MLC’s research has established that one way B2B companies differentiate themselves in areas other than price is by insight marketing: creating content that conveys credible and provocative insight into the customers’ world, and demonstrates how the your unique differentiators ultimately solve a customer’s business objectives.
If content is king, how do you get your customers to stay tuned in? After all, this is an era of fragmented attention: we have thousands of media outlets and advertisers vying for our eyes, especially on the web. Every week, dozens of interesting business books are published, and for busy executives, to-read stacks get higher and higher. For years, content producers have been told to go with the flow: assume your audience’s attention span is close to zero, and make your content snappy enough to be read quickly.
But B2B content marketers have a problem: sometimes explaining your firm’s unique differentiators can require a little more than the 140 characters of a tweet, or the 2-3 paragraphs of a blog post. The good news is that there’s some evidence that long-form content can be viable and valuable on the web.
For example, online media outlets like Slate have found that long-form content performs better in several important metrics than less durable content. According to Slate’s editor David Plotz, long-form content is better at building the site’s brand, and while it may not attract as many eyeballs as more immediate content, it attracts the right eyeballs – in Slate’s case, the eyeballs that advertisers want.
One smart take on this comes from Rohit Bhargava, who thinks long-form content is best-positioned as a “time-bomb” – readers might not take in the whole thing the day it gets posted, but a combination of insight, targeting and some smart keyword use make it a frequent result in search queries. Here are Rohit’s key characteristics of content time-bombs (descriptions ours):
- They target a specific audience or need. Don’t try to be everything to everyone – write about a specific segment of people or challenge.
- They use keywords frequently. Write descriptive titles, including words people are likely to search for, and use those key words multiple times in the post.
- They can remain “dormant” until needed. Don’t be shocked if traffic to your time-bomb content isn’t high at first – these posts are meant to be found by searchers.
- They (can) engage a broader audience. If you want to use content to find new customers, there’s no better option than the time bomb – write a well-targeted post and watch the search traffic roll in.
As an aside, MLC has been implementing a similar strategy here at Wide Angle for a few months, and we’ve seen similar results – big increases in search traffic and new readers, as well as a longer tail for some of our more durable content.
Of course, you need immediate content to match the durable stuff. If Facebook releases a new update that will affect your customers, you should take to your blog and write about it – eyeballs will follow. But the best blogs have a good mix of stock and flow – and the stock will help you attract and retain the right eyeballs, too.
MLC members, for more on insight marketing, please read our 2010 study for B2B marketers, Insight Marketing: Shaping Customer Decision Criteria to Your Advantage.