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Business to business digital content marketing: Marketers’ perceptions of best practice

Holliman, G and Rowley, J (2014) Business to business digital content marketing: Marketers’ perceptions of best practice. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 8. ISSN 2040-7122

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Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to draw attention to the emerging phenomenon of business to business (B2B) digital content marketing, offers a range of insights and reflections on good practice and contributes to theoretical understanding of the role of digital content in marketing. B2B digital content marketing is an inbound marketing technique and hence offers a solution to the declining effectiveness of traditional interruptive marketing techniques. Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 key informants involved in B2B content marketing in the USA, UK and France, in five industry sectors. Findings – B2B digital content marketing is an inbound marketing technique, effected through web page, social media and value-add content, and is perceived to be a useful tool for achieving and sustaining trusted brand status. Creating content that is valuable to B2B audiences requires brands to take a “publishing” approach, which involves developing an understanding of the audience’s information needs, and their purchase consideration cycle. Valuable content is described as being useful, relevant, compelling and timely. Content marketing requires a cultural change from “selling” to “helping”, which in turn requires different marketing objectives, tactics, metrics and skills to those associated with more traditional marketing approaches. The article concludes with a theoretical discussion on the role of digital content in marketing, thereby contextualising the findings from this study within a broader exploration of the role of digital content in marketing and relational exchanges. Originality/value – As the first research study to explore the use of digital content marketing in B2B contexts, this research positions digital content marketing with regard to prior theory, and provides both an agenda for further research, and suggestions for practice.

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