Comprehensive Strategies & Tactics for Content Marketing
Useful Content Drives Lead Generation
Just how important is content marketing? Most companies have a blog; top-performing B2B blog posts generate 99 social media shares and receive 49 monthly visits from organic search, while the top 10 posts receive backlinks from 245 referring domains – a critical factor in influencing search engine results.
Another survey shows that most B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be successful in achieving various goals, including creating brand awareness (87%), building credibility (81%), and generating leads (75%).
What is B2B content marketing?
Focused content marketing develops and strengthens the brand connection, expands the brand’s audience, and generates marketing- and sales-qualified leads.
Content comes in the form of blogs, e-newsletters, podcasts, infographics, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and more; and it’s basically the main tool for customer acquisition.
Potential customers looking to purchase high-value items want to be more confident that they’re selecting the right vendor or provider. Content marketing gives brands the opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders in their niche, thus attracting, engaging, and converting their audiences.
B2B content marketing is flourishing because consumers are becoming more resistant to advertising. Also, the B2B buyer’s journey has become increasingly complex – and hands-off from the sales perspective. Customers do most of their research and make the majority of their buying decisions before reaching out to the company from whom they wish to purchase.
How does B2B content marketing differ from B2C?
While all marketers use content to attract and engage potential customers and lead them through the sales funnel, a fundamental difference exists between B2C and B2B content marketing.
B2C content seems to be exciting, entertaining, and sometimes even humorous and provocative. On the other hand, B2B content is often seen as bland, boring, and serious – though of course, it needn’t be and must in fact, be engaging, of high quality and, above all, useful – before content marketing became the “nom de rigueur,” K2 Global Communications called it “News You Can Use.”
This simple chart goes a long way toward explaining the differences:
|Objective/Priority||Be seen as leading industry resource.||Brand awareness|
|Audience||Specific - Key decision makers in your business niche||Broad - Whoever may buy the product|
|Distribution Channel||Email marketing, website, social media, key media placements, conference presentations||Social media|
|Format||Email, blog, webinar, case study, whitepaper, social media, video, infographic, e-book, article||Blog, social media post, video, infographic, contributed content|
|Content Style||Practical, straightforward||Fun, emotional|
|Purchase Journey||Lengthy and complex||Quick and simple|
|Purchase Motivation||Pricing, performance, quality, service||Fear, convenience, pride, financial gain, emotional satisfaction|
|Purchase Purpose||Long-term solution||Instant satisfaction|
|Purchase Process||Involves a chain of decision makers||Direct between buyer and seller or via distribution channel|
Why is content marketing important for B2Bs?
Today’s business customers go online to research and better understand the challenge they are facing. As they conduct their research, they come upon various companies’ content – be it a blog, article, video, etc. – that presents a solution to their problem. They will then proceed to these companies’ websites, decide which vendor offers the best solution, and go on to complete the purchase process.
This is why today’s B2B marketers – mindful of content marketing’s power to generate traffic, leads and, ultimately sales – use content to market their companies’ offerings. Consistently publishing high-quality content projects your brand as the go-to solution provider in your particular space and encourages prospects to buy from you. Content usage is reinforced when spread across channels, using the PESO model.
Content marketing is the best way to connect, engage with, and convert today’s modern B2B customers:
- Capture your audience’s attention by appealing to their interests and needs
- Demonstrate your expertise as a business solution provider, which is valuable to a potential customer who’s looking for useful and free advice
- Enhance the customer experience and increase engagement.
- Increase efficiency – Offer the right content to the right prospect at the right time by repurposing, reusing, and expanding the content’s reach
- Build audiences and sales potential
- Help marketers communicate and interact effectively with a wide range of buyers via the different b2B content formats – from ebooks and whitepapers to case studies and social media posts
- Provide opportunities to collaborate with industry influencers, who are increasingly responsible for effective results and higher retention rates
- Lead to greater exposure, thanks to consistently relevant content, for your B2B business
- Help B2B marketers connect with their audience on social media channels like LinkedIn, where B2B buyers can be found looking for or sharing content
- Enable B2Bs keep up or stay ahead of their competitors, many of whom are probably deploying content marketing strategies as well
How do you create a B2B content marketing strategy?
To successfully leverage the power of this marketing channel, you need to keep in mind the buyer’s stage. That’s why a good B2B content marketing strategy must include:
- Identifying your ideal audience or customer persona – These are the people you want your content to reach, be of interest to, and influence, so understand them to a detailed level. What are their goals and pain points, purchase motivations, preferred communication channels? What do they consider valuable in a brand? Refine your personas but limit their number so that you don’t have to spread your content too thinly and dilute its impact.
- Setting goals – You need to know WHY you are creating each piece of content so you can effectively measure its performance. Decide if your content aims to generate leads by ranking on search engines, drive social reach and engagement, raise awareness and impact brand visibility, drive leads through the sales funnel, or increase organic traffic and earn more quality links.
- Creating the content plan – This includes topics, keywords, and formats. When generating content topics, bear in mind that these should be aligned with the challenges, concerns, and pain points that your prospects posed as they went through their research process and the stage of the buying process they’re in. When you start to generate topics, think not just about subject matter in your product area, but also industry trends, topics discussed in podcasts or at conferences, recent books or research, or topics analysts are pushing. Then, create your keyword strategy, and be sure to use relevant and appealing keywords in your content title, text, and links to ensure you drive up search engine results and get found by buyers looking for information.
- Determining the content format – Many marketers may consider blogs as the go-to option, but a wide variety of other suitable formats may be perfect for your B2B content, depending on content’s purpose.
This table highlights the benefits:
|Blog posts||Efficiently educating prospects about the benefits of your solution|
|Original research or industry studies||Providing audience with unique, shareable content projecting thought leadership and driving public relations coverage|
|Whitepapers||Advocating that your solution is best for a particular problem|
|Webinars||Presenting a topic in an engaging and informative way; inviting panelists to share their insights (and followers for webinar promotion); promoting a product by following up on participants via surveys, questions, etc.|
|Videos||Quickly and cost effectively demonstrating a solution and reaching new audiences|
|Podcasts||Delivering your message wherever your audience may be|
|Case studies||Promoting customer success stories|
|Newsletters||Updating clients and potential clients about your business, products, and services|
|Checklist||Motivating customers to act|
|Guides||Comprehensively covering a topic - from fundamentals and strategies to techniques and terminology, examples, case studies, etc.|
Who performs key roles in the B2B content marketing team? Here are the must-have members of a successful B2B content marketing team:
- Content strategist – As team leader in charge of planning out the details of your B2B content marketing campaign, she must think with both logic and creativity and thoroughly know the audiences and their needs. She’ll guide how content can reinforce and leverage your brand’s other marketing activities. A good leader and team player, she’s there to guide the team and ensure that each piece of content is an answer to the audience’s questions.
- Managing editor – She translates the strategist’s vision into content and results, determines content opportunities, and manages content development, direction, and tone.
- Content writer – He turns great ideas into even greater content, deeply understands all content formats and, of course, has top-notch creativity and impeccable grammatical skills. Most important, she “gets” the audience and knows what every piece of content has to accomplish.
- Designer – Images can turn ordinary blog posts into eye-catching content, bring ho-hum ebooks to life, and run-of-the-mill websites into visually impactful pages that grab and hold the audience’s attention. Must-have skill: ability to work closely with and liaise with the writer to ensure content is optimized.
- Analyst – She monitors blog and website traffic; tracks how many downloads your offer has garnered; provides insights on content pieces that are performing well and those that aren’t doing the job; and reveals campaign strengths that can be built upon and weaknesses that can be corrected in the future.
- Customer voice – He ensures the customer’s point of view is reflected in everything from the editorial calendar to the content format and channels.
- Technical content manager – While she is the team’s tech expert, he is also a whiz at marketing, communication, and content. She provides the tools and systems that help the team facilitate the content process, maintain the content management system, manage web analytics, and take care of the team’s technology requirements.
How can you promote your B2B marketing content?
Creating relevant, high-quality content is only step one in a successful B2B content marketing campaign. Step two and just as critical is distributing and promoting content so get the traffic you want and expect.
Top content distribution techniques B2B companies use to entice audience include social media channels, especially LinkedIn; branded e-newsletters where you can control the messaging and get more visitors to view your content; paid promotional campaigns for enhanced targeting – including retargeting ad campaigns to get your content in front of site visitors who haven’t converted or signs up for an offer; and PPC campaigns to repurpose and get more mileage out of existing content. Additionally, you can launch ABM promotions to promote your content to targeted key accounts and individuals or publish a press release that refers and drives traffic to your content.
How can you improve B2B content marketing results?
Your job as a B2B content marketer is to turn B2B leads into customers.
Follow these tips to improve your B2B marketing results.
- Use in-depth, long-form content to attract more qualified leads
- Create detailed case studies to generate trust, highlighting how customers successfully used your solution
- Let your content show how your solution solves a problem or makes work easier
- Deliver the right content based on where your audience is on the sales funnel
- Address conflict among stakeholders in your clients’ companies
- Highlight benefits to the business, as well as to the individual decision maker
- Test your B2B content marketing formats to ensure you’re delivering what your audience prefers
- Develop an educational campaign that’s relevant to your audience’s industry – tips, tricks, and ideas always win
Final word: When in doubt, consult with a marketing and communications expert in the B2B arena who can help you map out a content marketing strategy to help you reach, engage, and convert your prospects.