15 Most Engaging Content Types for B2B and B2C Companies
Whether your client is a fashion ecommerce store or a B2B consulting firm, you want their visitors to convert. Buy, register for a newsletter or become a lead. That’s what you create content for.
But, it doesn’t happen.
Sure, they get visitors, often a lot. But there isn’t much immediate interaction or at least it’s not instantly visible to the company.
It’s not a secret that not every content type works the same. Some are ideal for entertainment for instance, others to educate. Similarly, not all content engages audience in the same way. Blog posts and other educational content for instance bring results slowly. At the same time, they are ideal for building your expert status, raising your profile and sending authority signals.
But they won’t work if you want your users to take more active action and create immediate engagement. There are however other content types to achieve that.
B2B vs. B2C
Before we go any further, let’s discuss the differences between two types of audiences, B2B and B2C.
B2B customers want to be educated. They want to be provided with proofs of your expertise. They also expect your content to help them look better in the eyes of their superiors. These customers are logically driven when making buying decisions and their decision making process can be long. Content addressed to this group therefore should be highly detailed and lengthy, helping them to learn about their problem and available solutions. And, they expect some sales interaction before making a purchase.
B2C customers on the other hand prefer and seek entertainment first. Commercially, they are driven by deals and react positively to them. Their buying decision is often emotional and the decision making process can be very short. They prefer content that is short, simple to absorb, visual, humorous and shareable.
What content types engage B2C and B2B customers the most
Interviews can provide valuable insights into industry related topics or issues. What’s more, they satisfy our desire to know what an expert has to say on certain topics. They also allow for a chance of semi-personal interaction with the interviewed person.
Tip: To make your interview even more engaging, focus on one issue no one else does. SERPs did it by interviewing link builders about their work and business prospects following the Google updates.
Webinar is an online version of a typical seminar you would normally attend in a college and other educational institution. Instead of an audience in a room however, they are delivered over the internet to practically unlimited number of participants. And because they are delivered live, they provide a truly engaging experience to an audience.
Google Hangouts is essentially a video chatroom, allowing for similar interaction as Skype. The difference however is the massive integration with Google+ platform and the ability to host public chats. Unlike Webinars, these could be informal Q&A sessions, group discussions, panels and much more. And, with Hangouts on Air functionality you can record your event and publish it directly to YouTube.
The power of a case study lies in its ability to convert a lead into a buying customer. A case study revealing how your company helped to solve a very particular customers problem can be a highly persuading content type. Many B2B customers seek a proof how useful your solution is and nothing does it better than a case study.
Answering questions and offering advice should be the foundation of any B2B content strategy. One way to do it is by creating content answering your prospects questions. But if you want to truly engage them, host a Q&A session. It can happen on Google Hangouts or social media (by using a hashtag for instance to mark the discussion).
Ebooks strength lies in the ability to present a reader with a tremendous amount of useful information on the subject. Because of their nature, ebooks are a great format to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, two things B2B customers are looking for. If used early in the sales funnel, ebooks can convert many visitors into prospects.
A whitepaper is a shorter form of an ebook, usually presenting a particular issue or aspect of a problem in a more elaborate way than a typical blog post. They are a great content type to educate customers about specific aspects of the industry, product or a service. Whitepapers can also present in-depth research findings, convincing readers to a product or a service.
Contests & Giveaways
The nature of B2C customers, as we have already discussed, is different from business buyers. These people prefer entertainment over education. And what can provide more entertainment than a contest or a giveaway? Not to mention that it gives them a chance to win something too (and who doesn’t like that?).
By giving away something that interests your audience, you can get their attention. And if the contest is well designed, it will engage them to take part but also spread the word about it (and you) too.
Competitions are usually bigger projects that involve the design of a competition, T&Cs, rewards, measurement criteria etc. The whole process can take up to few weeks, depending on the size of the campaign. But if you want to quickly engage audience with a competition like content, a short quiz is the best choice.
A simple quiz, like this Google updates one can engage and provide entertainment to your audience while educating them at the same time.
Live tweeting an event
If you can be at an event that’s interesting to your audience, consider live tweeting updates from it. This way you will keep your audience engaged through social media. Macrumors do it with every Apple event, providing live coverage on Twitter and their own website.
Social Media Chats
Live tweeting an event is one way to engage your audience on social media. Live chats is another. Many companies do it simply by using a dedicated hashtag to make a whole conversation much easier to follow.
Our brains can process more visual information than text. Apparently, a minute of online video carries the same amount of message as …. 1.8 million words. No surprise that even a shortest video can be highly engaging, especially if it entertains the audience at the same time.
Many companies differentiate between longer videos, often used to educate their audience and those few seconds short Vine or Instagram clips or animated Gifs to give their audience few laughs. Just check how IKEA uses Vine with promoting their products.
Surveys and Polls
Your audience has and loves to share their opinions. If you ask the right (engaging) questions, you can be sure that they will engage your audience to participate.
User Generated Content
User generate content can take many forms, from forums to reviews, user blogging to social media participation. What’s common between all them is that they involve your audiences active participation in creating the content. Depending on what form you choose, your users will be able to express their thoughts and have an influence on the brand.
Creative commons image: Penn State / Flickr