B2B Content Marketing Guide, Part 4: Developing a Paid B2B Content Marketing Strategy
This is part 4 of a 6-part series on B2B content marketing. Part 1 explores why content marketing is vital for B2B. Part 2 covers audience research, followed by part 3, which explains how to create content. This part covers paid media strategy, and part 5 covers organic strategy. Lastly, part 6 reviews the crucial importance of the marketing-sales handoff.
Once the content is finished, it’s time to get it in front of an audience. The best way to do this is by developing a robust organic and paid B2B content marketing strategy. (This post focuses on paid; our next post will focus on the organic component).
We drive lead generation by:
- Promoting content through paid ads or organic search results
- That takes prospects to a landing page offering content
- Which gives them an opportunity to convert
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Your Paid B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Paid campaigns involve using media spend to launch highly targeted banners across various platforms to generate leads interested in your content.
- Traditional retargeting: This is the type of retargeting that most people know. It involves hitting website visitors with banners on other sites after they have visited yours. It’s an excellent way to reinforce your brand, but it won’t bring in new leads.
- Partner retargeting: Leverages the visitors of adjacent but non-competitive websites. It helps grow your prospective audience by retargeting visitors from partner websites as if they had visited your website.
- List retargeting: Similar to traditional retargeting, this involves uploading a list of emails into the retargeting platform and displaying banners for those recipients. This is an excellent option if you have purchased an email list or if there’s an existing list of stale leads. (Note that this is the only time you should be using a paid email list—it’s illegal to email purchased lists without their explicit consent.)
- Super-granular retargeting: Many retargeting platforms give the option to target a super-specific list of people— only 100 names are required to get started. This is basically the same as list retargeting but with the added benefit of specificity to create highly targeted campaigns for hot prospects.
- Publisher content syndication: Work directly with publishers to promote content on their industry-related websites. You can pick websites that your target audience is probably browsing regularly. Most publishers offer filters to ensure lead quality, and payment is on a “per-contact” basis. (We recommend coming to an agreement that includes a guaranteed minimum number of leads.)
- White label syndication: The secret of publisher syndication is that they often don’t sell all the traffic they promise. Multiple intermediaries sell those leftover syndication opportunities at a lower price. The trick here is that it’s not possible to specify (or know) where the content is being shown, but the audience criteria are predetermined to ensure the content is being offered to qualified prospects. (Note that these intermediaries often only work with agencies and won’t work with brands directly).
- Paid search: This is a great platform for products that prospects are aware of and actively looking for. It usually generates leads that are further down the funnel since search is one of the last things prospects do before purchase. It is not such a great platform for emerging products that people don’t know exist.
Search isn’t only Google.
While Google is the most popular global search engine, don’t forget about the other search engines, like Bing and Duck Duck Go. While these sites don’t get the same traffic volume as Google, their ads tend to be cheaper, and their organic rankings are less competitive.
Paid Social Media
Social media platforms provide the most granular targeting for delivering ads. They know their users’ occupations, where they live, and the companies they work for, which is valuable information to target the right prospects. However, remember that not every platform is suitable for B2B content marketing.
- LinkedIn: This is the go-to platform for B2B marketers—and for good reason. It provides detailed filtering options and tends to have the most up-to-date information in terms of job and company, aka, the details needed to sell your product. It also provides a few options to get content in front of prospects, including InMail (in-platform messages directly to prospects), in-feed sponsored content, and standard banners.
- Facebook: Facebook can drive some quality leads, but think of the prospect’s mindset here. As much as Facebook has tried to evolve into a more professional site, it is still where a lot of people go to get family updates and watch cat videos. It may be possible to sneak in with a lighthearted marketing message, but we haven’t found much success in the B2B space.
- Twitter: Unfortunately, Twitter has become the land of robots. Even with sponsored posts, we find that our ads generate a lot of “impressions” but very few clicks and conversions. While a high number of impressions can look like campaign success, no one can get paid with impressions. You may find success with an exciting campaign or compelling message, but we think media budgets can be better spent elsewhere.
You’ll notice we labeled this section as “paid social media” and not just “social media.” This is because we have found that organic (unpaid) social media posting for B2B clients just doesn’t drive the quantity or quality of leads sales are looking for. The platforms are so oversaturated with B2B content marketing that unless you have something truly revolutionary to say or a ton of time to be able to publish constantly, it’s not worth the resource investment.
Now, that’s not to say that it is a complete waste of time—some companies have been able to make it work for them. However, don’t set expectations too high in terms of quality lead generation. The platforms are making it harder to get quality data, and proving the ROI is challenging. Many social media marketers like to tout their impressive follower count and high engagement rates, but that doesn’t mean anything if it can’t equate to buying behavior.
- Sponsorships: Similar to publisher syndication, industry publishers and associations have different types of sponsorship opportunities. Each one has its own requirements and deliverables, so it is best to do additional research to determine what fits your needs and budget.
- Newsletters: Many publications send out regular newsletters to their subscribed readers. This provides another opportunity to reach them. Many offer ad space within these emails that can drive a high volume of new prospects to your website (think: more retargeting) and potential leads.
- Guest articles: Sometimes called “byline articles,” this is an opportunity to present yourself as an expert. Think of this as publishing a thought leadership blog on an outside website to get more eyes on your company.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula.
We wish there were a clear formula for exactly which platforms to use and how much to spend on each, but there isn’t. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what platforms and messages resonate best with your audience.
Now that we’ve covered paid B2B content marketing strategy – here’s how you develop an organic strategy…
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