A recent article in BtoB Magazine highlights how marketing to the electronics engineering vertical is changing due to technological innovation and the demands of a more specialized (and time-constrained) workforce. The focus of the article centers around content marketing designed to attract buyers at every stage of the buying cycle, particularly early-stage awareness.
B2B marketers in this vertical are beginning to understand that the investment in early-stage engagement initiatives is just as critical, if not more so, than late-stage, more traditional marketing collateral such as technical spec sheets and sales presentations.
This shift in marketing strategy is also reflected in responses found with GlobalSpec’s own 2013 Industrial Marketing Trends report. Industrial marketers are realizing their audience is doing most of their buying research online, seeking information-rich sources, but with an expectation of limited to no sales pressure. They industry is shifting budgets as a result.
As indicated by Chris Chariton, senior director-digital media solutions for IHS GlobalSpec, “Engineers don’t like to be marketed to… Make it more about new technology; take it beyond your company and offer insight and information.”
Shift in Online Marketing Budgets for Industrial Marketers: GlobalSpec 2013 Industrial Marketing Trends
Search is one of the first places where buyers start. According to Pardot’s 2013 State of Demand Generation Report, 72% of product research for a future business purchase beginning on Google. But savvy search engine marketers understand that onsite content is only one destination buyers will look to find information, assuming that content is found in search engine results.
Where B2B Marketers Start Buying Research: Pardot 2013 State of Demand Generation Report
Placing content marketing assets in destinations that provide a good opportunity to be found in search engine results — and also represent locations where target audiences find and share information — is a critical component of B2B SEO. The direct correlation is through inbound link acquisition. The long-term opportunity is the association with trusted communities and places of industry influence and trust.
Here are twenty different third party sites and sources B2B marketers should consider for placing content in their SEO strategy.
Social Media Opportunities
Obviously, the way we interact online has and will continue to evolve. And while communication and networking in social channels are important factors in marketing success, the opportunities listed below offer a better chance to integrate high-quality, original content as well.
- LinkedIn — profile, group, and company page updates can all have a positive impact toward quality referral traffic and brand awareness when distributing and creating new content based on industry relevance.
- Google Properties (YouTube, Google+, etc) — unique, quality content throughout Google properties isn’t just about social networking. It should provide a direct association between an organization, its thought leaders, and keyword-related objectives to the search engine.
- SlideShare — underrated because of a perceived lack of search relevance, but SlideShare has grown to become a strong social media resource for information-gathering in many verticals.
- Quora — well thought out, comprehensive answers (with references) provide a strong opportunity to develop organizational and individual thought leadership.
- Industry-Specific Forums — for informational search queries, we often find forum threads in search results. Forum communities are an underrated resource for developing valuable discussions and establishing brand / individual trust.
- Niche Social Media Platforms — make sure to query your customer base for relevant industry-specific social networks. What these platforms lack in traffic (in comparison to popular networks) might be made up for when it pertains to audience quality.
- What About Facebook? — even though B2B marketers have skepticism of Facebook as a buying channel, no one can argue with Facebook’s overarching presence in everyday life. To that extent, B2B search marketers need to consider leveraging Facebook for early-stage awareness, if interests can be properly aligned. Check out examples of good B2B Facebook pages I wrote about here and here.
Guest Blogging Opportunities
A while back, Matt Cutts recorded a video (auto play) on the Google Webmaster Tools YouTube channel with his perspective on guest blogging. He left a fair amount of room for subjectivity in defining intent and quality to site owners, but for B2B marketers, we look for the following opportunities:
- Manufacturer/Dealer Relationships — If you work through distributors, their blogs might provide opportunities for guest posts and vice versa for distributors evaluating manufacturers blogs.
- Vendor Publications — assuming the information will be complementary, reach out to vendors for opportunities to guest post on their blogs, but be smart in identifying opportunities. A software vendor you use for mission-critical work might make sense to approach, but your legal counsel might not.
- Strategic Partners — if your strategic partners run a blog, why not ask to collaborate on a guest post or contribute a piece of material?
- Client Publications — similar to vendor evaluation, this assumes the client’s audience is relevant/objectives are complementary (example, our agency is not pitching a client that focuses on industrial shelving but might talk with one that offers an e-commerce platform for guest post contributions).
- Conference Blogs and Publications — there might be opportunities to contribute thought leadership in the space, particularly if your organization is sponsoring or speaking at the event.
- Conference Coverage — consider live blogging opportunities or conference coverage associated with industry events and conferences as well.
Guest Post Opportunity via Twitter
Don’t Forget The Traditional B2B Marketing Stand-Bys
- Email Newsletters — even though email isn’t necessarily intended to get “placed” online directly, your readership certainly presents an opportunity to gain links and reference through valuable information and quality resources.
- Press Releases — forget the fact that Google updated its linking guidelines to eliminate questionable news releases. If your organization is releasing something newsworthy, press releases are still an important communication channel for getting newsworthy content in front of the right industry sources.
- Bylines and Columns — similar to guest blogging, bylines and columns offer an excellent opportunity to establish thought leadership in the industry. They’re often a little more complex than guest blog posts but should offer a more comprehensive view on an industry topic.
Link Building/Visibility Tactics
Sometimes, placement can be handled by thinking more creatively on how your content can be marketed or communicated better to third-party sites and publications. Consider the following questions and opportunities.
- Is your brand recognizable? If so, consider how your organizations’ online assets can be used as an example to others in the industry. For example, our work with a few highly recognizable brands often leads us to research directories, publications and bloggers that list good examples of corporate blogs, social media profiles, and content marketing initiatives as case studies and references
- Do you have unique customer tools like calculators, applications, or other online resources the broader industry might want to see? Put together a short list of industry publications and resources that might be interested in showcasing your organization’s information for their own audiences.
- Is your organization newsworthy? While I mentioned press releases previously, there are other forms of news-style syndication. What does your organization do in the community? Are your employees and team members active in local non-profits? Do you have access to the editorial calendars of local journalists for content pitches? Answers to these types of questions might lead to stories for content marketing efforts in local and regional news publications.
- Are members of leadership noteworthy? How did senior leadership get to where they are now? What contributions might they be able to offer to other industry professionals? These types of stories can become opportunities for business or industry-specific publications as well.
I know we’ve just scratched the surface in uncovering opportunities for distributing content marketing assets on third-party sites, conceptually and in terms of specific destinations. Are there “go to” tactics your organization uses that can be recommended to the broader audience? I’d love to read your perspective via comments below.