If you’re ready to grow your organic traffic and get more eyeballs on your content, a strong B2B content marketing strategy is the way to go. There are no magic potions or magic formulas. Creating a B2B content strategy that drives results takes industry expertise, audience understanding, and strategic implementation. It includes a strategic process to create better and more valuable content for an audience. Your content will help your audience reach their goals, and in return, you will reach the target numbers you wish.
Yes, you need a strategy.
As an agency, we often see clients deep-dive into content creation without a strategy. Our world is driven by output, but as we tell our clients, your content will produce minimal results if you don’t put the time and strategic effort into a documented B2B content marketing strategy.
The strategy will provide you with a specified worldview that is identical to your ideal customer’s view. By starting with strategy, you are ensuring that you’ve identified the ideal audience, ideal content assets, and the strategic direction that needs to be taken. I can’t emphasize this enough. You need a document B2B content strategy.
A documented content strategy will help you reach your goals. The online world is changing. Content is catching on, and it’s growing exponentially. It’s more difficult now than it has ever been before to rank your content, to get it noticed, and to have more eyeballs engaging with your content. It’s just harder. And it’s next to impossible without a strategy.
If you don’t have a strategy, you risk falling into the dark reaches of the internet where your content will never reach the humans that you ask of it to attract.
In this comprehensive article, you will be introduced to the B2B content marketing strategy. You will learn what B2B content is, why it is important, and why you need a documented content strategy. And lastly, you will learn how to start with B2B content strategy—how to get started, move in the right direction, and start seeing results with your content.
What is B2B content marketing?
Content marketing is a collection of content pieces (i.e. blog posts, downloads, Instagram pieces, and more) that are created to educate your customer about your products, services, or a content topic by the means of quality, relevant, and helpful information.
Content is a broad term, and it encompasses a variety of different approaches and content types. For example, content can be developing a webinar series, or it can involve creating valuable content on Instagram. It’s two different content mediums, but both have to do with content marketing.
For B2B companies, our agency recommends that you start with editorial content on your website, white papers, eBooks, LinkedIn content, and email content. It’s a combination of both content and inbound marketing tactics that will help you reach your lead and traffic goals. B2B content marketing is different than other types of industry marketing because it’s created to attract B2B audiences that require high-level educational content, nurturing, and continuous information for a long period. This makes the strategic planning and content creation process for B2B industries more complex. Finally, there are specific channels that work best for B2B content marketing, and these include LinkedIn content, webinars, Google organic search, and relationship building efforts.
Your strategy helps you decide what content to produce. It starts with strategy (and planning) and digital talking to your ideal reader with the right information, in the right format, and at the right time to attract a well-defined target market (and retain them.)
Why is B2B content marketing important?
Now that you understand what content marketing is, then the next logical question is why [in the heck] is it important and why should I even care. Here is a brief outlook on the current buyer’s landscape:
Readers are more educated and engaged in the buying process than ever before, and they demand relevant and useful information to inform their buying decisions.
Content is the element that helps individuals make informed decisions, and they’re demanding for it. The amount of content consumed before reaching a buying decision depends on the industry—but here’s a statistic that gives us insight into the value of using content as a pre-sale education tool in the B2B field.
47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces before talking with a salesperson (Source: DemandGenReport)
Content is popular, but here are a few more supporting reasons on why B2B content marketing is important.
- Content builds trust with your audience.
- Content builds authority online.
- SEO loves content.
- Content supports your paid marketing.
- Content nurtures your audience and advances the sales cycle.
Do you agree? We should strive to produce quality content because it boosts your authentic online presence. Content is important, because it’s a major player in the online world today. It builds relationships with your audience, and it’s a strong framework for generating online traffic. For example, this is another statistic that sums up the importance of valuable online content.
60% of consumers feel engaged/positive with a brand or company after reading custom content on their blog (Source: ContentPlus)
Why do you need a B2B content marketing strategy?
Your content might be the best in the industry, but if it’s not structured correctly, distributed correctly, and consistent, it’ll go nowhere. You need a content marketing strategy to keep your content writing focused, purposeful, and scalable.
Content creators will sometimes begin creating content with no content marketing strategy. The content is okay, but I always end up asking these important questions.
- What is the purpose of your content?
- How will your content be helpful to your audience for the relevant topic?
- What types of content formats are best for your audience?
- What is your main goal of your content creation?
- How is the content leading your audience down the journey?
A strategy gives the content creator the right focus to achieving goals, the right tools to create content rooted to their customer, and a written framework for content creation success. And this is where a content marketing strategy begins.
How to begin a B2B content marketing strategy
A B2B content marketing strategy should have five major pieces. These sections include;
- Content strategy objectives & goals (be specific!)
- A clearly defined buyer persona (s) and the customer journey
- Defined content channels that includes which channels, how many channels, and ranking of importance by the buyer persona
- Target content tactics like content formats, content frequency, and content best practices
- Distribution plan with channels and posting frequency
Other key strategy pieces can include your marketing technology slack—what will you use to implement your content strategy. Lastly, if you’re the data type, you can become very detailed in the metric types and which to track performance of your content strategy.
Creating a content marketing strategy is a series of important elements and steps. You can find additional resources on strategy creation at Optinmonster.
The next sections will highlight in details the various pieces of a B2B content marketing strategy. With each topic, you’re provided with additional content from our content marketing blog to help you understand the concept further.
How to define the buyer persona
Know your audience. To create quality and purposeful content, you need to understand your buyer persona (or audience) as a best friend.
If you think of your best friend, you know what keeps them up at night, what their everyday struggles & challenges are, and how they think and search out answers. This is the state of mind that you must develop for your business audience.
The buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. It provides an overview of who that person is, their demographics, what they like (and dislike), their motivates, emotions, and habits. It becomes very, very detailed.
To become very detailed with your buyer persona you will need to (1) talk to your ideal customer in person, and (2) always be updating your ideal buyer persona profile.
Many companies will draw out the buyer persona on a piece of paper, in Trello, or another similar application. This is great because it allows the whole team to see and understand who they are talking to.
How do you paint a picture of your ideal audience? How can you understand them and know them better? It’s done by asking. To complete this exercise and define the target persona, you will need to do a thorough intelligence gathering.
You’ll start by gathering demographic information on the target persona by looking at analytical tools like Google Analytics. Start with these questions to create a framework.
- What is their gender?
- What is their education background?
- What is their location?
- How do they get their news?
- What social media platforms are they on?
- What are their values?
- What challenges do they face in their career or personal life?
- What are their pain points (i.e. what keeps them up at night worrying)?
Once you’ve gathered what you can from Google Analytics, I suggest sending out an audience survey using a tool like Typeform. The key here is making sure your online survey is short, concise, and easy to navigate. It’s most successful when the survey questions are shorter, fewer, and written in the language of the target persona.Read: what a buyer persona is and why you need one.
Once you’ve gathered intelligence from Google Analytics and the survey, the next step is meeting this person live. Take your ideal audience persona out for coffee and ask them a few of these questions. Make the meeting relaxed and meaningful with open-ended questions that allow your audience persona to just talk away.
How to create the audience journey map
You’ve completed your intelligence gathering to define your audience, and it’s now time to make that even more visual with an audience journey map.
A customer journey map (or audience journey map) is a visual representation of their journey and the different layers of thought, pains, and challenges they approach until they make a service/product purchase.
It takes understanding their needs, challenges, pains and motivations for you to provide them with the best and relevant content to help achieve their goals. Read: What is an audience journey? By mapping a journey, a company can better identify the needs and challenges of the customer at each stage of the buying journey.
The stages of the audience journey are awareness, consideration, purchase, and advocate.
Once you’ve defined your buyer persona, you can create a custom audience journey map to fit the buying process of your customer. Their journey might look something like this:
- Awareness stage: A basic definition, theory, or understanding of a challenge
- Consideration stage: Better defining if a service or product is the ‘best fit’ for their needs
- Purchase stage: Narrowing down between a few vendors and comparing & contrasting on features, prices, and customer testimonials
How to define your content channels, content assets, and tactics
Once you have a clear understanding of your buyer persona and audience journey, the next step is to determine the best content channels and tactics to go after for your strategy. And you have loads to choose from—and honestly says that we might forget a few in this sections. The key is understanding the best channels and tactics for your company and your audience. Any approach doesn’t work for every company.
For B2B content specifically, several types of channels that you could use to get in front of your ideal customer.
- Social media – LinkedIn
- Editorial blog writing
- Email marketing
- Referral marketing
- SEO search-based marketing
- Collaborations & partnerships between companies
- PR and media relations
And in B2B, there are several types of content assets that are popular for B2B audiences.
- Editorial content posts
- Landing and website pages
- LinkedIn / social media content
- Q&A content answer forums
- Content assets downloads (like white papers)
- Visual graphic design elements⠀
- Quizzes and surveys
- Email content⠀
And if that was not enough for you, here are a few tactics that work well in B2B marketing.
- Backlinks and authority articles
- Guest posting and media placements
- LinkedIn marketing and thought-leadership content
- SEO-optimized editorial articles
To further deep-dive into these topics, check out these articles:
What are typical content assets to fill the top of the funnel?
What are the best social media platforms for B2B marketing?
Every company is different—but these are a few B2B industry best practices available to you. This is why partnering with a B2B content agency is valuable. Work with consultants that understand what works (& what doesn’t), and who can apply previous positive experiences to your project.
How to setup a distribution strategy
The distribution portion of your content strategy is like the forgotten stepchild. Many marketers become hyper-focused in producing content, generating topic ideas, and finalizing content—they forget to repurpose and distribute the content.
It’s an important step that shouldn’t be forgotten.
As a general rule, you should plan to distribute your new piece of content at least five times over the three months afters its publication. This will allow for the content to be shown to new audiences—and as we know, it takes over five times of consistent marketing messaging for a new idea to stick with a customer.
You can distribute content through the social media channels that you have chosen. However, you can also choose to distribute the content through your email newsletter, employee/advocate social channels, and third-party website distribution platforms. In a recent article, we highlight several valuable distribution channels for the B2B industry. Read the article.
Organizing your B2B content marketing strategy
If done correctly, content tailored to the buyer persona, audience journey, and with the best B2B content tactics in mind—can influence and motivate a website visitor into a buying customer. To do this, it takes having a documented content strategy with all the important and fundamental pieces to reach success.
- Clearly identifying your buyer persona, customer journey & knowing B2B industry best practices
- Documenting your content strategy
- Defining and choosing the correct channels for your industry
- Distributing the content effectively
Success is realized when all these pieces are placed together. And the marketing team (or agency) can execute on the strategy and plan confidently.