The advent of digitization and inbound marketing techniques has led professional service firms to realize the transformative power of content.
To earn the trust of both existing and prospective clients, they have recognized the need to first establish their organizations as a credible provider of exciting and relevant content.
They understand that professional service buyers increasingly want more information instantly than ever before. And they want to be engaged at all stages of the sales funnel.
However, while there is an increased appreciation of content when it comes to marketing, many professional service firms are struggling to reach a broader audience. They spend a tremendous amount of time and resources on content creation, but no one sees it because they either don’t promote it or don’t promote it in the right places.
Through this primer, we want to provide you with several tips on how to improve your content strategy and also discuss five marketing automation tools that you can use to get a tenfold increase in viewers of your content.
Creating a Solid Content Strategy
Content is critical as it allows professional service firms to promote their services, develop brand awareness, lend credibility to their expertise, and engage prospects and clients. To put this into perspective, consider the following statistics:
- Nearly 50 percent of B2B marketers expect to increase their content marketing budget in 2019.
- Professional service buyers are 131 percent more likely to buy from the business immediately after reading content from that business.
- 78% of professional service buyers found an organization “helpful,” and 64 percent found it “trustworthy” immediately after reading content from that brand- and these numbers skyrocketed by 8-9 percent one week later.
Here is a detailed look at how professional service firms can plan, create, curate, and promote their content in a more comprehensive way across services to broaden their audience and help to develop better relationships with clients and prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
Have a Documented Strategy
Research shows that 81 percent of companies believe that the ability to align teams around common mission/goals and being able to determine which types of content to develop, are the two most significant benefits of having a documented content strategy.
Before creating content, professional service firms need to have a documented content strategy. The strategy needs to factor in the following:
- Sales and marketing channels have changed
B2B sales and marketing channels have evolved, compared to twenty years ago, where B2B companies used a direct channel (either face-to-face sales force or via phone through a call center). Multichannel touchpoints characterize today’s B2B environment.
Regardless of the segment, today’s buyers expect to engage with professional service firms using the channel of their choice throughout the different stages of the buying process.
They seek to form their own opinion of the services company’s offer. In most cases, they usually choose to use user communities and social media networks (think LinkedIn and Twitter) to gather external opinions.
- B2B Journeys are different
A recent survey of B2B marketers conducted by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) shows that blog posts/articles, white papers, and case studies are the most effective types of content for the early, middle, and late stages of the buyer’s journey, respectively.
However, before creating content, professional service firms need to dig deeper and get a full picture of what a B2B buyer’s journey looks like versus that of a B2C trip.
A B2B buyer’s journey typically has the following characteristics:
- Deeper relationships- Unlike in the B2C sector, where products are often bought on a transactional basis, in many professional service industries, relations are long-term, with recurring sales.
- Custom made products/services- Professional service firms adapt both their products/services and their processes to accommodate specific client needs.
- B2B journeys are more complicated- A typical professional service buyer’s journey is more complex, takes longer, and involves more stakeholders and decision-makers.
In the engineering sector, for instance, it’s common to see multiple engineers evaluate and later certify a product/service, often adopting a design or process. Besides, the sale would also include customer-service and logistics departments who typically don’t get involved until prices, volumes, delivery terms, and other points are negotiated.
The entire process can involve decisions by 15 to 20 stakeholders before the transaction closes.
Therefore, understanding the nature of B2B sales & marketing channels and B2B journeys will enable your professional service firm to create a solid content strategy and, thus, adequately address the pain points and needs of each buyer segment.
Promote Your Content
As earlier mentioned, professional service firms spend a lot of time and resources on content development, but no one sees it because they do not promote it.
While common in the world of B2C marketing, marketing automation is a discipline that was slow to gain traction in the B2B world. However, marketing automation is now mainstream as the technology and expertise get adapted to the B2B world. This technology is now widely available, and professional service firms must start using it to promote their content.
We’ve provided you with an outline of 5 marketing automation tools that you can use to increase the viewership of your content.
Founded in 2011, Triberr is a marketing automation suite that professional service firms can use to amplify the reach of their content, build online communities, and promote content all in one place.
Just like the name suggests, this platform is based on various “tribes” or communities of interest. By joining or creating a particular tribe, you will be able to share the content of fellow tribemates with your social media followers and vice versa.
Most of Triberr’s features are free for everyone, but if you need more capabilities, you can choose a plan that suits your needs.
In essence, this particular marketing automation tool can help a professional service firm to:
- Multiply its audience and reach organically,
- Create relationships with other content creators
- Promote content in a cost-effective manner
- Grow its social following and readership quickly
- Improve search engine optimization (SEO).
So the idea is the more tribes you join or create, the more people will see and share your content.
- Quuu Promote
Just like HootSuite, Quuu Promote is a marketing tool that can help professional service firms to promote their content to influencers. As a result, this enables real people to share their content (think blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.) on social media.
With this platform, you can enter a few of your audiences’ interests, choose the frequency of posting, and decide whether you want the tool to post automatically or after manual approval.
The pricing comes with three different plans that allow you to get various categories, that is- Small ($40 per month), Medium ($70 per month), and Large ($150 per month).
Adopting this tool can help professional service firms:
- Promote their content to real people
- Engage with relevant audiences on social media, and this helps drive more traffic to your content
- Rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) since social signals for sites like Twitter and LinkedIn mean higher rankings in search engines
- Growth Hackers
Growth Hackers is a marketing program that can help professional service firms facilitate sustainable growth using the cross-functional, value-based approach. Also, the platform can help firms rethink and reinvent their path to growth.
So what does it mean when it comes to content promotion?
Growth Hackers are based on an upvote system.
That means once you create an account, you write a short description with a link to your article and publish it on your member account.
The more upvotes you receive, the more views your article will get. So when you have about 8-10 upvotes within the first 6-12 hours of publishing, your post could trend on the front page of Growth Hackers.
That means you will be able to increase the number of viewers of your content and, thus, bring more relevant traffic to your website.
In terms of pricing, the platform offers subscriptions on a free trial basis (“Free Trial”) for a specified period.
Mix is a marketing tool that can help professional service firms curate and share their content.
Since this platform is used to discover new websites, articles, and other types of content, you can use it to promote any content.
Make sure you are providing value to readers by only adding the best possible content.
Put extra effort when crafting your headlines and include relevant keywords within your content to make it easy for users to find it in searches. Don’t forget to integrate images that can help attract more viewers.
And last but not least, be strategic when submitting content to Mix platform; and avoid self-promotional and spammy content.
Growthhub is another marketing platform that professional service firms can utilize to promote their content.
Just like Growth Hackers, Growthhub can serve as a platform that educates and enable professional service firms through curated content, personal profiles, and much more. Anyone with a Twitter account can create an account on Growthhub.
You can use the platform in three different ways:
- Share an article
- Ask a question
- Start a discussion
As long as your content provides value to fellow members, then you will be able to increase the number of viewers of your content. So the idea is to avoid promotional material.
Continuously Measure ROI
Studies show that a majority of the most successful B2B content marketers (72 percent) say their organization measures content marketing return on investment (ROI).
You need to measure and analyze the results of your content strategy by tracking a broad portfolio of metrics across a blended scorecard, as this will help you identify what’s working and where you need to improve. Some of the parameters professional service firms can use include:
- Web traffic/Visits
- Lead quantity
- Lead quality
- Social media shares
Your goals for a robust content strategy should revolve around increased brand awareness, lead generation, client acquisition, client retention, cost reduction, and qualitative measures of content success (think perception change, interaction quality, or content quality).
You can leverage various content marketing measuring tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, Followerwonk, etc. to track and measure every piece you write and publish.
The emphasis here is you need to define and create the measurement framework that includes assessing your content marketing’s impact both on the long term client-centric goals of your programs and the short-term KPIs that are indicators of increased engagement.
No doubt about it: Content should be the foundation of your sales and marketing efforts – it drives prospective clients down the funnel towards conversion.
However, professional service buyers have access to more information than ever before. They receive and consume so many messages every day, it’s difficult for firms to reach potential prospects and clients. Professional services firms must use marketing automation to help separate themselves from the pack and drive the ROI of their marketing efforts higher.
Is your content marketing strategy not bringing in the desired return-on-investment? Let the experts at COMPANY EXPERT help you develop a solid content marketing strategy.