer.
- Your B2B content marketing agency won’t promise more than it can deliver. While knowledge of SEO best practices is a great sign, beware companies who promise you wild results in a short period of time – like first page rankings on Google in 30 days. Content marketing takes time, and a company that promises things like this is either poorly-informed, dishonest, or intends to use unethical SEO hacks to get its results.
- Your B2B content marketing agency will invest in and upskill its staff. You want an agency that you can build a relationship with and collaborate with going forward, for long-term success. Make sure that the agency you hire isn’t using interns or outsourced freelancers to do work cheaply – the resulting quality won’t be reliable, and it’ll put a ceiling on the agency’s investment in any given client.
- Your B2B content marketing agency will be honest with you. Beware of gimmicks and yes-men. Look for a marketing agency that takes stock of your situation before jumping to their antidote. Content marketing requires a real understanding of a company’s customers and market in order to target them effectively. There’s no magic bullet to converting customers beyond compelling, persuasive content, optimized for high visibility. Work with an agency that sees where you can improve and is honest with you about it, and gives realistic timeframes for results.
Ultimately, the right partner in a B2B content marketing agency is going to be the one that understands your company and strategizes for it specifically. Trust your experts, but make sure you remain on the same page.
At Nituno, experience has taught us the best B2B marketing strategy is both empathetic and disruptive: identifying with your target buyer’s struggles, and then introducing them to new solutions. We are a SEMrush and Hubspot certified B2B content marketing agency that uses a combination of inbound, outbound, and paid tactics to empower our clients’ unique growth. If you need engaging, SEO content for your B2B company, let us help you.