B2B marketing is broken and I believe content marketers are the ones who will fix it.
As my coworker Brett said, “Content marketers are a really passionate group that holds the keys to create a substantial shift for the better in B2B marketing…”
B2B marketing is broken because our distribution methods are marketer-centric. They need to be audience-centric.
And that’s why I wrote this blog!
What are the main “marketer-centric” distribution strategies?
There are 2 major ways that we enable marketer-centric distribution:
- Expecting an audience will find our brand and our gated content
- Only allowing our audience to get our content if they fill out a form
Expecting an audience will find our brand and then gating our content are both marketer-centric strategies and are completely unrealistic paths towards success.
Expecting an audience will find our brand’s content
Expecting an audience will find our awesome new report (that’s gated) is marketer-centric and unrealistic. Our audience’s day doesn’t revolve around our brand. In fact, they probably won’t even think about our brand on any given day unless we send them an email, show them an ad, or they already use our product in their role. We often forget this because we’re so consumed with our own KPI’s and responsibilities.
We’re also in the weeds with a bunch of coworkers who also think about our brand’s goals all day, so we lose grip on reality a bit. The reality is that our brand will almost never matter as much to an outside audience as it does to us and our team. That means we can’t expect them to go looking for OUR latest piece of content.
Maybe we know all of that, but we’re not sure how else we can distribute our content. We send our gated content to our newsletter audience and post about it on social media and that’s it. Ultimately, that’s still marketer-centric thinking. All of us content marketers and demand gen marketers need to push ourselves to get comfortable with distributing content to the point where we’re just as comfortable distributing as we are creating.
Gating Content Behind a Long Form
Expecting an audience will fill out our long form to get our awesome new report is also marketer-centric and unrealistic.
It’s marketer-centric because no one, not even marketers, wants to fill out a long form that they know will lead to a string of marketing and sales emails that they didn’t want. We all know this, so I won’t spend more time explaining.
Expecting that someone will fill out our long form is unrealistic, not only because they don’t want to, but because they have the ENTIRE INTERNET at their fingertips. Unless they already really trust our brand, already get our emails, or are super desperate to get our content piece, they’re not going to fill out that form. We know this because Unbounce found that the median conversion rate for lead generation landing pages hovers between 3-5.5%. That means 94%+ of lead gen landing page visitors leave. Sure, some of them leave because the content isn’t what they expected or the page takes too long to load. But we know in our guts that a large percentage of that group leaves because they don’t want to fill out a long form.
How do we move towards consumer-centric content distribution?
There are 2 major ways that we can move towards consumer-centric distribution:
- Proactively find our audience and share content with them
- Share, Share, Share our content....FREELY
Proactively finding our audience and sharing content with them
So how does proactively finding our audience and sharing content with them bypass the marketer-centric distribution we’re accustomed to?
It removes the assumption that our audience will find us. It’s a humble strategy that is built around the ethos of “who are we to expect others to take proactive interest in us?”.
How do we proactively distribute content with our audience?
There are a number of known channels that can help us distribute our valuable content. In my experience, many brands use some of these methods, but not all, for a new piece of content.
- Paid media (many content teams are disconnected from the paid search/paid social/demand gen teams...fix that!)
- Sponsoring another brand’s newsletter
- Social media
- Co-marketing with other brands
- Engaging with communities on Slack and other platforms
- Sponsoring communities on Slack and other platforms
- Linking to the content on other brand’s blogs, as a guest author
- Sharing the content with other departments (not just posting it on the website and in the newsletter and expecting that other departments will notice it)
- Distributing via a B2B content platform (this is a shameless plug for The Juice...join the waitlist!)
If we put 20+ hours into a piece of content, I believe we should be using ALL of these channels to distribute it. We should increase our ratio of hours spent distributing content to hours spent creating content.
Share, Share, Share our content....FREELY
How does ungating our high-value content end the marketer-centric distribution we’re accustomed to?
It removes the assumption that our audience finds the content (that they’ve never seen!) valuable enough to give up their contact information for it.
It’s a grounded-in-reality strategy that is built around the fact that 94%+ of lead gen landing page visitors leave and based on our own experience with gated content, we assume they’re leaving because of the long form.
Moreover, the goal of our high-value content is to show that our company is made up of trustworthy experts. Why would we put barriers in front of that!?
How do we ungate our content while still driving towards our KPI’s?
We need to encourage our content consumers to consider next steps with our brand, without bombarding them with marketing and sales emails after they fill out a form.
First, find creative and UX-friendly ways to be more upfront about our services, within and around our content.
- Add more links to our contact form in our content
- Add more links to our demo request in our content
- Blend the topic of the content with our company’s services
- Include more testimonials about how our brand’s software or services address the topic within the content.
Sure, it may feel weird at first to be calling out our services all over the content. The reality is that our content consumers can all ignore those callouts, if they’re not ready to speak to a sales rep. It’s easy to skim over something without feeling annoyed (it’s not like a pop-up on a website where our whole content consumption process is interrupted until we give up our email or click the “X”).
Which brings me to the second tip: give content consumers the power to choose when they’re ready to contact your company. Seeing ads for our services, in our own content, is a much better experience for our consumers, because we’re giving THEM the choice to reach out, instead of passively forcing one-sided conversations on them via unwanted marketing and sales follow-up emails after they fill out a form.
In short, the content proves we’re smart and trustworthy. Make it frictionless for a person to consume our content and begin trusting our brand. Then, be straight up about what we offer and constantly remind them within the content and on the content landing page. Give them the power to choose when they’re ready to hear from your brand.
With The Juice, we’re going to empower content consumers to bypass forms. Members of The Juice can simply read/watch/listen to content with the click of a button. If you’re going to start distributing content with The Juice like we are, we recommend that you start adding those callouts to your product or services in your content!
- Sign up for our waitlist where you’ll receive our newsletter and you’ll be the first to be a part of the movement around destroying terrible content experiences that pollute B2B SaaS
- Subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you consume fine audio content.