I do a lot of research on white papers, such as, how to properly craft them, how to interview the experts, how to market the final product, and so on.
One thing I’ve repeatedly noticed on random B2B blogs is a question that asks, “What’s the future of white papers?”
Even 5 years ago, marketers were almost bracing themselves for the “impending doom” of white papers by claiming that they’ll be replaced by other types of content tools. Now, here we are going into the year 2014, and according to the Content Marketing Institute (obviously one of my favorite go-to sources), 64% of marketers are still embracing the use of white papers with open arms.
Why? It’s because they’re still an extremely vital factor to the B2B buying process on the C-level.
White papers are constructed with hardcore facts, figures and direct quotes from the top echelon of experts. They’re typically written for a brand new (and rather expensive) product or concept that needs to be proven of its value in plain black and white. That really cannot be fully captured in a series of tweets or YouTube videos or fill-in-the-blank. Sure, you can repurpose the content of the white paper into those various tools, but the solid proof of what a B2B company is inadvertently selling should still be presented in classic research form.
Think of a CMO sitting at her desk searching online for products she’ll possibly buy to improve her team’s strategy. Thanks to your company’s content marketing efforts, she discovers your business on Google. She then browses through your tweets and website, and she’s impressed. She’s interested in your product and thinks it can really help her team. She then begins looking for a downloadable white paper to get more concrete information that will really seal the deal and have her call you to set up a sales meeting. But unfortunately, your luck just ran out because there’s no white paper to be found. Maybe somewhere along the way, writing a white paper wasn’t on your to-do list. So that sales lead that just found you on Google slips out of your fingers and possibly into the hands of your direct competitor that offers a plethora of white papers on their website.
Don’t let that happen to you, okay?
Traditional B2B marketing tools like white papers are still thriving in this new age of technology. They shouldn’t be forgotten about just because something new and flashy comes along that’s marketed as the next big thing.
I don’t believe that white papers will cease to exist, even as the B2B world evolves over the next 10 to 20 years. Who knows what we’ll be caught up in at that point in time — just like how we’re all caught up in digital content marketing now. But the tried-and-true old school methods haven’t lost its footing for decades — and they won’t in the future.
If you haven’t adopted the practice of writing white papers into your B2B strategy, you may be missing out. What do you think?
As huge as social media is these days, we’ve become familiar with seeing various brands with thousands, or even millions, of online followers.
But is that a guarantee of brand loyalty? What really makes a person choose one company to continually buy from over a very similar competitor?
As social media has evolved, marketers have perused many analytical tools to measure its effectiveness, such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite. Social media and other content marketing strategies that are used consistently and effectively are bringing in new leads and customers for many businesses every day.
But is that enough to keep those customers loyal for the long haul?
Social media is more about having a digital presence and keeping your target market updated with new information on what your company provides. It’s all about social engagement and sharing likeable content.
To create brand loyalty, it goes back to the fundamentals of providing quality. A quality product or service will always set you apart from competitors and keep your customers happy & confident in your brand. And from that point, it’s important to set up a loyalty program that will lock in those buyers for good.
The key to doing this is in promotional marketing and advertising. Focus on ways to keep your customers attracted to your brand, so that they won’t be lured and distracted by any others.
Coupons are still one of the most effective ways to create brand loyalty. Offering exclusive sales and discounts with expiration dates is a good way to keep your business on your customers’ minds, even after they’ve already made a purchase. For instance, if I go to the Apple store and buy a new Mac desktop computer, and at the checkout counter I’m offered a coupon for an external CD-rom drive that expires in 3 weeks, I will be very likely to return and make that additional purchase. Especially if it’s 20% off.
You can easily upsell your current customers, but again, it goes back to quality. Make sure that the quality of your brand produces satisfied testimonials, word-of-mouth comments, and social media praise that will create more of a positive perception for your company.
If your brand’s public perception is leaning more towards the red, it’s time to put in the effort of understanding your customers. Ask for their feedback, listen to them on social media & maintain an open dialogue, and study their needs & wants…. then take the necessary steps to make them happy.
Otherwise, they’re off to the next brand.
What other factors do you think play a part in creating and maintaining brand loyalty?
It seems as if the term ‘content marketing’ has exploded onto the B2B world within the past couple of years.
Everyone’s talking, tweeting, and linking articles about it.
I think we all get it by now — content is the driving factor in B2B marketing success these days.
But will it last or is it just a fad?
Well, a fad it is not.
Content is what makes up a marketing campaign. It always did. Certain tools that have been around for several decades, such as brochures, white papers, case studies, and sell sheets, are considered content. However, with this new era of digital marketing, B2B companies are now implementing videos, blog posts, infographics, and social media into their campaigns, which they are certainly reaping the rewards from.
So as digital marketing continues to evolve, online content is indeed becoming the new black.
93% of B2B marketers are now using online content to generate leads and drive sales, according to a recent study by Content Marketing Institute.
In 2014, 73% of those marketers plan on churning out even more content. With such a huge flock of marketers using content distribution to attract their ideal buyers, it will take a great amount of effort to not only produce it consistently, but to also stand out from the crowd.
It’s just like the expression, “The cream rises to the top.”
In other words, a brand’s market value will rise over heavy saturation levels only with authentic, high-quality content. Buyers are looking for deeper and more meaningful online copy and conversations, so when strategizing your goals, remember that quality must come first.
2014 will also show buyers looking more for a “brand experience.”
Are you thinking, “Hmm, how do I get that?” Here are a few ways…
All in all, online content definitely won’t lose its flavor in the coming years. It’s become a new staple in the way we as marketers connect with each other and grow as businesses. And as long as technology is around, content marketing is here to stay. The only challenge to face is how to get better at it.
What are your thoughts on the future of digital content?
If you’re new to content marketing, the main question you may be asking is, “How does it work?” Well, I’ve put together a short video derived from my recent e-guide that answers that question and also gives a few tips on how to get started.
If you have any questions on which strategies would be best for your company, feel free to ask below.