Close to 95% of marketers are already implementing B2B content marketing as a part of their overall strategy, so it’s a good bet you’re aware of its power.
There’s a problem, though.
While there is plenty of content being created every day, most of it never gains any traction. As a matter of fact, 55% of B2B marketers report a lack of understanding when it comes to what makes for a successful content marketing strategy.
Come to think of it; that’s probably why you’re here.
You want to learn how to make B2B content marketing WORK for your company, which is a good thing, because that’s exactly what I’m going to show you.
I’m about to take you through a B2B content marketing crash course that will leave you in a powerful position to optimize your content marketing strategy and have new leads knocking at your door.
You’re about to learn:
- What B2B content marketing is
- What type of content is considered to be “B2B content”
- Why content is so important for B2B
- How to create your own content strategy
- How to create your own content production process
- What tools you’ll need to succeed
- And more…
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, engaging content to a clear target audience. This content is created to answer questions or solve problems your target audience (customers) face.
When people search for answers, your content is there to supply them.
Different types of content are created to fill different gaps in the buyer’s journey. The more helpful and valuable your content, the more trust you build, the more leads you generate…you get the picture.
So what is B2B content marketing?
Simply put, B2B content marketing is creating content relevant to your target audience of businesses rather than consumers. That’s really the only major difference.
That said, it may be even more important for B2B marketers to implement a content strategy. The buyer’s journey in B2B is typically longer and more complicated than in that of a B2C transaction.
In terms of volume and cost, a B2B buyer’s investment may be much larger, and there may be more people depending on the buyer to make the right decision.
That all boils down to one thing—the need to build trust and showcase your industry expertise. That’s why B2B content marketing should be at the top of your marketing priorities list. In addition to impacting marketing, you’ll see tremendous value when content marketing is paired with your outbound sales efforts.
B2B Content Marketing Statistics
Take a look at the following important B2B content marketing statistics and it will become clear why it’s so important to develop a well-defined content marketing strategy for your organization.
Here are a few B2B content marketing statistics that you’ll want to pay attention to:
- The most effective B2B content marketers allocate a larger portion of their budget to content marketing: 42% of their total budget, compared to 28% for less-effective marketers. (Source)
- B2B marketers report sales lead quality as their #1 most important metric for measuring content marketing success; even more important than sales and conversions. (Source)
- Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%). (Source)
- The 5 most important marketing tactics for B2B businesses are (in order): in-person events, webinars/webcasts, case studies, white papers, and videos. (Source)
- Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Effectiveness levels are greater among respondents with documentation, clarity around success, good communication, and experience.
- 44% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 55% are unclear or unsure.
What do these B2B content marketing statistics tell you?
Content marketing has exploded for a reason: It works!
The problem, as we see it, is that a large percentage of marketers don’t know how to implement B2B content marketing effectively. They’re just spinning their wheels and wasting time creating content that never gains exposure or lead-generating traction.
That’s why it’s good you’re here.
You’re learning what you need to start creating the content that makes an impact on your bottom line; the kind of content that helps move the needle and makes the C-suite smile.
What constitutes B2B content?
The types of content you’ll create as a B2B marketer aren’t really all that different than those used in B2C. The important thing to understand is what types of content you’ll use for each stage of the buyer’s journey and how to apply them in the B2B marketing arena.
Let’s make this easy by giving you a few examples for each stage —
- Blog Posts
- Social Media Posts
- White Papers
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Research Reports
B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Your B2B content marketing strategy is different than your B2C or overall content marketing strategy. Your content strategy is what provides you with the baseline understanding necessary to develop a strong content marketing strategy.
To get a clear picture of your B2B content marketing strategy you’ll need to take a deep look into your existing content efforts, where and how you want to and should be exercising content marketing, and the gap in between.
Analyze Where You Are Currently
To understand the changes you’ll need to make, it’s important to take inventory on where you stand at the present moment.
- Do you have a clear buyer persona to target?
- Do you understand how to reach that persona?
- What content have you already created?
- How does that content speak to your target persona?
- What channels are you using to distribute content?
- What is your competition creating?
- How do you compare?
Determine Where You’re Heading
Now that you have a clear picture of where you stand, it’s important to determine where your content marketing is heading and the gap that you’ll need to cover to get there.
What do you need to do to:
- Get clear on your buyer personas?
- Communicate to them most effectively?
- Reach them on new distribution channels?
- Optimize your existing content?
- Create new content that is optimized from the start?
- Analyze your competition?
- Best your competitors?
To get a clear picture of where you stand and how to optimize your strategy, it’s important to understand the concepts of:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Best practices for writing for the web
- Workflow analysis
- Creating a content calendar
I’ll touch on these points in later sections, so be sure to look out for this important information.
Another item you’ll want to understand while creating your content strategy is the keywords you’ll be targeting with your content
Short- or long-tail keywords
The problem with content’s massive rise is that there is just so much of it. That means you’re going to have a really hard time ranking for short-tail keywords like “logistics.” There is usually a big fish with a massive marketing budget that’s been in the game for far longer sitting at the top of the search results for single keyword phrases.
The more descriptive phrases like, “logistics management and software case studies” are going to be far easier to rank due to their lack of competition. The downside to these long-tail keywords is that their search volume is usually quite low. The more descriptive a keyword phrase gets, the lower the search volume drops.
It’s a good idea to find a good middle ground between the nearly impossible challenge of ranking for a single-word phrase and the measly search volume of the super long-tail keywords.
Selecting the best keywords is all about finding balance.
It’s a good idea to try to rank for keywords that have high search volume because you’ll drive more traffic to your content (read: website), but you’ll want to avoid creating content for keywords where the competition is simply too much to overcome.
I’ll tell you all about the best tools to help you select the right keywords in just a minute, but first…
The Benefits of Long-Tail for B2B Content Marketing
B2B businesses typically maintain higher conversion values due to the average volume of a B2B sale versus a B2C sale. The lifetime value of a client is typically substantially higher given the longevity of a B2B relationship. A single client could be more valuable to your company than 100 or 1,000 B2C customers.
Consider writing for very specific keywords that apply to your industry niche. For example, as a digital marketing agency, Uhuru writes for specific keywords like “Fashion Ecommerce Marketing.” It’s a keyword so specific that it only receives around 200 monthly searches, however, a single Uhuru client is worth far more than a single customer of the fashion ecommerce brands we serve.
Value is relative. Keep your customer lifetime value in mind when doing keyword research and you’ll have a better understanding of the types of keywords you’ll want to rank for.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Your B2B content marketing strategy is going to set the stage for your plan of action. It’s different from your content strategy in that it outlines the actions that will take you from where you are now to the achievement of your clearly outlined goals.
I can’t stress the importance of creating a content marketing strategy enough.
“Our B2B content marketing research revealed that successful B2B content marketers have two critical habits. First, they document their content marketing strategy. They get the strategy out of their head and into action.” Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute
Having a plan in place outlines how you’ll achieve your goals and is the only way to effectively understand and evaluate the processes and actions you’ve taken. Simply throwing yourself into a content creation frenzy will be both inefficient and ineffective. Don’t waste your time—strategize!
Here’s how to put together your own killer content strategy…
Steps to Creating a Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Analyze your industry competition
Understanding what is and isn’t working for your competition allows you to skip some of the growing pains that they’ve endured. Learn what you can from your competitors.
That said, just because they can’t get it right doesn’t mean that you can’t. Learn from their mistakes and identify areas that could use improvement.
You guessed it! Do it better.
Determine what you’ll be creating
Next, it’s time to determine what type of content you’ll be creating. How will you best reach your target audience? You’ll need content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. What type will it be?
How many blog posts, power posts, ebooks, case studies, etc. do you need to answer your target’s questions and nurture them during each stage of the buyer’s journey?
Create a content calendar
The content calendar is just what it sounds like, a calendar by which you schedule your content creation and posting.
If you want to create 2 blog posts each week and publish them on Tuesday and Thursday of the following week, put it on your calendar.
If you want to create a downloadable offer every month, note the time when you’ll create it and the date you’ll publish it on your calendar.
Get the picture?
The single most effective indicator of content marketing success is having an editorial content calendar based on buyer-focused keyword research. Winging content creation and promotion efforts is not only naive, but dangerous for the bottom line. A campaign/content calendar is a fundamental part of an effective digital marketing campaign.
Meet regularly to update your strategy
It’s imperative that you meet regularly to analyze your existing strategy and outline ways that it can be improved. The only way to understand what is and isn’t working is by doing, but you’ll need to make room to modify your strategy regularly in order to maintain your direction toward content success.
According to the content marketing institute, “44% of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly—either in person or virtually—to discuss the progress of their content marketing program; however, the more effective the organization is at content marketing, the more often they meet (61% of the most effective meet daily or weekly).”
Content Production Process
There is more to the content production process than you may think. In fact, there are several steps that you’ll need to understand before you begin producing.
Understand your target buyer persona
Creating a powerful content marketing strategy starts with a clear understanding of your content strategy. The most important part of your content strategy is knowing who you’re selling to.
You’ll go nowhere fast by trying to target everyone. Instead, be sure you’ve created a very specific buyer persona and build your content around them.
- What type of customer makes up the majority of your existing clientele?
- What are their defining characteristics?
You can always create new personas and expand your target in the future, but the importance of starting with a defined buyer persona is paramount to your success.
Understanding Keyword Research
Diligent keyword research is of the utmost importance. Diving into content creation before you fully understand what keywords you’re targeting is an all-too-common strategy that gets most people absolutely nowhere.
Think about topic ideas that your target buyer would be searching for by asking these questions:
- Who are you creating content for?
- What problems will they face in their buyer’s journey?
- What stands in the way of them buying from you?
Come up with a list of ideas for blog posts and other content areas. Then, use one of the keyword research tools outlined in the next section to determine how you can optimize these content ideas and create pieces that will rank.
Outlining Blog Posts
Take the ideas you’ve come up with and think of keywords that apply to each of them. Plug them into a keyword analysis tool (see the Tools section below) and you’ll be able to see just how many searches these keywords get on a monthly basis.
For example, when Uhuru went to write about “ways to optimize your online store,” we determined the best keyword to target was “ecommerce marketing,” based on the search volume and competition.
You’ll also be able to determine the level of competition you’re up against and the keywords related to your target keyword. If the competition is too high, we may decide to look into pursuing one of the more attainable keywords, as well as writing for some of the secondary (related) keywords that will help boost our overall search volume.
We then create an outline for our new post based on the top ranking posts for that keyword. It must be longer and more informative. It must also include enough subtopics to tell the whole story. After all, we want everything we write to act as a standalone resource on the topic.
We finish the outline with links to the articles we want to emulate, and those we need to be better than.
Writing and SEO optimization
The writing process is more about being a strategic marketer than being a great writer (though that helps). In fact, most great content marketers aren’t excellent writers. Here’s what they do well…
Create a Standalone Resource
One of the best ways to rank your post is by creating something that is better than what is currently available on a topic. Stick your keyword into Google and write a piece that is more informative, longer, and better overall than the post that ranks highest.
Tell the whole story. Aim to create a stand-alone resource that you don’t need to link out to other sites or posts to make it feel complete.
Keywords — The Right Way to Optimize
The SEO process begins by including the keyword in the first and last hundred words and about one time for every 100 words in between. Try to maintain an average ratio of less than 2%. (Use this tool.)
Hook Readers with the Intro
The intro is hugely important. You want your content read, so you need to hook your reader right off the bat.
Use the trusty APP approach to get your reader on the line:
- Agree: I think you’ll agree…
- Promise: Well, it’s possible to do it like this…
- Preview: Here’s a preview of what’s to come…
Then fill in the rest of the post with cliff-hanging sentences called “bucket brigades.”
- As if that’s not enough
- Best of all
- But wait there’s more
- By now
- By the way
- Even better
- Good news!
- Here’s why
Benefit heavy headings and subheadings
Finally, you’ll want to make sure your content is easily scannable. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but very few people are actually going to read your entire post. Most people are going to scan it for the information they’re after and move on with their lives. It’s just the way of the world.
That’s why you need to make sure they can find what they need when they scan. Don’t try to create clever, catchy, or funny headings and subheadings. Instead, be clear about what the section is about and the benefit that your readers will receive from that section.
You should also format your content with plenty of headings and subheadings that help to break up long blocks of boring-looking content. The easier your post is to scan and read, the better!
The more you use these techniques, the better your chances are that you’ll have your posts read, and that’s important.
On-page time is an important ranking factor for Google, so you want to show the search engine that people are finding your post relevant to the keywords you’re targeting by keeping them reading.
It’s important to have all of your content edited. Have a second (and even a third) party review your content for spelling, grammar, accuracy, readability, scannability, SEO optimization, the works!
A fresh pair eyes and an outside point of view can help you identify weak points and catch mistakes. Perfect content makes Google and your readers like you more.
Support Your Post with Design/Images/Photography
Include supportive images or photos in your post that help to tell the story. The old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words certainly applies here. They also help to break up long blocks of boring-looking content.
Too much content stuck together can look daunting, no matter how amazing it is. Do your best to illustrate content with images and break it up with plenty of space, headings, subheadings, etc.
Hiring a professional to design graphics and visual aids to support your post is a great idea. They can take your copy and images and optimize your formatting and layout to make it look its very best. A visually appealing piece of content that is easy to understand at a glance will make the best impression on your readers.
Once you have a perfect post, you’re ready to publish. This process is pretty straightforward with most of the publishing platforms available. (More on that in a minute.)
Social Sharing and Email Distribution
It’s also time to share your hard work on social media and with your email list. Broadcast it to the world and get your valuable content out there. Typically, each piece of content should be converted to a minimum of 25 social media updates and scheduled over the coming months. The further your reach, the better. Emails are forwarded and social posts are shared and this type of distribution should begin directly after you publish your post to your blog.
There you have it, the content production process all wrapped up into a neat little package.
Aren’t you glad you found your way to this post?
Now let’s take a look at the tools we use to make content marketing more powerful!
Content Marketing Tools and Technology
There are a handful of tools that will make your content marketing more powerful and your production easier.
Collaborative Tools Like Google Docs
Collaborative tools like Google docs—all of the Google apps are awesome—will make your life much easier when creating content. You can access your content from anywhere, share it with anyone, and collaborate with your entire team quickly and efficiently.
Keyword Research Tools –
You may think your target is searching for “cheap bolts of fabric,” while the high volume/low competition keyword is actually “wholesale fabric bolts.” They mean pretty much the same thing, but if you optimized your post around the first keyword you’d be missing out on the better traffic opportunity.
Publishing Platform – Lead Captures – Email Automation
Publishing platforms like WordPress and HubSpot make it easy to publish your optimized content and play a role in tracking its success. You’ll need a platform like these to get your content online and in front of your target audience.
These publishing platforms also offer things like email capture technology to help you build your list, landing, and thank-you page design to gather those emails and respond accordingly, and automated email sequences that allow you to market to your list with your awesome content.
Take your inbound marketing to the next level with tools like Hubspot’s Smart CTAs.
Or, let the pros help you do what they do best…
B2B Inbound and Content Marketing Agency
Now you have a good understanding of what it takes to put a solid content marketing strategy in place. You may also understand that it’s a process that takes a good deal of work to do right.
That’s not to say that plenty of people aren’t doing an excellent job, but you always have the option to hand the reins to the experts.
I’m talking about B2B content marketing agencies (otherwise known as B2B inbound marketing agencies). These are the digital marketing agencies that specialize in the processes outlined in this article. They’re the professionals that live and breathe content marketing and understand every intricacy of how the inbound machine works.
How B2B Content Marketing Agencies Can Help You
The benefit of hiring experts is that they eliminate the learning curve associated with content marketing (that can last months or years for some). They make the most of your content budget and start getting you ranked for your target keywords faster.
Not only do they get the ball rolling, they steer it in the right direction. They understand how to put together a foolproof strategy that integrates every component of your inbound marketing machine.
They know how and when to use each type of content to achieve each of your goals and nurture your potential customers through the buyer’s journey, ensuring there are no gaps and reinforcing any weak points as they appear.
Typically outcomes from B2B industries come in the form of differentiation from competitors, increased market visibility and, ultimately, driving more customers.
- Increase in organic web traffic
- Increase in leads
- Decrease in PPC spend
- Increased revenues or profitability
- Faster time to market
- Decreased marketing costs
- Improved operational efficiency
- Revitalizing the organization
- Enhancing customer loyalty
- Increased market share
- Decreased employee turnover
- Attracting better employees, partners, vendors, investors
- Improved customer retention levels
- Increased revenue per customer
- Increased competitive differentiation
- Decreased operational expenses
- Increased sales per customer
- Improved asset utilization
- Minimize sales and marketing risk
- Improved time-to-profitability
- Increased billable hours
- Increased inventory turns
- Faster sales cycles
With this strategy in place, you should be well on your way to creating a content marketing machine that can have a powerful impact on the way you generate leads. Everything starts with your strategy.
Put together a document that outlines your plan for B2B content marketing success. Determine who your target is, put together a content strategy that fits it and create content that is optimized to be discovered in the search engines.
Test, evaluate, and make adjustments as needed. B2B content marketing is a process that should continually be optimized, so stay on top of it and you’ll build the momentum that will lead to the realization of your goals.
Here’s to your success,