Content marketing differs depending on your audience. If you think the strategies or program you use for content marketing to the general public works as a B2B content marketing strategy, too, you need to revisit your marketing plan. You need to re-write it.
Your B2B content marketing strategy requires a different research base and a different persona than your content for the general public. You’ll need different content, targeted, segmented, and delivered on a B2B blog or a landing page devised for that segment. It’s time to craft a separate content marketing budget if:
- you don’t currently have a separate B2B content strategy or,
- divvy up your content budget without line items or,
- think your existing generalized content works for both audiences.
Start with this simple introduction to B2B content marketing and these 10 tips to create a best in class B2B content marketing strategy.
What is B2B content marketing?
Marketing business to business (B2B) requires different tactics than marketing to general consumers. Merely running an advertising campaign won’t reach your audience and generate leads. While some consumers do crave detailed information, businesses require it. Enter content marketing.
Your company needs a great website design, blog and white papers that provide genuine value and greater understanding of your product. In business, there is no “Oh, that sounds cool. I’ll try it.” There is “After painstaking research, we’ve determined it’s feasible to conduct a 30 day trial of X app which data shows could reduce our time to enter and process payroll by 4.2 man hours per week, resulting in a net savings of Y dollars during the course of the coming fiscal year.” Your quality content will enable other businesses to analyze and get to know your product so intimately that they willingly become your sales lead because you showed them how your product benefits them.
Your key first step in this lead generating creative B2B marketing is the B2B marketing plan. You must determine how to reach other businesses, design your campaigns, create and publish your content, market your content, monitor progress, and scale your efforts within budget.
1. Define and focus your targets.
Segment messages and media. One size does not fit all. Begin with the audience your market research shows you have the best chance of affecting. This segment likely includes your best current customer. Make that customer the basis for your target buyer persona.
2. Be sympathetic to their cause; empathetic to their needs.
You can’t offer valuable content to an audience until you know them. That doesn’t simply mean big data numbers crunching. Also, knowing and understanding differ. You need to understand the other business’ needs before you can market to them. Your helpful content stems from learning and understanding:
- purchase: motivations, roadblocks, roles, process
- purchase sticking points
- what they need from you to complete the purchase
Interview and survey your target audience to learn this information. Create a buyer persona, your own B2B “Betty Crocker,” if you will.
3. Set staged conversion goals.
Consider them conversion actions. Each action moves you closer to the ultimate goal of a sales conversion. Each successful step through the sales funnel counts as a conversion.
4. Target the full sales funnel.
Currently, 49 percent of content marketing targets on initial interest capture – simply getting the user interested. You need to engage the full funnel through content. Content developed for mid- and end-funnel stages can increase sales conversion. This can occur through blog posts, subscription, newsletters, etc.
5. Determine who will and how you will contact potential customers.
In this step of B2B content strategy, determine your content media. For example, you might use:
- direct emails
- direct mail
- phone calls
- text messages
Other options include third-party referrals which includes word of mouth campaigns.
You’ll need to target multiple media. Cut your costs and time investment by targeting only the media used most often by your target business audience.
6. Create a matrix.
Create a matrix to illustrate your understanding of the buyer journey as aligned with:
- your conversion goals
- contact points and media
- content titles/ideas
This provides an at-a-glance method of viewing connections and communication points. A matrix allows you to easily update or change a piece of your plan.
7. Scale your creative production.
Produce an appropriate amount of content for your business audience. Make this easier by recycling content. Break long works like white papers and ebooks into smaller content like many blog posts. Reverse that and turn your shorter content like blog posts into larger pieces like ebooks by identifying those with common themes. Turn your popular evergreen content into an evergreen serial work. Republish it on a regular cycle.
8. Increase your B2B content marketing budget to remain competitive.
According to Convince and Convert, firms devote 28 percent of their B2B marketing budget to content marketing, but that’s increasing. This year, marketers say they will increase B2B content marketing budgets by 36 percent. To remain competitive, you need to create because 9 out of 10 B2B firms use content marketing, says the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs in its “2018 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” Increased investment in content forms a key B2B content strategy.
9. Customize channels and content.
Devise landing pages for each target audience with content catering to their persona. Study your website analytics to determine your audience segments and what content they viewed, plus their search data.
10. Monitor your content across media.
Tag each content piece, marketing email, social media post and tweet with a tracking code. Monitor by piece and by campaign. Track purchases and immediately crunch sales data. Track coupon and sales responses. In 2018, your big data provides the key to big sales. Compare your data. Look at which media other businesses responded to and which links got them to click. Where in the sales funnel did they convert and on which piece? This tells you which marketing piece provide the most information and sway. All of this information leads you to what works which is what you create more of to sell more.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy
The best B2B marketing techniques for 2018 center around planning and development of a broad spectrum of content delivered on customized landing pages devised from study of analytics. Your best B2B marketing ideas will come from your target audience through a combination of big data and customer interviews. Your current customers can provide you the information on what hooked them. You’ll create personas developed from that data that guide content development. Your data on the roadblocks and pain points of potential customers bring in the information that lets you tailor the persona to fit not only the current customers, but potential ones.
While these ten tips will get you started with the broad strategy plan and key elements, the best B2B marketing tactics will come from the interviews with other businesses that uncover their needs. The tactics you implement should be those that best fulfill customer information needs and educate them about your product in a manner that makes them see their need for it. Businesses buy based on need. You can succeed with B2B content marketing by investing research, creative efforts and an appropriate budget.