Creating B2B content that engages is a major challenge for many B2B companies. In a study by The Content Marketing Institute, 54% of small B2B (10-99 employees) and 58% of enterprise organizations find the prospect of producing engaging content to be a challenge. But what exactly is “engaging content”? Opinions differ and there’s no “set in stone” definition, but generally speaking, engaging content should be:
- Entertaining, educational or both
- Invite the reader to engage with a call to action
But let’s talk about the first one, relevance. To create engaging content, you must create content that is relevant to your target audience. B2B professionals sometimes think about their own offerings when creating content rather than really thinking about whom their customer is and what kind of content she or he wants to read and consume. Sometimes the last thing your reader wants is to hear (again) about how awesome your product is or how awesome your company is. It’s important to understand that, although they act on behalf of their company, B2B customers make decisions based on their own preferences, biases, and beliefs. This is why it is crucial to optimize your content, and the experience of your content, to create a feeling of satisfaction for your audience.
Give Them the Satisfaction
Feelings (yes, feelings!) of satisfaction greatly influence customer loyalty and potential for the formation of a long-term relationship. So how do you increase satisfaction with your content? Four aspects to examine when evaluating or auditing your content strategy and execution include information quality, ease of use, responsiveness, and trust.
Ensure that your information is of high quality. Components of information quality include accuracy, completeness, timeliness, presentation, and clarity.
- Accuracy. Obviously the information you release should be accurate. It’s important to fact check and edit content for accuracy. There’s no better way to lose someone’s trust than to give him or her inaccurate information. However, if this does happen it’s important to be proactive about it and make corrections as quickly as possible.
- Completeness. Not only should information be accurate, it should be complete. Don’t be guilty of sin by omission!
- Timeliness. If you are writing about a current issue, be quick! Unless you are creating evergreen content, your content is perishable. Make sure to give it as long a shelf life as possible by jumping on trends early.
- Presentation. The beauty of a website (or lack thereof) influences feelings of trust. The presentation of your content creates an initial impression of not just the website but of your organization as a whole. Strive for simplicity and refinement. The layout of your content and website acts as a visual cue to the refinement of your actual products or services and can trigger trust in potential customers.
- Clarity. If your readers need to spend a significant amount of effort to understand and use your content, they won’t perceive it as useful. You shouldn’t dumb down your content, but sometimes people within an organization (especially B2B) become so engulfed in their own world that they forget what it is like to be on the outside.
Ease of Use
Make sure your website is technically sound. This may seem obvious, but technical problems are extremely common. Aside from technical issues (such as on-site SEO), strive for a fantastic user experience. Make it easy for your readers to share your content (e.g. with social media buttons) and make sure you have a good commenting system that makes it easy for your readers to interact with you and their fellow audience members.
In the old days, content was mostly a one-way street. Content and quality was fully determined by the organization creating the content. In today’s world, content is a conversation. The willingness of your organization and of fellow members of your community to respond to other people in the community determines responsiveness, and a high level of responsiveness helps inspire trust and affinity. Make sure that you are taking the time to monitor the conversation happening around your content and organization, and be sure to respond in a timely manner.
Sure, it sounds obvious… having a feeling of trust increases levels of satisfaction (duh). But what are you doing to increase trust? Of course things such as honesty, integrity, and having a fantastic product or service are paramount to trust. However, there are ways great companies lose out on the opportunity to increase levels of trust with their web presence. If the web is the only contact point a potential customer has with your organization, he or she will form an opinion of your company based solely on your web presence! Here are a couple of things that will help you increase feelings of trust through your digital presence.
- Social Proof. If you can, include written and video testimonials from customers as well as logos of well known brands that you have done business with. Interview people on your blog who are highly authoritative in your space. If you are “pre-selected” by trusted authorities, people will feel more confident in your offering.
- Create free, extremely useful content. By providing free and extremely useful content you become a thought leader in your space. People (and search engines) start to see you as an authority. They will share your content because it is useful and trusted. A New York Times study found that 94% of social sharers carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient. If you are a trusted voice in your industry, people are more likely to share your content even if they don’t fully read it! They feel safe sharing your stuff because they know that everything you create is gold.
When more people share your content your organic search traffic increases because search engines are increasing the impact of social signals on rankings. Google is continually tweaking its algorithm to determine the authority of authors in particular spaces or genres, as Google’s Matt Cutts explains in this video. So, if your stuff is trustworthy, people will share it, and you will drive relevant traffic to your site that will in turn get shared by the new visitors. Hey look, I created a flowchart to illustrate the concept:
Content creation is a long-term strategy that has a cumulative effect and is an extremely worthy investment!
Amplify Interactive is a Digital Marketing agency that provides search engine & social media marketing services for B2B clients. Check out our Search Marketing and Social Media Marketing services and our Clients or download one of our SEM Whitepapers.