Content marketing plays a key role in both customer acquisition and retention.
Whether you’re selling an everyday commodity or advanced business software, getting found on relevant searches is more important than ever, as everyone is looking for answers online. Influencing B2B buyers is difficult, so your B2B content marketing strategy is vital.
What is a B2B content marketing strategy?
A B2B content marketing strategy is any content strategy that targets businesses or organizations. Let’s say your product or service aims at businesses, not individual consumers. In this case, a B2B content marketing strategy will help you get the attention of key decision-makers in your target organizations.
A strong B2B content marketing strategy makes your target companies aware of your brand, products, and the problems you solve, bringing B2B buyers closer to purchasing.
Some content creation statistics show that content creation and distribution are the most cost-effective ways to generate leads organically. This is why almost 40% of B2B marketers prefer a documented content marketing strategy.
Here’s how using content as a B2B marketing tool benefits your business:
- Answers the audience’s burning questions
- Makes buyers aware of impending challenges and offers the solution they need
- Provides a non-intrusive customer experience, unlike traditional outbound marketing methods
- Increases traffic to your website by drawing visitors through content
- Helps you rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) and appear in relevant searches
- Serves as a dynamic collateral for sales and customer service
- Helps build trust and increases conversions
How is a B2B content marketing strategy different from B2C?
In B2B content marketing, your audience personas are people who make purchasing decisions on their organization’s behalf.
These purchasing decisions typically go through multiple approvals and depend on the organization’s budget, immediate or long-term goals, and several other factors. This makes B2B content marketing far more complex than B2C, where you only need to persuade the individual buyer.
B2B marketers rely on in-depth educational content that addresses the needs and challenges of a business buyer rather than a TV commercial or Facebook ad that typically appeals to individual consumers.
In B2B content marketing, purchasing decisions are driven by factors such as return on investment (ROI), ease of company-wide adoption, integration with existing systems, and projected outcomes. In B2C content marketing, however, it’s mostly emotional triggers that drive sales.
The sales cycle for B2B deals is also much longer than for B2C. Organizations look for long-term solutions and take more time to purchase. This doesn’t necessarily apply to a B2C buyer.
B2B marketers need to map their content at every stage of the buying journey. Although the sales funnel also applies to B2C customers, the journey from the top to the bottom of the funnel is much faster here.
Here are some common types of content in B2B marketing:
- Case studies
- White papers
- Product guides
- Video tutorials
B2C marketers, on the other hand, focus on quick and engaging content like social media posts, user-generated content, reels, and shorts.
Despite all the differences, B2C and B2B content marketing strategies can overlap in some areas. For example, many B2B brands use billboards and transit advertising on buses and trains, just like a B2C company. The idea is to onboard individual users, show them the product’s value, and get them to promote the product to their teams and organizations.
How to build a solid B2B content marketing strategy
Now that we understand why a strong B2B content marketing strategy is necessary and how it differs from a B2C content marketing strategy let’s dive straight into the nuances of building a B2B content strategy.
1. Learn everything about your product
The first step in building a content marketing strategy, whether B2B or B2C, is knowing what you’re offering. To target the right buyers and convince them to invest in a product, thoroughly examine your product and brand positioning.
Content marketers should work with the product team to learn more about their product. Similarly, marketers should be regularly updated on product features and functionality changes.
B2B content marketers should also understand that the same product can have different uses and value propositions for different customers. For example, a project management platform can have different use cases for a marketing agency and a SaaS company.
So, as a B2B content marketer, create content that highlights these different use cases with appropriate brand positioning where product knowledge is key.
2. Define your content goals
The next step is to understand the role of content in achieving your business goals. B2B content marketing can help a business in various aspects, such as building brand awareness, generating marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), acquiring demo requests, and even customer acquisition and retention.
Before you start building a content marketing strategy, set clear goals. Identify what you want to achieve with the content you publish and set key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance.
To assess whether your content marketing strategy delivers the desired results, know where you’re going and monitor your progress. This will also help you identify gaps and optimize your strategy.
When setting goals, follow specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goal setting.
3. Conduct thorough audience research
Audience research helps identify your target audience’s needs, wants, and preferences and develop a successful marketing strategy that resonates with your target market. Reach prospects and create meaningful relationships in these simple ways.
Create buyer personas
Knowing your target audience is another vital ingredient in building a strong B2B content marketing strategy.
To understand who will benefit from your product or service, create audience or buyer personas based on the demographic information you have about your target audience. Additionally, segment these personas based on their buying behavior, interests, and interactions with your brand and competitors.
You can then decide whether you want to target some or all of these audience segments. This audience research provides useful information that will help you tailor your content to your audience’s needs.
Collaborate with sales and customer success
Working with sales and customer success teams can also support your audience research. Having interacted with prospects and customers firsthand, they clearly understand customer pain points and challenges.
Follow consumer conversations
Another great way to understand your audience’s needs is to review comments and conversations on social media and other relevant channels. You could go to your competitor’s social media feeds and see what their audience is talking about in the comments. You can also join relevant social media groups and forums and follow the conversations to gauge customers’ interests.
Review portals are also a good source of information. Check out reviews of competing products and see what your audience likes and dislikes. This gives you an idea of audience preferences and helps shape your content strategy.
4. Decide on content types for different stages of the sales funnel
With a specific product, audience knowledge, and clear content goals, you’re ready to start building your B2B content strategy. B2B buyers go through a lengthy process before making a purchasing decision. Naturally, they consume different content types at each stage of their journey.
When choosing the content format, ask yourself:
- Are buyers already aware of your brand, or do you need to create top-of-the-funnel content to build brand awareness?
- For those who are already aware of your brand, do they need in-depth guides and tutorials to understand the product better?
- For those who urgently need to make a purchase and are at the brink of a buying decision, what bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content would help them finalize the deal?
Also, research audience preferences and what kind of content they engage with. For example, when capturing the attention of busy professionals (like most B2B buyers), you have a better chance with videos, short blog posts, or easy-to-use infographics. This content should answer some of their basic but critical questions and familiarize them with your brand.
Some businesses prefer more in-depth content, such as case studies showing how your product has helped other customers. Prospects at this stage may already be considering your product but need further proof of its value. The goal is to move each lead further down the sales funnel and closer to a purchase.
5. Build a content creation workflow
Creating content is time-consuming, and having an efficient workflow in place can save time. Here’s how you can build a content creation workflow that outlines your process from ideation to completion is essential.
In-house or outsourced
You can create content in-house or outsource your content creation. Many B2B companies find a fine balance between internal and outsourced content. Decide which model to adopt based on your priorities and resource availability.
If you create content in-house, define all the steps that content goes through before it’s published. This workflow guides your internal content team and keeps the content consistent.
A content creation workflow typically begins with content planning.
- Conducting extensive research, including SEO research.
- Deciding on a topic, primary and secondary keywords, content length, and so on
- Creating detailed content descriptions and style guides for more clarity on the content
This is followed by content creation and optimization, where you further align the content with SEO requirements to increase its ranking chances. Each piece of content should go through at least one round of editing or more if needed. After approval, the content is published.
Roles and responsibilities
Building a content creation workflow also involves defining the roles and responsibilities of the various team members. Successful content marketing typically requires a project manager, content creators, and editors.
Clearly state how each member contributes to the content creation process.
- Is the content creator responsible only for content creation or for proofreading and optimization?
- Does the editor make the changes to the content themselves or send them back to the author with comments?
- Who approves the content for publication?
Everyone on the team should be aware of their responsibilities and accountability.
Include the tools you need to speed up the process and increase productivity. Here are some key content tools:
- Workflow management tools allow you to create custom content workflows, automate them, and manage your entire content process.
- Visual content creation tools help create infographics and videos without graphic design skills.
- SEO tools let you conduct content audits and suggest optimizations, including backlink opportunities.
- Social media management tools enable you to create and schedule social media posts to ensure a regular posting routine.
You can use tons of tools to streamline your content creation workflow. Decide which tools to prioritize depending on your teams’ needs and content marketing budget.
6. Plan content distribution and promotion
Content distribution and promotion are critical aspects of any B2B content marketing strategy. The channels you target will determine whether or not your content reaches the right audience.
Content marketing channels for B2B and B2C marketers may differ, so you need robust research to determine where your buyer personas spend most of their time.
The most popular owned media channels for B2B content distribution are:
- Company website (90%)
- Blog (78%)
- Emails and email newsletters (69%)
Among organic platforms for content distribution, the following are top of the list:
- Social media platforms (95%)
- Speaking or presenting at events (64%)
- Media and public relations (56%)
- Guest posting in third-party publications (50%)
Guest posts and PR articles also give you valuable link-building opportunities for your content. Getting backlinks from high-authority websites can improve your search ranking tremendously.
Distributing and promoting content across multiple channels is less time-consuming when repurposing your content. For example, each new blog post can be turned into an infographic for social media or a presentation for a webinar. Any video you create can be cropped and turned into YouTube shorts or an Instagram reel. Content reuse ensures you get the most out of your content creation efforts.
7. Establish a system of continuous improvement
When building your B2B content marketing strategy, remember that any content strategy requires ongoing monitoring. Your content has a lot of potential, but you need to review it regularly to identify opportunities for improvement.
Regular content audits are integral to your B2B content marketing strategy. Use tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to determine how your content performs, including the number of impressions and clicks it gets. Any gaps in your content or SEO can be easily identified, and necessary changes made to improve results.
You should also measure your content performance against your KPIs. For example, if one of your content goals is to increase sales, the associated KPI could be your conversion rate.
A noticeable increase in conversion rates after publishing an article could indicate that your content is performing well. You can track conversion sources and see how your content contributes to them.
Types of content in a B2B content marketing strategy
Many content formats are available to support your content marketing strategy. To help you decide what content to invest in, here are the most popular content types for B2B marketing.
Blogs are one of the most powerful content types in both B2C and B2B content marketing. Short blog posts under 1,500 words are the most frequently created content type by B2B marketers in the past year. They’re also one of the top-performing ones.
Blog posts help you spread your message, build brand awareness, and gradually build a loyal following.
Research or survey reports
Real-world facts and figures are compelling data for a B2B audience and provide a solid argument for your product or service. Publishing original research makes your content link-worthy, which means other marketers would be willing to link back to your content as a source, building authority for you.
Research reports are the third-best content type in terms of results.
White papers help you explain complex concepts in a detailed and simple way. B2B audiences are typically interested in long-form research-based content that helps them better understand their industry’s challenges.
Publishing well-researched white papers could help you address your potential customer’s pain points and offer a solution. White papers can also be offered as gated content to capture leads.
Case studies show your audience how your product or service helped another company overcome its challenges. A case study explains your product’s capabilities in detail and also provides data and numbers as proof to build trust with readers.
B2B products can be complex and have more features than meets the eye. Buyer guides tell your prospects why they should choose your product. They can also offer product comparisons to strengthen your arguments and give honest suggestions on choosing the right product.
Over the past year, video content creation has increased from 66% to 75%. Videos of any length are a good choice for B2B content. Explainer videos and tutorials seem to work particularly well as they’re educational and valuable to the audience.
Infographics help condense information into a single, concise visual format. They make browsing information easier and grab people’s attention. Infographics can be very impactful as top-of-the-funnel content and are easy to share on social media. You can easily create infographics from your guides and listicle posts.
Here’s an example of how key insights from a blog post can be summarized in an infographic.
Social media content
Social media is growing rapidly. Your content strategy needs social posts to capitalize on this emerging trend. Depending on the platforms you choose, you can decide what type of content to create.
For example, on LinkedIn, long posts and text with images perform better. Instagram is a visual platform for sharing infographics, reels, and carousel posts. A regular social media posting schedule and engaging content can do wonders for your brand.
Although in-person events are back, webinars remain a popular content marketing format, likely due to the reach they offer. Choosing some trending and highly relevant topics for your webinars and encouraging participation from around the world can be great for B2B brand building.
Most countries are seeing an increase in podcast engagement every year. Since many people listen to podcasts on the go, they help get the attention of busy professionals who might need more time to read a blog post or watch a video.
This is not an exhaustive list; you can always experiment with other content formats. Choose what works best for your audience and brand.
Let your content work its magic
Building a B2B content marketing strategy seems challenging as every customer gained is a long-term win. Every lead that falls out of the funnel is a missed opportunity. You need a content strategy that will give you an edge over your competitors.
Approach content marketing from the customer’s perspective, keep their needs in mind, and offer useful content to earn their trust. However, remember that your B2B content strategy may need a pivot to accommodate external and internal changes.