Is your B2B company making the most strategic use of content marketing to attract and retain customers for your services? In this blog originally published by Meltwater, we’ll cover the basics of B2B content marketing to help you improve your content marketing strategy for the best results.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing involves creating useful content for businesses and companies within your industry or those that would benefit from using your products or services.
B2B content is content that serves a purpose tied to business growth, brand awareness, and customer retention. Unlike B2C content marketing which speaks to the individual consumer, B2B marketers speak to the business consumer as their target audience.
In fact, the very piece you’re reading right now is an example of B2B content!
What is the Difference Between B2B and B2C Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing differs from B2C content marketing in that it has a narrower scope and is specifically designed to be useful or educational to the reader. On the other hand, the scope of B2C content marketing is much broader — often created for entertainment and top-of-funnel goals like brand awareness.
Now that doesn’t mean that B2B content is by definition boring, lengthy, or doesn’t serve as brand awareness. On the contrary, brand awareness is a key part of B2B content so in fact, it needs to be just as attention-grabbing as B2C content. The trick is understanding that you’re targeting working people and teams in a professional capacity rather than individual consumers who are shopping for themselves or others in their personal life.
B2B content should be results-driven and provide helpful, actionable information for business purposes, business growth, and customer retention.
B2B content is shared and promoted on regular marketing channels like social media and email. Things like white papers and reports might also be shared through 3rd-party syndication, ads, or included in a sponsored email spot to an industry-specific audience.
Different Types of B2B Content Marketing
For most of these options, you could create a written post, infographic, or video, so the content medium itself is really versatile and up to you depending on your bandwidth and resources.
Thought leadership is a cornerstone of B2B content marketing, but it’s definitely a term that gets thrown around a lot. So what does thought leadership actually mean?
Thought leadership means any well-produced, well-researched piece of content that presents an expert point of view on a particular topic It’s designed to establish the speaker or writer as an authority, so the “talent” is often a company’s CEO or a high-ranking figure within the company who has credentials and experience to lean on.
Consider running a regular webinar series that invites leaders and influencers in your industry to be guest speakers.
Explainers that pose a pain point or problem commonly encountered within your space, and ideally that your product or service helps solve, are a great form of B2B content marketing.
Explainer copy helps your bottom line in a myriad of ways. It can also be used as a bottom-of-funnel piece of content for your sales team, facilitating upsells and creating stronger relationships with clients.
Providing useful short lists or extremely comprehensive lists of stats within your industry is an essential part of any B2B content marketing strategy. For example:
- PR Statistics
- Social Media Marketing Statistics
- Influencer Marketing Statistics
It allows you to present lots of information in one place, contextually, and in an easy-to-digest format. It’s also a great relationship-building tactic if you’re trying to attract influencers or thought leaders — if you link to a particular source or article you can reach out to let them know and start a conversation.
Reports using data gathered by your company are a golden opportunity for businesses looking to up their content marketing game.
B2B marketers should produce reports on a yearly, bi-yearly, or quarterly basis depending on the industry and their resources. This type of asset is great for establishing industry clout, especially if you’re able to offer something unique and different from your competitors, either through a larger sample size, or more accurate data analysis.
Guides & blog posts
A comprehensive guide or blog post on a particular subject, or answering a specific question for people in your industry is a great type of content marketing for B2B businesses.
They can serve as a higher funnel piece of content, great for brand awareness and growing your email list. They make an excellent companion piece to webinars on the same subject and you can do all sorts of teasers on social media or in your blog, atomizing pieces of a longer guide to entice readers.
Topics around forecasting are always in high demand. They are an especially nifty way to attract readership through SEO and other marketing channels.
Also, it’s a good idea to incorporate evergreen SEO blogs into your content marketing strategy that can serve as filler pieces on social media and are easy to maintain and atomize since they don’t need to be constantly updated.
Customer stories & testimonials
More great fodder for attracting potential clients, a positive customer experience that details the issues they needed to address and how they were solved by using your product or service can go a long way to closing a deal. They are the perfect sneak-peek into real-world applications for your tools and play well on social media especially when you can tag the respective company.
Use cases and buyers guides
Potential customers to your site that are exploring your products may not actually know exactly what they need. If someone is in browsing mode you want to be able to provide solid use cases that present all the reasons they should consider you over one of your competitors.
These pieces of content are designed to entice a next step in the buyer’s journey, and you should also consider that a potential customer may use them to convince whomever on their team has purchasing power that this will be a worthwhile investment of time and money.
Creating Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
When creating your B2B content marketing strategy, start with the goals and be clear about what you want to achieve. Typically the goals behind B2B content are closely tied to a business objective such as “increase qualified leads by x” or “grow email list by x percent” or “improve customer retention rate” and each piece of content should be designed with these in mind.
These sample goals are largely middle to bottom-funnel but customer acquisition is of course an extremely important facet of B2B marketing as well. Top-of-funnel initiatives like SEO and brand awareness definitely have a place in B2B content marketing, but because you’re speaking to teams as opposed to individuals the tactics will be different than B2C efforts in this area.
Define your B2B target audience
B2B marketing targets influencers, industry insiders, current customers, and potential customers.
Within those buckets, you likely have specific audience personas and market segments.
Use software like Google Analytics or Meltwater’s Audience Insights tool to get more information about who currently visits your site and follow you on social media so you can effectively create content that will resonate with your target audience.
It’s also highly recommended to run competitor analysis and see what others in your space are doing with their content marketing.
Establish a content creation and promotion plan
Once you know your target audiences you can go about creating content. Make sure to have a content calendar in place. Ensure you have a promotion plan established for each piece of content, whether it be through PR, social media, email, advertising, or all four.
As much as you need to get eyes and ears on your content, it’s equally as important to make sure it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. So when crafting promotional copy and CTAs, refer back to the data you have on your target audience for clues on increasing conversions!
Measure the results of your B2B content marketing efforts
B2B content marketing is nothing without iteration based on data. Always make sure you have clear success metrics tied to your KPIs so you can see quickly what’s working and what’s not. As you start to see patterns emerge you can assess how to improve your strategy.
Here are some examples of what to look out for:
- Getting more leads from webinars than guides? Test updating your guide CTAs to match the ones in your webinar promotions, or look at the most common customer journey path leading to the guide. Does it perhaps have a misleading title? Or perhaps the content that isn’t useful based on the pages the user visited prior.
- Is the time on page unusually short for a customer story? Check the page content, loading speed, and make sure all information is up to date to diagnose why people are bouncing. Are they using a legacy product you no longer offer or is called something different?
- Are your emails seeing a jump in open rates but a drop in clicks? Good for you on those subject lines! But the content is clearly not resonating with the audience and it’s costing you in returning website visitors and therefore more opportunities to close deals and achieve upsells. Take another look at those subject lines: are they promising what’s actually in the email?
Meltwater provides social and media intelligence. By examining millions of posts each day from social media platforms, blogs, and news sites, Meltwater helps companies make better, more informed decisions based on insight from the outside. The company was founded in Oslo, Norway, in 2001 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with 50 offices across six continents. Learn more at meltwater.com.
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