How to create a successful content marketing strategy for B2B
Recent research shows that millennials are now stepping into their rights as decision-making B2B buyers. These digital natives are used to making purchases online, which puts content marketing for B2B into the spotlight. So if you are in B2B sales, this is the right moment to ramp up your content marketing game!
How do you create an effective content strategy when selling to businesses? In this post, we’ll take you step by step through content marketing strategy creation. We’ll explore the specifics of the B2B communication approach versus the B2C, teach you nonboring content marketing tactics, and share some of our favorite examples. Read on!
A content strategy boosts your brand visibility, saves resources, and ensures the best ROI, quality traffic, and conversions. A good content marketing strategy includes 7 steps:
Research. Find out where your audience is, what content, and what answers they crave.
Plan. Write topics to help your audience. Decide on the formats you’ll use and how often you’ll interact.
Create. Have your team or contractors produce informative, intriguing content and post it on schedule.
Distribute. Step out of your publishing channels and bring your content to relevant audiences via communities, sharing, PR, etc.
Educate. Use subtle built-in branding and meaningful interaction. Give people an idea of what your company does and drive them to its website.
Excite. Ensure that the customer journey on the website reinforces your image as a problem-solver. Present knowledge they’ll want to return to later.
Convert. Become the top-of-mind choice for your target audience through consistent, valuable follow-up.
These steps are the base for all B2B or B2C content marketing plans. Now let’s see what nuances drive the B2B specifics.
B2B specifics that affect your content marketing approach
The important thing is that even in B2B, you are not selling to entities — you are always selling to a person. People make the decisions, but they are driven by different factors when purchasing for themselves versus for their companies.
Note: It's important to differentiate strategies while targeting small businesses and large enterprises. Small business lead generation is about understanding individual decision-makers and tailoring your approach. In contrast, large enterprises often involve multiple stakeholders in the decision-making process, necessitating a more complex lead-generation strategy.
B2B customers’ patterns
Impact on content
Customers are looking for efficiency, expertise, and proven business results.
The top-of-funnel content should bring instant value and be professional, not just entertaining.
Customers are looking for logical, rational reasoning.
Emphasize factual content and provide financial incentives.
Prospects know the subject. They want valuable insights and practical tips they can use.
Skip the novice-level topics. Deliver expertise in your writing, as customers will choose based on your experience.
Indirect purchase. Prospects expect an account manager or sales rep to work with them.
Your brand content needs a human face. Make your thought leaders and sales team visible.
Customers likely involve other decision-makers before purchasing.
Your content should be easily shareable. Consider a scannable pitch version beside the long reads.
Sales cycle duration
The B2B purchases are rarely impulsive. People make purchases for longer terms, which results in longer sales cycles.
Prepare lots of content in advance. Prioritize bottom-of-the-funnel content, as this is where your expert audience spends more time and makes decisions.
Where are the B2B buyers today?
A big mistake is leaving out social media when addressing businesspeople. All business decision-makers are on social. Being on their social feed forms an emotional connection with your brand and proposal.
According to American Marketing Association research, the most popular channels among B2B purchasers are YouTube and Facebook, followed by Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But does it mean you need to be present on all these channels? No. An optimal marketing approach is a social focus.
Research where your target audience is and what it does on social media. Based on what you find, put your social focus on the 2 to 3 priority channels. This way you save time and money and develop better-targeted content.
For instance, you may find that while business executives are present on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, they are more engaged on Medium or YouTube, and most of their meaningful interactions happen on LinkedIn. That's why we've prepared a few tips for you on how to generate B2B leads on LinkedIn, followed by examples.
Best content marketing tactics to get in front of B2B decision-makers
Two golden rules of B2B marketing will increase your chances for success: Don’t be boring and don’t overthink. B2B content marketing doesn’t have to be boring at all.
After researching, creating the ideal customer profile, and deciding which channels are best to reach your potential clients, do the fun part — ideation! Pick and mix tactics from the list below. All of them are proven to be efficient for B2B promotion in different markets.
1. Solve their problems with content
The best way to catch your target audience’s attention is giving the solution to their concern. Your goal is to evoke a mix of gratefulness, aha! moment, and relief.
How do you find out what questions to answer first in your content strategy? During your customer research, you probably came across their posts and comments. Sift through these. What are your customers asking? Do they need advice on something? What kind of solution are they searching for? Maybe they struggle with the same bottlenecks. All this information is gold for creating relevant problem-solving content.
Now you know what bothers your future customers. Figure out where your expertise can help and create content that answers their questions.
2. Offer valuable tools
One of the best ways to hook your potential customers is to love-bomb them with value. HubSpot’s website grader is a brilliant example of this.
To get thorough analytics of your site’s business performance across the four categories, you don’t need to meet a manager or wait for 2 to 5 days. Go to the page, input your website address and email, and click the button. You will have the complete analysis in seconds.
The customer instantly gets happy and has a clear action plan, and obviously, HubSpot can immediately propose solutions for the areas that need them. Or they can sneak in solutions later, in a better place and time — as they now have the customer’s email, website, and complete dossier of their pain points.
3. Introduce testimonials 2.0
Testimonials are arguably the most valuable user-generated content you can get. You can use them on and in your website, social media, review boards, ad materials, and newsletters, and they will always work.
Audio testimonials are the breakthrough! See how Maia Agency uses those in their mobile-first website. The audio format gives more credibility and is easy for both the agency and the client to make.
The next level is the video testimonials. Gary Vee has recently found a touching format for those. They published this series of talks with their clients before Christmas.
You can steal this idea! Wrap every project with your client into 5-to-10-minute dialogues. Talk over the highs and lows, mention the challenges and how your team solved them, and voice the lessons you have learned. The best part is that your client can use it for their purposes, which gives them value too.
4. Run surveys and polls
Interactive content is beneficial for engagement rates. It also gathers valuable user information. You may think about using survey tools here, but we encourage the easy way. Don’t overthink, remember?
Your survey can be as simple as a poll in your group, a question in the Slack community, or a post on LinkedIn with A-B-C options. The key here is to ask a question that is interesting and easy for people to answer.
What should you do with the answers? You can apply them to your product or recycle the results into even more content to build your brand’s credibility as the one that does its research.
5. Broadcast video content
Why is video so amazing for B2B content? The decision-makers you’re addressing are busy people. They don’t have time to dive deep into Google searches and scan through articles. They are more likely to open YouTube, hit their search term, and watch a video while looking through reports and paperwork.
To start, take your core keywords and the pain points you solve and make videos about those. If you’re a marketing agency, tell “how to promote your brand fast” or “how to hire a good marketing agency.” If you’re a software company, show “5 top ways to develop new software faster than your competitors.”
When your potential clients see that you know what you’re talking about, the chances of getting calls from them increase. It’s always more beneficial for top managers to hire someone experienced than spend their precious time and efforts on a subpar job. At the same time, our own example proves that showing off our expertise as a B2B lead generation agency through our founders is another winning strategy that brings us up to 35% increase in appointments booked.
The trend to exercise is live videos, which picked up the pace as efficient B2C tools. Now they are trending in the B2B space. Live videos can take various forms, from webinars and interviews to TikTok-style Q&A sessions.
6. Turn case studies into tutorials
Case studies are especially important for B2B customers because they prove that you deliver successful campaigns. You want to make them easily shareable so your prospect can send them to the big boss to justify your price before moving further with you.
Making a classic challenge-and-solution case doesn’t cut it today. Instead, explain your value from top to bottom to turn case studies from boring brags into engaging content.
One way to do this is through storytelling. Add humanity to your case study. Tell the client’s background and how they found you. Show your team and tell how they worked with the project manager to find the best approach to the task.
Disclose the process behind the success story to tell your future customers, step by step, how to solve their problems (with your help).
If storytelling is not your forte, turn case studies into tips. Ask yourself, “What top three things did this project teach us? What three features of this product stand out?” Now write these tips down and bring them to your audience.
7. Impress with infographics
Infographics have been around for a while, so you have to be careful. Make only the infographics that will look good and be relevant. Do it well, or don’t do it at all.
Good things to make into infographics:
Statistics from your industry enhanced with your research
A visual guide that your target audience can use
Your business solution as explained “to a 7-year-old.”
Two channels to post the infographics to are your blog and Pinterest. You might post it on other social media platforms, but do a test run first to see if it looks good. The social feed is better suited for large-scale pictures with few details than for infographics.
8. Educate with snackable content formats
Break down your product value into knowledge nuggets. To maximize visibility and reach, have your designers make them into visuals or 6-second videos featuring 1 piece of advice, 1 fact about your product, or 1 quick solution.
“Snacks” let you win the channels where the long reads don’t work. The best places to use this format are Instagram, TikTok ads, and YouTube Shorts.
Recycle your blog posts into a series of short videos and win over the decision-makers’ feeds. Get them craving more facts from you. If they open your profile to see more of these valuable chunks, it’s a victory.
Extra tip: Track the highest-performing post, then promote it with paid ads to reach even more people.
9. Build trust with blogs and knowledge databases
In B2B, the buying cycle is usually longer than in B2C. Continue to educate customers about your product all the way down the funnel. The best way to do this is to run a blog religiously. Blogging helps you to:
Be consistent and make content regularly
Answer your customers’ questions and objections
Improve your Google rankings.
A quick SEO-boosting tactic is creating glossaries of your industry or “A to Z” articles you can fill to the brim with keywords and latent semantics.
Blogs using the brand’s FAQs, engaging posts, and success stories will give your leads food for thought and reasons to pick your product over competitors’.
The knowledge database, in turn, is a vast collection of information about a brand or company. It is a more technical approach to content.
This format is the quintessence of your brand’s data. Think of it like an encyclopedia of your product. Here you will have every detail about company products, solutions, partnerships, events, and policies. Make sure clients can find detailed answers to their questions in the FAQ.
The cool part: With one solid knowledge database, your content manager can craft more engaging, creative, accurate content faster.
B2B content marketing examples to learn from
Born & Bred rocks their brand awareness with LinkedIn content
Born & Bred is an agency that assists brands with strategy and identity developing.
As part of the lead-generation strategy for Born & Bred, Belkins helped build brand awareness by showcasing their experience and credibility to potential customers with content on LinkedIn. Sharing knowledge and providing informative insights helped to increase engagement among the B2B audience. Together with the other tactics, the marketing efforts brought an appointment-rate increase of 70% and closed 20 big-number deals over 18 months.
Deloitte steps into the limelight with annual research
Deloitte is one of the biggest corporate service providers in the world. In fact, you probably know their name even if you are far from accounting or legal.
Deloitte’s brilliant content strategy secured a strong presence for the brand in top informational channels. It is based on the company’s main asset — abundant and precise data. All top journalists from Forbes to Bloomberg willingly pick up Deloitte’s research, yearly industry outlooks, and posts from their “Insights” portal. Editors know Deloitte’s data is accurate and reliable and use it in top-tier articles that reach the crème de la crème of C-suite executives worldwide.
Deloitte Insights Magazine’s website generates over 10 million visitors monthly. Read more about how the company built its premium target persona and unrolled its brand awareness-building campaign in 2017 here.
How SAP diversifies their content
SAP is the market leader in enterprise software. With 22,000-plus partner companies globally, they are definitely doing their lead generation right. In content marketing, SAP makes its campaigns fit for each persona by crafting diverse content types like email, tweets, blog posts, radio ads, virtual events, individual account meetings, and more.
Constantly on the hunt for new content formats, SAP marketers have recently been tapping into live video. The “Better Together” series of expert talks on their LinkedIn page gathers the best business insights from brand partners and generates dozens of comments, attracting the top audience from the platform.
The performance of SAP’s unbranded content hub, The Future of Commerce, stands out too. By downplaying the brand and focusing instead on bringing maximum value to the public through following strict journalism standards, the SAP team reached an impressive 767,190 visitors on the website in 2020 and 1,177,123 in 2021. Their top-performing content generates between 5,000 and 10,000 views a month. And here is the zinger: Their bounce rate has never been over 5%.
By creating a fully transparent, unbranded reliable source of information without a hint of selling, SAP made a perfect top-of-the-funnel tool for their sophisticated audience. It’s a long game, but it brings big dividends.
Shopify juggles channels and formats
Shopify, the e-commerce platform for businesses and retailers, found its golden niches in several formats.
Their “Shopify Masters” weekly podcast features successful entrepreneurs who share invaluable secrets and tips for starting and running an online store. They share how to create social media ads, how to optimize a website for sales, what it takes to find the right supplier, and much more. The utmost detail of small-business nitty-gritty got their audience raving. The podcast is rated 4.5 out of 5 and gathers about 7,000 listeners. To amplify their reach, Shopify repurposes podcasts into short posts and publishes them on their blog.
For the younger audience of entrepreneurs under 35, Shopify has a TikTok. The brand has been on this booming short-video platform for 2 years now, and they are winning it. By following trends and sharing fun, inspirational videos for small-business owners, Shopify has amassed 135,000 followers who build their emotional connection with the brand daily. Note the same 4 people in all the videos — it takes us back to the advice of “giving a face to your brand.”
Buffer’s consistent guest posting
Buffer is a tool that helps social media managers schedule content and save time and effort while getting better reach. This market niche is quite crowded, and you have to make an effort to stand out. Buffer’s Leo Widrich picked the strategy of intense, consistent guest posting.
Seemingly simple, this approach brought impressive results. Through 150 guest posts in 9 months, Buffer has managed to attract 100,000 customers! And this was just the beginning of the stunning success since all these backlinks have laid the groundwork for consistent SEO growth and organic traffic flow to Buffer’s website.
Find the complete story with tips on best placement tactics and a brilliant pitch email template here. Buffer’s recipe for success is to focus on the channels you can master, tweak them for the most relevance for your audience, and work through these consistently. With the proper strategy and diligence, you will inevitably reach the result.
Ready to give it a try?
B2B marketing is different from B2C, and there are nuances within B2B too. Build your content marketing strategy by tweaking it to fit your target persona and their preferred media channels. Give out valuable expertise in an engaging form. And most importantly, make sure your content formats are up to date enough to look native on the trending platforms of 2023. With the tactics described above, you can build an efficient B2B content marketing strategy, whatever you sell.
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Outreach Expert at Belkins
For almost a year Josh Pratt was an Account Manager at Belkins, but his overall experience in sales, marketing, and team management reaches 10+ years. Now, Joshua hosts Belkins Growth Podcast and contributes to Belkins content strategy.
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