When was the last time you looked for content on a specific topic, then found accessing the content so difficult you no longer wanted it? Happens to me all the time. This is a prime example of how content delivery can undermine a vendor's B2B content marketing strategy. After pausing to consider adding myself to another mailing list, I enter my email address and wait—for an email that doesn't arrive. Or it lands in my junk folder. Or I find it but have to click back to a "Ready for Download" page on the website. And then another click or two before—finally—I can access the piece I asked for.
In the world of B2B technology, a content marketing strategy is key to attracting and retaining your prospects. That's because quality content is what keeps prospects engaged through an extended sales cycle. Just producing content—even high-quality content—isn't enough though. If your content is hard to find or access, or you fail to promote it, your B2B content marketing strategy is for naught.
Keep in mind that what we're talking about here isn't whether or not to gate content. If you're employing a B2B content marketing strategy you're going to need to gate some content.
Sometimes, though, it isn't what you deliver but how you deliver it that matters. If your prospect asks you for content, why make it so hard it get? Make the experience of getting the content a poor one, and your prospects may no longer want to engage with it—or with you. Let's look at a few content delivery missteps and how you can avoid letting them undermine your B2B content marketing strategy.
Make Accessing Frequently Published Content Effortless
One of the main purposes of publishing a blog is to get visitors to sign up and share their email address with you. Step one is to make signing up for your blog, newsletter, and other regular content simple and irresistible. That means the content you post should be fresh, interesting, and relevant. And you should optimize it for SEO, so newcomers can find it. Present your readers with a simple sign-up form that is persistent, but not insistent.
Remember that by signing up, your visitors are expressing an interest, that is, asking you for more content like what they just read. A simple next step is for your CMS/MAS to send an informative email letting them know when new content is available. This may also seem obvious, but it's amazing how often I encounter those who don't do this.
Let Them Know You've Got Something New
So, someone has shown interest in your blog or other content—great! Don’t assume they’ll go check your website on their own every day, just to see if you’ve published anything new. That's why you should notify them when you publish new posts, right?
But why limit the notifications to blog posts? Let them know about new customer success stories, eBooks, quizzes, whitepapers, and so on. After all, if they like your blog, make it easy for them to find other content as well.
Just remember that while some people don't mind daily emails, others can get annoyed—they are busy people, after all, with overflowing inboxes. Let them choose how frequently they'll hear from you. Offer alternates like weekly digests or sending notifications for content limited the types or topics they select. And for those who do decide to opt out, make it easy to unsubscribe or pause notifications—leave them with a good impression.
Don't Treat Your Subscribers Like Strangers
You’re delivering the quality content your prospects, subscribers, and customers told you they wanted. They are regularly clicking through from the emails you send about new blog posts or other assets of potential interest. Why would you turn around and treat them like a stranger?
The other day, I got an email from a recipe website I subscribe to (I love to cook). Intrigued by a new twist on classic buffalo wings, I clicked through. Two seconds after I started to read, a popup asked me to subscribe. What? The URL in the email had a tracking ID on it, so they knew who I was and how I arrived at the page. As a years-long subscriber and customer, this annoyed me. And when I encountered another similar message further down the page, I was fuming almost to the point of unsubscribing.
If you have data to identify your visitor, don't treat them like a stranger when they arrive at your door. After all, if you don't value their loyalty, there are other technology vendors out there to choose from.
Make Your Gated Content Delivery Smart
Gated content is great for lead generation and helps you judge a visitor's continued interest in a particular topic or solution. As a prospect moves deeper into the sales funnel, you'll offer different types of content to keep them engaged. Sometimes you'll want to ask them for additional information, but do it smartly and only when necessary. Subscribing to a blog should require nothing more than an email address. For deeper content like case studies or whitepapers, you might gate them to ask for the reader's name, organization, position, and so on.
Used indiscriminately, though, these gates can be off putting, especially for repeat visitors. A first-time visitor might hesitate a moment before providing an email address, but a return visitor might be downright irritated. If your prospect has already provided contact info, don’t make them start over. And if you don’t need more info, don’t ask for any. What’s important is that by accessing the additional content, they show you their continued interest.
Marketing automation tools like HubSpot can help identify return visitors. That way, you can auto-fill forms with what you do know about them—or even skip the need for the gating form altogether.
Keep It Simple and Frictionless
Content delivery doesn't have to be a complex, multi-step process, even if it's gated content. Asset landing pages are important, but if they click a “download now” link, they want the content—so give it to them.
If the asset isn’t gated, take them to it directly, no need to ask them to click to confirm they want it. Of course, you'll want to confirm their email address the first time. But for subsequent downloads, take them directly to the content. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot let you track if they are responding to an email and what they've downloaded in the past. You'll know they are still interested, without re-entering personal data, checking their email, or having to click from one landing page to the next.
Let Visitors Get to the Point—Whenever They're Ready
Speaking of landing pages for content delivery, don’t bury the CTA link. No matter how they arrived at your landing page—a search, an ad, an email—don't make them hunt to take action. Place the CTA button (and the form if a first-timer) near the top, in the banner, and strategically throughout the page.
You may have written brilliant copy for the landing page, but some people don't want or need to read it all. They just want to download the goods. B2B content marketing isn’t about long-form consumer sales letters that require long setups. It’s more about nurturing the prospect's or customer’s interest along their journey. It is about clearly indicating what the content is and why it’s of interest, then letting them have it.
However, different visitors need different amounts of information before taking action. Some may know they want the content from their moment of arrival—let them have it. Others may need a good deal of explanation or convincing. Your landing page doesn't have to be a long affair, but the amount of information they need before clicking "Download" depends on the visitor. Make sure anyone can find and click the CTA whenever they are ready.
In a B2B Content Marketing Strategy, How You Deliver is as Important as What You Deliver
Don't let poor content delivery sabotage an otherwise sound B2B content marketing strategy.
The strategy for what content you create will depend on what you are trying to accomplish. It may be lead generation, nurturing a prospect, cultivating a relationship, or simply supporting and keeping existing customers happy. It may be all of these. How you deliver your content—making it simple, helpful, and frictionless—is an equally crucial part of that strategy.