A Practical Guide To B2B Content Marketing
Content marketing is now an integral part of digital marketing. It is one of the best ways to build trust and acquaintance with your targeted audiences. Especially in the B2B space, it has gained tremendous attention for varied reasons. B2B content marketing now gives exciting opportunities to businesses of all sizes to innovate with customer engagement without depleting a huge marketing budget.
Jay Acunzo defines content marketing as “solving the same customer problems as your product but through media you create and distribute.”
Seth Godin thinks that “it is the only marketing that’s left.”
But, it is also true that many businesses struggle with business-to-business ( B2B) content marketing.
Kristina Halvorson, CEO and Founder, Brain Traffic says,“The reason we struggle with content marketing is because we haven’t started with ‘Why?’ Customers don’t care about your vanity metrics. Ask them, ‘How can I help?’”
So, how to build a solid B2B content marketing strategy that delivers expected results?
How to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
B2B content marketing is arguably more concise and specific primarily because it speaks to a specific targetted audience. B2B products and services generally have more narrowly defined target markets than B2C space.
Post Covid-19, most B2B organizations have shifted their content marketing strategy.
Post Covid-19, most B2B organizations have shifted their content marketing strategy.
According to Content Marketing Institute, What changes did organizations make?
Over half changed targeting/messaging strategy (70%), adjusted their editorial calendars (64%), and/or changed their content distribution and promotion strategy (53%).
With the Covid-19 pandemic in mind, we’ll break down the elements of today’s most effective B2B content marketing strategies. The basic principle remains the same analyzing target audience, developing content, selecting mediums/channels, and then tracking and analyzing. Let’s take a walk through the process of assembling the right B2B content marketing strategy.
Research Your Target Audience
In B2B content marketing, everything revolves around your audience – their expectations/desires, their interests, their habits/patterns, their common pain points/challenges. The better you understand them, the more impact you would be able to create. Perform deep research and analyze your existing customers to build profiles and audience personas considering the below dimensions:
- Get demographics information both at an organizational level ( company size, industry vertical, and location) and an individual level ( job title, experience, and skill-sets).
- Look at psychographics details such as ‘what type of solutions they are seeking?’, ‘where they are most active online?’, and ‘how can you help them with content marketing?’.
- Check the search pattern for example ‘on which platforms they generally share information or engage with others?’, ‘which keywords do they use?’, and what resources, influencers, or channels do they mostly trust?’.
There are many tools available to find out such information action. Drop us a message to know which tools are the best to develop deeper intel around your B2B audience.
“It's democratic. Anyone, anywhere, with any budget can develop a valuable audience over time and make an impact. In other words, there are no excuses for not doing this well, as long as you have a plan and execute against that plan.” Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute.
Add Unique Perspective to Your Offerings
Once you have zeroed on your target audience, the next logical step is to uniquely define your expertise. You need to find out ways where you can be most valuable to your targeted audience. It is always fruitful to be precise about your expertise and offerings.
Do not try to cover everything in one go. Use content as an opportunity to address your potential customer problems.
“Content that builds trust is human, personal, relevant, it isn’t greedy, and it doesn’t trick people. If the recipient knew what the sender knows, would she still be happy? If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely it’s going to build trust.” Seth Godin
Perform Holistic Competitive Research
Do not forget your competitors. Keep a close eye on your narrow competitors such as what they are doing, on which platforms they are available, what type of content they are promoting, and more.
During this process, analyze the gap that your competitors are not filling with content marketing, what are unmet scenarios that need to be covered with B2B content marketing. Once you get to know the unmet questions in your competitors' campaigns, you will be better positioned to perform innovative campaigns to unlock new opportunities.
“To stand out from the swell, we must quietly say only what is important. Briefly and with care.” Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group
Choose the Right Platforms
While executing your B2B content marketing strategy, you must align your content type with the right channels or platforms throughout the buyer journey. Whether you are executing a whitepaper or eBook campaign, a free demo, informational content/awareness campaign, or a success story campaign, you must address all questions that a potential buyer might be pondering over while performing research on B2B products or services.
A company’s blog or its social media channels are the most cost-effective way to engage wider prospects with content marketing. You can utilize them smartly to build trust. Along with that, 3rd party publishers, guest posts, and PR must also be utilized to diversify your campaign.
Define Business Objective and Measurement Goals
The most important aspect of B2B content marketing is defining its objective and measurement criteria. Your whole B2B content marketing program must work towards achieving your defined business objectives. Whether your objective is brand awareness, thought leadership, conversions, and marketing-attributed revenue, you must stay focused on your objective by choosing the right performance metrics.
Just because one thing does not work, you must not distract yourself from key business objectives. You need to be consistently working toward clear and measurable goals.
“Content that understands its audience will be good content. Content that doesn’t, can’t be.” Doug Kessler.
“If it’s not relevant, it’s just noise.” Jason Miller
Build Your Content Calendar
B2B content marketing hardly survives without consistency and regularity. You must be equally consistent with a creative mindset to build a loyal and engaged audience.
Build a content calendar considering the factors like type content to be created, posting frequency and content formate, and target keywords. You must establish accountability by giving ownership to someone in the team so that consistency can be maintained throughout different channels across the buyers' journey.
“People don’t find content by mistake, or by accident. Every content plan needs a complementary promotion plan that combines paid, owned, and earned media.” Matthew Gratt, Digital Marketing Manager, Continuum Analytics
“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” Jon Buscall, CEO, Moondog Marketing & Media
Execute, Test, and Measure What Works
The majority of success in B2B content marketing has been achieved with continuous experimenting, testing, and refining. You must push and promote a variety of content on different channels and then measure what works well. Based on the data and defined KPIs, you should scale your campaigns widely in alignment with defined business objectives. In content marketing, it is easier to get distracted from the defined goals where results are not turning out as expected. This is where you should not get distracted and confidently work towards your goals.
“Eliminating distractions holds true for all marketers. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, make that a priority and find a way to block out everything else.” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, Marketingprofs
There are a plethora of recommendations, best practices, guides, and expert advice available, but you need to adapt them as per your business's situation. Plus, you must be always aligned with the standards of quality, value, and purpose your target audience expects.
“How quickly is your content accelerating the funnel or shortening the buying cycle? If your leads are coming in by way of your content and they are much closer to purchasing your product, that’s a clear sign of success.” Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader, LinkedIn
And, the Final Consideration
One last thought for B2B content marketing strategy is to focus on strengthening relationships with existing customers as well as new prospects from a long-term perspective. You can do this by guest blogging, conducting a webinar, live chat, or maybe co-creating content with industry influencers. You will be able to not only build trust or credibility but also extend your brand reach for longer-term success. If you would like to add more to it, we would love to hear from you.