B2B demand gen used to be easier than B2C. Because, let’s face it, so much B2B marketing was deadly boring. A cool concept, a little creative design, or a dash of humor were like water in the desert.
Now, though, it’s the norm for B2B marketing to be every bit as visually and emotionally compelling as B2C. Suddenly we’re selling water by a lake, not a desert. There’s no shortage of cool content. Audiences expect more, and marketers (including your competitors) are keeping up with demand. So it’s time to take B2B demand gen to the next level.
B2B Demand Gen Tactics: The Next Evolution
What follows are some logical upgrades for some of your favorite time-tested tactics. That’s not to say, of course, that you should stop doing things that are already working. But it’s worth testing these evolutions out to see what works for your target audience.
#1: Influencer Marketing to Influence 2.0
B2B influencer marketing has matured a great deal in the past few years. Marketers are looking at topically-aligned influencers with smaller but more relevant networks, and looking to create partnerships rather than paying for endorsements. But we still have room for improvement.
Influence 2.0 seeks to build an always-on, continual process of influencer nurturing, community building, and content co-creation. Instead of individual campaigns, it’s about sustaining relationships, introducing influencers to each other, and continually producing content together.
For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. – @leeodden Click To Tweet
When you have a sustainable community of influencers, you can integrate influencer content into virtually every part of your marketing efforts. That’s why I put it first on this list — you can add influencers to all of the following tactics for better amplification and engagement.
#2: eBooks to Interactive Content
The classic PDF-format, static eBook is a B2B content marketing staple. Over the last decade, we’ve seen eBooks becoming more dynamic, more visually compelling, more creative and fun. Like, say, this one from our client Pantheon.
So I’m not here to put down eBooks. But as an agency, we’re starting to lean into more interactive content, and seeing some stellar results. Interaction can be as simple as adding animation or multimedia content to a slideshow or eBook. Or you can go more complex, ditching that page-based form factor completely. Some of our best-performing agency work recently is vertically-scrolling, animated, and interactive. The core content is much the same as a conventional eBook, but it’s much more likely to earn attention.
Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full Screen Mode
#3: Gated Big Assets to Gated Bonus Content
The time-honored tradition in B2B marketing is that you gate your most valuable stuff. Then you give away smaller bits of content to entice people to fill out your lead gen form. Which means a small percentage of people actually see the asset you spent the most time and effort on.
It’s a tactic that can still work, but it’s worth trying the other way around, too. Note that none of the assets I linked in the last section are gated. We put a ton of research, creativity and effort into making each one. And then we and our clients used them for demand gen. We found that influencers were more likely to amplify an ungated asset, and that meant more people got to see the thing than if it were gated.
When you put an ungated big asset out there, make sure to include an opportunity for people to convert, of course. We have found that a simple but useful downloadable, like a checklist or worksheet, works well to convert traffic from our big ungated assets.
#4: Everyday Blogging to Everyday Multimedia
The blog post has been the “atomic unit” of content marketing for a long time now, and it’s easy to see why. All you need to make a blog post is a computer and a WordPress site (though hopefully you also have a strategy, research time, and an editorial calendar). The barrier to entry is low and the potential for engagement is good.
We’re finally seeing the democratization of video and audio content, however. It’s now potentially easier to create simple video or record a podcast than to write a substantial blog post. Video content can be embedded on social sites (more on that in the next section), and podcasts can be syndicated in dozens of directories. There’s a ton of demand gen potential in trading some of your blogging time for multimedia time.
#5: Social Links to Social First
Social media has been a demand gen staple for marketers since the early days of Facebook and Twitter. The time-honored tactic for social media is to post links to blog content or gated assets, encouraging people off of the platform and onto your own real estate.
The problem is that social media sites don’t want people clicking away from their feeds. They want posts that generate engagement while keeping people firmly inside the walled garden. The sites’ algorithms will reward posts that don’t link out, while actively limiting the reach for posts with external links.
We have been exploring a “social first” model for demand gen on social media, and the early results are promising. With a handful of clients, we’re testing long-form content on LinkedIn, with the goal of boosting engagement right in the news feed. These posts are outperforming their average for comments and reactions, and are driving new followers for the Showcase Page, too.
In other words, instead of using social media to drive traffic to your content, bring your content to social media.
Practice Next Gen Demand Gen
Which demand gen tactics work best? The answer will vary depending on your industry and audience, of course. But in general, our time-tested tactics could stand to be augmented and upgraded. Marketers who can get ahead of changing audience preferences will stand a far better shot at earning and keeping attention.
Looking for opportunities to evolve your content promotional strategies? Take a peek at these underutilized content promotion channels.