Web marketing has changed over the years for the better. You no longer find online marketing professionals using the old and outdated methods — especially the ones who are working in the B2B market.
This means that effective B2B marketing takes on even more importance now. But what is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is the process of promoting one business to other businesses. B2B marketing campaigns use a variety of promotional techniques, such as content creation, email marketing, ad placements, utilizing social media channels, and search engine optimization, to develop customer relationships, build brand awareness, generate more quality leads, establish thought leadership, and boost sales.
But B2B is one segment that needs constant experimentation (as far as marketing is concerned) because every sales cycle is different. This means the marketing methods need to be customized according to the target audience and buyer personas.
This is where content marketing comes in because it helps B2B marketers achieve their goals in their estimated timeframe.
Another reason why content marketing works great for B2B business owners is it makes the whole selling part easier. B2B content marketing allows these firms to engage with potential customers without using any forceful messaging.
Since more and more customers are gaining full control over the type of marketing messages they receive, B2B content marketing makes total sense. Besides that, creating/distributing useful, beneficial, and effective content is only going to help your business grow in the long run.
What Exactly is B2B Content Marketing?
Content marketing in the B2B sector has become a vast field with many different types of content marketing ideas being produced. Everything from blog posts to podcasts to templates to case studies to white papers can be used by a B2B company to reach out to prospects, attract them to their offer, and convert them into sales.
Why is content marketing important for B2B?
One of the biggest benefits of B2B content marketing is that it helps build trust in a unique way. When you regularly publish high quality content that is relevant to the interests of your target audience, you achieve two important things that help your audience trust your brand.
- It positions your company as an industry thought leader, influencer or an authority that people can count on.
- It helps your target audience figure out answers/solutions to complex niche-focused problems.
By putting real effort into B2B content marketing, your potential customers not only trust you with your advice, but also look forward to doing business with your company.
However, it’s important for B2B content marketers to keep in mind that B2B content marketing only gives a good ROI when your strategy focuses on:
- Creating and giving away high-quality content and strictly disallowing any filler or irrelevant content to creep in.
- Producing various valuable content formats that are highly relevant to the problems your audience is facing and avoiding topics that provide no value.
- Crafting and distributing the right kind of new content on a consistent basis by following a strict content marketing calendar.
A lot of B2B companies don’t find or rather don’t want to find time for content marketing mainly because they either don’t believe it works or they are too focused on other parts of their business. If you find yourself in the same position, our company LYFE Marketing is always here to help you. Our marketing team can execute your B2B content marketing strategy and give you the results you want.
B2B vs B2C Content Marketing
B2B content marketing is not a new phenomenon. There are many B2B marketers that take advantage of content marketing on a regular basis — almost 82% of them. However, still, a considerable amount of companies fail to see the kind of results they want with B2B content marketing. Why? Because they don’t understand how B2C content marketing differs from B2B.
If you think B2B content marketing is the same as B2C content marketing, think again. The biggest reason why they differ is due to the mindset of their potential customers and how they do business, which means they have different priorities.
Unlike their B2B counterparts, B2C customers are not looking for big deals when they go to Google search. They’re looking to buy products only after they are sure of their purchase. They like to make an informed buying decision to ensure they’re investing in the right product. This directly affects the kind of messages you craft and also your intent. B2B customers have completely different motivations and reasons to buy, and that should reflect in your content marketing efforts.
Keep in mind that every audience is different, and so are their needs. Even if they buy the same product, the inclination to buy it or the reason to invest in it may not be the same. And when you cater to those intent first, you can create content that they actually need. This content is more likely to be found, consumed and shared by your audience because they are interested in it. They get value from it. And if your audience consistently finds value with your content, they will see you as an authority in your niche – a brand that they can trust. So the difference between B2B content marketing and B2C goes beyond just the content creation. It also extends to the promotion part.
However, even though B2B content marketing differs majorly with B2C content marketing, there is a similarity worth understanding. And that is the importance of consistently producing engaging content with the help of an audience-centric approach.
Let’s now look into a few tactics that you can use to take your B2B content marketing to the next level.
4 Tactics on How to Improve Your B2B Content Marketing
Tactic #1: Tell Better, More Enticing Stories
When you think about B2B content marketing, you think about being professional in your approach so that you can impress your SMB clients/customers. While that is good to an extent, you should never go overboard with the professional approach.
Keep your content simple enough to understand. Avoid filling it with unnecessary jargon that your prospects may find confusing. Be professional and user-friendly at the same time.
One way to get your target audience to connect with your content is to focus on telling stories. Because a good story comes before selling. In fact, it enhances the selling part and makes the whole process easier. Since every business has a story to tell, it should not be difficult to come up with one.
If you look around, you’ll find that great content marketing goes beyond the company and the products it sells. It focuses on creating highly engaging and inspiring content that involves a lot of quality storytelling. We as humans naturally connect and relate to stories, especially when it is relevant to our own situation. So yes, stories have the power to push your prospects to take action and assist in their buyer’s journey.
Remember, even though B2B content marketing is business focused, you’re targeting real people. These are professionals who are responsible for running their business and making day-to-day decisions just like you. And they’ve already been exposed to a ton of boring content with zero personality.
Telling stories that connect to your B2B clients on an emotional level not only makes you look more human but also gives your content the competitive edge.
Here are three tips to infuse storytelling into your B2B content marketing campaign.
- Take a Bird’s Eye View of Your Client’s Business
In order to tell great stories, you need to take a bird’s view of your client or customer’s business and see how it correlates to your products.
For instance, if you are an event management company, your story could outline/narrate how you can manage company events better by making guests feel important on behalf of your client. The whole process can be told as a story.
If you already have an existing list of happy customers, you could also tell their story in detail and what challenges you helped them overcome. And then connect the story to your potential client’s situation.
Telling these broad stories and relating them to your client can help you grow your own credibility. It is content marketing at its best.
- Outline Your Service or Product’s Journey
Regardless of the niche or market you are in, and the type of product you sell, you can always tell a great story by narrating how the product reaches your customer’s hands.
You can talk about the product’s creation in detail along with the challenges you face to bring it to life. Every single detail that is usually not shared can become a part of your product’s story that your customers or clients will like to know.
- Educate, Educate & Educate Some More
B2B companies sell products and services that may seem complicated at first glance. This is because B2B products/services are created for businesses that have a much bigger and unique requirement. Along the way, B2B firms pick up some really targeted and useful know-how, which can be watered down and shared with potential customers.
B2B clients and customers are always looking for help in terms of getting the most out of the product or service they use. They’re also looking at learning more about their industry and seeing it from a different, more mature perspective.
Educating your prospects and customers will take you a long way. It’ll make your B2B content marketing efforts shine. Whether you do this by creating a simple how-to guide or do some podcasting, as long as you can put in the effort to educate your clients/customers, you’ll have an upper hand.
Tactic #2: Go Beyond Blogging
Creating a successful B2B content marketing strategy is all about diversifying your efforts. Even though the most common content marketing method happens to be blogging, it’s simply not enough.
Sure, B2B blogging does give results and is very effective. However, if you truly want to make the most of content marketing, boost your organic traffic, and get a higher return on your investment, you need to move beyond a regular blog. You need to take a different approach and maybe apply different content formats in a way that your competition isn’t doing. See the image below from Content Marketing Institute.
Content marketing is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up with it by taking an original approach to the whole idea. Do this while staying up to date with modern techniques.
Blogging has become more of a necessity today than a unique selling point. It’s a content marketing approach that works better in conjunction with other, more unique content channels/mediums.
The following three ideas should help you look beyond blog posts when doing B2B content marketing.
a) Create Informative Yet Attractive Infographics
B2B content marketing is not just about producing and promoting written content in your niche. It’s about using all types of content in the best possible way to market your own product or service.
Since the internet is moving towards visual learning, it makes sense to create infographics that are easier to consume and are more likely to be shared. Studies have found that people find it easier to process visuals when compared to written text. No wonder 65% of the Internet users happen to be visual learners.
When you create infographics, you’re not only using graphics but also targeted information to create a detailed visualization. In order to make an infographic work, it’s important to make it relevant to your target audience and give them the knowledge they are looking for.
The more useful and enlightening your infographic is, the more it will be shared across social media, which will in turn give your brand the exposure and traffic that it needs.
2) Leverage the Power of Video Content
If your B2B content doesn’t create engagement, you’ll find it difficult to use it for the purpose of marketing. Sure, visual content can help you generate the type of engagement you’re looking for. But you need to do it right to get real-world results.
One of the best types of visual content to leverage is interactive video content. Not just any videos, but high quality, informative ones that are also entertaining in nature.
Even though popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have embraced video content, it’s still a new approach when using them for B2B content marketing. This can be seen as an opportunity in disguise.
Why? Because there’s less competition for your B2B firm from others who aren’t using video content marketing. Simple.
To get started, all you need to do is figure out what type of videos will go with your brand and also your target audience. You can create videos about anything (guides, interviews, tutorials, Q&A’s, etc.), as long as they deliver real value. A bit of trial and error should give you more clarity.
3) Plan & Run Engaging Webinars
Webinars (online seminars) happen to be a powerful way to educate your target audience, build trust and get them to take action. The reason why webinars form an important part of B2B content marketing is because they gel well with B2B objectives. Even if your product or service is on the high-end, you’d be able to close deals if your webinar is engaging enough.
Many B2B marketers are okay with creating video, but hesitate when it comes to creating and running a webinar. This is why webinars are an overlooked resource. However, what B2B firms need to realize is webinars are great for supplying valuable information on a niche topic or subject.
Inviting B2B clients to a webinar can shorten your product’s sales cycle because it gives them the solution or answer that they are looking for. Webinars tend to have a high engagement rate and thus lead to better conversions.
Last but not the least, you can use webinars to interact with your prospects on a one-on-one basis. They can get their doubts cleared and take part in a live discussion about your product or the problem it solves.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more advantages of using a webinar as a B2B content marketing tool.
- It allows you to deliver exceptional value in a live event format
- It helps you position yourself as an expert or authority in your niche
- It lets you close a sale without indulging in any hard selling
- It gives you the power to generate high-converting leads
- It leads to partnerships with other, relevant B2B businesses
Tactic #3: Focus on Personalization
It doesn’t matter what niche you are operating in, your target audience will always appreciate your effort to personalize their experience.
People don’t like to be put into a general category. We all want to feel exclusive and special in whatever way possible. It doesn’t come as a surprise that we like to personalize our smartphones, laptops, etc. So why should things be any different with content?
In order to make the most out of your B2B content marketing efforts, it’s extremely important that your firm focuses on personalization. It’ll not only make your brand stand out from the rest, but will also lay the foundation for relationship building with your target audience.
What’s more, personalization done mindfully can help you create content that reads good and solves a problem by touching pain points in different groups. You can take your targeting to a whole new level when you actually use audience data effectively.
For instance, you could customize different copy elements of your landing page based on the audience data. Right from the headline to the call to action.
A) Personalize by Segment
When it comes to creating and sharing content with your target audience, it’s important to understand the importance of relevance. The more relevant and targeted a piece of content is, the more it will be consumed and shared. When you do segment-based personalization, you have the opportunity to send the right content to the right group of prospects/customers.
Customizing your content by audience segment is the most popular way to personalize because it works so well. It’s also preferred due to the ease of implementing it. Armed with your audience data in hand, you can choose to target them by…
- Job title
- Job department
- Current industry
- Geographic location
If you’re using a content marketing calendar effectively, then you should already have what’s needed to track different segments. Utilize this data and craft different types of content for each segment.
If you don’t have access to a content writing team, you may choose to customize 20% of the content and leave the remaining 80% of it since it is relevant to all. This way, you can save time and create content for multiple segments and improve your overall conversion rate.
B) Personalize by Persona
While marketing personas are powerful, they are hardly used by B2B firms. Only a small percentage of companies create and use personas in their marketing. If you aren’t documenting personas, you are making a huge mistake and leaving a ton of money on the table.
It always, always pays to know who you are creating your content for. It not only improves the quality of the content, but also fetches you a better return on investment.
When you create personas….
- You will find it easier to generate the right kind of content
- Your content will prove to be more effective and persuasive
- Your audience will keep coming back for more content
Some B2B marketers like to keep their personas highly detailed by using the audience data they have on hand. While others like to take the anecdotal route to creating marketing personas. Regardless of how you do it, you’re better off with personas than without them. Because even if your personas are simple, you can make them detailed over time as you receive more data.
Your content marketing calendar is a powerful tool that you can use to specify your target persona for every single piece of content you create. Try to customize this content as much as you can according to the persona.
C) Personalize by Stage
How well do you know your customers? More importantly, how well do you know their journey?
If you are already mapping your customer’s journey, great. If not, you need to start doing it now. Because it’ll help you create useful and relevant content for each stage of this journey. It’ll make your B2B content marketing efforts more robust.
Your prospects will have questions and doubts at each stage of their buying cycle. Unless they get the needed clarity, they’ll have a hard time moving forward, which increases the chance of them dropping out. By answering customer queries at every step in a highly contextual manner, you make it easy for them to move to the next step.
By personalizing according to the stage, you’ll cater to the queries and needs of potential buyers at three important stages:
- Prospects at the top of your funnel who need the most relevant information
- Prospects in the middle of the buying process who need a little more surety
- Prospects who are close to the sale and need some critical last minute data
Stage-specific personalization can help you easily take over competitors who aren’t utilizing this data.
Tactic #4: Track Your Metrics & Improve Consistently
B2B content marketing isn’t something that can switch on and off at will. Rather, it is a process that you need to be committed to by experimenting and testing on a regular basis. Even with effective planning, you may end up creating content that doesn’t resonate with your readers, which is perfectly fine.
There will be times when your efforts may not give you favorable results. Instead of seeing this as a failure, you need to see it as an opportunity to understand your target audience and their needs. How? By tracking your benchmarks, metrics and understanding how you can improve your content.
Initially, you’ll see more negative results than positive. Without critical data on hand and the needed facts, this is understandable. But once you begin to experiment with various types of content and different styles, you’ll no longer be dependent on assumptions.
When you track the success/failure of your content marketing, you achieve two important goals:
- You avoid making the same mistakes again and again.
- You create a content strategy that your target audience connects to.
As you move forward, you’ll be able to read your metrics better and formulate strategies that actually help you grow your business. The key to get consistent results with your content marketing is to identify what’s not working and focus on what is.
Initially, these metrics may not relay that much data. But the minute changes you keep making will help you improve and enhance your content marketing campaigns, which will eventually lead to a high return on investment.
Do You Have a B2B Content Marketing Plan?
Now that you know what it takes to have a strong content marketing strategy for your B2B company, does yours incorporate these elements? Maybe you just need to tweak a few things or maybe you need an overhaul with a new strategy. Either way, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, the experts in our B2B marketing department would love to help your business grow. Contact us today for a free consultation to see what our digital marketing agency can do for you.