X
X

Features

5 Commanding Content Marketing Strategies for B2B Lead Generation and Retention

Retaining customers requires more than a social media post here and there. These content marketing strategies will increase your retention rate, while saving you some of the heavy lifting

Adam Fout
September 10 2017

In the B2B space, content marketing strategies can really run the gamut.

From a simple email drip campaign (paired with a blog post or two) to a complex web of whitepapers, product demonstration videos, downloadables, and PPC ads (and let’s be honest — these guys are going to have emails and blogs in here too), your content marketing strategies depend directly on your customer.

Now, the strategies I’m about to share with you all make an assumption: You don’t just want to generate leads — you want to build long-term relationships.

Content Marketing Strategies to Generate Leads, Retain Customers, and Build Relationships

No matter what space you’re in (B2B, B2C, B2G), you don’t just want to make sales — you want to make repeat sales.

You want to build customers for life so that you don’t have to work so damn hard.

What most people fail to understand (especially in the B2B realm) is that the use of content marketing strategies should not suddenly end just because a lead has become a customer.

That should be the beginning.

If you’re regularly measuring customer retention, you understand that the most valuable content is the content that keeps your customers around — not the content that brings new customers in the door.

So, let’s dive in. Let’s look at some real-life content marketing strategies that B2B businesses can use to both generate leads AND retain customers.

Content Marketing Strategies — #1 — The Basic

  • Promoted Social Media Posts
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Capture Pop-Up or On-Page Form
  • Email Marketing with Segmentation

Goal: Draw B2B customers in with valuable content, then keep them around with continuing content efforts.

I’m naming my strategies the same way pizzerias name their pizzas — I call this one The Basic.

It’s simple, and it’s probably the most common content marketing strategy you’ll see out there.

The blog posts are the base, the content that’s designed to pull customers in by giving them valuable information for free.

The promoted social posts are how you ensure your content gets in front of potential leads in the first place (as much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, content marketing doesn’t work well (or quickly) without some form of promotion).

The goal of both is to get someone to fill out your email capture form — once you have them in an email list, you can begin sending them useful, valuable content via email.

The email marketing portion is also where your retention comes in — by continuing to send your existing customers valuable content on a regular basis, you keep them plugged into your company.

(And remember, though you may feel tempted to dig too deeply into your analytics for all of this stuff, the truth is, good content resonates and should always be your focus — an analytics obsession can lead you astray.)

Here’s an example of this content marketing strategy in practice:

Content Marketing Examples — #1 — Unlimited Manufacturing Gets Its Content on

Unlimited Manufacturing (if this brand doesn’t exist, I’m claimin’ it) wants to reach more distributors to get their products into more retailers’ hands.

They start writing blog posts that provide valuable tips and information for distributors in their industry. The email capture form that’s embedded in each blog post promises unique tips and strategies for distributors that you won’t see in the blog posts.

The form captures as much information as possible so those who sign up can be properly segmented based on geographic information, industry, their own customer base, etc.

The emails always end with a call-to-action (contact us about this product or that, get 10% off bulk orders of that or the other), but the majority of the email is valuable content that doesn’t appear in the blog.

Once leads become customers, they’re shunted into a separate segment and fed exclusive email content that only UM customers get.

Easy peasy — let’s bump the strategy up a bit.

Content Marketing Strategies — #2 — The Basic Plus

  • Promoted Social Media Posts
  • Landing Pages
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Capture Pop-Up or On-Page Form
  • Email Marketing with Segmentation
  • Downloadables

So we’re employing some of the same basic tactics as we were in the last strategy, except this time, we’re adding to the front and to the back — specifically, we’re adding more valuable content for existing customers (to keep them engaged and retained), but we’re also making the capture process slightly more efficient (and effective) through the use of landing pages.

Now, some of this does cross over into promotion/general marketing, but any marketer worth their salt will tell you that content marketing works a lot better when you’ve used a variety of tactics to support the content.

As always, the content is the base of it all — the rest of this stuff just gets the content in front of the people you created it for.

Let’s see an example:

Content Marketing Examples — #2 — IT Knows What It Is

IT (that’s it, that’s their name) provides — you guessed it — IT services to mid-market firms in a variety of industries.

They’ve had little trouble in the past filling the funnel and keeping the good customers around, but they’re ready to ramp up their efforts and really start growing.

So they use promoted social media posts (which have the wonderful feature of allowing IT to complexly target potential customers in a variety of target markets), posts that send these carefully chosen customers to landing pages.

However, these landing pages aren’t selling anything — instead, the pages give away a downloadable that educates those carefully chosen leads on data encryption and protection.

But to get the downloadable, the leads have to sign up for an email list and provide (ironically) a lot of valuable data about themselves and their business.

The leads are then popped into a segment, they’re sent email newsletters from IT with IT’s latest blog posts, and, once the leads become customers, they get unique content in the form of an email (just like the customers of Unlimited Manufacturing).

However, new customers of IT also get unique downloadables that no one else can get, downloadables that generally help them to make the most of the services they’ve signed up for.

This is starting to get interesting — let’s keep going, shall we?

Content Marketing Strategies — #3 — The Supreme

  • SEO
  • Promoted Social Media Posts
  • Landing Pages
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Capture Pop-Up or On-Page Form
  • Email Marketing with Segmentation
  • Downloadables

This one’s The Supreme — you know, like the pizza.

The Supreme adds in a (necessary) bit to the strategy — Search Engine Optimization (SEO for you fancy industry folk out there).

By optimizing our landing pages, blog posts, and even our emails, promoted posts, and downloadables (if we’re feeling industrious), we can start to generate leads from search traffic instead of just pouring money into promoted social media posts/ads and hoping for the best.

The content marketer in me loves this idea a lot more than The Basic and The Basic Plus, mostly because optimizing a piece of content for a specific keyword is truer to the spirit of content marketing, the idea of creating something useful and letting the customer come to you (rather than putting it in their face).

You just optimize, step back, and let the search engines do the work of helping your potential customers find you.

However, promotion works, and there’s no getting around that, but promotion is an expensive strategy — SEO creates long-term, sustainable results (if you know what you’re doing).

The rest of the strategy follows what was suggested above — capture on the landing page by giving away an awesome downloadable, segment and email away, keep customers engaged with useful, valuable, unique blog posts and downloadables once they become customers.

Here it is in practice:

Content Marketing Examples — #3 — A Roof Over Your Bread

So we’ve got Advanced Commercial Roofers, and they sell (you guessed it) commercial roofs.

They don’t like to build new roofs — they like to repair old roofs because they employ an advanced technique that no other roofer can match.

So they target a wide variety of roofing-repair-related keywords, they optimize both landing pages (which offer downloadables in exchange for emails and info) and blog posts for said keywords, they spend some time building links to both pieces of content, and after a year or two of steady efforts (combined, of course, with promoted social media posts that push both the blog posts and the landing pages), they not only have built up a great deal of website traffic, but they’ve also built up an impressive email list.

Their existing customers are getting unique emails with valuable content in their inbox every month along with the unique downloadables that continue the question-answer/problem-solution process the original piece of content that first drew in the customer began.

At this point, we’ve basically go the funnel-filling bit down — time to work on retention.

Content Marketing Strategies — #4 — The Supreme Plus

  • SEO/SEM
  • Promoted Social Media Posts
  • Landing Pages
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Capture Pop-Up or On-Page Form
  • Email Drips/Marketing with Segmentation
  • Downloadables
  • Educational Campaigns (Written Content and Video Content)

 

If you’ve been following along, you’re getting the gist of how all this stuff works.

It’s a fairly simple process: find the customer/draw the customer in > engage them on as many channels as possible > keep providing new pieces of useful, valuable content > repeat forever.

The Supreme Plus takes it a little further — now we’re breaking out of the promoted social media posts and throwing in some AdWords spend.

Because SEO is nice and all, but if we really want to make the most of the strategies available to us and support those SEO efforts, it only makes sense that we use the big ad platforms to get more of our awesome content in front of more of the right people.

However, that’s just a little bump at the front of the funnel — on the retention side of things, we want to get serious about keeping people around.

And nothing works quite so well at keeping folks around like education.

Oh You So SaaSy

Air Builders, the bleeding-edge SaaS firm that’s disrupting the construction industry and blowing the competition out of the water has always done its utmost when it comes to digital marketing techniques.

Their SaaS offering is simple — project management software for construction companies that’s simple enough for a small business learn and deploy in a single day yet complex enough for a massive multinational to customize for every one of their branches in every part of the world.

They’ve employed powerful content marketing strategies for a long time, and it’s led to some of the most mind-bending customer retention numbers in the industry.

What sets them apart? It’s not the Google ads that lead customers directly to free downloadables on beautiful landing pages. It’s not the hyper-targeted social ads or the amazing long-form blog posts.

It’s not the unique downloadables and emails that only enterprise-level customers get.

It’s their educational materials.

You see, Air Builders understands the complexity of its software in a way most developers can only dream of — but they also understand that most non-developers don’t quite get it.

So they build the most comprehensive educational content suite anyone’s ever seen — and they make it infinitely accessible. They start with small pieces of content (very short educational videos, quick wizards scattered in a variety of locations within the software, small blurbs delivered via email) designed to get customers in the door and learning right away.

They also spend some time on UX, making the onboarding and learning process as simple as possible, but they also pair users with a bot that can answer most simple questions about the software from within the software itself.

Finally, they round out their educational offerings with in-depth tutorials, printable guides, and monthly webinars that help users channel their inner Super Saiyans, transforming into Power Users.

Users stick around because they feel empowered, funnel stays filled because Air Builders reaches everyone everywhere.

But they can do more — I have a vision of greatness in front of me that Air Builders just failed to reach.

Let’s take this thing as far as we can go.

Content Marketing Strategies — #5 — The Ultimate

  • SEO/SEM
  • Promoted Social Media Posts
  • Landing Pages
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Capture Pop-Up or On-Page Form
  • Email Drips/Marketing With Segmentation
  • Downloadables
  • Educational Campaigns (Written Content and Video Content)
  • Personalized Content

 

Let’s go off the beaten trail a little bit….

What makes you feel special?

What makes you feel loved?

What makes you feel like a company is the only company for you?

Is it a bottle of champagne and whispered sweet nothings after a long day at work?

Is it a box of chocolates and guitar serenades outside your bedroom window?

No! And if you’re doing any of this to your customers, stop it!

The answer is personalization (sheesh).

And no, I don’t mean just getting an email with your name properly spelled in the greeting —true personalization means taking the time to get to know your customers, to provide them with truly personalized content.

Fortunately for you, you’re in the B2B space, which means, in most cases, that you’re going to have a lower volume of customers compared to a B2C business.

Those customers are worth more to you than the average B2C, and, almost by definition, you need to form a personal relationship with them to truly be successful, which means it’s worth your time to personalize the content you create for them.

We use all the techniques discussed above to fill the funnel, develop leads into customers, educate customers on the product/service, and keep them engaged….

We simply take it to the next level.

We assign an employee to each customer, and that employee (client liaison, account manager —call them what you will) helps our content and design team to understand the individual needs of all their customers.

The content and design team can then create personalized content.

Now, this doesn’t mean each piece of content is 100% unique — we have no qualms about reusing useful, valuable pieces of content.

Instead, it means that our library of content is sifted through to find the precise pieces that will be most useful to each customer. Those pieces will be combined in a unique way and then sent along.

Here’s what it looks like in practice:

Bookin’ It to the Top

The Taxing Bookkeepers have taken the accounting and bookkeeping world by storm — and they’re not about to stop.

By employing a variety of digital marketing and content marketing techniques, they’ve worked their way up from little-used-resource-for-small-businesses-in-their-local-market to The Big Bad Bookkeepers of North America.

They’ve got some big clients, they’ve built some impressive infrastructure, and they owe it all to the success of their content marketing campaigns.

But bookkeeping is a strange business — most of their clients view what TB does as a necessary evil, and they have little interest in learning more.

However, every time a client does learn more about the myriad and sundry intricacies of their local tax code and best practices for bookkeeping, they are invariably glad that they did.

TB takes advantage of this.

Knowing what an uphill battle customer education is in the bookkeeping space, TB makes a concerted content effort. To keep customers aware of the value they provides and to help customers take a more active role in their own bookkeeping activities, TB begins providing personalized content to its customers.

Assigning each customer an account manager who coordinates closely with the content dream team at TB, TB managers and executives ensure that each customer gets educational materials specific to them, their industry, and their business.

After all, TB’s customers run the gamut — everyone needs TB’s services, and every business has unique educational needs to get the most out of what TB provides.

Even clients in the same industry often have vastly differing educational needs, depending on their own clients and the market, state/province, and country in which they work and reside, along with a veritable menagerie of other factors.

As a result of the personalized content provided by Taxing Bookkeepers, each client not only feels as though they’re receiving superior customers service from a company who cares, but they also begin to see the real value of what TB is providing.

Customers stick around longer, sales doesn’t have to work so hard, account managers feel like they’re really making a difference, and quarterly numbers look beautiful.

Everyone wins.

Employ These Content Marketing Strategies Liberally — But Don’t Forget About Onboarding

The content marketing strategies I’ve given you are examples — every B2B business is different, and your business is only going to successfully employ these strategies if you modify them to your unique offering.

But you can’t stop there — you have to make sure they work for your customers, that they’re producing results, that they’re taking you (and your business) where you want to be.

So put them into practice, but keep an open mind, and always be ready to change what isn’t working to better suit your goals, your business, and your customers.

And while you’re at it, make sure you’ve got an impeccable onboarding strategy to ensure you don’t lose customers before your educational materials have the chance to make an impact.

Read more about optimizing the onboarding process in this article by the commanding Ben Jacobson.

Good luck out there, Marketer.

Share

Adam Fout

Adam Fout, resident content sorcerer at BlueSteelSolutions, turns blogs and social media accounts into marketing machines for your business. In his free time, he writes strange bits of fiction and posts them on My Website

More Features