Rachel Foster is toronto-based freelance copywriter who helps B2B technology marketers get more leads and sales. As a B2B copywriter who specializes in technology and software, Rachel helps clients attract high-quality leads, increase their conversions and clearly communicate complex messages.
As a tech marketer, you’ve likely heard the joke that B2B stands for “boring-to-boring.” Here’s how to create a compelling brand voice that helps you avoid this trap, stand out from your competition, and engage customers.
Many B2B companies sound the same.
They talk about their features … not their benefits.
They use corporate jargon … not language that resonates with customers.
They speak to “users” … not to humans.
All of this adds up to a boring, corporate voice that doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors.
Claim your FREE ultimate guide to creating a B2B brand voice that resonates with buyers.
You may sell to businesses, but your customers are humans. They respond to content that informs and entertains them. With a unique brand voice, you can grab customers’ attention and make them want to continue the conversation. Here are three reasons why your brand voice matters:
Your brand voice separates you from everyone else.
Many B2B tech companies sound the same. They use the same buzzwords on their websites, which makes it hard for customers to see how they are different from their competitors. A unique brand voice helps you stand out from the pack and shows your audience your advantage.
A consistent brand voice signals trust.
If your teams use different voices when they speak with customers, it will weaken your message. Customers may hear one thing from their sales rep and another thing from your support team. Then, they won’t know whom to trust. An intentional brand voice can help you convey a consistent message and avoid miscommunications with your customers.
Your brand voice makes you relatable.
An approachable brand voice makes customers want to be around you. When your customers feel like you “get” them, they will open your emails, check out your content, and join your community.
7 Keys to a Compelling B2B Brand Voice
Here’s how to create a B2B brand voice that resonates with customers and sets you apart from your competitors:
1.Understand your target audience.
Before you speak, you must know who are speaking to. Re-examine your target audience and get clear on the following questions:
What are their roles?
Where are they employed?
What are their daily responsibilities?
What are their top struggles?
What questions do they ask during each stage of your sales cycle?
Where do they find information about products or services?
What type of words would they use to describe topics and products related to your brand?
After you answer these questions, you may need to update your buyer personas. Since the tech landscape is constantly changing, your buyers’ needs and challenges may be different from what they were a few years ago.
2. Understand how your target audience perceives you.
Your brand voice isn’t something that you’ll need to develop from scratch. It already exists. Your job is to amplify the voice that you already have and make it more intentional.
The easiest way to do this is to ask your customers who they think you are as a brand. Their responses can clue you in on where you excel and what parts of your persona you should emphasize.
Identify and then survey your most loyal customers. You can ask the following questions:
What three adjectives would you use to describe our brand?
What “personality” do you think your company has?
What makes our brand stand out from other companies you’ve worked with in the past?
You are not limited to surveying only your customers. You can expand the list to include other key stakeholders, such as your employees and partners. Your employees, especially those who work directly with your customers, have the dual advantage of understanding your brand values while also seeing your company through the eyes of your customers. They can provide unique insights about your brand voice that give you new angles to consider.
3. Understand your mission and goals as a brand.
What are your company’s guiding principles?
The answer to this question will help you define your brand voice. For example, if one of your primary values is transparency, you can make your content approachable and honest.
In addition to aligning your vision with your brand voice, it’s also important to define how you want to present yourself as a company. What type of personality would you like to project? How would you like customers to perceive you? What type of lasting impression do you want to leave?
4. Define your brand voice.
Personifying your brand can help you get clear on your voice. If your brand was a person, what type of voice would it have? Would it sound strong and confident? Laidback and knowledgeable? Offbeat and fun?
Oftentimes, it’s easiest to define your voice by comparing and contrasting. Make a list of what your company is compared with what it is not, for example:
Our company is experienced but not stuck in its ways.
Our company is authoritative but not pushy.
If it helps, you can also switch out “company” for “voice” to focus entirely on your brand persona, for example:
Our voice is conversational but not verbose.
Our voice is professional but not stuffy.
If you’re stuck, here’s an exercise that you can do: Look at some of your favorite brands (you don’t need to limit yourself to B2B or tech), and list the reasons why you love its voice or content.
5. Say, “No!” to boring B2B content.
Boring content litters the landscape of the B2B tech industry.
But how can that be? In the ever-changing tech industry, there’s always something new and exciting happening.
The main reason behind boring B2B content is that the writer forgets that they are writing to an actual person. While your customer may be a B2B company, your audience is filled with humans. You’re not writing to an entity, you’re writing to the humans who need to make sense of your information and decide if your solution is the right one for their company. For this reason, your content must be relevant and valuable. Likewise, your brand voice should be relatable, engaging, and helpful. Otherwise, your information can come across as dull.
6. Use language that reflects the knowledge level of your target audience.
How much does your target audience know about your industry in general and your product in particular?
Because you’re familiar with your product and industry, it’s easy to assume that your readers are equally informed. Then, you may load your copy with industry slang that your readers don’t understand.
But at the same time, you don’t want to talk down to a sophisticated audience. So, how much should you assume that they know?
The answer depends on your target audience. If you’re speaking to IT pros who are comfortable with tech jargon, you can use it in your content. However, if you’re speaking to a business audience, they might not understand all of your tech talk. In this case, you can still come across as an expert without relying on jargon.
Here’s a funny, but cautionary, tale about jargon. I once interviewed two subject matter experts in a tech company. One of the experts used an acronym, and the other one thought it meant something completely different. This proves that you can’t take for granted what your audience knows. Even people who work down the hall from each other can have different definitions of the same acronym!
Choose a voice that is empathetic to your audience with respect to their knowledge level.
7. Create a style guide for your brand voice.
After you define your brand voice, it’s important to consolidate your notes into a guide. Share your brand voice guide with all of your internal teams that interact with customers, such as sales, marketing, and customer support. You should also give the guide to anyone who creates content for you, such as freelance copywriters and graphic designers. A style guide will help you keep your messages consistent.
Here are some things you can include in your style guide:
A detailed description of your brand voice, including what it is and what it isn’t
The type of language you want to use (e.g. Do you mind the use of coarse language in your content?)
Your preferred grammar rules and style guide
A primer on how to refer to your company (e.g. first person vs. third person) and your employees (e.g. staff, team members, employees, representatives)
A list of audience personas to guide your content creators on who will read/ view the content
A brand voice is a living part of your company. It will evolve over time. As your industry and your customers change, you must ensure that your voice remains relevant. Evaluate your brand voice every year to ensure that it still resonates with your target audience.
Working with a B2B copywriter helps you create content that supports your campaigns, engage leads, and turn prospects into customers. However, it can be hard to find the right copywriter.
Many B2B marketers test several copywriters before they find the right fit. In fact, many of my own clients have cycled through two or more copywriters before they started working with me. The reasons for failure varied: The copywriter didn’t understand their industry, couldn’t meet deadlines, or had a conflicting communication style. Choosing the wrong copywriter can increase your workload, cause project delays, and cost you more in the long run.
But the right copywriter can make your life easier, improve your marketing results and help you produce more content – faster. Here are seven traits to look for in a B2B technology copywriter:
1. Industry Knowledge
Many copywriters are generalists, which means that they write about everything from consumer products to fitness. Agencies often hire generalists when they need a writer who can adapt their style to a range of clients. But a generalist may not be the best choice for B2B tech companies that sell complex products and services.
If your product has a steep learning curve or a sophisticated audience, look for a writer who has prior experience in your industry. In particular, find a copywriter who understands the unique needs, concerns, and hesitations of B2B tech buyers.
The B2B tech industry is ever-evolving and doing so at a rapid pace. You need a copywriter who is not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but who also stays informed of the latest news, trends, and studies that will affect your customer base.
You need a copywriter who’s not only familiar with the basics of the tech industry, but also does this: Click To Tweet
Working with a copywriter who has experience in your industry can greatly reduce the amount of time that you spend briefing the writer and managing revisions. This helps your project run smoothly, allows you to produce content faster, and can bring you better results.
2. An Understanding of Your Audience
Your copy is often the first point of contact between you and your target audience. To engage customers, you need a copywriter who understands their unique point of view.
Your B2B tech copywriter must match your tone to each reader’s role, level of familiarity with your company, and stage in the sales cycle. For example, your audience may include IT pros who want to know how your product works. But you may also have business buyers in your audience who aren’t as tech-savvy but need to know how your product or service will drive value for their company.
A great copywriter is part marketer, part storyteller. Because copy is all about selling, you need a writer who knows how to sell your product or service in a way that aligns with the needs of your target audience. But selling by itself can be soulless and come across as gimmicky if you don’t have a meaningful, sympathetic story behind it.
4. The Ability to Write Email and Landing Page Copy
If you sell software or tech services, you need a copywriter who understands how to write effective email and landing page copy. Both go hand-in-hand with engaging leads and converting them into customers.
Copywriters who excel at writing marketing emails know how to keep the copy short, understandable, and action-oriented. Email marketing is one of the top strategies for nurturing leads. In fact, . When your copywriter excels at conversion-focused emails, you will massively multiply your return on investment.
Your copywriter can produce email sequences that motivate new subscribers (who have just downloaded a piece of your content) to sign up for a free trial or demo. They can also write a sequence that turns free trial users into paying customers.
The ideal B2B copywriter should also know how to write landing pages that sell. A landing page is not only useful for capturing email addresses, but also for building a foundation of trust with your target audience. When done correctly, your landing page will enhance your credibility and motivate customers to take the next step towards working with you.
You need someone who can get back to you quickly.
Some writers are hermits. After making the agreement, they’ll retreat into a metaphorical cave, and you won’t hear from them until the deadline. For some tech companies, that works out fine. However, if you want to maintain an active connection with your copywriter, you need to set those boundaries from the beginning of your working agreement.
Find out their preferred method of communication and make sure that it works for your needs. Also, ask how long it takes for them to respond to edit requests, issues, or concerns. You should also expect regular updates on the status of your copy. Even if you don’t have a pressing deadline, your copywriter should keep you informed about how things are progressing.
You must ensure that your communication styles are acceptable to each other upon entering an agreement. The last thing you want is to spend several days trying to reach your copywriter for an urgent request.
You will also hit more deadlines if you send your copywriter background info, schedule interviews, and respond to questions quickly. If you don’t give your copywriter the info that they need until the day before the project is due, they might not meet your deadline.
6. A Proven Process
Producing great copy is 50% writing skills and 50% process.
When you speak with potential copywriters, ask about their process. For example, what will they handle, and what is your team responsible for providing? You don’t want to hire a copywriter for a case study and later learn that they expect you to conduct the customer interview.
A typical process may include interviewing your subject matter experts, submitting an outline, and researching your audience.
Your copywriter should also have a process for edits, as this can greatly impact your timelines. How many rounds of revisions do you typically need? Be sure to account for revisions when planning your timelines.
7. The Ability to Get Up to Speed Quickly
Depending on your niche, it may be challenging to find a copywriter who understands the ins and outs of your business. If you serve a very specialized audience, you may need to educate your writer before you can rely on them to write compelling copy.
If this is the case for you, don’t overlook capable copywriters in pursuit of a magical unicorn who likely doesn’t exist. As long as you can find a copywriter who checks off the other items on this list (especially one who has expertise in your industry), it’s likely that you can train them to understand the specifics.
When working with an adept copywriter, take your time to educate them about your industry, your customers, and your business. During your introductory process, a good copywriter will ask you plenty of questions to guide their research, but be ready to provide additional resources that will help them get up-to-speed.
A good B2B copywriter plays a huge role in converting leads into customers. Use the above tips to help you find a copywriter who can help you attract more high-quality leads and turn them into customers.
Email marketing generates massive amounts of revenue for B2B companies. In fact, targeted emails factor into 58% of all sales. Here are five best practices that will improve your open rates and boost your conversions – along with a FREE checklist of 25 Absolutely Essential Emails to Send.
It seems that every week, we learn about a shiny, new way to engage B2B customers.
However, there’s nothing quite as powerful (and affordable) as email marketing. In fact, 59% of B2B marketers say that . A study has shown that .
Email outperforms other channels including social media. According to McKinsey, you are 40x more likely to acquire a new customer from an email than from Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, you are 6x more likely to get a click from an email than from a tweet.
As a B2B marketer, you have the opportunity to use email to nurture prospects and convert them into customers. Then, email can help you turn your these new customers into long-term loyal fans who recommend you to others for many years to come.
What Are Your B2B Email Marketing Goals?
Many B2B companies only send emails when they have something to pitch.
But a strategy that’s focused entirely on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Your emails should be part of a larger marketing strategy that strives to build relationships with prospects and customers. Once you build a relationship, you will find that it’s easier to sell your products or services.
Focusing only on self-promotion doesn’t make for successful B2B email marketing. Do this instead Click To Tweet
Start by understanding your customers’ journey. What information do they want across every stage — from awareness to brand advocacy? You may have gaps in your content and the opportunity to create messages that resonate with buyers across all of these stages.
Successful email marketing strategies aim to build, and then meticulously maintain, relationships with customers.
The 11 B2B Emails That You Need to Send
As noted earlier, the types of emails that you send depend of where your customer is on their journey. In the early stages, you’ll focus on education and conversion. After conversion, you’ll focus on deepening your relationship, encouraging advocacy, and promoting products or services that could help them as their needs evolve.
To make it simpler, let’s sort your B2B email marketing strategy into two main categories: Reaching prospects and enriching relationships with current customers.
7 Emails That Help You Engage Prospects and Turn Them Into Customers
Here are seven emails that will help you convert leads into customers:
A lead nurture series – Send a new prospect up to nine nurturing emails after they opt into your list. This series can include customer testimonials, FAQs, and any other information that they need to sign up for a free trial or demo of your solution. You can also package your lead nurture series as an email course where you help a prospect solve one of their challenges.
A welcome email for prospective customers – You can include your welcome email in a lead nurture series or send it on its own. The goal of this email is to set expectations. You want the customer to understand when you’ll send emails and what type of information you’ll send.
Round ups – To keep in touch with prospects, you can send periodic emails that curate content from different, respected sources that you know will be helpful to your subscribers. These interactions can demonstrate your value to the prospect.
Blog updates – Whenever you write a blog post, be sure to notify your subscribers via email. Otherwise, they may not see your latest posts.
News – In addition to blog posts, send out important news and announcements about your business. Self-promotion should be kept to a minimum, though. A good rule of thumb is to send out three value-driven emails for every one self-promotional email.
Testimonials and case studies – In an effort to convince a prospect that your products and services deliver results, send them social proof in the form of testimonials and case studies.
Inactivity – At least twice a year, you should send out an email to your least active subscribers to ask if they still want to stay on your list. If you don’t get a response, delete them. It may be painful to get rid of hundreds (or more) names, but it’s necessary to improve your open rates and keep your list healthy. Sending emails to inactive subscribers can also negatively impact your deliverability rate and get your emails marked as spam.
4 Emails That Strengthen Relationships With Your Current Customers
Here are four types of emails that can help you engage your current customers and keep them happy:
An onboarding series – Use your onboarding series to welcome new customers or move free trial users to paid subscribers. This series should cover all of the steps that customers must know to get up-and-running with your product or service.
A welcome email for new customers – Express your gratitude to new customers by sending them a thank you. You can include this email in your onboarding series or send it as a one-off.
Product updates – When you release a new update, your customers should be the first to know about it. Use email to stay in touch with customers and keep them informed about the latest developments in your products or services.
Surveys – Check up on customers by sending them emails that link to surveys. To ensure that you maximize your responses, be sure to limit how many questions you ask. Ideally, keep your surveys under 10 questions or a few minutes to complete.
5 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices
Here are five keys to creating B2B emails that customers open, read, and click:
Send on the right frequency
Live up to your customers’ expectations by sending emails on a frequent and dependable schedule. Many companies have haphazard send schedules— they may send out two emails one month, bombard customers when they launch a new marketing campaign, and then go silent for months. That’s no way to build a relationship with your subscribers. Whether you send once a day, once a week, or several times a week, be consistent with your send schedule.
What day of the week is the best day to email your list? According to an analysis of 10 studies on email marketing, Tuesday is the winner. Wednesdays came in second place in several of the studies. Meanwhile, experts recommend scheduling messages on Tuesdays and Thursdays if you email your list twice a week.
While these studies provide insights into when B2B buyers are the most likely to open emails, their findings may not apply to your customers. Be sure to check your analytics to determine when your emails get the most opens and clicks.
Personalize your emails
Think about the messages that you are the most likely to open. Chances are, they aren’t mass sales emails. When faced with an overflowing inbox, you may first open a personal email from someone that you know and trust.
Review your email marketing and marketing automation settings to discover if you have any opportunities to segment your audience in new, profitable ways. For example, can you segment based on job titles, how frequently a subscriber interacts with your content, which products or services they use, or their stage on your sales cycle. Your segmentation possibilities are limitless.
Make your emails mobile friendly
Professionals now open 55% of their business emails on mobile devices. As mobile usage continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your emails look good on any screen. Don’t ask your subscribers to pinch or zoom just to see the tiny text of your emails. Also format your links so they are easy to open from a small smartphone screen.
Before you send any email, test it against multiple browsers and mobile devices. This will help you give all of your subscribers a great experience.
Limit your emails to one call to action
The point of every message is to get subscribers to take the next, easy step. Usually, this is clicking a link in the email to view a piece of content or a landing page.
If you put too many calls to action in your email, your subscribers will get distracted and fail to do the one thing that you really want them to do. Focus on the single, most important call to action and save your other messages for future emails.
Email marketing is still a powerful way to reach B2B buyers. But getting it right requires a well-planned strategy.
Start by understanding your customer journey. Then, create emails that will engage customers throughout every stage – whether they are early-stage prospects who are researching their problems to late-stage leads who are ready to buy.
The book offers a step-by-step guide on how B2B marketers can turn away from self-focused sales – or “selfie marketing” – and transform their business with advocates. It contains advice from advocate marketing leaders, as well as case studies from B2B technology companies that have succeeded with advocate marketing.
What Is Advocate Marketing?
Here is how Deena and Mark define advocate marketing:
“Advocate marketing is the process of discovering, nurturing, and mobilizing a company’s most enthusiastic customers to create a marketing engine that powers sales. Put simply, it’s a system for making customers happy, and then capitalizing on that happiness to benefit your business.”
When you make your advocates happy, they will recommend you to others. For example, they will write five-star reviews, send you referrals, serve as references, share their success stories, and much more.
In fact, you can think of advocates as an extended version of your sales and marketing team.
5 Ways to Turbocharge Your B2B Marketing With Advocacy
You likely have lots of customers who are willing to recommend you to others.
You just need to reach out to them.
Here are 5 ways that B2B marketers can harness the power of advocacy to engage customers and drive sales:
1. Listen to your advocates.
A lot of B2B marketing pushes sales messages out to customers – whether or not they want to hear them.
Advocate marketing flips this upside-down by putting the focus on the customer. Instead of telling customers what to buy, you listen to them to find out what they want.
The book states that listening to your community is the key to bringing them on board.
“The primary reason people initially join a community—especially an online community related to a company—is the desire to provide feedback. They want to be heard.”
2. Value your advocates’ time.
Your customers are busy people.
If you want them to take time out of their day to advocate for your company, you must make their experience worthwhile.
The authors recommend that you give advocates something new and relevant every time they interact with you. For example, you can offer them educational opportunities that will help them become superstars at their jobs. You can also give them incentives – such as swag or a VIP experience.
And be sure to thank them when they advocate for you. A handwritten note can go a long way in showing advocates that you value everything that they do for you.
3. Harness the power of social proof.
The first time that I heard about Facebook was when a friend sent me an invite to the site in 2007.
I didn’t know anything about Facebook but thought that if my friends were joining, I should also join. By inviting me, my friend was giving the social network his stamp of approval. I also saw that many of my other friends were active on Facebook, and I wanted to keep up with what they were doing.
This is how online communities grow.
Your advocate community may only start with a handful of people. But as they share their great experiences with friends, it will grow rapidly.
The authors offer tips on how you can harness the power of social proof to build your community. For example, you can:
Share testimonials from your advocates.
Encourage influencers to create content about your advocate community.
Highlight your current members when you promote your advocate community to new members.
Give potential advocates a sneak peek of the conversations that are happening in your community.
“Science tells us that by pointing to what others are doing—particularly others who share similar characteristics to us—we increase our persuasiveness.”
4. Leverage reciprocity.
As Matron Mama Morton sang in Chicago, “When you’re good to Mama, Mama’s good to you.”
This principle of reciprocity also applies to advocate marketing.
The authors recommend that you give something to your advocates before you ask them to do stuff for you. And for the best results, make your gifts personal and unexpected.
The book says, “Provide a small reward after the advocate engages with the program for the first time. This is a little hit of dopamine that will spur further action.”
Small rewards can include a gift card for a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a $5 donation to charity.
You can offer larger rewards as advocates spend more time with your program. The authors suggest that you stagger these rewards at random times, not just after someone completes an advocacy task.
“Psychologists have shown that gaining variable rewards at variable times have an addictive quality to them—this corresponds well to how slot machines work. While effective advocate programs also provide a clear path on how to gain rewards, the best ones have a random quality to them, which drives more advocacy.”
5. Plan for downtime.
It’s OK if your advocate community has slow periods.
In fact, you should plan for them.
The book states that you shouldn’t approach advocate marketing as an all-in, week in and week out venture, Best-in-class advocate marketers instead “plan for high and low periods of advocate activity. Curated downturns are periods of time when there is very little activity—by design.”
You can use this time to build relationships with advocates, so you can learn more about who they are and what they want. Then, when you launch your next advocate marketing campaign, you will have a better idea of what challenges and incentives will motivate your advocates to take action.
How Can Advocate Marketing Work for You?
If you harness the power of your advocates, you can generate referrals, retain more customers, and make your marketing awesome.
Do you have any opportunities to engage your customers and build a thriving advocate marketing community?
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you plan a new campaign. Here are 5 B2B marketing templates that your peers use to manage their content and measure their results …
As a B2B marketer, you have a lot on your plate.
Between meetings and putting out fires, you might not have the time to complete your top-priority tasks.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had done-for-you templates that help you better track every aspect of your marketing?
I recently received an invitation to Airtable Universe, a publishing platform where professionals share the exact templates and workflows that they use to run their businesses. Several B2B technology marketers have uploaded their essential tools, such as editorial calendars and campaign tracking sheets, to the site.
B2B Technology Marketers Share Their Secrets With You
I think that Airtable Universe is cool, as it gives you an insider look at how your peers are managing their marketing. The templates can also help you complete tasks faster, as you won’t need to reinvent the wheel when you want to improve your marketing systems or better track your campaigns.
Here are five B2B marketing templates that can help you stay organized and check more items off your “to-do” list:
The Marketing Campaign Tracking Sheet tells you, at-a-glance, how your ads are performing.
According to Airtable, this tracking sheet will help you, “Stop wasting time compiling spreadsheets to track your marketing campaigns, and spend more time doing what you love: coming up with new marketing ideas and generating new creative assets.”
The tracking sheet gives you a snapshot of your live, completed, and planned campaigns. Use the template to track the following:
Campaigns across all of your marketing channels
Ad spending and conversions
Your UTM codes
Campaigns that are specific to each stage of your sales cycle
Front’s email swipe file includes welcome messages, thank you messages, product feedback messages, and more.
I highly recommend saving examples of great copywriting to a swipe file.
Referring to a swipe file can inspire you when you’re staring at a blank page and wondering what to write.
For example, you might receive a cold email that motivates you to respond. Save it to your swipe file, so you can analyze it the next time you need to send out a sales email. Or you might get a welcome message that makes you feel special. How can you modify this message so it will appeal to your audience?
Don’t have a swipe file?
The team at Front has shared their email copy swipe file on Airtable.
The file contains samples of essential marketing emails – including welcome, thank you, nurture, product feedback, and apology messages.
Klipfolio’s content calendar contains both a spreadsheet and an author view.
An editorial calendar keeps your content marketing team on track.
It helps you plan and manage all of your content – from your blog posts to your ebooks. An editorial calendar also makes it easier to collaborate with your team, as everyone can work from a single, shared document.
But if you don’t have an editorial calendar, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and create one from scratch.
Klipfolio has shared their content calendar on Airtable.
It contains a spreadsheet where you can track the following:
Keep all of your product messaging in a single, shared file.
One of the biggest challenges when creating content is keeping your messaging consistent.
You don’t want your marketing team to say one thing while your sales team says something else.
A shared messaging document can put everyone on the same page.
If you don’t have such a document, you can use Airtable’s Product Messaging Library template. The template contains a spreadsheet for managing your external-facing copy, as well as cards that help you organize your internal style guide.
If you manage your company’s content marketing, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air.
With so much going on, it can be challenging to stay on top of your projects and meet your deadlines.
Airtable’s Content Marketing Management Template simplifies your workflows. It lets you manage your editorial calendar, brainstorm ideas, align your content with your personas, track your results, and more – all from one location.
These are just a few of the handy templates that I found on Airtable.
What about you? What templates can’t you live without when you plan and measure your marketing? Share this post on Twitter or LinkedIn and let me know.
One of the biggest content marketing challenges is relevancy. If B2B buyers don’t relate to your content, they won’t read it.
That’s why you need a clear understanding of your audience, their pain points, and their goals. The more you know about your customers, the more likely they will view your content and respond to your offers.
Here are 21 ways to get to know your B2B customers, so you can create content that motivates them to take action:
1. Read your case studies.
You can learn a lot about your customers when you read their stories.
For example, you’ll learn about their challenges and the goals that they wanted to achieve before they started working with you.
You can also gain insights into your customers’ buying processes and why they chose you over your competitors. This knowledge can help you create content that speaks to your customers’ needs, so you stand out from the pack.
If you don’t collect case studies on a regular basis, you’re missing out on a goldmine of insights that can help you get more value from all of your content investments.
2. Review your competitors’ case studies.
Do you want to find out why B2B buyers chose your competitors over you?
Check out your competitors’ case studies. Researching how competitors engage their customers will help you better understand how to engage your own.
If you are in the technology space, you can find your competitors’ case studies on Featured Customers.com. Or you can visit each competitor’s website separately to review their case studies and testimonials.
3. Subscribe to publications that B2B buyers read.
Most industries have trade journals and professional magazines that address your customers’ top issues. Mining these publications will give you ideas for topics that resonate with your target audience.
Check out your industry association’s website to see if they have a blog or print publication. You can also find lists of industry publications at your local library or on Webwire.
4. Check out Amazon book reviews.
If you’re in the B2B space, you might not think of engaging with your customers on Amazon.
But Amazon’s book reviews can give you a wealth of information about your audience.
Find books that your target audience is reading and check out what they say in the reviews. Doing this will help you learn their thoughts on the subject matter. Reviews can also give you insights into your customers’ problems and the types of solutions that they want.
5. Sign up for Buzzsumo.
When you enter keywords in Buzzsumo, the site will show you the most popular content for each phrase. You’ll see the number of social shares and what sites link back to the content. Here’s an example of a Buzzsumo search for “content marketing:”
Using Buzzsumo is particularly helpful when you need ideas for blog post topics and headlines that will boost your shares.
6. Enter your keywords in Answer The Public.
Answer The Public leverages the power of Google’s autocomplete function and displays the results in easy-to-read graphics. Simply enter your keywords, and Answer the Public will show you the most-searched questions, prepositions, and alphabetical listings for each phrase:
Here are the results for questions about “content marketing:”
You can use these results to find out what your customers search for in Google. Then, you can create content that answers their questions and improves your SEO.
7. Use SEMRush for competitive research.
SemRush is a great tool for researching your competitors. Enter their domain, and you’ll see what keywords they rank for and who links back to their site. When you use the page report, you’ll see what content performs the best on their site. Then, you can create something even better for your own site.
8. Show your professional side on Facebook.
If you use your Facebook profile professionally, you can connect with trusted customers and interact with them in an informal setting.
Join the same groups that B2B buyers are active in. Follow their discussions and see what types of content they share.
If you post on a company page, use Facebook Insights to see data on your views, likes, and shares. This data will show you what works and what doesn’t work, so you can improve your content in the future.
9. Stay up-to-date on Twitter.
Connect with members of your target audience on Twitter and pay attention to their tweets. Be sure to segment your customers into lists, so you can keep up with their activity.
10. Invest in LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the top social network for business professionals.
If you’re in B2B, most of your social media efforts should focus on LinkedIn. Your sales team may also want to consider a Sales Navigator subscription, as a paid plan makes it easier for reps to find and connect with potential customers.
11. Register for conferences that B2B buyers attend.
Attending a conference is a great way to get out of your office, learn what’s happening in your industry, and network with prospects.
Find out what the most popular sessions are and try to get a seat. Also be sure to stay through the Q&A, as you’ll learn what questions your customers are asking. Then, you can answer these questions later in your own content.
12. Join industry associations.
Industry associations are great places to interact with your target audience.
These groups have forums, social communities, and publications where your customers and peers discuss their top issues. They may even have live events, where you can meet potential customers in person.
13. Use Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keywords Planner allows you to enter keywords and find out which ones have the highest search volume. You can use the tool to get a general idea of what your customers search for.
14. Try UberSuggest.
UberSuggest is a tool that allows you to quickly find keywords that aren’t available in Google’s Keyword Planner. It shows you search volume, seasonal trends, and cost-per-click data.
The best part? It’s free.
15. Find your customers’ questions on BloomBerry.
BloomBerry shows you the top questions that people ask online. It mines popular sites, such as Quora and Reddit, so you won’t need to look at them individually to find out what questions your customers are asking.
16. Speak with your sales team.
Having an open dialogue with your sales team is essential if you want to learn more about your customers.
Your reps can tell you what buyers are asking and what they think about your product. This information will help you address customer concerns in your marketing materials.
17. Survey and segment your customers.
Surveys can provide you with valuable data about your prospects and customers.
But it’s hard to get someone to complete a survey.
If your surveys fall flat, start by asking your audience to answer a single question. For example, when someone joins your list, send them an email that asks them to segment themselves.
If your list consists of IT professionals, you can say something like:
To send you the best and most relevant content, we need to know a little more about you. Please click the option that best describes you.
I’m a CIO who wants to lead my company’s digital transformation.
I am an IT security pro who wants to better protect my company’s data.
I’m a network engineer who wants to improve our network’s performance.
Segmenting your audience is critical for improving your open and response rates.
18. Host a webinar.
Webinars allow you to get face time with your customers. Make your webinars as interactive as possible, so you can chat with customers and answer their questions.
19. Check your Google analytics.
When you review your Google Analytics, you can see which keywords people use to find your web pages. You can also learn which pages get the most views.
However, a large number of views doesn’t necessarily translate into an engaged audience. Also look at how much time people spend on each page. You may need to use other analytics tools to determine how your audience interacts with your content. For example, what are your opt-in rates for your premium content?
20. Read your blog comments.
Your blog can give you insights into your target audience. Which posts get the most shares and comments? What questions do people ask in the comments section? Should you answer any of these questions in future blog posts?
21. Review your customer personas.
Are your customer personas up-to-date?
If not, you may need to research your buyers and revise your personas. Make sure that everyone on your content team has copies of your personas, so they can refer to them when they create content for you.
Customers Are All Around
This list covers just a fraction of the places where you can connect with customers.
As they might say in a marketing version of Love, Actually, “Customers are all around!”
The more you interact with customers, the more you can tailor your content to meet their needs. Ultimately, this will lead to increased sales and revenue.