Create a “content offer” or “lead magnet” in the form of an eBook or guide, gate it behind a landing page and a download form. Don’t have time to write an eBook? Then just cobble together a few existing blog articles, wrap them in a nice design and there is your eBook.
Promote the content offer on LinkedIn, your newsletter, and other places on the internet where your audience hangs out. And then sit back and wait for B2B leads to fill your CRM.
Sounds familiar? While this isn’t all bad advice, it’s not great advice either – or at least not if you are a small or medium B2B company competing with bigger, more established brands. The internet is flooded with content, and we’ve become less inclined to exchange our contact data for it. We might make the email trade for content produced by the big names (the HubSpot of your industry) but will pass on content coming from brands we know little about.
So if you’re a marketing team in B2B tech company competing with much bigger names and still trying to figure out how to generate website leads consistently, here is a roadmap to get you started.
Short term: optimize your main website pages
The first area where we find we need to focus with our clients is optimizing the main web pages of their site and bringing clarity around services, core differentiators, and messaging.
To bring that clarity, running customer interviews is the most useful tool.
#1 Build or renew your ideal customer profile
As useful as customer interviews are, we noticed that very few of our clients actually went through this process. In most cases talking to customers is not a priority: when you are a small marketing team you have a lot on your plate, there is always something more urgent to deliver.
Taking the time to speak to your customers pays off:
- you get to understand things from their perspective
- clarify what problems/pain points you solve for them
- how they name their problems
- what questions and topics they care about
Here are a few questions to go through in your customer interviews:
- What was the context in your company when you decided to search for [..] product/service?
- How did you go about researching potential solutions?
- What solutions did you consider?
- What made you choose our company?
- What was the one thing that almost stopped you from buying from us?
- What’s the #1 thing that made you confident [product or service] was the right solution?
- What was your biggest fear when looking for services/products like ours?
- Now that you have [..] product/service, what is the main thing you are able to do that you weren’t before?
- Where do you spend most of your time online?
- What is the one thing that you keep hearing about our industry/category that gets on your nerves?
- Who do you follow/listen to in our industry?
Pick 3-4 of your best customers (those customers you enjoy working with, they value your expertise and pay for it without complaining) and go through all these questions. Organize what you’ve learned into an ideal customer profile (buyer persona).
#2 Test your website messaging
Using the insight from your customers’ interviews, it’s time to test your core website messages. Is your value proposition in line with how you help your customers? Are the benefits the same ones your customers described?
In many cases, companies tend to describe their offering from their perspective and talk about what they think customers want to hear: “we deliver”, “we build”, “we have x years of expertise”. When in reality you can use the exact words your customers used to describe your company.
#3 Add or update testimonials & case studies
Social proof plays a major role in helping your buyer make a choice. A Nielsen report revealed that as much as 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a review from someone they’ve never even met.
If you haven’t updated your customer testimonials and case studies, it’s time to give them a refresh.
You can use some of the insights gathered during customer interviews, to give you a starting point and make it easier for clients to write a testimonial.
To make the most out of your customer testimonial, here are a few points to consider:
- Address a key objection: if you know potential customers share a common fear or come up with similar objections in the buying process, you can use testimonials to address them.
- Contextualize them, by placing them near the claim they support. If you claim to help companies build software faster, and have a testimonial that confirms this benefit, make sure to place it next to that claim.
- Choose the right people: the people you get testimonials from should match the audience you are after (if you sell to CEOs, get testimonials from CEOs, not salespeople).
Case studies are also effective in showing the value of your services: describe the problems you solved, the challenges of your client, and the results your client achieved by working with you.
#4 Describe your process
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing”.
For services companies, in particular, your process is a point of differentiation. Your clients want to know how you kick off a collaboration, the steps you take to deliver results, what happens at what stage. It also creates transparency and trust, your clients know what to expect.
However, our experience is that describing the process on their website is most of the time overlooked – but it shouldn’t be.
If you take the time to listen to your customers, use that input to test your core messaging and value proposition, add social proof to your website and describe how you work, you have laid a solid foundation for your website. Next, it’s time to talk about steps you can take to start generating demand for your services.
#5 Identify key topics from your sales and technical teams
Most B2B content fails because it’s very similar to what already exists: it’s entry-level, how-to content, exposing almost the same ideas. How many times did you happen to download a guide only to conclude it wasn’t worth the time reading?
Marketers resort to this type of content not out of laziness, but because this is the content type of content they can produce on their own – without input from subject-matter experts in your company.
But I want to argue that creating content shouldn’t be exclusively on the marketing teams’ yard. While the marketing team leads and coordinates content development, they need the insights and expert opinions of their colleagues.
Content that does stand out hits a sweet spot between:
- topics your customers struggle with and need education on
- areas where you have experience and can bring a unique perspective
Your sales team speaks to potential customers every day, and the questions they get the most are a gold mine for finding topics you should write about. On top of that your tech team is also in touch with customers daily: pick their brains too, learn about what questions customers ask, what topics interest them the most.
#6 Build an advance resource/content offer
After learning about the pressing issues and topics your audience needs education on, it’s time to find a unique angle.
Talk to your technical team and sales team to learn about truisms in your industry (ideas universally accepted by your industry but that are actually not true or are just more complex than it appears). Look for angles that your competitors don’t address, mistakes, or pitfalls that other companies avoid tackling. Discover what is your company’s perspective on these topics.
Addressing a technical topic in detail, uncovering the nuances, interviewing experts, and putting together their opinions takes time, effort, and a lot of cooperation from your tech team. But it’s this type of content that will stand out, gain traction without breaking the bank on ads, and help you build your company’s reputation.
#7 Ungate your content or gate it partially
If you are creating content with the aim of helping, why gate it? Why make it accessible on the condition of handing over contact details?
I think it’s a pertinent question to ask. If the goal of your content is to educate and build trust and authority, then restricting access works against that.
So instead of hoarding for leads, let people see what the content is about, let them decide if that is what they are looking for. When people find value, they’ll subscribe for updates from you or want to know more about your company.
You can also opt for gating the content only partially – letting people get a sense of what’s inside and decide if it’s worth the exchange.
#8 Repurpose and distribute content as much as you can
Creating original and high-quality content takes a lot of time and is only 50% of the job, the other 50% is promoting that content. And repurposing content into visual elements gives you tons of material to promote on social media.
Where we see our clients hesitating about repurposing is they fear they’ll overwhelm their audience with the same content but the reality is that you’ll be lucky to have that same person seeing more than two social media posts on a given topic.
The plus side to repurposing content is that it’s also easier for your audience to consume it (we all prefer a nugget of information most days, instead of reading 5,000 words articles).
There are a ton of formats to play around with:
- Presentation or carousel to embed on LinkedIn
- Slideshare presentation
- Instagram carousel
- Cards with key facts or quotes
#9 Make yourself available
Even if you ungated content and removed forms, you still want a medium where people can get in touch with you. And one simple way to do that is through a website chat.
You can add a chatbot to your content offer pages, helping visitors discover more related content or answer questions they might have.
Drift uses their chatbot to send you resources over email if you don’t have time to read them on the spot.
Finding the right topics to write about, uncovering the topic in-depth and bringing expert opinion and input, and then making that content available to your audience without a hidden agenda – we think these are the steps you can take to build trust and gain the attention of your audience when you’re not a big player in your industry (just yet). What do you think?