The Essential Guide to an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
What’s the best way to use B2B content to attract an audience and convert leads? What content formats are most likely to drive the best lead capture and nurture performance? What important topics does your B2B audience want to read?
B2B Content Marketing Strategy Tips
It can sometimes feel like there are endless opportunities to drill down into the tactics and methods of B2B content marketing, which is exactly why a strategy is so important. Without a strategy, you’re likely to find yourself challenged to prioritize tasks, and making tough decisions can take way too long.
On the other hand, once you do have a strategy in place, your objectives, and your brand narrative are canonized, so it’s far easier to ensure that everything you do is aligned with your content program’s performance goals and editorial message.
Documenting your B2B content strategy has other advantages too. It helps ensure everyone’s on the same page, from your in-house marketing team to other people in your company to the external stakeholders that contribute to your efforts. It also gives you a leg up on the competition. About half of all B2B marketers don’t have a documented content strategy, so just the act of creating and adhering to one automatically puts you towards the front of the pack.
How B2B Is Different from B2C
Conceptually and theoretically, it shouldn’t make a whit of difference whether you are marketing your products and services directly to customers or other businesses. After all, when you reach businesses, you are fundamentally reaching the people who handle purchases for them, just as you are reaching people when you market directly to customers.
For example, appealing to your audience’s emotions will increase the memorability and engagement impact of your content, regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C. Amplifying your brand’s discoverability and mindshare is important in both sectors. There’s even a whole school of thought that champions H2H (“human to human”) as the new paradigm.
In practice, however, there are significant differences in the two types of audiences and what they’re looking to accomplish with the content they consume. Prospective buyers of business solutions spend their time in different online spaces and have vastly different expectations. Sharpening your familiarity with your ideal customers, then, puts you in the best possible position for creating and executing a B2B content strategy.
Crafting Your B2B Content Strategy
There’s any number of ways that you can tackle B2B content marketing strategy formulation, but here are the basics of what your strategy is going to need to cover:
- Personas and their pain points
- Content types and volume of each
- Baselines and goals for performance metrics
- Project owners and other stakeholders
Let’s drill down a bit further into the underlying principles at play.
Getting to Know Your Audience
Everyone knows that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so you’re best off not even trying. You’ll have a much easier time promoting a niche product to the people who need it most than a catchall product to everyone in the world.
How are you going to be able to market to your designated audience strategically if you don’t understand where they are coming from? To market to them effectively – to reach them where they are – you need to grasp what their priorities are, and how they go about making decisions. What are the processes that determine where they allocate resources? How will you best be able to guide their decision making to conversion?
Goals for Growth
Of course you want page views, social shares, leads captured, sales closed and other KPIs to go through the roof. Who doesn’t? That’s exactly why you need to get down to earth and set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed).
By adhering to SMART principles, you increase the likelihood of success – and you ensure that your definition of success makes sense in the context of your strategy.
Iterating the Message
The people consuming your content might or might not be the ones making final purchase decisions at their companies. They may be administrators charged with researching options, or they may be specialists who stand to benefit from your product but don’t have the authority to pull the trigger on their own. The best B2B content, then, empowers its audience members to present your case within their organizations.
Provide a steady flow of authoritative, easily digestible material citing data from credible sources, and repurpose each concept as satellite assets. Some members of your audience might enjoy slide decks more than infographics, or they might prefer short production video clips over hour-long webinars. Always find new ways to experiment and measure impact.
Tackling B2B content strategy is a challenge, but by breaking it down to its granular elements, you’ll be able to craft your content effectively, to meet the needs of your target audience and showcase how helpful your solution can be. When your content flows from a sound strategy, it’s most likely to be on-message, align with your company’s objectives and achieve significant performance.