There’s a simple reason why B2B marketers blog: time.
Time is one of the most costly and constant factors in B2B sales cycles. That’s because sales of complex and expensive products can take between 117 and 156 days on average, according to the Sales Benchmark Index.If you’re in the lead generation business, this means you need to inform, educate and even entertain leads over a long period of time, edging them ever closer to buying from you. Blogging has become one of the most prominent strategies for modern marketers.
For one, product pricing pages and brochure-like websites don’t cut it anymore. Buyers control the research process with a wealth of peer reviews, discussion groups and reports available at the end of a simple Google search. So marketers need to find less intrusive ways to grab buyers’ attention.
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. According to one study, 55% of professionals in the B2B space turn to blogs for information. It’s no wonder that 39% of B2B marketers consider blogs their most effective content type.
And when done right, blogging is a master “soft sell” strategy. When not overtly pushy and promotional, smart marketers can insert themselves and their brands as influential advisors in the buying process. That’s a must, as 75% of business executives wish of vendors would “curb the sales messaging.”
Maybe you don’t need to be convinced of blogging’s value. You just want to know how it connects to lead generation.
Recently, Mark Schaefer, who manages the popular Grow blog, tackled this subject (and a host of other questions) in the Grande Guide to B2B Blogging. Specifically, he outlined four ways blogging can be used to convert leads and sales.
These are the phrases your customers employ to find you. Look at Google Analytics to find common words people are using to find your company and products. (Don’t forget to hunt for competitor keywords.) Make this a continuous and dynamic process.
Once you develop a list of important keywords, methodically use them to shape your blog content. Don’t force keywords into unrelated post, though. Your writers should know about the basics of Search Engine Optimisation and how to leverage it throughout their work. Remember to speak like your customers. Skip the buzzwords.
3. Call to Action
Your blog is one piece of information in an eco-system constantly pointing sales leads to your products and services. Your blog posts can feed Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook updates. YouTube videos and SlideShare decks can be featured on your blog. All should eventually lead back to a call-to-action on your website.
4. Opt-In Content
Use your research to create killer offers that speak to the needs of your audience. You can develop eBooks, white papers, case studies, webinars, exclusive videos and other free content that your audience can receive by opting-in to your email list. Promote these on your blog with ads, calls-to-action or links in your post. You now have a warm lead that you can nurture toward a sale.
Put simply, blogging is a cost-effective way to generate leads and move them towards a sale. You just have to do the work, make the investment and keep it fresh.