Outbound marketing worked in the days where people passively watched TV or read newspapers. Today digital audiences aren't captive, they control what they watch and switch fast. Modern people's' behavior changed and they no longer tolerate attempts to spam them with the information they don't want to consume.
In B2B marketing content plays an important role in connecting businesses to prospects, building relationships with them by providing informative, educational, beneficial content at a right time. Consumers want to be sure that they are making the right buying decision. Especially in markets where the stakes are high. Content smoothes the sales process by turning negotiations and communication to the desired path.
Although the inbound marketing term was coined by Hubspot in 2005, the strategy had been implemented a long time ago. Have you ever wondered where soap operas name came from? Soap operas were actually produced by soap manufacturers in 1930.
Content became a popular marketing channel in the recent years, because of new technologies that enable us to automatically send personalized content to the right contacts and convert them faster.
Many companies have already implemented content marketing. Moreover, these 5 brands took content marketing to the next level.
IBM (International Business Machines)
IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware, and software, and provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. Also, it is one of the biggest United States patent holden and is a major research organization.
Interestingly such a big company has 60 or 70 marketing personas. And since they operate in 170 countries (covering all parts of the world connected to the internet) their content strategy must include a variety of languages, take into consideration different customs and traditions and be relevant and effective. Shortly, IBM head of Content Marketing (Jeremy Clement) has a challenging job, indeed.
On their website, they have 87 different blogs, 47 of which are in English (American, British, Indian, Australian) and 40 are written in other 11 languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Norwegian, Japanese, German, French, Dutch, Croatian, Chinese. Isn't it impressive?
Ben Edwards was the Vice President of Global Digital Marketing at IBM, and he’s currently leading PayPal.com shared a valuable tactic they use to build relationships with customers:
So the question then is, “How do we improve the flow of qualified people into that webinar?” We provide lots of free learning content. We build lots of content to help them understand and compare—ROI calculators and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) calculators, lots of thought leadership, social chats. I can imagine a whole ecosystem of engagement that gets people to that webinar. For that product and that buyer, most of the content effort is just getting people to the webinar.
In the same interview, Ben Edward said that customizing was vital for IBM. They've learned that technology buyers' engagement with content encompasses 56% of the sales cycle versus 21% talking with salespeople. When you realize that content has a bigger relationship-building potential than talking to a person, that’s huge.
The company spends 1.445 million dollars on advertising and promotions. And in recent years they invested a big part of the budget for content production.
IBM: A boy and his atom
In 2012, IBM scientists announced the creation of the world's smallest magnetic memory bit, made of just 12 atoms. The movie has been verified by Guinness World Records™ as The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film.
IBM videos simply great. In their videos they raise voice to important issues like global warming, gender inequality, LGBTQ human rights. They make videos about their services, backstage of the cloud data center, introduce their one of 500,000 employees, tell important stories. In 8 years of consistent posting to Youtube, their library has any videos you can ever think of an organization can create.
Salesforce is one of the most advanced CRM system available in the market. The most recent AI Einstein software that gathers and analyzed patterns in data and automatically shows you prospects with the highest potential for conversion. Moreover, AI personalizes emails based on your writing style.
The reason why Salesforce is such a successful company over-competing other big organizations such as Oracle or SAP lies in their ability to communicate their software’s features, how it works, and how it can benefit you.
I personally admire Salesforce ability to always challenge themselves and being able to create a whole portfolio of content. For example, Salesforce blog is one of the most compelling content there is on the internet. If you google "CRM" on Youtube search there is a high chance you open a Salesforce video. And their white papers are simply great. Not to mention the amount value they provide on each of their webinars. One of their podcast is called The Marketing Cloudcast, where they discuss important marketing trends, innovative marketing tactics and real stories about the ups and downs of professionals in the digital marketing field.
Shortly, Salesforce is a CRM software company that nailed content marketing in all of its aspects.
Related article: B2B Marketing Trends You Shouldn't Miss in 2019
Kissmetrics is a customer engagement automation platform designed to help you truly understand the behaviors of your customer base and drive higher levels of engagement.
The company basically make it big and attracted a hundred thousand readers to the Kissmetrics blog. TDSmaker marketing team is a long time follower of their blog, and we used and implemented some of their advice, insights, and review to our own marketing strategy.
At least we used to. But Kissmetrics blog doesn't exist anymore.
Try and google it. The blog with hundred thousand monthly viewers and immense traffic is gone. Neil Patel has bought Kissmetrics blog for half a million dollars. In the article he explained the reasons behind such an expensive purchase of a blog, that doesn't generate a revenue.
But the result is there, Kissmetrics Blog is the number one reason why the company was able to grow that fast.
One day Cisco surprised the world with an unexpected round of layoffs. The company fired around 200 global marketing and corporate communication employees. The aim of a new Chief of Marketing was clear: Cisco has to focus on content marketing.
“In December 2015, Karen announced we would be following a content marketing model,” explained Katrina Neal, Cisco’s head of content for its service provider segment in the UK. “Her vision is to be a leader in real-time personal marketing communications. What the hell does that mean? In reality, it means that we lost around 200 people in November through restructuring, and now, we’re hiring around 200 content marketing people globally.”
Cisco invested heavily in content marketing. Bethany Johnson in an article on Content Marketing Institute:
“While many content marketers know how to start with the customer when creating their strategy, many product marketing-driven B2B organizations struggle to start their content planning from that perspective.
Cisco’s CMO tasked a team of 20 marketing and communications leaders from across the company to set out to reverse the framework and create a genuine audience-first model instead. Today, the content process starts with a detailed analysis of the audience before any content gets created”.
As a result, Cisco's content has been shared over a million times in the past years. It's a great example of how one big company was able to take a completely new direction and implement content marketing. It is proof that inflexible big companies can indeed be flexible and innovative.
Unbounce is a landing page builder. It was designed for fast creation, launching an testing high-converting landing pages, pop-ups, and sticky bars without developers.
Leaving aside the fact that as a landing page building software Unbounce create tons of content related to tips and tricks about landing page optimization. Unbounce has a Content marketing dedicated topic on their website, where they regularly post blogs. The favorite is "That Time Unbounce Stopped Posting for 2 Weeks… And Scored 700 New Leads".
But this is not how I've discovered Unbounce. I subscribed to "Call to Action" podcast, which was recommended to me by Google Podcast application. Call to Action is a show produced by Unbounce and is about online marketing success stories and how you can apply lessons to your own marketing campaigns. They invite experts, professionals, their own team members or create an online documentation about new tactics they are implementing. Call to action is all about Conversion Rate Optimization, Pay Per Click Marketing, A/B Testing, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Copywriting, Landing Page Optimization and more!
They have 74 recorded podcasts. Even though the last podcast was published one year ago, topic and tricks covered still correspond to today marketing problems and provide actual solutions. So, Call to Action by Unbounce is one of the best examples of content marketing with a great podcast as a channel.
To wrap it all up,
There are numerous reasons why companies are turning away from traditional ways of marketing. The world is evolving faster than you can image, and so are your customers. The key to the success of any organization big or small is in its ability to build relationships with customers, communicate your benefits and show your expertise in the related field. All these are possible with content marketing. 5 B2B brands already have shown to the world that building content positively affects the bottom line and increases the competitiveness of the brand. What is stopping you?