If you're a business-to-business (B2B) marketer, you know B2B content marketing is essential to your success. But what do you need to know to create effective B2B content? This guide will give you the basics on everything from getting started to promoting your content. Whether you're just starting or looking for ways to improve your current strategy, read on for B2B content marketing essentials.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing is creating and distributing content (such as blog posts, eBooks, infographics, etc.) to attract and engage potential customers. The goal is usually to generate leads or sales, but it can also be used to build brand awareness or nurture relationships.
B2B marketers often use a variety of channels to distribute their content, such as email, social media, and paid advertising. To be effective, B2B content marketing must be carefully planned and tailored to the needs of the target audience. It should offer value and solve a problem that the audience is facing.
With so many businesses competing for attention online, B2B content marketing can be a powerful way to stand out from the crowd and build a loyal customer base.
B2B vs. B2C Content Marketing
B2B content marketing is typically focused on creating relationships with other businesses. The goal is to build trust and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. To do this, B2B marketers often create high-quality, informative content to educate and engage their target audience. Because B2B relationships are typically longer-term and more complex, this approach requires a different strategy than B2C content marketing.
In contrast, B2C content marketing is focused on creating relationships with individual consumers. The goal is to generate leads and sales by providing useful information that helps potential customers make purchase decisions. To do this, B2C marketers often create more timely and actionable content designed to appeal to the emotions of their target audience. Because B2C relationships are typically shorter-term and less complex, this approach can be more effective in achieving immediate results.
Elements of a Great B2B Content Marketing Strategy
When it comes to B2B content marketing, there are a few key elements that can make or break your campaigns.
- Audience Alignment. Your content must be relevant to your target audience. It should address your actual customers’ specific pain points and offer solutions that apply to their businesses.
- Company Alignment. B2B marketers don’t operate in silos. Senior leaders, product teams, and sales teams must provide subject matter expertise crucial in creating high-quality content that is well-researched and backed up by data. This will help to build trust with your audience and position you as a thought leader in your industry.
- Content Promotion & Optimization. Make sure to distribute your content through channels your target audience will likely use, and use effective calls to action to encourage them to read it. Create feedback loops and measure key metrics to determine if your content strategy is effective. You must determine if you’re audience is responding to your content and be able to adjust the strategy as necessary.
Common Content Formats in B2B Content Marketing
Many different types of content can be used in B2B content marketing. Some of the most common formats include blog posts, articles, e-books, white papers, infographics, and case studies. Each of these content types has its own strengths and can be used to achieve different marketing objectives and target different buying stages.
Blog Posts and Articles
Blog posts are typically shorter and more informal than other types of content, making them well-suited for sharing news and announcements or fostering engagement with potential customers.
On the other hand, articles are long-form content that is more comprehensive and journalistic, making them ideal for thought leadership pieces or product reviews.
Both blog content formats are vital for running an SEO marketing campaign and typically appeal to the TOFU (top of the funnel) audience.
Gated content is crucial in generating leads that can progress to the next stage of the marketing funnel. Customers must submit a piece of information, typically their email address, in exchange for more in-depth content. Common gated content examples are e-books, white papers, case studies, buyer’s guides, webinars, and helpful templates.
Infographics are highly shareable and can help boost website traffic or drive conversions. They are great ways to condense data and display them in a visual format that your customers can easily understand. Use this to show trends, explain processes, and draw comparisons.
Videos are also trending for B2B marketers because they are easy to consume and deliver tons of information in a short period. You can create explainer videos, product demos, product reviews and more.
Podcasts are audio content that helps your target audience consume information on the go. You can use this platform to create expert interviews, discuss trends, and share industry insights.
Getting Started with B2B Content Marketing Correctly
To launch a successful B2B content marketing strategy, there are several crucial elements every B2B marketer has to nail down.
- Identify the correct target audience.
To create engaging content that your market wants, you need to know who they are in depth. Regarding B2B marketing, each stage of the buyer’s journey comprises different decision-makers with varying roles in the company. If your business is serving several industries, you can also be talking to different people with varied needs.
To understand your audience, you can explore your Google Analytics data. Check the demographics and interests of the people already visiting your website. If you’re publishing videos on YouTube or writing blogs, check the comments section and understand what types of questions viewers or readers are asking. You can also create a free community group on social media platforms and use it as a resource to understand your customers’ needs well.
Another alternative is to check out the reviews of your competitors or join competitor community groups. Since you serve the same market, you can understand more about your ideal customers.
When you know your customers and their needs, you can create tailor-fit content that gets consumed and shared, eventually leading to better leads and higher sales.
- Identify the content format and distribution channel
When it comes to B2B content marketing, the most important thing is ensuring that your content is high quality and relevant to your target audience. However, it's also essential to consider the format of your content and the distribution channels you use.
For example, if you're targeting busy professionals, then it might be more effective to distribute your content via email or social media channels rather than through a weekly newsletter. Similarly, an eBook or white paper might be better than a blog post if you want to provide detailed information about a complex topic. By carefully considering the format and distribution of your content, you can ensure that it reaches the right people in the most effective way possible.
- Create New Cohesive Content Consistently for all stages of the marketing funnel
As any marketer knows, creating new content is essential for driving results. However, it can be challenging to consistently generate fresh ideas that appeal to all marketing funnel stages.
One way to overcome this challenge is to take a holistic approach to content creation. Instead of thinking about each piece of content in isolation, consider how it fits into the bigger picture. For example, a blog post can be repurposed as a social media update, an email newsletter, or even a white paper.
By taking a cohesive approach to content creation, you can ensure that all your marketing materials work together to support your overall goals.
- Quickly Validate Content through Social Media
No one wants to create content that appeals to nobody. Before starting an in-depth piece, validate the idea first through social media. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, or a social media community group to check how your audience reacts to a content idea.
When you’re sure that the idea appeals to a broad market segment, you can create content in various formats surrounding it.
- Create a systematic way to track content and measure KPIs
To create and measure content marketing KPIs, you first need to establish a system for monitoring your content. This can be as simple as using a spreadsheet to track the title, author, date, and URL of each piece of content you produce. Once you have this basic information, you can start to measure KPIs such as engagement, reach, and conversions.
For example, you can track the number of social media shares each piece of content receives or the number of times a blog post is visited. By establishing a systematic way to track your content, you can ensure that you are making the most of your content marketing efforts.
Creative B2B Content Marketing Strategies
B2B content marketing doesn’t have to be bland. When looking for content ideas, you can explore creative executions and exciting content that makes your audience thrilled to consume whatever you offer.
Here are a few ideas worth exploring:
- Fix any thin content.
Thin content is any keyword-stuffed content that delivers little value to the readers. Keyword stuffing used to be a common practice, but Google has now taken a strong stance against websites with scant substance. These sites are degraded in search ranks resulting in poor SEO scores and less organic traffic.
Identify any pages with high bounce rates and review the content. Either recreate the entire content or remove the questionable page to improve your search rankings.
- Repurpose old content.
In the age of digital media, content is king. But even the most regal of kings can get stale after a while. That's where repurposing comes in. Repurposing is taking old content and breathing new life into it. By repurposing content, you can reach new audiences, revive interest in your brand, and generate more leads.
It's relatively easy to do. For example, if you had a winning blog post in the past, you could take that same blog post and turn it into an infographic, a podcast episode, or even a series of social media posts. The possibilities are endless.
- Hacking competitor content
If you offer a digital solution, some of the typical Google search terms are “alternatives” and “competitor”. You can use this to your advantage by hacking into your competitor’s brand name.
For example, if you’re an email marketing platform, you can create content around “Mailchimp Alternatives”. This type of content produces lots of signups and leads because you’re targeting users unsatisfied with the current brand and directly looking for alternatives.
- Create gated assets that provide quick wins
Address a customer’s problem by providing a tool that directly solves it. For example, if you offer a social media scheduling service, you can create social media templates that visitors could use.
Content designed to give users quick wins is excellent at generating leads and conversions because expertise and trust are established right from the start.
- Publish snackable content
Content doesn’t always have to be long and thorough to perform well. B2B customers are often bombarded with many concerns and have minimal time. Appeal to your customers by providing short, snackable content they can easily watch and consume.
You can take advantage of short video formats and catchy graphics on your social media accounts. This type of content best explains complex features and breaks down complicated topics. It can also be a great way to capture audience interest and eventually lead them to consume a more in-depth article.
- Take advantage of tools that quickly convert visitors to sales
When you have a highly interested prospect, you’d want to capture the lead as soon as possible. Instead of asking them to download brochures or simply posting your company contact information, encourage them to take action immediately by directly booking a call with the sales team.
Let customers know that your team is willing to answer questions or provide further information in person. Various tools integrate booking calendars and dynamic forms on a web page so you can quickly capture leads as they come.
- Create tutorial-style case studies
Case studies display how a particular customer successfully uses your product or service. But sometimes, they can be stuffy or isolating since customers are unaware of exactly how to replicate the process.
Convert more customers by showing the step-by-step process by which a customer used your product to solve their problem. This shows readers that they can quickly achieve the same success by replicating the procedure.
Promoting B2B Content
You need to promote content; otherwise, no one will find it. Any business looking to boost its content should consider using a mix of owned, earned, and paid distribution channels. Owned media channels are those the company has complete control over, such as its website or blog. These channels can be used to share news and announcements and provide helpful information about the company’s products or services.
Earned channels are those that the company has cultivated through its relationships with others, such as media mentions or customer testimonials. Paid channels are those that the company pays for, such as online advertising or sponsored posts. By combining all three types of channels, businesses can reach a wider audience and effectively promote their content.
Here are some strategies to ensure success in distributing your content.
- Turn employees into advocates
As any content marketer knows, getting your company's message out there can be challenging. One way to overcome this challenge is to enlist the help of your employees. By making them advocates for your content, you can reach a wider audience and promote your brand more effectively.
Employees can help promote your content in several ways, such as sharing it on social media, writing blog posts about it, or even just talking about it with friends and colleagues.
In addition, employees can provide valuable feedback that can help to improve your content marketing campaigns. Making employees advocates for your content is a great way to ensure that your company's message gets heard loud and clear.
- Utilize paid content distribution
What's the best way to get your content seen by the right people? Highly targeted paid content distribution.
By placing ads on platforms like Facebook and Google, you can ensure that your content reaches a targeted audience of potential customers. Paid content distribution is important to your overall marketing strategy, so consider using it to reach your target market. However, this isn’t a sustainable strategy, and you shouldn’t neglect to boost your organic rankings.
- Harness the power of YouTube SEO
YouTube is a search engine, and if you’re already publishing videos on a YouTube channel, ensure that you optimise it so the algorithm sees your content. Follow basic SEO best practices for YouTube videos, including complete descriptions and meta tags.
- Distribute your own independent research data results to journalists
Get more visibility for well-researched content like industry reports and data trends by distributing them to journalists who can create articles about the information. Independent research instantly positions you as a thought leader and allows your website to get numerous backlinks. Backlinks also help boost search engine optimisation.
- Explore digital PR and B2B content marketing partnerships
Connect with review sites and other prominent blog sites in your industry. Think of the popular websites your audience frequently visits. Pitch a content idea to these sites that mention your product or service or links to gated content that any interested reader can download.
Explore influencer marketing and work with influencers in your industry to create top-notch content like webinars, guides, eBooks, and events. These projects can be collaborations that benefit both parties involved.
Examples of Great B2B Content Marketing Strategies
The B2B Marketing Leaders Forum is holding a 2-day conference where B2B marketers will gather to share the latest trends and industry best practices, especially in the field of B2B Content Marketing and Demand Generation.
Check out these B2B brands successfully implementing content marketing to win in their industries. They’ll also be sharing their winning strategies during the conference.
Netwealth is a Melbourne-based fintech company providing tech to more than 20,000 financial advisers, accountants and brokers. The company has directly competed with some of the largest Australian banks by using crystal clear content marketing and building a strong brand proposition.
Some of their winning strategies included releasing annual research that generates thousands of leads and building a content media company that has decreased dependence on paid media.
Mimecast is an email security platform that found a winning content marketing strategy amid a heavily content-cluttered marketplace. By analysing their target market, they were able to identify an “empty” content niche and create a strong brand voice that appealed to local audiences.
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and build trust with your target audience. In B2B marketing, investing in a winning content strategy makes your brand a thought leader and builds trust and credibility for your products and services.
It can be challenging to produce engaging and informative valuable content, but it’s worth the effort. Investing in content marketing has higher ROIs and better returns than investing in paid marketing alone. By creating high-quality content that speaks to your target market, you can attract more leads and convert them into customers.
Lastly, content marketing is the fool-proof strategy to build EAT from an SEO perspective. EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) are crucial for Google to rank sites high in the search engine results. With 82% of B2B buyers gathering information about their purchases from a Google search, your content must rank on the first page of search results. Failure to do so could render your content marketing initiatives futile.
B2B content marketing is a winning strategy that every B2B marketer must have in their arsenal. Are you ready to start producing excellent content?