The advantages of establishing thought leadership in your business are quite clear. Nearly half of the B2B leaders surveyed for a joint study by Edelman and LinkedIn credit this kind of leadership as a deciding factor in seeking business from a certain firm. The study also found that nine out of ten business decision-makers agreed that it made them respect a company a whole lot more.
Numbers like this make it clear that content working to establish thought leadership can drive in more leads and positively impact sales. However, simply posting great content or in-depth reports is not enough. Content marketing requires strategy, planning, and time before your business will start to see any results.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks Report, B2B marketers’ top goals with this type of content are to increase leads, brand awareness, and engagement. In order to accomplish these objectives, marketers must be very strategic in their approach, both in their content and their actions.
Here are three straightforward tactics to help your team do just that.
Know Where and How to Reach Your Audience
In order to determine the best ways to grow engagement, leads, and awareness, your marketing team must know exactly where your audience consumes content, and how they prefer to do it.
Thought leadership is about answering tough questions and providing fresh insights that people have never heard of. Finding the burning topics that are swirling around in conversations among your industry is perhaps the best way to determine the type of content that will resonate with your audience best.
Searching trending topic discussions on forums, LinkedIn groups, Reddit, Twitter conversations, and niche blogs is a great starting point for getting content ideas. But in order to really connect with audiences, your team must be strategic in not just what they say, but how they say it. You can have the most fascinating ideas the world has ever seen, but if you can’t deliver it effectively or make it easy to find, no one will bother to tune in.
For this, keyword research for SEO is critical in getting your content placed in front of the right eyes. Keyword research tools can ensure that your team is finding the right terms and phrases that will connect your content to your ideal audience. Ubersuggest is a free online tool that offers comprehensive analysis in measuring the effectiveness and difficulty of certain keywords. It gathers data from Google to show your team exactly how much traffic keywords are driving, and it will even offer suggestions for replacements that face less competition for higher ranking ability.
Clearly, knowing your audience and their tendencies is important for content marketers, especially when they are trying to establish a position of leadership.
Invest in Capturing Customer Data
An alarming 93% of B2B marketers do not have an effective system in place to capture key consumer data through their content marketing strategies. This is simply not acceptable for a business that is working hard to establish thought leadership. Again, having great content is good, but not if your readers aren’t converting.
The best way to ensure that your numbers are increasing, whether it be lead generation, revenue, signups, engaged readers, etc., is to invest in a reliable customer data capture system. Systems like FullContact provide thorough data and analysis through multiple sources of capture. It uses specific data mining techniques to gather contact information from every webpage visitor, showing your team exactly who is engaging with your content and the best ways to follow up.
This allows you to gather create company profiles, track interactions and verify email addresses to help your sales team make the most of their efforts.
The majority of your readers are not going to convert after their first, second, or even third interaction with your content. In fact, in most cases, 92% of your website’s first-time visitors have no intention of purchasing anything. In order to convert a visitor into a customer, your team will have to re-engage them in some way. As you gather more data, your marketing team can design strategies like retargeted ads and email follow-ups to push them along the sales funnel.
Create Influence with Earned Media
The concept of working with influential names to help your content reach wider audiences is a no-brainer. Influencer marketing and earned media promotion can be effective, but only if it is reaching your target customers.
One of the most interesting things about earned media is its perception. Consumers view it as the most authentic way to advertise, build trust, and brand awareness. This is exactly what makes influencer marketing so essential for establishing thought leadership.
Getting the best influencers on board your branding team requires thorough research. Just like choosing keywords, you probably don’t want to reach for the most popular influencers out there – unless you have an enormous budget. Regardless of your industry, there is likely a huge list of names, publications, and blogs that could be reaching good portions of your target audience under the radar.
Sites like Traackr can show your marketing team exactly which influencers are engaging with the same types of customers that your business targets. The key to earned media is building genuine and real relationships with influencers over a long period of time, which is why Traackr’s relationship management system is so helpful. It keeps track of your team’s interactions and mutual connections while analyzing results from influencer campaigns.
This is why it is so important to strategically collaborate with the best influencers for your specific brand and message. It is easy for marketing teams to fall into the trap of wanting to only work with big names because of their reputation and popularity. While some names and publishers are big for a good reason, and could certainly get your company’s name out there, working with more focused names or publications that fall into your brand’s niche will yield better results. Be sure to survey their content very thoroughly before reaching out, there needs to be a good overlap in tone, values, and overall message to make the best impact and highlight your expertise.
Becoming a thought leader in a competitive market takes more than just great content. Of course, your brand’s message should be a top priority, but in order for it to gain any traction, there must be a defined strategy in place. In order to create engagement, your content team must understand the importance of a strong keyword strategy for SEO improvements. From there, investing in lead capture programs will help to generate more reactions through each piece of content, while influencers will help get your message in front of a bigger audience.
Becoming a thought leader does not happen overnight, especially in the B2B world. In order to make waves, you need to supplement your strategy with a one-of-a-kind take. Make bold predictions, challenge convention, make it clear that you aren’t afraid of risk. A good strategy, paired with a healthy dose of fearlessness is the key to establishing a strong influence in your field.