The team at BeKonstructive Marketing have noticed a big growth in B2B businesses using content marketing strategies in the past 12 months. As devoted lovers of content marketing, we know that it can help brands build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with their customers and audiences – but why has it taken a pandemic to get B2B businesses onboard the content ship?
A big takeaway from the pandemic has been the need for SMEs to be adaptable and resilient. By now, we’ve all figured out that COVID-19 is here to stay – as unwelcome as it is – so we need to make changes to the way we do business, to ensure that we can continue to operate even when we’re plunged into lockdown.
The Content Marketing Institute notes that content marketing is becoming the shining star in a brand’s pandemic-affected marketing strategy. This is likely because content marketing is online 24/7 – it ensures that even when the doors are closed due to lockdown, brands and businesses are still able to connect and communicate with their customers.
We’ve already seen the need to adapt to evolving consumer behaviour and the importance of digital in a post-covid world for retail and B2C businesses – but what about the B2B sector? In this piece I’ll be exploring some of the industry trends we’ve been seeing over the past 12 months with a particular focus on the B2B and professional services sector.
WHY are Businesses Using Content Marketing?
Businesses are making the move towards content marketing in order to stay connected. With the uncertainty of lockdowns and regulations, businesses are having to become more creative with the ways they are generating leads, sales and brand awareness in the absence of networking events, seminars and conferences.
Content marketing is an underrated acquisition strategy for the B2B sector; not only is it cost effective but it generates high-value and long term leads. It’s a way to communicate to your audience and show your expertise on a particular topic despite ongoing external environment implications.
HOW are Businesses Using Content Marketing?
Businesses have swapped a number of their traditional business development strategies to online or content marketing activities. Instead of speaking at an event, they’re a guest on a webinar or a podcast. Instead of taking clients out for a coffee to discuss industry trends, they’re writing a thought leadership blog article. Instead of providing in-person product or service demonstrations, they’re creating videos and whitepapers. And instead of attending networking events, industry association conferences or trade shows, they are connecting with new people on LinkedIn.
In fact, LinkedIn is the content marketing channel that we have seen the most uptake and growth on. We asked Bek about the shift that BeKonstructive has seen over the past 12 months in regards to LinkedIn:
“BeKonstructive Marketing currently manage more LinkedIn accounts than any other social media platform. And more interestingly, we’re not just looking after company pages, we’re looking after the personal profiles of key personnel, helping them create and publish content that is relevant to the people they are connecting with, helping them start conversations with those people.”
As there are currently more users than there is content on LinkedIn, and businesses are starting to realise the potential this platform has as part of their content marketing strategy. With networking events up in the air, using LinkedIn to continue making connections has been a great way to adapt, and the content being posted is receiving greater organic reach and engagement than it does on other social media platforms.
The way the LinkedIn algorithm works is very similar to the way that the old Facebook algorithm worked – you can see what your friends ‘like’ and you can see what your friends are tagged in; so people who are using LikedIn have discovered that it is easy to reach new audiences on this platform.
In addition to social media, companies are using white papers, webinars and thought leadership articles to replace speaking and face to face events.
The Future of B2B Marketing
The shift to content marketing has provided new and creative ways for businesses to be able to maintain relationships, build trust and share valuable content during these uncertain times. But what happens when everything goes back to ‘normal’?
With many Australian states – and certainly Brisbane and South East Queensland – tentatively planning face-to-face events, we’ve started to see a trend in businesses using a hybrid approach to their business development activities. Yes they are still attending the F2F events, but they’re often using their content marketing channels to do some of the initial legwork for them so that they aren’t going into the events ‘cold’. They’re using platforms like LinkedIn to connect with other attendees prior to the event and arrange a time to catch up; they’re using their email marketing to let their existing audiences know that they’ll be attending the event and invite them to join them; they’re using their website blogs to do a wrap-up post and share any knowledge or industry insights they gained from the event, to show prospective clients that they keep their finger on the pulse.
“Content marketing can help you get on your prospect’s radar prior to the event. When you’re at an event like a conference or tradeshow, there is so much happening. With presenters, stalls and exhibitors all clamoring to get people’s attention, it can help to lay some of the groundwork ahead of time. Set up some casual meetings or coffee catch-ups with prospects you know are going to be in attendance, or get your brand in front of attendee’s eyes so that they recognise your brand on the day.”
What we can take away from this is that content marketing for B2B brands is here to stay. It will be interesting to see how brands continue to use their content marketing strategically in a post-Covid world and the impact that has on their company’s growth.