Around 95% of B2B marketers leverage content marketing for their overall digital strategy, making it a powerful tool for B2B business growth.
But there's one tiny problem.
The continuous demand for quality content has created a flood of posts that have nowhere to go but stay hidden in the dark corners of the web. We don’t want that, do we? If you want to learn how to make content marketing work for your B2B business then keep reading.
In this guide I’m going to uncover everything you need to know about B2B content marketing, creating a winning strategy and driving business growth with your awesome B2B content. Let’s dive in!
B2B Content Marketing Basics
What is B2B Content Creation?
B2B content creation is the process of producing and distributing valuable, engaging content to a clear target audience that’s intended to generate leads and nurture them through the sales funnel.
Essentially, B2B content marketing is about creating relevant content that caters to your target businesses rather than consumers. That’s really the only major difference between B2B and B2C content marketing.
With that said, for B2B marketers having a clear content marketing strategy might be more beneficial and in some instances crucial, than with B2C marketers. The buyer’s journey, when you are targeting businesses, is typically a lot longer and more complicated which leads to increased demand for relevant content for all stages of the funnel.
With B2B businesses the need to build trust and show your industry expertise is a must therefore content marketing should be at the very top of the list. According to the Content Marketing Institute 89% of B2B marketers utilize content marketing in their overall marketing strategy, making it one of the most, if not the most, successful tactic for B2B companies.aired with your outbound sales efforts.
Benefits of B2B Content Marketing
In today’s online environment the most effective way to build your brand, boost traffic, generate leads is through content: whether it be on social media, your blog, or any third party website. Writing relevant and valuable content that is targeted at your buyer personas can lead to:
B2B Content Formats
Blogs are still one the most effective and quickest ways to get your message out to your audience. The main goals for your blog content is to make your audience aware of your brand, educate them, and answer their questions, so try incorporating different types and themes of posts for better engagement and lasting results.
Combining the power of graphic design and good content, infographics are a visually pleasing way to present stuff like statistics, data, guides, testimonials, quotes, fun facts and so on, by breaking them up into entertaining and easily understood chunks.
Typically a gated content piece, ebooks are in-depth explanations of specific topics, such as the specific services you provide or an innovative topic in your industry. This type of content is usually more educational in nature and teaches your prospects about the specific subject matter and shows them how your product or service can best help achieve the problem highlighted in the ebook. Additionally, ebooks are great for building your email list and promoting your content through email marketing.
Content isn’t just about written words. Videos and live presentations count too. There’s nothing that beats the live experience when it comes to generating leads, and more importantly, establishing authority in your niche. Webinars are probably the most scalable content type that delivers said live experience. Webinars, however complicated it might seem to set it up, can be the greatest format for demonstrating thought leadership and the viability of your offering.
With its ever increasing popularity, podcasts are the type of audio content that shouldn’t be overlooked. Considering the way people consume podcasts it makes for an ideal channel to deliver your high-quality content. Especially, when statistically speaking, podcast listeners are an affluent group of people with disposable income can easily be your target audience.
Arguably the most effective content type for B2B businesses is a case study. It can come in the form of a blog, a video, a PDF or a combination of all. The important thing is it showcases how your company helped a brand to achieve their goals highlighting success metrics and the solutions that led to the ultimate results. This helps generate quality leads as it’s a clear indicator that you can achieve success for the reader too.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Identify Your Customer Personas
Every strategy starts by taking into account whom you want to create content for. So before you can give your audience the content it craves, you have to know as much as you can about it. Understanding what's important to your audience is key in developing a winning content strategy. You need to consider what your audience needs help with, the struggles they have, and how you can align content with their interests and needs to provide the most value.
But it doesn’t stop there.
You need to take your customer personas a step further and identify those who’ll open their wallets for you. There’s no use focusing on creating extensive content for the people that won’t be adding value to your business.
Analyze Your Competition
Just like with every digital strategy, looking at your competitors is a must. They did all the work for you, you just need to take a look, analyze and take their data into consideration. They might be creating some content that does really well and brings in lots of visitors and potential leads and some that doesn’t resonate with their target audience. They might be publishing consistent and valuable content on their blog and not promotion it or the opposite. Whichever the case, before moving on with the next step, pop your competitors website into Semrush and gather your info.
Understand Your Sales Funnel
Just like there are many types of buyer personas, there are also different stages of the purchase funnel they can be in as they consider your offering. Each piece of content you create should speak to your target audience at each stage they are at. Usually people are just browsing or researching, everyone isn't ready to immediately buy, especially in the B2B sector. Therefore when creating your content calendar use the buyer's journey to make sure there's a balanced number of awareness stage, consideration stage and decision stage content.
Before moving forward with the actual content you need to define why you’re doing it? The utmost goal of content is to influence buyer’s decisions but you may have other objectives in mind, so take notice.
Some common content marketing goals include:
Choose Content Formats
Now that we’re clear on our goals and reader personas it's time to determine the type of content that needs to be created. As we’ve uncovered already, there are various content formats to choose from but exactly which type will best reach your target audience?
How many blog posts, infographics, ebooks, case studies, do you need to nurture your target audience through each stage of the buyer’s journey?
The easy answer: a good combination of all types.
Create a Content Calendar
After having a clear understanding of the type and amount of content that needs to be produced it’s a good idea to create a content calendar that will schedule content creation and posting, so that everything rams according to plan.
The secret to staying consistent with your content is having an editorial calendar that’s heavily based on buyer-focused keyword research.
Keyword research isn’t just for SEO. It’s very well a center piece in your content strategy. Without proper, in-depth keyword research creating content that doesn’t have any specific target is like shooting in the dark: hoping it’s going to stick. It rarely does.
The undeniably rise of content has led to a stupidly large amount of content on the web which makes ranking for any sort of short-tail keywords a bit of a challenge, unless you’re a Fortune 500 company or a giant corporation with a massive marketing budget.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. You need to find the terms your target customers are searching for: trendy topics or your own preferences won’t cut it.
It’s a good idea to target keywords that have high search volume as you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your content, but you really want to avoid creating content for keywords that are super competitive. It’s better to find a middle ground between the impossible single-word terms and the meager search volumes of the super long-tail search phrases.
B2B Content Marketing Promotion Tactics
We’ve covered content creating and it seems pretty easy, right?
But what about promoting it?
It’s one thing creating content, but what good could it do if no one knows about it? Especially in B2B where a lot of distribution channels simply don’t work. The good news is you can get your content in front of the right eyes with good old fashioned email.
When it comes to email for promoting your content keep in mind that it’s a long-term strategy and you need to build up your database of email subscribers that are waiting to see your content in their inbox.
75% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn. And there’s a perfectly good reason behind that number: Linkedin the the place to be if you’re in the B2B market. Period.
The platform has 310 million active users that are highly engaged and focused on creating meaningful relationships and business partnerships. Moreover, only 1% of Linkedin’s audience post content regularly so if you’re one of these few, you have a very high chance of gaining serious visibility in a short period of time.
Bear one thing in mind though, if you want your content to be seen by your target audience and you want them to engage with it, then you have to take the first step.
Other Social Media Channels
So you ask: does promoting content on social media really work? Well, yes! If done right. Apart from Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and some more social media channels have the potential to host your content and cater to your target audience but you need to be strategic about this.
First, not all platforms are going to work for every single B2B brand. So start off by choosing your target platforms wisely in order not to waste precious time and resources.
Second, don’t just post a link to your content and be done with it! That’s the sure way to failure, if I see one. Give your post some context, be approachable, ask a question, deliver data, engage your audience with a joke or a thought-provoking statement. Use relevant and popular hashtags to make your posts easily searchable. Take into consideration each platform’s unique content format and many more little things that can make or break your social strategy.
And now the elephant in the room. You’ve probably read everywhere that SEO should be your primary strategy when promoting your B2B content. But why is that? Simple.
When your content ranks on the SERP you get targeted traffic that can potentially be quality leads. This leads to us creating every piece of content with search intent in mind in order to drive organic traffic.
But as always it’s a lot easier said than done. Blog SEO is a lot more than just on-page optimization, it also encompasses off-page tactics that can potentially lead to more exposure and more traffic to your content. On-page optimization includes targeting the right keywords, writing well-researched optimized meta tags, internal linking optimization and many more steps we’ll cover in another post. Just make sure you have a solid strategy for blog optimization that caters content to prospects at different stages of the funnel which can accelerate your growth.
When we think of content marketing we always think of it as an organic channel. If that might be true in some cases, when promoting said content paid strategies take a front seat. There are far too many opportunities to widen your audience and target more people with paid content promotion than organic reach can ever offer. Although I’m not saying you need a paid strategy for promoting every single piece of content you produce, it's definitely very effective when incorporated into your strategy as a promotion tactic.