Developing a competitive B2B content marketing strategy and supporting collateral often requires an investment of time, resources and money.

With this in mind, it can be tempting for organisations to pass these costs onto potential or existing customers, such as through charging for access to eBooks or fact sheets. So, why is it then that so many businesses provide these valuable resources to consumers for free, when they could all too easily do otherwise?

Free content & the buyer journey

To understand this, you first need to understand how the B2B buyer journey works. This process is long and complex, with purchases often having to be overseen and approved by a myriad of a business’ staff and/or management. There is usually a lot riding on the final decision and, ultimately, the wrong choice could cost the business greatly.

As such, it makes sense for those making these B2B buying decisions to be thorough when conducting research. By doing this, they can minimise any risks and gain greater confidence that their chosen product or service is in the best interests of the company.

All of this considered, it’s hardly surprising that the average B2B buyer consumes thirteen pieces of content during the purchasing journey. This information provides a pretty clear indication of why so many organisations willingly give their customers and prospects free content, even though they could technically charge them.

An organisation’s key decision makers want to consume content.

When buyers are progressing through such a lengthy purchasing process, paying for the information and content that’s going to aid them in their decision will only act as a barrier. Instead, with useful free content, you can support key decision makers every step of the way, making the entire process easier for them.

Gain a competitive edge

When it comes to establishing a competitive advantage as a B2B business, developing an unmatched customer experience is the most powerful way to do just that.

There are, of course, a plethora of factors that influence a customer’s experience with your brand. One aspect of this is how you market your product or service and the support you provide along the way.

The information customers need should be easily accessible and readily available, so that everything they’re after is just a click away. By making this process as seamless as possible, you can capture any initial interest in your offering and move customers through the B2B buying funnel. 

It’s also important to consider how much free content is now online, and whether this is something your competitors also have on offer. If your prospects could just as easily go to your competitors’ websites to find the answers or resources they need to make a final decision – why would they pay for your content?

Add value to your brand

Maybe you’ve just spent months writing an eBook, have hired a graphic designer to give it the finishing touches, and plan to invest in promoting it to your audience.

All of this takes time and costs your business money, but choosing not to sell your final product could actually be the best decision you make. While the revenue won’t be shown via a direct transfer of funds into your business’ account, the ongoing benefits you reap in other ways can be abundant.

By providing prospects and customers with this helpful content, you can nurture your leads and existing contacts to guide them through the buyer journey. This added value could be the difference between a potential customer disengaging from your brand or continuing to take in your content over time.

The buyer may still be uncertain, or they may not even need your product or service right now, but by ensuring you stay in touch and make a real impact, when they do eventually need an offering like yours – they’ll think of your business.

By providing free content, you can also reach a larger pool of customers, many of whom probably wouldn’t have downloaded your eBook, fact sheet or the like if there was a cost barrier. This means you can get more people spending longer amounts of time on your website, all of which helps with search engine optimisation and boosting your ranking in Google’s search results.

Gain more than just sales

While you may not be directly making revenue from your free content and resources, there’s so much more that you can gain if you leverage them strategically.

Even though you’re not charging money, you can use your eBook, fact sheet, infographic or the like to learn more about your audience. Before downloading your resource, users may need to fill out their details. This form would usually be relatively simple, with fields such as name, email address and company.

While at face value this information may seem insignificant, it can actually be invaluable when it comes to getting leads into the marketing funnel and nurturing them.

With this information, you can send consumers who have expressed clear interest in your product or service more content or communications that are relevant to them. If you have numerous resources targeting different groups, you can also segment your audience and create targeted campaigns, such as through email automation, which nurture consumers and ideally lead them to conversion.

If you’re interested in building a strong B2B content marketing strategy or this article has brought up any questions, get in touch with our team.