71% of B2B buyers consume blog content before purchasing. Here are four key ways to generate awareness for your business within your target audience.
In the digital age, the road to customer relationships is paved with content. According to a 2018 report by Demand Gen, 71% of B2B buyers said they consumed blog content before a purchase.
The awareness stage – also called the top of the marketing funnel – is your first chance to introduce your business to customers. As people search for solutions, awareness-stage content should be used to educate them with the data, insights, and research they seek.
Content that addresses your customer's problems will position your brand as a trusted resource and a favored solution at later funnel stages. The best content speaks with confidence and clarity, simultaneously generating leads, demand, and recognition for your brand.
Here are four ways to create awareness-stage content to reach and grow your audience:
- Craft an awareness-stage content strategy
- Invest in evergreen content
- Share your story
- Promote on social media
1. Craft an Awareness-Stage Content Strategy
Each buyer’s journey is unique to the product or service. For example, the depth and quantity of content needed to influence the sale of a toaster is much less than for an enterprise-level software solution.
Align your top-funnel content strategy with your business goals and the unique nature of your customer journey. For best effect, focus your awareness campaigns towards a single goal, such as growing your social following or driving site traffic.
Before you invest in content, create your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a representation of your target customer derived from existing customer data, research, and hypothesis. Below is an example of a buyer persona complete with demographic and psychographic data.
This profile will allow you to understand and anticipate your audience’s engagement patterns. It informs which types of content you invest in, which channels you focus on, the value propositions used – and is therefore essential to success.
Your audience may read industry blogs, opt for Facebook over Twitter, or prefer podcasts to video. According to Demand Gen, 64% of surveyed B2B respondents said they prefer podcasts at the top of the funnel.
Whichever assets you choose for your marketing mix, outline a content schedule to organize and track your awareness goals.
2. Invest in Evergreen Content
According to Adweek, 81% of people conduct online research prior to a purchase. As buyers encounter your product or service, certain questions will seem perpetual. Evergreen content is the best way to answer these recurring queries, generate visibility, and position your brand for future engagement.
Evergreen content is durable, highly-valuable content that retains its appeal long after publication. Unlike time-sensitive (seasonal) content, these resources are a dependable source of web traffic and offer a much greater return on investment (ROI). Over time, evergreen content will return dividends in the form of shares, backlinks, and a boost to search engine optimization (SEO).
Below is a graph from Buffer that shows the meager traffic from a seasonal blog post:
By comparison, this next graph shows that evergreen content enjoys a steady rise in traffic.
What questions are commonplace with your audience? What topics related to your solution are confusing? To offer lasting value, evergreen content must resolve an enduring concern for your audience. For example, a complete guide to lead generation or an exhaustive “how to” blog on sales techniques will always attract readers.
Be comprehensive in educating your prospects. Research by HubSpot found that the blog posts between 2,250-2,500 generate the most traffic, while blogs over 2,500 words generate the most shares. Why? They’re exceptionally valuable and remove all doubt from the mind of the reader.
Here are some tips for writing high-performing evergreen content:
- Write for beginners
- Keep the topic narrow and focused
- Research and include relevant SEO keywords
- Update and re-publish evergreen content to ensure it’s fresh and relevant
3. Share Your Story
Generating awareness is more than telling people about your product or service. Since modern consumers are weary of impersonal brands, storytelling shines as a way to initiate a branded relationship. Whether on your website or on social, stories let you leverage your brand’s personality to entertain and attract organic exposure.
Zendesk went so far as to create “Zendesk Alternative,” a fictional rock band with its own tour dates, micro-site, and storyline.
This hilarious riff on the anti-establishment lets the customer service company drum up interest and goodwill by poking fun at itself.
A cohesive storyline is a powerful tool in the competitive multi-channel media space. Eric Danetz, Chief Revenue Officer at AccuWeather shared these insights with Forbes: “Storytelling becomes key to establishing an emotional connection with your audience. In terms people and businesses can relate to, storytelling illustrates how a brand will meet customers’ needs and in turn, builds loyalty."
"[S]torytelling illustrates how a brand will meet customers’ needs and in turn, builds loyalty."
More than features and benefits, emotion cuts through the noise and across channels. The priority here is authenticity, so avoid mentioning products or benefits. Instead, share meaningful content that only contextually refers to your brand.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, visual storytelling is an especially effective way to stand out from the competition and generate visibility.
4. Promote on Social Media
To generate real visibility, your content must reach beyond your website. With users spending more time on social media, sharing content on social platforms will grant your content much-needed exposure.
To be most effective, create and optimize this content for social users. Most networks are geared towards entertainment so users favor visual content. As seen in the chart below, video, infographics, and original photos all enjoy higher levels of engagement on social media than text-centered content.
When sharing blogs, each post should be accompanied by a custom graphic to catch the attention of people as they scroll. Creating a strong visual theme for your content will grab users' attention and help them distinguish your brand from the rest.
You can also pay to promote your content on each social platform. While the organic reach of social media is falling – and many brands look to Medium as a new channel for content marketing – this guarantees that your best content will reach a certain number of prospects.
Seen below, email marketer Anthony Morrison uses Facebook to generate leads with a free ebook offer.
At scale, freebies are a great way to reach an interested audience. What’s more, the native analytics on each platform allows you to track the performance of your content and optimize for the future. As opposed to a month on your site, a week of content promotion on social media is enough to gauge the quality of your content and tweak it accordingly.
Creating Content to Generate Awareness
As you create content to generate brand awareness, remember that each prospect is trading precious time for the promise of value. To secure leads from clicks, reward your audience with exceptional value across all channels, whether in the form of video storytelling or in-depth blog posts. Content that generates brand awareness is rooted in quality – not quantity.