5 Steps to a Successful B2B Content Marketing Strategy
In the past, it was thought that content marketing belonged to consumers. We’re happy to report that the marketing realm has seen a significant jump¹ in B2B brands’ budgets in 2022, and with a strategic content marketing plan, these types of brands can expect their content to convert.
The Difference Between B2C and B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Business-to-business (or B2B) content marketing includes all the pieces of writing, audio, video, or other content a company uses to promote its products or services to other businesses. B2B differs from B2C (business to consumer) marketing, in which a company promotes its products or services directly to consumers.
B2B and B2C marketing strategies require different techniques to reach their target audiences. When the audience is composed of consumers, desire and emotion should be used to capture their motivation to make a purchase. With businesses, data and logic should be deployed.
The sales cycle with B2B marketing tends to be longer than that of B2C marketing, which can often be instantaneous or impulsive². Because of the longer sales cycle and additional marketing touchpoints needed, a B2B marketing strategy can be more costly than a B2C strategy.
But don’t be dismayed. Follow along for our 5 steps to create B2B content marketing strategies that will help you feel like a pro–regardless of your target audience.
Step 1: Get to Know Your Brand and Its Content Goals
It may sound silly because your brand is something you probably feel pretty familiar with already. But, when it comes to creating successful content that leads to conversions, you need to understand your brand from an outside perspective. You also need clear and measurable goals and competitive analysis of the kind of content already published in your industry.
Know Your Brand
In this era, it’s necessary to understand both how your product or service works and precisely how it can solve the problem of another business. You must be able to demonstrate how your brand brings value to a customer, or they won’t give it a second glance. This is the time to clearly define your brand’s voice, tone of messaging, and any other features that may drive a business to want to use what you’re offering.
Set Content Goals
Setting goals is an essential step in content marketing development. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
In B2B marketing, some examples include:
- Drive 10,000 new users to the website between July-September, 2022
- Increase Google organic ranking for a specific keyword by the end of Q3
- Generate 20 new leads per month from content marketing efforts
Conduct Competitor Content Research
Setting goals can be made easier if you look at what your competitors and other aspirational companies in your sector are already doing. Take a look at the current auction insights, data, and trends that you have available, and use that information to guide your brand’s goals.
Step 2: Nail Down Your Content Audience(s)
To develop content that will lead to conversions, it’s important to understand who this content will be reaching and what action you want to inspire. Your target audience should be clearly defined–perhaps so clearly defined that you give them a name. This is called a buyer persona.
Buyer Personas for B2B Marketing
A buyer or character persona is a picture of the ideal customer for your business. This customer has a personality, as well as demographics such as age and occupation, goals, and needs. Even though the customer in a B2B marketing funnel is technically another business, there is still a person or a team of people who will receive content before making a purchase decision on behalf of the company.
You may find that your brand offers solutions for companies with multiple kinds of needs, and in that case, we recommend making as many buyer personas as you see fit. Your content marketing strategy should vary from persona to persona but still have the same value proposition for cohesiveness³.
Step 3: Map B2B Content to the Sales Funnel
Having an intimate knowledge of the buyer’s journey will add an extra layer to your buyer personas. Content should align with the issues a customer is hoping to address at each stage of the sales funnel: awareness, consideration, and decision. Remember, a good B2B content marketing strategy addresses a customer’s needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey, to help nurture them through the sales funnel.
Awareness: Top of the Funnel
This is the first opportunity you have to capture a buyer with your content. At this stage, a prospective buyer is looking for information that will help them better articulate their problem. Awareness content should focus on the buyer’s pain points rather than your product or brand. Education is key at this stage! Examples include informative blogs, ebooks, white papers, infographics, and guides.
Consideration: Middle of the Funnel
At this stage, the buyer has a better understanding of their problem and is now ready to find available solutions. Consideration content should focus on specific solutions that can make the buyer’s job easier or solve their problem. Examples include comparison blogs, webinars, and product feature videos.
Decision: Bottom of the Funnel
Once the buyer has decided which approach they want to take to solve their problem, they will move on to compiling a list of their solution provider options. This is where content that is brand-specific and focuses directly on the benefits your company’s product or service provides can lead to a purchase decision. Examples might be case studies, testimonials, and free trials.
Step 4: B2B Content Development
Once you know who you are selling to, why they are in need, and where they are seeking the information, it’s time to start developing the what of content marketing: the content!
Pick a Few Core Channels and Content Types
For each content distribution channel, create an organized implementation plan with content types. SEO will most likely take up a large portion of your B2B content marketing strategy. Other content types may include videos, podcasts, and social media posts.
The secret sauce of content marketing is creating pieces that can be cross-distributed.
An infographic may be great to share on your brand’s LinkedIn, and blog content can both be repurposed in an e-newsletter and used as an inbound marketing link.
Creating a consistent posting schedule based on the channels and content types you choose to use will make content development a breeze.
Maximize Organic Traffic
In other words, get ready for a deep dive into Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When it comes to the modern consumer, the first step in a purchase decision is usually a Google search. This trend applies to B2B audiences, too.
Keyword research will help you understand what information your audience is looking for. Use what you find from keyword research to help build the content you publish on your website. For best results, top-performing keywords should be implanted into blog posts, metadata, headlines, taglines, and product pages.
Step 5: Measure the ROI
We would be lost without data. It helps us understand what’s working, what’s not working, and how to plan for future marketing campaigns. Your team should be evaluating the results of content marketing campaigns based on the goals and timelines you set at the beginning, including but not limited to these metrics:
- Total leads (these can be email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, purchases, form fills, etc.)
- Total impressions (from Google Search Console and in each channel content is distributed from)
- Traffic fluctuations based on when content was published
- Social media engagements and shares
- Changes in Bounce rate
Additionally, analyze pieces of content compared to each other. Do this by taking note of blog posts with the most sessions or views, comparing web pages by their average time on page by a user, and by tracking results with UTM codes.
Report, analyze, and adjust your strategy to maximize future content marketing success.
Contact our team today to get a free consultation on B2B content marketing strategy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common B2B content marketing examples?
Infographics, videos, podcasts, and SEO are the types of content most commonly used by B2B companies.
What are some of the main characteristics of B2B content marketing?
The use of logically presented information and data sets B2B apart from B2C content marketing.
Does content marketing work with B2B?
Yes, content marketing can increase touchpoints in the sales cycle for B2B companies - leading to an increase in awareness and sales.