In the marketing world, content marketing is a huge buzzword. It's a great way for businesses to speak directly to their customers and help them find solutions or answers. And that's what builds trust, which then turns into conversions.
What about B2B businesses? Your clients aren't the average consumer. They're big-time decision-makers and executives. And they don't have a lot of time to read through pages and pages of marketing content.
Plus, B2B buying often involves high-average order values and long-term commitments. And let's not talk about the long sales cycle.
So how does content marketing help B2B brands win over clients? Is it even possible?
Yes. And we're going to show you how.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content across various channels. The goal is to increase brand awareness, traffic, leads, and sales for B2B companies.
The principles of B2B content marketing are pretty similar to those of a B2C company. Where they differ is the decision process and promotion channels. For example, B2C content marketing often involves quick and simple purchase journeys.
This journey looks something like this: A consumer searches for a keyword or phrase relating to a problem or question they have. They find a company blog post addressing that problem or question. Within the blog post is a solution or product the company offers. Then, the consumer makes the purchase.
While the buyer's journey isn't always that linear, it gives you a clear picture of how B2C content marketing works.
Now let's look at B2B.
B2B content marketing often works with a long, complicated purchase funnel that could take weeks, months, or longer of guiding a prospect to purchase. This means that B2B enterprise content marketing needs to take a different approach.
When thinking about your B2B content marketing strategy, plan for high quality content ideas that are more tailored to the buyer's journey at every stage of the B2B marketing funnel. Understand that B2B buyers aren't going to reach a purchase decision as quickly as B2C buyers. So your content calendar should look a lot different from that of a B2C brand.
B2B Content Marketing Best Practices
Here are B2B content marketing tactics that integrated marketing agencies use and YOU can also use to help turn your leads into clients.
Don't just start creating content. Make sure your content has a purpose first. This means knowing why you're creating every piece of great content you produce. This involves setting B2B content marketing goals, and determining how you'll measure your success.
Whether you're trying to drive organic traffic, earn links, or funnel leads through the sales funnel, having a clear idea of what your goals are is paramount to your success.
Identify Your Customer Personas
Like many companies, your B2B business might have more than one type of client, especially if you offer different products or services. So being familiar with these different segments of your target audience will be very helpful when creating your content.
When it comes to different buyers' personas, learn their personal motivations, their values, and the types of communication they prefer. To do this, research and analyze your real customers by conducting surveys, engaging with them on social media, and studying their behavior in your customer relationship management (CRM) system -- if you use one.
Once you learn about your audience, you'll be able to build a B2B content marketing strategy that's tailored to each of their needs.
Understand Your Sales Funnel
A simple sales funnel looks like this: Awareness --> Interest & Evaluation --> Desire --> Action. In reality, the B2B sales funnel is a lot more complicated than that. Get with your sales team to get a clear idea of what your specific sales funnel looks like. From there, you can follow B2B marketing tips that help you target qualified leads at every stage.
Create Engaging, Relevant Content
Creating engaging content that keeps readers' attention can be challenging. This is especially true for B2B companies because technical expertise is often necessary. This means content is often bogged down with technical jargon and can be downright boring. So try to make your content engaging and easy to scan by:
- Breaking content up into manageable chunks
- Using headings and subheadings
- Styling your text with bold and italics
- Using a more conversational tone
- Explaining concepts in a way that anyone without prior industry knowledge can understand
Another challenge B2B marketers face when creating content is focusing on the company's product or service, and not addressing the buyer's pain points. Make your content more about the buyer's concerns, wants, and needs.
A good question to ask when creating content: What's in it for them?
Also, many B2B companies mess up when they create different content that doesn't align well with B2B buyer's interests. Content formats for B2B buyers should be structured more carefully to nurture leads down the content marketing funnel. Let's look at what content marketing is important for B2B:
- Complete guides
- Templates and checklists
- Case studies
- Industry studies
- Weekly newsletters
Plus, not distributing B2B content on the right channels is a big mistake. For example, a candle business can crush it on Pinterest. But that's likely not the best platform for a B2B business that offers sales software. The following are channels in which B2B content tends to perform well:
- The company's site
- Industry publications
- Email marketing
- Internet search engines
Measure Content Performance
Use key metrics to gauge how well (or how badly) your B2B content performed. These metrics include:
- Number of leads generated
- Organic traffic
- Social reach and engagement
- Search rankings
- Number of quality backlinks earned
Examples of B2B Companies That Successfully Used Content Marketing
So which companies should you look up to when it comes to B2B content marketing?
Here are a few.
HubSpot has one of the best marketing blogs in the business. HubSpot divides its blog into two distinct sections: marketing and sales. HubSpot has done a great job creating content that's laser-focused on its audience's needs.
Buffer is another great example of a B2B marketing company that uses content marketing to win over buyers. Its content uses more data and research than most B2B publishers. Using data is an effective way to approach content because B2B buyers want to be 100% sure a solution will work for their company.
Why? Because they're spending more money than the average consumer.
LeadPages, a solution that offers landing page templates and testing services, does B2B content marketing well. Their blog focuses on content that's relevant to their prospects. Topics include lead generation, A/B testing, and how to stop lead leaks. LeadPages also has a popular podcast, weekly webinars, and free educational marketing resources.
B2B content marketing doesn't have to be difficult. And content doesn't have to be boring. If you need help with content creation or developing an effective content strategy, trust a B2B content marketing agency to get the job done.