Summary: Most B2B blogs make simple mistakes. When you fix them, you get a ton more leads from your blog. Learn what to work on with yours so you get the leads you want.
Time to read: 10 mins
Tired of hearing how other B2B blogs generate floods of leads?
Meanwhile..what do you get?
A smattering. And most are low-quality.
If that sounds like your B2B blog, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective.” In the report, “effective” means the marketer achieves desired objectives.
You know how any person tends to inflate their perception of themselves when asked to give a self-evaluation. So, when only 30% of B2B marketers claim effectiveness, that says something!
It’s not possible to discuss every last detail that affects a B2B blog’s lead-generating ability. Every blog, and the audience it serves, is unique.
But, I can give you the most important elements of a successful B2B blog. And they look something like this:
1. How Well Do You Know Your Buyer’s Pain Points and Concerns?
Personally, my marketing used to be scattershot. I was trying to talk to “small business owners” – not a niche.
Now, that’s been narrowed to B2B, software, and tech CMOs. That’s a niche. A large niche. But, a niche with similar pain points and concerns.
Who do you want to attract, ideally? Who is your buyer? What position do they hold at your targeted company? What pressures do they face? What questions do they have?
Hopefully you get along with sales. Because, your sales team should know all these answers.
If you don’t have a good relationship with sales, you may have to go up the chain-of-command to get the information. You can also hire a clever freelance copywriter to act as a go-between.
Unless you have a young company, your marketing team shouldn’t have to research your buyer.
2. Don’t Make This #1 Mistake that Most B2B Content Marketers Make
By default, most B2B content marketers talk about their company, products, and services. Forrester VP Laura Ramos did some impromptu research and found 80% of 30 B2B websites focused most of their content on themselves.
Why doesn’t this work?
Buyers want to know if you understand their problem. If you do, then they logically believe you may also have the solution.
Pitch your products and services right away, and they move on to someone who they feel does understand their problem. Plus, since 80% of B2B websites use basically the same approach, you have to do something different to stand out.
3. What’s Your B2B Blog’s USP?
So…a little marketing 101 here. But, your company has a USP, right? Most do, but some manage to grow just fine without one.
Blogs rarely have USPs. But the amount of content today is so high that you need to have a clearly communicated USP to stand out.
For example, mine uses research from proven and authoritative sources to show you exactly what works with B2B content marketing. The pain point that USP solves is that few B2B content marketers consider themselves effective. That indicates they’re not sure what works.
Of course, the answer to what works depends on the company and blog. But, you need a foundation of success to build that on so you don’t waste time and money figuring it out.
And to my knowledge, no other B2B blog uses an approach like this.
4. What Works with B2B Content?
Today, your prospect gets way more marketing content than they want. Most of it is boring and institutional, sounding corporate. It doesn’t answer their questions or address their problems or concerns.
Buyers get lots of deep information. But, they can’t do anything with the majority of it.
Content marketing works. But, your content must have certain qualities to actually attract buyer attention.
Anyone can learn the simple formula:
- You must give your prospects something new and that gives them a compelling business case for change – CEB Group research quoted at Harvard Business Review
- Buyers prefer personal value 2x as much as business value – Kapost
- Your content must solve a pain point – Demand Gen Report
- You must align your content with your prospect’s organizational objectives and be relevant to their decision-making process – IDG Connect
- Your content must focus more on pain avoidance than gaining a benefit because that drives more action – legendary marketer Dan Kennedy
When you focus on those 5 qualities in your B2B blog, you outdo most B2B companies in your approach.
5. General UX Issues to Pay Close Attention To
Today, “customer experience” means the first interactions buyers have with you on your website.
What happens first? Your website loads. So, you better make sure it loads fast. Less than 3 seconds is ideal.
20% of all your website visitors abandon you at that point. And the situation only gets worse by the second:
Image Credit: Kissmetrics
Going back to the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, buyers also detest these things most:
Image credit: KO Marketing & Huff Industrial Marketing
And my brief commentary on each:
- Lack of message: Your website headline must stop buyers dead in their tracks. Hard to do on the web.
- No contact info: Most B2B websites have a “Contact” navigation item in the upper right. Have that at minimum because buyers expect to see it in exactly that spot. You can also place your phone number just below your main menu in the upper right too. You can put your info in other areas too, including the footer.
- Animated ads: Anything that moves distracts buyers from reading. Resist the temptation to do it.
- Poor design/navigation: Have 6-8 items in your main navigation – and that’s it. Probably closer to 6. I push this with 8. Don’t be creative. Lay your menus out like most B2B websites so buyers can get straight to what they want. Don’t even bother having navigational items in your site footer like some B2B companies.
- Automatic audio/video: Turn Nike’s slogan around: “Just don’t do it.”
- Intrusive live chat: I couldn’t find a good definition of this. “Intrusive” for sure at least means opening up the live chat on a new page when clicked. Some live chat also dings an annoying bell or pops up in the middle of the screen. Put yours in the bottom right. Don’t use any sound to show it’s there. And don’t make it move. Seems pretty non-intrusive to me.
- Sliders: “Just don’t do it.” They look cool. But functionally, they irritate buyers. They have to wait to see what’s beyond slide 1 anyway. Why make time-strapped B2B buyers do that?
- Tiny Text: It’s hard to go too big with text. Make yours at least 16 pixels at minimum so it can easily be read on smartphones.
- Stock photos: They do nothing to attract attention. Use photos with a little personality or weirdness, if they must be of people. Otherwise, put data in images.
Finally, your website needs to be useful and look good on all device types. 71% of buyers view B2B websites on mobile devices says Eccolo Media.
6. Appropriate Calls-to-Action/Talking about Your Products and Services at the Right Time
Rarely should you have an entire blog post dedicated to advertising the benefits of your product or service. Most “best practices” preachers say you should never do this.
But, if you’ve been providing big value in your posts on a regular basis, your prospects will be happy to hear about your products and services a few times per year. Do it more frequently than that, and you risk losing trust, credibility, and prospects.
With calls-to-action, you need to use the appropriate one for the stage of the buy cycle your blog post targets.
Your B2B blog generally targets top-of-the-funnel information. That means your readers will just be getting to know you.
An occasional CTA to “try a demo” would be okay. Telling your readers to call your sales team would never be a good idea.
Instead, encourage your prospects to take the next step and:
- Examine a case study
- Join your newsletter
- Read related blog posts
- Check out a white paper
- Attend a webinar
- Follow you on social media
Once Prospects Get Through Your Blog, Then You Can Connect Them with Sales
Now, let’s say some take your next step (you’ve done a lot of hard work up to this point if they do).
For example, they read your case study. Case studies work in the mid-to-late sales funnel and get prospects real hot. So here, you use a CTA that discusses your benefits and encourages them to chat with sales.
White papers come right before case studies in the sales funnel. Your prospects will be warmer, but white papers don’t do quite as much convincing as case studies.
Buyers know you can offer good value and have some insight into their problem. So they like you. But, they’re not sure you can actually solve their problem yet.
So, you might:
- Tell your prospects to read a case study
- Ask them to attend a webinar
- Have them try a demo
7. Where to Place Your Newsletter Opt-In Boxes
Your B2B blog really shimmers brightly in lead generation when it comes to list building. Most B2Bs leave lots of leads on the table because they overlook the power of email lists.
3800%! Are you kidding me?
The Direct Marketing Association reports that stat.
It’s because only your best prospects sign up for your e-mail newsletter. And they only stay on as they like what you say over time.
Your list also possesses immunity to Google’s algorithm. So, you won’t have 25% of your search traffic (prospects) wiped out overnight.
But here’s the thing: most B2Bs make a pretty weak attempt at winning over newsletter subscribers.
They use boring copy like “Subscribe to Our Newsletter,” and then stick an opt-in box in the right sidebar or at the bottom of the post.
You leave hundreds of subscribers (prospects) for your competitors when you do that.
How You Can Position Your Opt-In Boxes for Max Subscribers
This is the step-by-step process:
1. Have an enticing lead magnet focused on your own USP that addresses your market’s top pain point. It doesn’t need to be long. Even just a 1-page checklist or 2-4 page special report will do.
2. Use compelling copy to show why your visitors should be subscribers. Just 1-2 sentences will do. You’ll have to test various approaches. As a starting point, showing prospects how they can avoid pain offers the most motivation to act.
3. Place your opt-in boxes in the right places on your website. According to Derek Halpern, you may have opt-in boxes at the top of each blog post (called a “feature box”), top of the right or left sidebar, after each blog post, in your website footer, at the end of your about page, using an introductory “hello” bar at the top of your website, and as a pop-up.
However, Derek runs a personality-based businesses that essentially sells like B2C. He also admits those 7 areas may not work for every type of business. And, according to the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, 42% of B2B buyers do not like pop-up windows. So, don’t use those to collect e-mails.
At minimum, you should have opt-in boxes in your right sidebar, after every blog post, at the end of your about page, and possibly in the “feature” area of your blog. You might also try a small bar across the bottom of your page that pops up after visitors read for 30 – 60 seconds or so.
You will have to do some testing to see what converts best for your B2B blog.
Focus on Those Things, and Your Leads Will Shoot Up
This isn’t even a comprehensive guide. It’s far from “complete.” But, most B2B websites don’t do many of these things.
And you can bet they bleed leads because of it.
Most of these changes don’t cost a lot of time or money either. So, start making them today so you can close more leads with less effort and boost your ROI.