Did you know that the average B2B buyer typically reads at least 3 pieces of content before contacting the sales representative?
In this one statistic, you can understand the importance of content marketing, and why it is a key component of any B2B marketing strategy.
What is content marketing and why it works
Content marketing, otherwise known as ‘inbound marketing’, is a strategy that uses online content to engage and interest potential customers. The aim of content marketing is to warm up the lead with content that is relevant and compelling to their pain points. In this way, they come to associate your brand as an authority in the niche, build a positive relationship with your company, and eventually convert to paying customers.
Having said that, effective content marketing is easier said than done. Consumers are constantly bombarded with content. You’ve probably heard of banner blindness, when people don’t even notice display ads because there are just too many. Well, already a decade ago, there was talk of “content blindness” – with so much content online, brands are having a very hard time being creative and standing out.
In fact, more than 60% of participants in a US survey say that brands with poor creative are less trustworthy.
The antidote? Creativity, and lots of it.
Everyone loves a good story
From the Bible to Shakespeare to JK Rowling, humans love to hear stories. It actually comes down to biology. A good story raises levels of oxytocin – the feel-good hormone – released by the brain. Stories also connect people, creating a sense of belonging in a shared narrative.
For content marketing to work, you need to tell a great story, and to do that you need three things:
- An understanding of your audience’s needs and the kinds of stories that are compelling to them
- Creative ideas of how to tell that story so it is truly engaging
- A variety of channels to give over the story, so you can engage them at different touchpoints in the funnel
How gift marketing can enhance your story
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you’ll probably remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. It was one of the most popular series of its day, selling 250 million copies! Why was it such a hit? Way before the internet and interactive gaming, you could become an active part of the story by choosing how you wanted the narrative to unfold.
There’s a key lesson here for B2B marketers. When audiences are involved and active, they are much more likely to engage with your content. Gift marketing is the perfect way to do this. Not only does it encourage the potential customer to take action and become an active participant in your brand journey, they are also rewarded along the journey with gifts, which is a powerful way to cement positive sentiment and warm the customer up to convert.
Tie your message and gift together
At Outgage, we build gift campaigns based on great storytelling for a range of goals and budgets. For example, a cybersecurity company wanted to boost its acquisition rate, and with summer just around the corner, we decided to go with a “sun protection” theme. This was a great fit for the story that the brand wants to tell, about staying protected from cyber threats.
The campaign kicked off with an email to the prospects list. Those who watched a video received a teaser gift of keychain with a small sunscreen bottle attached. Then, a later email invited prospects who’d watched the video and engaged with the story and gift to sign up for a meeting. Those who signed up received a grand “Summertime box”, delivered just before the meeting date, containing a range of cool sun defense products, like a hat, sunscreen and more.
This campaign is a great example of how a message can be crafted into a compelling story, and how it can tie in with gifting to make it even more memorable and exciting.
Build up your story, and stand out with gifting
One of the key benefits of adding gifting to creative story-based content marketing is the build up of the plot. Just like a great narrative, you can start small with minimal investment and crescendo to more costly gifts as the prospects become more engaged and are more likely to convert. Every good story ends with a bang, and so should your B2B gifting campaign!