I spoke to a marketing consultant a few years ago who told me that when creating marketing plans for her clients, she rarely includes the content of a B2B blog – because it's too much work.
It's a shame because there are real opportunities in this work.
The main goal of your company's B2B blog should be to build a long-term relationship with your audience. In other words, you want to make them a group of believers.
In general, the more detailed a blog post is and the more examples it has, the more believable your content will be. Readers will see your thoroughness, and even if they don't read the entire post, they will be impressed with your expertise.
This is the first step in building an audience that believes in you, and that's why I'm not a fan of posts with less than 1,000 words: I don't think they can cover a topic enough to establish yourself as an expert.
This article outlines five tactics you can use to turn your B2B blog into a blog with a loyal audience.
1. Tell a story of personal transformation
People love stories. Good storytelling allows your audience to empathize with the protagonist, often to the extent that they feel the same emotions and want to behave in the same way. This is a great base for building a loyal audience.
The Hero's Journey is probably the best-known storyline in both script and literature (think the Bible or Star Wars).
However, this does not mean that your content post has to include all 12 phases of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. B2B marketing firm Velocity Partners suggests a simpler line of action: one of transformation. But I think you can make it even easier: tell a story of failure or setback that has been overcome.
Most CEOs don't want to tell stories about how they failed, which is unfortunate as this is one of the easiest ways to connect with your audience: everyone has setbacks and failures, and we all want to overcome them.
Here is an example of a CEO who thought things were easy, but not:
(Intro paragraph from crawling the TOR network: challenge accepted)
The post goes on to explain that the project was completely different from what it was originally thought – and how that was okay. There are specific examples of how he and his team have learned and grown from this experience.
2. Share data that no one else has
Another way to get your audience to believe in you is to secure your ideas with your own data.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Share customer data.
- Share data from a survey among your customers.
- Share data from your product or service that can be obtained from your data team.
You may need to anonymize the data, but numbers should also tell the story without your customers' names.
In the following case, a customer of mine has specific web datasets for using the word "coronavirus" in different documents. The company shares these records, which are derived from news sites, blogs, discussion forums, and reviews on the web.
(Source: Coronavirus datasets)
3. Tie your product to a bigger, relevant topic
Many marketers like to post articles that are relevant to a specific message with the aim of speeding up traffic related to those keyword searches. The tactic is called "newsjacking". However, in my experience, newsjacking requires agility that many marketing departments simply don't have.
I suggest using a larger theme instead and linking that to your product or service – provided, of course, that the theme fits well. This is what Kevin Wheelan calls the content marketing strategy "tie-in".
For example, here is an example of embedded content that integrates the controversial algorithms of social media platforms – especially the recommendation engine – and web data. After all, algorithms are powered by web data, and you can refactor recommendation engines with new data sets from the web.
(Extract from the restructuring of social media platforms for the common good)
The post even includes some examples of research on how recommendation engines can be less biased and able to deliver a truly personalized (and less promotional) experience.
4. Add some real world examples
There is a saying in journalism: show, don't tell. Or, as the famous playwright Anton Chekov said: "Don't tell me that the moon is shining. Show me the glow on broken glass."
Apply this principle to your B2B blog: if your product is tough, give examples that show how tough it is. If your product is more accurate than the competition, provide a detailed customer case study with numbers, even if you can't mention the customer's name. If your product can be used in multiple industries, please provide the actual use cases.
Go through as much detail as necessary to make it believable. I would say three examples are credible.
The following blog post from a data feed provider includes several examples of dark web marketplaces and describes exactly how their service was able to identify the disappearances and reappearances of these websites via the dark web data in their repository.
(Excerpt from the rise and fall of dark web marketplaces)
5. Combine as many of the previous four tactics as possible
The following post uses three main examples (Tactic 4: Examples) to explain how customers must ensure that they have access to continuous, high-quality and relevant web data during the COVID-19 crisis (Tactic 3: Integration).
(From the need for high quality data in a time of global crisis)
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B2B blog posts aren't quick wins. They require cross-departmental planning, collaboration, and time to rewrite and edit by multiple people in your organization. So why should you invest the time and effort? Because in an online world where so much content is being produced, your company has to work so much harder to get your audience's attention.
If you can create compelling content that can't be easily duplicated and demonstrate your experience, then you will position yourself as an expert in your industry, building authority, and winning your audience's trust.
In other words, you will make them believers.