B2B Content MarketingGrow your B2B with lead generation through content marketing
What is B2B content marketing?
B2B content marketing is a tactic for meeting the needs of an information hungry B2B audience and supporting sales journey. Your content strategy produces content that meets the needs of an audience, and it’s the job of content marketing to ensure your audience knows that content exists. Content marketing is a tool that helps businesses build relationships with their audience. Through your content marketing efforts, your audience will start to know, like and trust you. B2B content marketing is not about repeatedly selling your products but has a clear focus on providing content of genuine value, at relevant parts of the sales journey.
B2B content marketing a core component of all digital marketing executions. Without content of genuine value, tactics such as social media marketing, search marketing, and even email marketing would generate a poor return on investment.
Getting started with B2B Content Marketing
B2B content marketing starts with knowing your audience, not just knowing their names and email addresses but knowing what the typical customer journey looks like from initial awareness, through to being a customer who is willing to advocate for your products. It’s important to know the customer and their journey because content marketing depends on your prospects encountering the content they need, at the right time and in a format they expect.
As a business-to-business organization you probably believe that you’re already doing B2B content marketing, and indeed you might be, but so is every other B2B. What sets successful content marketing apart, is having a clear content strategy. The typical scenario for business-to-business organizations is producing as much content as possible and sticking it on the website. Your audience is already lost in the noise of everyone on their shortlist producing large volumes of content, you can’t stand out by producing more. B2B content marketing ROI is unlocked with having a B2B content strategy.
Content strategy to Content Marketing
As business-to-business companies, we need to know what matters to our audience. Only that clear understanding will help us produce contents of genuine value. Once the customer journey is understood, and we know the pain points of the audience, it’s time to think about content that will answer those pain points. The initial reaction is to produce content to answer every pain point, but what has proven to be a far more pragmatic content strategy is to produce one great piece of cornerstone content per quarter. Cornerstone content is something that offers real value and insights, it shines through in your industry as a quality piece of research that has taken time to produce. Once we have this cornerstone content that we know our audience will find useful, is time to think about how to market that content.
Match the B2B customer journey
The B2B customer journey is very long and involves multiple steps. B2B content marketing needs to consider how to reach audiences in different parts of the sales funnel. Prospects may just be starting out with early research or at the other end shortlisting vendors. This is about knowing which channels you can use to reach your audience and the content format you will need for each channel.
Select the right content format
The format of content is an often the overlooked part of B2B content marketing, but actually one of its most important. Prospects in different parts of the customer journey require content in different formats. Someone who is very early on in the journey just building awareness will need content at a very high-level ( infographic), and as they graduate to a deeper level of understanding and get closer to making a decision, the content they require will become increasingly detailed (a white paper).
Pick tactics for distribution and amplification
The aim of content marketing is to ensure your audience knows about your content. Align your channels of distribution to where you’re most likely to find the right audience for your content. SEO, PPC, Social Media and Email are all tactics at your disposal. Your content should offer so much value that other sites link to it and it’s actively shared on social media, this will help prospects organically find your content. Paid tactics will promote your content early in its life cycle and help you reach an audience who may not organically encounter your content. Email gives you the opportunity to use content marketing to nurture known contacts towards a buying decision,
B2B content marketing best practices
Here are some Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing best practices that should help optimize your B2B content marketing efforts.
Have a B2B content strategy & a content marketing strategy
Have a documented content marketing strategy that stakeholders across the organization can refer to. It’s much easier to remain consistent with a strategy that is documented and not just in someone’s head. It’s also much easier to develop a content plan based on a documented strategy.
Use content to weave stories
Write stories that meet your objectives and take your audience on a journey. A great narrative is much more memorable and engaging than stone cold facts. People and organizations buy products based on the promise of what they can do, build that vision of a future where your products have solved the reader’s pain points.
Content marketing is not a sales pitch
Content marketing needs to be of genuine value, not a sales pitch. B2B buyers are often spending a lot of money, making long-term commitments and making a decision on behalf of their businesses. Give them value and build goodwill, before you ask for anything in return.
Answer pain points with content
B2B businesses should develop content that solves pain points. Talk to your customers about their pain points, what they want to learn about and what engages them. Your customers are a great resource for content ideas. Equally, generate content ideas from your support teams and sales force, in a B2B business these are likely to be the teams that are closest to customers and prospects. What rejection reasons do you sales force hear and how can you use content to answer them, even before they become an issue for the prospect?
B2B content marketing ROI depends on being able to repurpose the same core content. Think about how one piece of content can generate multiple assets. A webinar could be cut up into small segments for YouTube. A presentation at an event could be live streamed. A case study could become an infographic. Content can be a new perspective or build on previous work.