People want to do business with companies that know their stuff. In the digital age, that means having an online presence that shows potential customers what makes you unique. Why are you a specialist in your industry? What do you do better than anyone else, and how can your expert knowledge help a potential buyer who is looking to solve a business problem?
The B2B journey is lengthy and complex. According to Forrester:
- buying cycles are increasing with 32% of purchases taking four months or longer
- the number of touch points during the purchase has jumped to a staggering 27 (up from only 17 in 2019)
- 60% of the time, purchases now involve a buying team of four or more people1
B2B buyers read 13 pieces of content before deciding2. On average, eight of those content assets are sourced from the vendor’s website or digital presence, and five come from third parties. Publishing thought leadership blogs is one way for Microsoft Partners to communicate with potential customers and position themselves as experts in the field. Well-constructed and relevant blogs help you attract known and unknown visitors to your website and begin to build relationships with them.
We believe that blogging is one of the best tactics for educating prospective customers on topics important to them. Fifty-nine per cent of B2B marketers consider blogs as their most valuable channel – and for good reason3. Blogs are the multi-purpose marketing tool, able to support any stage along the buyer’s journey from raising awareness to consideration and decision-making. You can use blogs to:
- build trust
- demonstrate expertise
- borrow authority
- enhance brand personality
- increase website traffic organically
- address complex topics in a consumable, accessible format
There are many advantages to include blogging as part of your core marketing strategy. Let’s look at the top four benefits that the Microsoft Partners we work with enjoy when they regularly blog.
1. Blogging builds brand trust
Marketing and sales have always been two sides of the same coin. Their roles were clearly separate, even though they were both working toward the same objective – getting prospects to convert into buyers. Marketing focused much of their effort on top-of-funnel activities. They would participate in trade shows, run webinars, advertise in industry magazines, and create digital experiences such as websites and online advertising. For mid- to bottom-funnel effort, marketing would run in-person events that sales could attend with their prospects. Sales were primarily responsible for building in-person relationships and trust with the buyers.
Trust was usually built during the “in-person” sales portion of the journey because human tendency is to buy from people we trust. But modern customers don’t buy in a linear fashion. Instead, they blend digital and in-person channels, looping between and back and forth, through all stages of the buyer’s journey.
As a result, there is no longer a clear handoff from marketing to sales. Now sales and marketing are like conjoined twins; they exist in an attached, parallel state. B2B buyers, just like B2C buyers, look for brands that they can trust, that are helpful and that provide value. With 71% of B2B buyers reading content during the buyer’s journey, the building of trust is now shared equally between marketing and sales, with the assets that marketing creates playing a significant role in preparing a prospective buyer to engage with a salesperson4.
Inbound marketing serves as a magnet to attract your audience of ideal buyers with the content you share online and then continue to engage them with more relevant content. Consistently publishing blog content that gives potential customers valuable insights and information builds trust for your brand. “Gartner research found that customers who perceived the information they received from suppliers to be helpful in advancing across their buying jobs were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.”5
2. Blogging positions your brand as a thought leader and builds authority
Blogging and thought leadership work together like peanut butter and chocolate – and, when done right, can be just as easy to consume. In the digital age, when customers have a problem, they turn to a search engine for the answer. If your solution addresses their pain point, then you want to show up in their search results. If this is their first impression of your company, then you want to ensure that Google (or Bing) is establishing you as an authority.
A thought leadership blog lets you articulate your knowledge of their pain point and allows you to stand out against your competitors by highlighting your expertise and the unique way you deliver on their business goals. Discussing the latest trends and research in your field is one way to showcase your company as current and your solution as relevant.
Regularly blogging demonstrates and reinforces what your brand stands for. Blogging helps develop authority in a topic or theme by demonstrating what you do best.
3. Blogging improves website health and boosts organic reach
In point number two, we discussed that you want to show up in the search results. That means playing the search engine optimization (SEO) game and incorporating long tail search terms that align to something the reader is trying to solve (i.e., how to migrate to SAP, or ways to reduce infrastructure costs). Blogs are responsible for 434% more indexed pages and 97% of indexed links6. Regularly publishing blogs as part of your marketing strategy is one of the best ways to improve the performance of your website and enhance SEO opportunities.
Blogging allows you to grow traffic (for free), index faster, and can drive conversions and opt-ins for your offers. Publishing consistently increases your site’s rank for your ideal keywords and search terms. Blogging provides 4x the likelihood of being found in organic search, which is why 52% of marketers agree that blogging is the most critical marketing tactic7.
4. Blogs are easy to distribute across digital channels to attract and nurture prospects
Blogs are easily consumed content that boosts visibility. You can broadcast each blog post across multiple digital channels (think social media or email campaigns), always directing readers to your website to learn more about your business.
By sharing thought leadership over social media, you can encourage participation from your audience and spark engagement. Encouraging social media exchanges provides opportunities for you to educate your audience and influence them with your valuable, relevant content – potentially turning casual readers into serious prospects. Sharing blogs in newsletters is a great way to keep your lists engaged and allows you to stay top of mind as they consider doing business with you. No matter which channel you share it in, the blog content retains its value as an owned asset on your website.
Both organic and boosted blog posts allow you to engage new prospects by bringing your content to where they already are.
And that’s what marketing is all about: bringing your message to the masses.
At Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling, we help Microsoft Partners show up as thought leaders by developing content marketing strategies that rise above the noise. Sign up for our newsletter to get more expert advice from our chief storyteller delivered free, right to your inbox.
1 Forrester, “B2B Buyer Trends: How Buying Behaviors And Preferences Are Shifting” (2021).