How to Create a Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy
You’re creating plenty of content, and you’re getting some traffic and leads, but your B2B content marketing strategy isn’t working.
And sales are dismal.
Because buyers are drowning in impersonal information.
As a B2B content marketer, you need to stop thinking about your buyers as leads and sales.
Nowadays, selling demands creating human-to-human B2B content marketing strategies.
Let’s find out how.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing is a continual process of reaching out to businesses with useful, relevant content.
Your content serves to educate prospects and help them solve problems. It drives traffic to your website and leads into your sales funnel.
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Placed articles
- Press releases
- White papers
- Slide decks
- Video scripts
Over time, your audience grows to know, like, and trust you.
In fact, 52% of B2B buyers say they’re “definitely” more likely to buy from a B2B brand once they’ve consumed their content.
B2B Content Marketing vs. B2C Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?
In B2C (business-to-consumer) content marketing, the audience is broad.
Consumers like to have fun while they shop. They enjoy a wide variety of content. And they share it more often than B2B (business-to-business) audiences do.
Popular consumer social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
In general, a typical consumer buying decision is fairly quick, sometimes within minutes. The head of the household makes the choice.
In contrast, a typical B2B buying decision can take months, even years.
It’s carefully made by an average of six to ten different influencers within a B2B company.
Influencers include people such as marketing directors, CEOs, and IT directors.
Each decision-maker does independent research. They consume a lot of strategically written content.
Buyers also dig into a supplier’s website. But most of the buyer journey is completed before the supplier is ever contacted.
According to a recent DemandGen survey, 42% of B2B buyers consume between three and five pieces of content marketing before engaging with a salesperson.
For instance, a company may generate leads with free whitepapers. Advertise a free webinar on LinkedIn. And then follow up with emails to close the deal.
Yet even after a sale, B2B companies must keep churning out content for retention, upselling, and cross-selling.
In short, you have to consistently produce content that engages skeptical buyers.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy
So, how do you make a lasting impression on a diverse group of well-educated, discerning buyers?
1. Identify your target audience
The success of your B2B content strategy hinges on knowing your target audience.
That’s why B2B content marketers spend a lot of time creating and revising buyer personas.
You must find out the challenges, needs, and interests of the key decision-makers.
Beyond that, you have to learn how they make decisions. A B2B marketer analyzes why they would or wouldn’t buy their product.
- Visit forums
- Talk to a sales team
- Study trade association websites
- Investigate niche events/conferences
Create a buyer persona for each distinct group.
You can then segment your prospective audience into targeted subgroups based on, for instance, buyer behavior.
2. Understand the B2B sales funnel
Customers go through various stages as they make a purchasing decision. Those stages are known as the buyer’s journey, sales, cycle, or sales funnel.
As buyers move through the marketing funnel, their interests and needs change. And they may enter or leave at any stage.
As a result, you must align your content with where each buyer is within the content marketing funnel.
Here are the critical stages in a B2B sales funnel.
Awareness: Educate potential customers on your product
Interest: Showcase how your product can solve a reader’s problem
Decision: Drive prospects to convert with targeted content
Action: Help customers navigate the onboarding process
3. Drill down using microtargeting
Microtargeting involves using customer data and marketing automation to deliver messages across many channels.
It’s highly effective because prospects want to be treated as unique individuals.
And they demand a high level of trust before converting.
Messages are highly targeted. Hyper-personalized. And crafted to attract specific people or small groups of customers.
Because you’re focusing on specific accounts, you gain a deeper understanding of your audience.
Your website analytics data reveals B2B buyer behavior, spending patterns, transactions, and popular search terms.
Leveraging those search terms in your content helps your ideal prospects find you online.
4. Stalk your niche competitors
Strategic content marketing requires sizing up your competition.
Analyze whether or not their content is optimized for SEO. How often they’re publishing content. And what topics they cover.
Also, look at what they’re doing and not doing. For instance, do they have a newsletter? If not, start publishing one.
As a business owner, you have to communicate your uniqueness. Make your business stand out by developing a memorable USP (unique selling point).
A USP clearly communicates a specific benefit to your potential and existing customers. So it needs to be based on something they care about.
“Feel organized without the effort” — Evernote’s USP
5. Establish your marketing goals
According to Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi, businesses care about three things:
Sales. Savings. And sunshine (i.e., customer loyalty, retention, cross-selling).
Your goals should support one of these three things.
Many business owners set SMART goals.
Specific — Decide what you’ll accomplish
Measurable — Identify the metrics to measure your progress
Achievable — Consider your skills, time frame, resources, and tools
Relevant — Align your new goal with your overall business objectives
Time-based — Assign deadlines for each goal
6. Don't overdo the text
B2B buyers want research-based content. People retain information longer when visuals are added. So text combined with images works best.
- Charts and graphs
- Real-life photographs
Visual content creates brand awareness. If you’re in the tech space, videos are particularly effective.
You can also try pinning your case study or white paper on Pinterest.
It’s primarily a B2C platform, but some B2B brands (such as Cisco and Squarespace) attract buyers there.
7. Embrace collaboration with other businesses
Want to build trusting relationships while developing your content creation skills?
Try guest posting.
Guest posting includes:
- Bylined articles
- Online PR
- Contributed content
- Third-party article contributions
The key to success is designing a guest posting strategy that’s tailored to your goals. Make sure you consider the length of the B2B sales cycle.
You may want to focus on getting in front of your target customer as often as you can.
Or publishing on alternative sites.
There may be a number of touch points to convert. Your guest blog can serve as one of those touch points.
8. Research and create unique content
Unique content is valuable content because it positions you as a thought leader.
But it must give your audience beneficial insights.
Before you begin, think about your overall strategy, budget, and time restrictions.
Make sure you tap into a variety of sources to find your information.
- Industry association data
- Government reports
- Marketing statistics
- Sales data
Try embedding a survey link on your website. Include a link in newsletters, related articles, and blog posts. Post a link on social media channels.
Develop your content around your findings, making sure that the data is not promotional in nature.
9. Use different platforms to promote your content
You can attract Facebook users with a free report or informational blog post.
Facebook’s lead generation ads allow you to directly collect information from people.
Conversion campaigns require that you pay for every click. So you have to be hypervigilant about your target audience.
Send users to targeted landing pages and offer free discounts and trials.
Twitter is ideal for short, interactive content. Try videos of 15 seconds or less. Experiment with quizzes and assessments.
Beyond getting leads, you’ll learn a lot about your audience.
10. Track your performance goals
Determining content marketing ROI and content performance is a top challenge for B2B marketers.
To help solve this problem, Ascend2 and KoMarketing Associates surveyed 193 B2B marketing professionals.
Over 53% of those surveyed said the most effective type of marketing tool for measuring digital marketing performance is analytics.
Low traffic might indicate a website technical problem, a Google algorithm penalty, or broken links.
A tool like Google Analytics can help you improve your site’s structure, calls to action, link text, and more.
As for social media analytics, they monitor activity across all platforms.
- Know where your readers are coming from
- Determine what content brings in the most views
- Develop relationships with your readers
B2B Content Marketing Tactics
Once you get to know your prospects, it’s time to create content that speaks to them.
1. Offer diversified content
Different people like different types of content.
YouTube videos are a wildly popular form of outbound marketing.
The best YouTube videos tend to be unique. Short (3 minutes or less). And include a call to action early in the video which is repeated throughout.
- Event teasers
- Event recaps
- Explainer/How-to videos
- Customer testimonials
- Case studies
- Company news
- Expert interviews
- Blog post summaries/teasers
The podcasting industry is also exploding. Take advantage of solo, interview-based, and panel podcasting.
2. Use compelling storytelling
In addition to supportive data, B2B buyers want customer validation and social proof.
Case studies tell your story in the voice of a happy customer.
A compelling case study captures the emotion of a customer before they bought your solution.
Use the customer interview to zero in on how they were feeling. Get a meaningful quote by asking them what pains and problems they had.
Were they frustrated? Why? When did they know things had to change?
Savvy companies are creating multiple versions of a case study, including sales slides.
Use the same bullets from your written case study. Copy and paste them into your slide.
3. Make it personal and human
You can use marketing segmentation to customize content based on audience segments.
- Geographic information
- Job title
- Purchase behavior
Or, customize according to the stage of the sales funnel your potential customer is in.
TOFU — Top of the funnel. Blog posts, infographics, white papers, eBooks
MOFU — Middle of the funnel. Comparison charts, white papers, eBooks, webinars, videos
BOFU — Bottom of the funnel. Case studies, walk-through videos, live demos, webinars, consultations
In addition, give your reader sneak peeks into the lives of the people in charge.
Shoot behind-the-scenes video content. Introduce employees and tell their stories.
4. Focus on LinkedIn
Over 830 million business professionals use LinkedIn.
It’s designed for business networking. And that makes it ideal for organic B2B content marketing.
You can publish long-form content through LinkedIn Publisher and share it with your network.
Switch on Creator Mode to grow your following. Your Activity section will start focusing more on the content you’re creating.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn’s algorithm heavily weights comments.
A recent algorithm update shows people “more targeted content” from their network. Likes and reactions have been downgraded.
If you’re looking for content ideas, check out the hashtags of the top ten trending stories. Choose a relevant topic. And set up your content as part of a conversation.
5. Leverage paid ads
Do you need to rescue a stalled B2B content marketing strategy?
Paid ads can help.
A potent form of inbound marketing, ads shorten the sales cycle. And funnel more prospects and customers to your social channels.
Focus each ad (or ad set) on the conversion action you want your prospect to take.
- Visit your web page
- Sign up for a demo
- Follow you on social
- Download an eBook
If the ad copy reads, “Download my free eBook now,” send the user directly to a dedicated landing page where they can provide their email address.
Set up an A/B test using two versions of the same landing page.
6. Utilize email marketing
B2B marketers send tons of email.
In fact, 93% of them use email marketing to get leads and customers.
A straightforward, practical approach works best.
A relationship-building email may offer tips on improving your website.
A promotional email marketing campaign might offer a free white paper to directly promote new software.
A series of campaign emails could sell a new skills-building program.
And an informational email may have instructions on how to attend a webinar.
As you expand your email marketing skills, don’t overlook newsletters.
A good newsletter has:
- Regular publication intervals
- The host’s name in the “from” line
- The same host in each issue
- A landing page for new users to opt-in
7. Optimize for SEO
In B2B, SEO keyword research revolves around traffic from a small target market. Focus on low-volume keywords with a high cost-per-click (CPC).
Find the bottom of the funnel keywords. Those are the ones that people search for when they’re ready (or practically ready) to buy.
Use a keyword that describes what you sell and has a high CPC.
Also, create content around top of the funnel keywords. They get more search volume.
And that content drives prospects to your site, priming them for conversion later on.
8. Produce industry-centric content
Want to convince your prospects of your expertise?
Focus your content marketing efforts on creating an ultimate guide, compact guide, or industry report.
Base it on a specific problem your prospects have. Answer their questions. Or ask them questions on social media.
What are they struggling with? What are some ways they’ve tried to solve it?
Your content should have actionable information. Include tips and a link to other related content on your website.
Don’t forget to add a content upgrade.
- Discount code for a paid product
- Link to an expert interview
- Free 5-day email course
The Key to Transforming Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
B2B marketing success over the long haul requires a shift in thinking.
It all starts with a promise. So, promise yourself that you’ll focus on forging a deep human connection.
Try it. Use these tips to launch a fresh B2B content marketing strategy built on empathy, and watch your business flourish.
Patricia Saya is a Smart Blogger Certified Content Marketer and AWAI trained Copywriter who writes well-researched SEO content and copy. A verified Case Study Specialist, she helps businesses grow with distinctive customer stories. Connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her website at patriciasaya.com.