How Most B2B Brands Are Shifting Towards A Education-Led Marketing Strategy In This New (ab) Normal

How Most B2B Brands Are Shifting Towards A Education-Led Marketing Strategy In This New (ab) Normal

Introduction

The B2B market is highly digital with available data showing that 70% of professional buyers begin their buying journey online. They search for knowledge and information to guide their purchase decisions. To attract such buyers, B2B companies must embrace educational-led marketing strategy. Statistics show that educational-led marketing is the second most common strategy that  77% of B2B marketers use to nurture leads.

Content Marketing methods

Source: Content Marketing Institute

This goes to show that maintaining an educational online presence is an important aspect of any B2B business that wants to stay relevant today. Companies that adapt an educational-led marketing strategy create and share valuable knowledge with your target audience. Irrespective of the niche you are in, you need to always find ways to continually educate your current and potential customers. By doing so, you help them find solutions to their problems and identify ways to achieve their goals.

The purpose of using educational-led marketing strategy is to build the trust of current and potential customers in your company and the products or services you offer.  Creating content that educates your audience enables you to establish credibility and offers you:

  • Insights about your leads throughout their buyer journey
  • A constant flow of leads to your website
  • Stronger brand relationships
  • Data to enable you optimize lead acquisition
  • Insights about your marketing budget ROI

In this article, we explore five ways B2B brands are using educational-led marketing strategies and what you need to implement these strategies in today’s unusual environment brought up by the Covid-19 pandemic

Here are 4 ways B2B companies are using educational-led marketing strategies during Covid-19:

#1. Creating Educational Videos

One of the most effective ways of educating your audience is by creating educational videos.  These kinds of videos are not meant to pitch or sell your products to customers. rather, they are supposed to inform and educate them. According to Hubspot, 97% of marketers say videos make it easy for customers to understand their products.

The reason why educational videos work for B2B companies is the fact that they respond to customer needs. When B2B buyers search the internet, they simply want to find the product or service that best meets their needs.  To respond to this need, marketers should target their audiences with video content that offers value rather than selling.

A classic example of a B2B company that has excelled in integrating videos in its educational-led marketing strategy is Hubspot. The company has created an educational hub on its site – the Hubspot Academy. Through this facility, Hubspot offers short video courses that educate its existing and potential customers about a wide range of subjects including the inbound methodology and how to use its CRM system.

If you decide to make videos a key strategy in your educational-led marketing efforts, there are some basics that you need to cover. To help you get started, we asked the communication expert and author of Ditch the Act, Ryan Foland, to share his top 10 video tips for making successful, high impact videos.

  • Prepare well to deliver the content – remember you are the expert, so know your stuff
  • Go for real, not perfect. Too much production can come across as inauthentic
  • Keep your videos reasonably short – opt for mini-series rather than long videos
  • Invest in a microphone – clear audio is crucial for your viewer’s experience
  • Be smart about your filming location – try to find a quiet place with natural lighting through a window
  • Place your camera at eye level so that you can speak directly to your audience
  • Use body language to reinforce your main points – it adds color to your words
  • Don’t speak too fast, and use pauses for impact
  • Notice your breathing – there is a very good chance that you do not take full breaths
  • Have fun, and start with a smile

#2. Publishing Industry Reports and White Papers

B2B companies are also using industry reports and white papers to gather intent data and generate leads. Statistics show that whitepapers, for instance, enable companies to collect data from high-value leads and customers. This is because people are often ready to share their details to read them. According to a 2017 Demand Gen Survey Report, 76% of B2B buyers are willing to register with personal details to get access to white papers.

By publishing industry reports and whitepapers, B2B companies position themselves as thought leaders in the industry. Thought leadership offers companies a wide range of benefits including:

  • Establishing credibility and building customer trust
  • Increasing brand visibility to strategic stakeholders including clients, partnerships, prospects and funders
  • Giving your company status and enhancing the ability of your brand to influence decisions
  • Exposing your brand ideas and facilitating access to notable figures in your industry, government research and regulatory agencies as well as the media

#3. Publishing Engaging Articles and Blogs

 One of the most effective strategies that B2B companies use to increase brand awareness, boost search engine rankings and nurture leads is publishing articles. Statistics show that over the last one year, 74% of B2B companies have increased their investment in development of detailed articles.

B2B Content Marketers

Most companies find this format of educational content useful to publish because it is easy to update and can easily be integrated on company websites. Articles also allow businesses to simplify complex processes and concepts, making them easy for their target audiences to understand.

B2B companies can do a lot with articles including:

  • Distributing them via social media, email newsletters and RSS Feeds
  • Publishing them on guest sites to boost traffic to their websites
  • Generating high quality leads and nurturing them through the sales funnel
  • Customizing them to address specific company goals like responding to customer queries

Salesforce is a great example of a B2B company that has made articles an important part of its educational-led marketing strategy.  A B2B firm that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) tools, Salesforce uses long-form articles to:

  • Help its customers use the CRM
  • Educate prospects on the best way to utilize CRM data
  • Enable sales people to perform better at their job

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Salesforce is publishing articles under the ‘leading through change’ theme where insights from its customers get highlighted.

#4. Hosting Webinars

Webinars are video sessions that consist of presentations in subject matter expertise. The beauty of webinars is that there are Q&A sessions where participants can interact with webinar hosts and presenters. During Covid-19, B2B companies are increasingly using webinars to connect with customers or prospects. They use this medium to launch products or services, expound on already published content or showcase their expertise in an industry.

Unlike other educational approaches that contribute significantly in demand generation, webinars tend to be most effective at driving revenue for B2B companies. According to a 2017 Demand Wave Report, webinars are among the leading content types that boost revenue for companies.  They push leads through the sales funnel by increasing prospect’s interest in buying products or services.

Content Types

Source: Demand Wave Report

So, What Do You Need to Implement An Education-Led Marketing Strategy?

Implementing an education-led marketing strategy requires planning and a consistent time and resource investment. Below are four key things you will need to implement an education-led marketing strategy successfully:

#1. Have the Necessary Expertise

Education-led marketing involves sharing knowledge, insights and information with your target audience using a wide range of formats like video, reports, whitepapers, blogs, webinars, podcasts among others. To a large extent, this marketing strategy positions your company as a thought leader in the industry you are in.

To succeed in this, you need to ensure you have the technical expertise to create high quality content for your audience on a regular basis. In most cases, your employees would be able to provide this technical expertise. You can also bring onboard experts outside your company to contribute to your content.

You also need sales and marketing teams that have strong analytical skills. The two teams should be able to work closely to create buyer personas, develop content strategy, create content and automate your marketing process.

#2. Define Your Buyer Personas Clearly

Your educational content should resonate well with your target audience in order to attract them to you. The best way to achieve this is to understand the unique needs of your audience. Developing buyer personas enables you to do this effectively.

Buyer personas enable you to profile your target audience and capture their unique needs, frustrations, motivations and expectations. With this information, you can determine the questions or issues your educational content needs to respond to to help potential customers in their purchase journey.

#3. Create a Content Strategy and Develop Content

Educational-led marketing strategy involves providing potential leads with the knowledge and information they need to make a purchase decision. Each persona you create will have its own knowledge or information needs. To nurture your relationship and build trust with them, you need to craft a content strategy that enables you to meet these needs then put a team to consistently create and disseminate relevant content to different personas.

#4. Automate Your Marketing System and Leverage Data

Get a marketing automation system to track your marketing efforts and nurture leads. An automation system helps you gather marketing data that you can analyze and use to optimize your marketing efforts.

Wrapping Up

Marketing in the current environment is difficult for any business irrespective of the industry. But even in these uncharted waters, the test rule of educating prospects before selling to them remains true. With reduced in-person selling and cancellation of live events, B2B brands are leveraging technology to generate leads and drive revenue through webinars, educational videos, long-form articles and white papers. To ensure that educational content generates the desired results, B2B companies should ensure that it addresses the pain points that customers and prospects have and is well aligned to their purchase journey.

About Author

Shawn Hadden is a digital marketing strategist. He provides innovative and results-driven internet marketing solutions so that business owners become even more successful in their chosen fields of endeavor.

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