Pillar two of digital marketing: Is a B2B content marketing strategy essential? 

Learn more about whether B2B content marketing is essential for business growth.

Like SEO, having a content marketing strategy for B2B is essential to any digital marketing strategy and is the second pillar of a B2B digital marketing strategy. 

If you want to know more about how the B2B customer journey is changing, why not read our ebook? 

📖Digital Marketing and Today’s B2B Buyer: New Rules of Digital Marketing 

According to research, 46% of B2B companies plan to increase their spending on content marketing within the next 12 months. Just like SEO, content marketing lends itself perfectly to the longer sales cycle involved when selling to a B2B buyer.

The needs of B2B buyers and how they research and purchase have changed over the last few years. Statistics show that B2B buyers are 57-70% of the way through their buying research before they contact a sales representative.

So, how do you make sure your brand provides them with what they need to choose you as an option? 

The answer is content marketing. 

In this blog, we’ll look at B2B content marketing, how it can drive results for your brand, and the best practices you should follow when creating your strategy. 

Want to know more about the other pillars of digital marketing? Find out more in the rest of our series: 

Pillar one of digital marketing: Getting your B2B SEO strategy on track 

Pillar three of digital marketing: Using a B2B social media strategy to drive results for your business 

Pillar four of digital marketing: Building an effective B2B paid search strategy for your business

What is content marketing for B2B?

B2B content marketing means using content (in a number of forms) to reach your target audience, build relationships and drive leads and sales for your business by providing prospects with the right information at the right time. 

Remember that, to be effective, any content you produce and share needs to be useful or informative for your target audience. This is how you will build your brand as a trustworthy resource for other businesses in your industry. 

Make sure you produce a range of content formats that resolve your target audience’s pain points and provide them with the information they need at every stage of the buying cycle. You can utilise formats such as: 

  • Blog posts 
  • Ebooks 
  • Case studies 
  • Videos
  • Podcasts 

If you get it right, a B2B content marketing strategy can be extremely cost-effective and help support your long-term growth plans, whether brand awareness, lead generation, or overall business growth. 

Why is a B2B content strategy so important? 

Producing content for a B2B audience is slightly different to B2C. When you’re targeting consumers, the content will usually speak directly to one decision maker so you only need to gain and maintain their attention long enough for them to convert into paying customers. 

However, B2B is more complicated. There are very few if any, impulse buys when you’re asking a business to invest in your products or services. There is usually more than one decision-maker involved, and often, the decision-maker relies on others within the organisation to collect information and recommend the right product or service. 

You need to create clear, targeted content that speaks to the person within each organisation with the power to make purchase decisions. 

According to Statista, 66% of B2B brands plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2022. So, creating your own strategy will help you to stay ahead of your competitors! 

Benefits of B2B content marketing 

B2B content marketing can provide a number of benefits for your business that can help you to boost brand awareness and generate leads for your business. 

The key benefits include: 

Establish thought leadership 

An effective content marketing strategy helps you to build brand awareness and shows prospects (and search engines) that you’re an expert in your industry. Sharing your expertise with your potential customers helps build trust and brand awareness - two reasons you’re building a content strategy in the first place! 

Build EAT 

In 2018, Google rolled out an update to how it ranks YMYL (your money or your life) pages and applies to the types of pages that “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users” (Google Quality Raters Guidelines).

This is part of Google’s ambition to provide relevant and accurate content. So, it started to feature websites that show high levels of EAT (expertise, authority and trustworthiness) in their industry. 

There are a number of guidelines for creating EAT content but as a B2B business, you can start helping your website to rank by providing helpful content and guest blogging on other trusted websites to build site authority. 

Generate qualified leads 

Content marketing is one of the best ways to drive relevant traffic to your website. In other words, leads that are actually interested in what you have to offer and who are likely to buy from you. 

Producing a range of content in different formats can help you to guide visitors through the marketing funnel and will help you to drive leads who are looking for your product or service and researching their options. 

Top 7 best practices for creating an effective content marketing strategy 

If you’re struggling to know where to start when it comes to creating a B2B content marketing strategy, take a look at our best practice tips below…

1. Understand your target audience 

This is important in any marketing strategy, so you know what will resonate with your target audience and where they will find it. Create buyer personas, so you know exactly who you’re targeting and what they need to know from you to make a decision. 

Content marketing will help you to understand your customer’s pain points, the content they would find beneficial and the type of content they’re likely to engage with.

2. Create content across all stages of the sales cycle 

According to research, 50% of all B2B content is focused on the top of the funnel (TOFU). This is great for driving brand awareness and is an important aspect of content marketing, but you will need to cover all stages of the buyer’s journey if you want to be successful with B2B content marketing. 

Here’s how you can use content across the full funnel:

  • Top of the funnel (awareness) - this type of content is all about providing solutions for your customer’s pain points and needs with blogs, videos and social media content. You will need to make sure you build your organic reach so customers can find you when they’re first researching their options. 
  • Middle of the funnel (evaluation) -  as your target audience starts to evaluate the options available to them, you can lead them towards their decision with case studies, demos, webinars and more in-depth research or whitepapers. 
  • Bottom of the funnel (decision) - as your potential customers start to narrow down on the right solution for them, you can use drip-feed email campaigns, free trials or consultations to help push them over the line to become paying customers. 

3. Utilise SEO 

Driving organic traffic to your website is a huge part of any digital marketing strategy because most B2B buyers conduct initial research online before they speak to a salesperson or send an enquiry. 

SEO is optimising your website to ensure it appears when your potential customers are searching online. It allows you to target specific keywords and either optimise your product or services pages to show potential customers how you could solve their problems or create content that provides them with the answers they’re looking for. 

Don’t rely on SEO alone 

SEO is a great strategy for B2B content marketing, but make sure you’re not completely relying on it as a content marketing strategy. Whilst it’s great to have content that attracts organic search traffic, you’ll still need content that might not appear in search engines but will help to provide your customers with the information they need. 

Thought leadership content is hugely valuable when building relationships with your potential customers and helping them to trust you and your brand. Potential customers might not be directly searching for it, but it will provide them with the information they need to decide whether or not to purchase from you.

Never allow SEO and keyword stuffing to affect the quality of your content. Content that is easy to read and digest and provides them with clear information is more effective to your customer journey than creating something just so that it appears in the search engines. Poor quality content won’t provide visitors with what they need, which will increase bounce rates and negatively impact your rankings.

4. Conduct an audit of your existing content 

If you’ve already been producing content for your website, it’s important to check on how it’s performing and understand whether your audience finds it informative. 

When creating a content marketing strategy, always start with your existing content and look at how it’s performing in terms of SEO, bounce rates and the amount of traffic being driven to a specific piece of content and from which channels. 

Note the content you already have and think about how it fits into your customer journey. You’ll be able to see which stages of the buyer’s journey lack content, and you can focus on creating content where you have gaps. 

Analysing your content’s performance will show you what’s working and what isn’t so you know what you should be doing more of. 

5. Research your competitors 

Unless you have a unique business, you’re probably going to have some competitors in your industry targeting the same audience as you. 

Take a look at the content they provide and what’s working well for them, and what they’re offering to their target audience. Can you do something better or something different to set yourself apart from your competitors? 

Think about what makes your products and services unique and promote this within your content to set yourself ahead of your competitors. 

6. Identify the types of content you need to create 

Knowing your audience will help you understand what type of content they like to engage with and what content they want to see as part of their buying process. You should put your efforts into these types of content to make sure your efforts resonate with your target audience as much as possible.

Some of the most common types of content include: 

  • Blogs - these are one of the most popular types of content you will see. Make sure any blog content you produce answers your potential customer’s questions and addresses their pain points. 
  • Whitepapers and ebooks - these are longer-form pieces of content that you can use to provide prospects with thought leadership content that will help decision makers make a final decision. You can either provide them for free, or you can provide them in exchange for contact details that you can use to keep them engaged until they’re ready to make a purchase. 
  • Case studies - these can help you show potential B2B buyers how your product or service has been used by other companies and the benefits it has provided for them. 
  • Templates and tools - can help you provide great value to your target audience, build trust and generate new leads for your business. 

7. Measure ROI 

For any digital marketing activity, measuring return on investment is important for understanding which of your activities are working and where you should focus more of your efforts. This helps you to focus on the activities that drive results and avoid wasting time on ineffective activities. 

ROI from content marketing is the revenue generated compared to the amount you’ve spent. ROI is directly tied to the revenue of your business, so it’s important to have an overview. 

However, it can be difficult to know whether a piece of content or a follow-up call with a salesperson converted a customer.

A lot of your content will be top-of-the-funnel content, which is used to build brand awareness and educate your target audience, and this is extremely hard to measure and put value on. But it’s not completely impossible to know what’s working and what isn’t. Google Analytics can show you how your content’s performing, how much traffic it’s driving and how long people stay. 

Key takeaways 

For B2B buyers, the research part of their decision-making is more prolonged than the B2C buying journey. As a result, content marketing is key to providing your target audience with the right information at the right time to help them make a purchase decision. In addition, it helps you to establish yourself as a thought leader and expert in your industry, which helps to build trust with your target audience and give them the confidence to make a purchase from you. 

If you’d like to know more about how content marketing can help you to drive results for your business, why not request a free digital marketing audit

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Blog written by

Amy Ward