Content marketing is a strategy adopted by businesses that want to deliver valuable content to their target audience to attract, engage and convert readers.
A content marketing strategy for B2B businesses is hugely different than for those operating in a B2C environment. While both types of business have their brands and a solid understanding of who their ideal target audience is, approaching what type of content, its tone, and how to promote it is different due to the huge differences in buyer journeys.
For B2B businesses, a content marketing strategy involves the use of business-focused content – blogs, case studies, eBooks, podcasts, videos and white papers. Many businesses add it to their overall marketing and advertising strategic plan because it’s cost-effective and can help support their long-term growth.
The Power of Content
Nowadays, most businesses understand that content is an important way to communicate with their target audience. Back in 1996, Bill Gates even promoted the fact that content is King before any other marketers in the digital space promoted this thinking. There was something accurate with his prediction.
The Content Marketing Institute notes that three times more leads are generated through content marketing than pay per click advertising on search engines. Also, 72% said that having a good content marketing strategy was key to business success in the next 12 months.
Do all business owners know how much a great content marketing strategy can help?
Possibly not, but information adoption is on the rise. Over 12 months, Impact Brand recorded a doubling of respondents who had a content marketing strategy: only 39% of individuals had one in 2018, but this nearly doubled to a massive 65% in 2019. In that same study, 58% percent of marketers said they were spending more on content marketing than in the previous 12 months.
If your competitors are making moves with their content marketing, then so should you.
How B2B Compares to B2C
In the B2B sector, content marketing has become vast with lots of different types of content being produced, from blog posts to eBooks, to case studies and podcasts. All with the intended goal of attracting the right individuals and converting them into leads.
The foundations of the B2B and B2C approaches are different. People buy from people who they know and trust whether in a B2B or B2C market. But, the mindset and buyer process of a potential customer signing a multi-million-dollar marketing deal is completely different from one person buying a jacket to go out at the weekend.
B2C customers look for the positive emotional outcome that a product or service provides and may choose a product because of its popularity among peers, whereas a B2B customer is looking for a deal that will help them achieve growth and deliver the best service to their customers.
In general, B2C has just one decision-maker. B2B sales can have a team of ten or more people who want different types of information throughout the buying process and they will generally require these answers to have more detail.
This difference can be seen in the table below, which shows the areas B2B marketers see content marketing helping them the most.
Table source (page 33)
As an organization, when you publish regular high-quality content that your target audience finds of interest, you build trust in their eyes:
- Positioning your brand as an authority on the subject
- Providing a solution to their immediate problem
- Delivering information about the solutions on offer
While it is important to recognize B2B customers have different motivations toward reasons for buying, understanding every audience is different is key. Business customers tend to want in-depth content about how something will help them increase revenue, help with strategy and that the numbers work in their favor.
This is fundamentally different from B2C, who generally want shorter pieces of entertaining content to create an emotional connection and strong brand recall.
B2B brands share insights, research and expertise to inform individuals while also trying to tap into their pain points. The main aim of promoting content in a B2B context is to instill trust in the mind of the reader and build credibility in their mind while also educating them (highlighted in the top 3 answers in the above table).
Developing Your Content Strategy
A content marketing strategy involves thinking about the objectives set to reach an end goal. For most businesses, this is more leads, increased sales and higher profits.
Some organizations will create a document that contains all this information and sets out:
- What is to be achieved
- How things will be measured (using KPIs)
- Tools to be used
What Are Your Objectives?
Identify your marketing objectives. Why do you want to create this content? What will you do to help your organization increase its customer base and overall revenues? What problems are you trying to solve for potential customers? How will you attract new prospects, improve customer loyalty and drive forward brand awareness?
In general, a B2B company will push forward with a content marketing plan to connect with the audience to develop trust. The aim is to generate profits, keep costs low and retain those customers into the future.
Creating content that is wanted and needed, and is shared because your audience finds it useful, many agree is one of their key objectives. When your audience finds constant value in the content you produce, they will see you as a brand of trust and authority. These touch points are needed for someone to decide to purchase.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Identifying who you are creating content for will help you choose the specific content to create. This is where your customer avatar or buyer persona comes in. Who is your ideal customer, who stays with you the longest, gets the most value of what you sell, and makes you the most profit?
This is the audience you should create content for. If you promote content that doesn’t resonate with the market then it’s not going to have the views, reach or engagement, and you won’t see the clicks, dwell time or conversions you need.
Conducting surveys, interviews and questionnaires on your target audience, as well as carrying out research on the content people are currently engaging with will help you make the right decisions.
Identify the Best Formats for Your Audience
If creating lots of new content to promote seems daunting, then look at what you already have.
It’s easier to revise and repurpose older content by adding in new calls to action, links to other valuable (and newer) content, and using traffic already visiting those pages to see your new content. — Kaz Andz, KasAndz Marketing Group.
For example, if you have a video on a topic that is important to your target audience and is one of the most viewed, then repurpose it into a blog post or take elements from it and use them as the foundational copy for a case study.
There are many different types of content to choose from:
- Video – is on the rise among B2B marketers because of its versatile format. 89% of marketers in Wyzowl’s study said it provides good ROI. Different types of video include how-to, product reviews, explainers, webinars, and live content.
- Blogs – the staple for many marketers because it is a tried and tested format. In general, they’re great at building brand awareness and authority through sharing knowledge and educating the reader. They can also help segment visitors ready for retargeting ads.
- Infographics – visualizing data and text into an easy to read visual format. They usually rely on illustrations, images, charts and graphs to convey the information.
- Opt-in content – eBooks, whitepapers and buyers guides all given to the visitor in exchange for their contact details (commonly known as a lead magnet).
- Case studies – historically included gated/op-tin content, but increasingly used as stand-alone pages on a website (or PDF). They take a potential buyer through how you’ve helped similar businesses reach certain KPIs and revenue goals.
- Product demos – those interested in buying product might want to see it first. Demos give them enough of the details to make a decision. Ballpark pricing should be included to provide enough information to compare you against the competition.
Search Traffic and Intent
Lots of businesses carry out a content audit of their website and other digital assets. This is to understand how to become more visible in Google and other search engines.
This means any new content should be validated through keyword research and whether people are searching for these types of content. It also means ensuring your on-page SEO is on point to capture all of that traffic.
When creating your content, it’s important to think about search intent. Keyword phrases with ‘how to’ usually mean individuals are looking for a guide or an informational piece: they intend to gather information.
Commercial intent phrases with ‘buy,’ ‘guide,’ or ‘review’ mean the individual is usually in decision-making mode and might buy today or soon. In both instances, appropriate calls to action should be included to help potential buyers along their journey to become customers.
Review Your Marketing Channels
Your marketing channels will roughly fall into three categories:
- Branded channels – web properties owned by you, such as your website and your blog, a mobile app (sharing snippets of content), email marketing (most effective channel for ROI), and a community forum (where you can interact and answer questions).
- Shared media – content shared by third parties through connections made with bloggers, journalists and PR teams, where your content is shared with an audience outside of your primary one. Targeted and effective email outreach will be the key to implementing this, and you may want to use something like RightInbox to facilitate the process.
- Advertising/promotion – paid promotion of your content using display advertising (placement on websites), social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn), search engine marketing (PPC & SEO), and influencer marketing.
A solid strategy will involve a handful of channels from these three main categories.
Content marketing for B2B brands isn’t an elusive concept. Potential buyers want to interact with brands that promote authentic, valuable content. Content that establishes trust in readers’ eyes, encourages their input and converts visitors into leads.
With a comprehensive content marketing strategy, your path will be set to take you on the journey of reaching your goals and creating connections with buyers that last.