5 Top Tips for Going Native in B2B
In a marketing world of continually declining click through rates and high demand for quality content, native advertising is frequently hailed as the rebirth of advertising.
Yet B2B’s marketers have long faced the challenge of selling complex products and services, resulting in native becoming a natural bi-product of B2B content marketing campaigns long before it became a buzzword.
However for many B2B businesses already using native advertising to try and generate impressions and quality leads, the time has come to adopt a different tact when they’re speaking B2B, as opposed to B2C.
To give you an idea of the challenges facing B2B marketers, here are our top tips for B2B brands embarking on a native campaign strategy:
1. Understand the best platforms for your brand first and foremost
Finding your best suited media partner involves looking beyond sponsored content with a handful of media owners to genuine partnerships, where both parties add value to the end product. These work best where the publisher brings the value of its editorial strengths and trusted audience, while expertise on the topic is provided by the brand. Get the partnership right, and the potential for audience engagement is high: SAP generated 300,000 page views from only five sponsored articles published on Forbes.
2. Don’t be afraid to trial non-standard B2B environments.
Adopting consumer dominated environments is an emerging trend coined the ‘consumerisation of B2B marketing’ by Buzzfeed COO Jon Steinberg, and although not advised for traditional advertising, it is an approach well suited to B2B native. GE, for example, ran a hugely successful native campaign with Buzzfeed, while Shell’s Instagram activity showcases how a brand can maximize on its heritage by taking a more creative approach.
3. Adopt the platform’s ‘native tongue’
So many brands still refuse to listen to publishers’ guidance on how to structure native content. Striking the right balance means respecting stakeholder approval on brand guidelines while trusting publisher’s in-depth knowledge of its audience. UPS, a client of ours, has embraced this proposition - an extension of its own marketing department working closely with the editorial team (at publishers including The Week and The Telegraph) to produce content that meets both audience needs and the corporate brief.
4. Content must act as a brand ambassador
Most B2B brands are well-versed in creating white papers and case studies. Native requires a mindset shift. Despite the brand remaining the expert, there is absolutely no value in pushing products or services – which often boils down to the perfect balance of marketing input alongside editorial, with a less sales-focused approach. NetApp ran a hugely successful B2B content programme with Forbes, creating a valuable, topical piece that became the site’s top read article in September 2012.
5. Don’t forget about mobile
We have noticed that in multiple campaigns, the rate of clicks and engagement occurring through tablets and desktops has dwarfed desktop activity. In one recent campaign, we saw 56% of clicks being driven from mobile/tablet vs. 44% from desktop on a campaign where only 32% of impressions were from mobile. What’s more, smartphones and tablets are the ideal environment for delivering video.
Despite growing awareness of the mobile proposition, many B2B brands (including technology advertisers!) still don’t have mobile optimised sites. While the technology catches up, stay ahead of the curve by thinking mobile first.
Written by Katy Halewood, account director, Maxus for Business