For many years, content marketing has been a powerful strategy for many B2B businesses. An effective content marketing strategy entertains, inspires, educates, and convinces your target audience. No matter if you want to work with blog posts, webinars, or infographics, you always need the content.
What is B2B content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
B2B content marketing is therefore a long-term strategy that aims at building relationships with your target audience by providing them with high quality content. By creating truly relevant content for your prospects and customers, you help them find solutions to their business needs. And, at the same time you establish thought leadership.
Content marketing strategy goals
B2B companies use content marketing because of the many advantages it provides in the long term. The most common goals of B2B businesses with content marketing are:
- Build brand awareness
Brand awareness is one of the most important goals of B2B businesses. Creating valuable and relevant content for your buyers is one of the best ways to build awareness for your brand. Some examples of valuable content are educational blog posts, podcasts, infographics, useful video content, e-books, and newsletters.
- Lead generation
As much as it is important to create content for brand awareness, it is equally important to use content to attract new business. You can do that with lead generation content. You can use content as a lead generator; for example, by asking readers for their email address before downloading a white paper or an e-book. After gathering your audience’s contact information, you can segment your audience and engage with them using more relevant content.
- Customer engagement
Content marketing is a fantastic opportunity for companies to show their human face. You can create a personal bond with your audience when you share knowledge with them. When your audience sees you as a credible information provider, they can trust you. After all, people do business with people.
- Customer education
Your target audience mainly searches online to find solutions to their business needs. Educational content, such as problem-solving stories or frequently asked questions, are useful in educating your buyer or customer and giving them direction to their business problems. We also call this buyer enablement.
- Brand authority
There are many ways to showcase brand authority in your industry. Celebrating your business achievements or interviewing well-known thought leaders are two examples of how you can use content marketing to establish your brand authority.
How to be an effective B2B content marketer
Nowadays a huge quantity of B2B content is developed and published. The question is: what criteria can you use to make sure your content stands out? Try using the following 6 criteria when developing content:
Content should be relevant
Relevancy is a basic requirement for great content. It means your topic is useful to your buyer or customer. Your content must not only appeal to your customers, but it must also be relevant to their work-related issues. An effective way to find out what is relevant to them is to develop a Buyer Persona profile and insights in the buyer journey.
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Content should be unique
Why would your buyer view or read your content, if the same content has already been written, shown, or distributed before? People are naturally curious about the unknown and new. Unique and original content will lead to more views and engagement, and more appreciation by your customer.
Content must be credible
When content is not credible, it will not be accepted by your audience, and they will not engage with it. Credibility occurs when:
- Content is objective: make sure your content is supported by independent research or written by authorities or experts in a specific field. Content is objective when the information is being interpreted from multiple angles.
- Content is authentic: content is also credible when it is authentic. Authenticity means that it is personal, genuine, human and that it shows emotion. Look at your content once more with this in mind. Is it authentic?
- Content comes from a plausible source: content on agricultural developments that was developed by a supplier of office furniture, will never be perceived as credible. Whoever creates the content must show thorough expertise in the subject matter. It is best for an organisation to create content that lies within its own domain of expertise.
Content should provide added value to your target audience
Content that provides added value is always appreciated. The added value can lie in usability, recognition, relevancy, benefit, attractiveness, humour, etc.. You can use the Buyer Persona profile to verify that your content has added value. Only when it is perceived as having relevancy and added value, will your content, whether article or video, be recommended and forwarded amongst peers.
Content must be in line with the goals of the organisation
The content you produce should be in line with your business goals. In this way you can assure that the content you develop, will be effective and will contribute to your organisation’s objectives. When you develop outstanding content that is not in line with the overall business goals, your effort is wasted.
Your content idea should be doable
Very often when brainstorming about content you will come up with excellent ideas. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to execute all your great content ideas. This may be due to limitations in terms of money, time, capability, talent, etc. You will have to decide on your priorities. Even when your resources are limited, look around for some best practices.
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In order to map your content, you will need to use the insights offered by your buyer persona. By analysing those insights you can better understand the buyer journey, and optimise or even create new content using this information. By taking advantage of all that your buyer persona offers you, you will find out how to better approach your buyer at all stages of their journey with you.
Most common types of content marketing
56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it’s effective and 10% say it generates the biggest return on investment (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021). Blogs account for most of the content marketing out there; they are an efficient way to establish thought-leadership in your field while providing your target market with valuable information. Rather than blogging about how your newest product works, you should be writing about things related to your products or services. Ideally, write about topics that a reader can personally relate to, whether it’s a challenge, an example, a template, an explainer, etc.
Video marketing is one of the best-performing content types due to its engagement. Here are 9 ideas for video marketing in B2B:
- Interview your colleague for a change. Let them talk about new products and technologies and how they can change business.
- Create questions and answers with members of your Management Team and let them explain how companies can save costs by using your products or services. Make it interactive, let the speaker walk around or shoot the video from various locations.
- Create several customer testimonials and ask your customers to explain why they chose your company to work with and how it has helped them. Do not film this in a standard way against a white wall with a green plant in the background. Be creative!
- Use video invitations, you can even add animation to the video. By mixing video
,and animation with voice-over and text on the screen you can create a very entertaining result.
- Implement video in datasheets or online brochures.
- Film your events, have them professionally edited and place them on your website.
- Send a short video message as part of a quote to a potential customer. This can be amazingly effective especially when your CEO cannot be at a presentation due to distance or availability.
- Turn your white paper into a white clip, a summary video of the white paper’s highlights.
- Use video in or instead of your PowerPoint presentation.
An infographic is a collection of imagery, data visualisations like pie charts and bar graphs, and minimal text that gives an easy-to-understand overview of a topic. The goal of infographics is to show complicated information in a simplified visual way. They can be used to punctuate written blogs or as standalone content for both blogging platforms and social media.
White papers and e-books
Two quite common types of content are white papers and e-books. A white paper is an in-depth report or guide about a specific topic and the problems that surround it. It is meant to educate readers and help them understand and solve an issue. White papers enable you to build trust with your audience. They show readers that you’re reliable, experienced, and adept in your domain.
E-books are files that you can read on a digital device – a tablet, smartphone, computer, etc. One characteristic of an e-book is that the text should not be editable. With thousands of people having access to it on digital devices, people could potentially change any content without the author’s permission. So, in order to qualify as an actual e-book, the text should not be able to be changed in any way. Another important characteristic is that e-books should be fitting your screen, no matter what the size of the screen is. Like white papers, e-books are also educational in nature. However, e-books are usually written in a more casual tone, like a “how-to” guide. E-books tend to feature more white space and more design elements than white papers.
A podcast is a collection or series of digital audio files that are made available for downloading or listening via the Internet. “63% of podcast listeners purchased something the host had promoted” (Midroll). People love to listen to quality content while at work, driving home during a long commute, or working out at the gym. This type of content is based on storytelling; therefore, compelling, fact-driven stories are necessary.
85% of marketers, who use webinars as a marketing tool, say that webinars are crucial for their marketing efforts (Webinar Software, 2022). A webinar is one of the best ways to generate or nurture leads online. If you wish to plan a webinar, make sure you plan it properly. Check this webinar checklist for successful content marketing in B2B.
Interactive content is any type of content that encourages users to participate actively rather than passively read or watch. The reader (or viewer) becomes part of a dynamic and interactive experience. Examples of interactive content are a quiz or poll, calculator, configurator, recommender, assessment, interactive e-book or landing page, interactive video, and image.
Content marketing biggest challenges
Creating engaging and useful content for your B2B buyers is not an easy task. There are several challenges that content creators are facing when creating content. These are the most common failures that we observe:
- Failing in relevancy and usefulness: Creating relevant content or content that answers the questions of your target audience is a very common challenge. Do not forget that your main goal is to help your audience by solving their questions and educating them with useful content.
- Failing in content quantity and consistency: Not only do you need to create sufficient content, but you also need to do that on a regular basis. Creating one piece of content 3 years ago is not going to work.
- Failing in promotion: There is no point in great content which is read only by you and your team. You want to spread the news and engage in dialogue!
Recycling and repurposing content in marketing
Content recycling means that you use existing marketing material again in a smart way to contact your target group. This way you prevent having to re-invent the wheel. Check what you have before you start making new material. Scan your content and you will find that a large part is still useful.
Make a list of existing materials and plan to use these for the next few months. Without having to think of new messages and plans, you have relevant content to share with your audience. This is content recycling!
Personalisation in B2B content marketing
Whether buyers are looking for general industry information or conducting detailed product comparisons, they need to read content that meets their needs. And this is where personalisation in content comes in. Personalisation can take place in many types of content and all stages of the buyer journey. White papers, emails, and reports are examples of content that can be personalised. Learn how you can personalise your marketing content in B2B marketing to get better results from your campaigns!
Click on the image to see this infographic on how to optimise your B2B content marketing strategy in 5 steps!
Data-driven content marketing
Creating data-driven content is a type of analytic strategy which is used for online content marketing campaigns. The idea is to know your audience very well before you start your marketing campaign. You need to gather and understand data about your target audience (demographics, buying patterns, pain points, main channels). In this way, you get insights into their buying behaviours. This will help you tailor the content of your marketing campaign and serve targeted messaging at each stage of the buying process.
Click on the image and check out our buyer persona implementation checklist!
How to use Google Trends in content marketing
Google Trends is a tool that provides insights into the top search queries on Google. It shows data around the search volume of keywords with details about the frequency of searches, interest over time, and most active geographic locations. A smart way to use Google Trends for your content marketing strategy is to observe the trends in your industry and discover content ideas. You can then use these ideas to generate content pieces that will capture your audience’s attention!
How to use a Buyer persona for your content marketing strategy
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to discover quality content for your target audience is to develop a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a detailed profile of an example buyer, that represents part of your target group. Based on these insights into the buyer persona profile and the buyer journey, you can then start developing your content. Read how to go from the B2B buyer journey to content plan!
Examples of excellent B2B content
After all things said, it is time to start thinking about your B2B content marketing. Don’t know where to start? You can outsource content marketing as well. Watch this webinar to learn about content that converts. We can help you with your content marketing strategy and execution. Get in touch!