A well-considered content strategy is a great way to reach your target audience naturally. And businesses successfully use content marketing for B2B lead generation. The main advantage of this method is that potential customers initiate contact with your brand instead of feeling annoyed when you knock on their door on social media or emails. Moreover, a B2B content marketing strategy can be as effective as cold outreach or ad campaigns because it helps:
- grow brand awareness and create a community;
- build your expertise and help prospects solve their problems;
- engage readers and grow their loyalty;
- generate leads and increase revenue.
But the main advantage of attracting inbound leads is that it's much more cost-effective than outbound techniques. And now, let's look at the components of competitive content marketing strategies that effectively generate B2B business leads.
What is content marketing for B2B?
B2B content marketing reaches your buyer personas with content through relevant channels. This includes all the efforts aimed at lead generation through content: from a short post on Twitter, a long read in a blog, or a lead magnet on a website. Lead magnets, for instance, are very effective in collecting emails from your potential buyers. And we'll talk about this component of a lead generation strategy below too.
The process of content marketing includes three main stages:
Here, you need to ensure that the topics you cover are in line with your content marketing efforts. The text, video, or audio you will publish should be relevant and engaging for your audience.
Writing and editing your texts and copy, designing infographics and adding unique pictures, shooting and processing videos, recording audio files for your podcast show –– that's how you create content.
Content publication is the most exciting part of your content marketing strategy because it involves interaction with your audience. And there are many ways to share your content. For example, through:
- Social media
- Media portals
- Guest posts
- Relevant online communities
- Podcasting streams
- Video services
- Ebook selling platforms, etc.
The variety of channels through which you can communicate with your prospects brings in plenty of content formats.
Types of content for effective B2B lead generation
One of the primary business goals of creating content is getting the email addresses of your potential clients. And they can give it to you through the contact or subscription forms on your website or in exchange for free magnets. And a well-planned content marketing strategy can approach this goal in two ways. The first one is growing traffic to your website, and the other one is generating leads right away. And each group includes a lot of content types. Let's look at them.
1) Content increasing the number of your website visitors
What makes us go to web pages that offer some service or product? We either find them on Google search console or through related web resources. (Banners and social media ads also forward users to landing pages, but they are part of the outbound marketing strategy).
In most cases, your inbound leads come through organic search. This means that search engines find that your website has relevant content and show it once users input specific keywords. So, this category includes all the content that users can research online. Among them are:
- Blog posts
- Website pages
- Posts on Twitter or LinkedIn
- Ebooks on Amazon
- Videos on Youtube
- Podcasts on Spotify.
2) Content that can generate leads immediately
You know well the content that can bring new leads in minutes or even seconds. These are lead magnets. Basically, they can be of the same format as content pieces in the previous group. However, their prerogative is that they aren't completely free — you give them in exchange for email addresses.
Once you convince potential clients that such content will bring value to them, they won't hesitate to give their email addresses for it. So, you need to craft book samples, short video lessons, top recommendations, etc., in a way to make users love it. Once approached this way, your leads will never regret sharing their contact data with your brand.
7 steps to generate leads: from pain points to lead magnets
1. Address your audience’s interests and pain points
Knowing your target audience is essential for content marketing. When crafting any piece of content, you need to keep in mind the buyer persona and understand which value your text, video, or infographics can bring. Except for the demographics and job responsibilities, find out as much as possible about each segment of your audience. This way, you can understand its interests and potential problems.
Which goals do these people have? What challenges do they face? What are their pain points, and why? Answers to these questions will help you understand what language, style, and tone you need to use in your blog posts or social media posts. Defining your ICP (Ideal Client Profile) can also show you which digital channels will embrace the majority of your target customers.
- Defining the Buyer Persona
So, it is essential to develop the relevant buyer persona (or ICP) for your content marketing purposes. And you can't just imagine this personality and make up the parameters. You need to use actual data: whether it will be information about your existing customers or details you can learn from research. The more data-driven your ideal customer profile will be, the more reliable it will appear.
And again, there can be more than one buyer persona, and some businesses can use up to 10! One of the future steps could be defining the so-called negative persona, as it will help you remove irrelevant contacts from your qualified leads. This could be, for example, prospects with high CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) or low LTV (Lifetime Value).
- Absorbing Information about Your ICP
You can start searching for certain trends about your leads and current customers in your CRM. How did they arrive at your landing page, and what was their search intent? Ask your sales team for common traits that they notice about most leads. Or, they can note some specific features that prospects possess. You can consider adding a couple of fields to the contact form if answers are critical for your ICP.
2. Explore your customer journey
Though each user's customer experience is different, you need to know its key points to concentrate your content marketing efforts. This way, you'll be able to resonate with the needs of your target audiences at each stage of your marketing funnel. And it's achievable only if you create high-quality content and deliver it at the right moment.
For example, during the first phase of interaction with your leads, you can create content identifying your prospects' problems and growing their brand awareness. This can be blog posts, videos, ebooks, or FAQs sections on your landing pages that give advice and offer solutions.
When potential customers are in the consideration stage of their buying journey, be ready to offer them case studies to prove your achievements. Your customer experience is full of interaction with your brand, and you need to create content for these touchpoints. This way, the content will help convert leads into customers and probably reveal new opportunities for attracting more leads.
- Creating a Customer Journey Map
Here a content marketing team won't do without research and questioning. And you'll need to ask as many leads and actual customers as possible to get the complete picture. If these are high-quality leads, ask them which problems they want to solve with your product and what factors can motivate them to buy from you.
It would be great luck to talk to people who didn't make purchases because they failed to find or get proper customer support. They can be eager to share their experience with your website or landing page. Which search engines they used to find you, how long they stayed on your web page, if the navigation was comfortable, etc.
So, knowing all touchpoints with your customers is crucial for B2B lead generation. And your content marketing team needs to know how to approach the target audience at every interaction with your brand.
3. Identify which content type works for your buyer persona
Now you know your ideal customer and understand how this persona interacts with your company. And it's time for your content marketing reps to pick up the right type of content for effective B2B lead generation. Still, whichever content type you choose, focus on bringing value to your prospects. Give practical tips, useful insights, and share experience. Help more leads find answers in your blog posts and create a supportive community.
Your industry will always dictate the critical content for lead generation. And what works perfectly for a tech startup won't be so effective for a beauty shop. For example, if you're a SaaS startup, a demo of how to use your tool would probably be essential to attract leads to your website. If you sell cosmetics, lots of pictures, shiny videos, and catchy posts on Instagram together with a stylish landing page could be enough for a new business.
The right digital marketing strategy for a dental clinic is regular before-after pictures, telling about the top equipment and materials, and presenting certified professionals. With time, you can notice which format generates leads more effectively. However, common content types fit any company's lead generation strategy. And thousands of businesses worldwide use them for growing web traffic and conversion optimization.
Popular Content Types
- Landing pages and websites. Most of the businesses start from here. With decent copy and professional keyword research, companies attract their target audience's attention in search systems. And with time, they turn into high converting landing pages.
- Blog posts. They must be popular because reading is often the most accessible and straightforward way to get information. Once structured properly, articles are easy to skim, and they often refer to other posts. So, in 2022, no B2B content marketing strategy can do without a blog post.
- Videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so video content promotion is really effective. If you regularly shoot and publish professional video content, this can generate more traffic than paid distribution channels. Still, such a lead generation campaign requires investment.
4. Optimize your landing page
A landing page is the starting point of your relationship with a prospect. And if you want it to generate leads, it should be polished. Your content marketing team can't put some mediocre content that sounds boring and odd. Catchy and informative headlines, optimized descriptions, clear CTAs (Call-to-Action), bright images, and feedback from other customers are some of the must-haves.
However, to meet the search intent of your prospects and grow the organic traffic, the combination of all the above factors isn't enough. Even if the content is super valuable for people, you need to prove this to search algorithms in digital marketing. And the best way to do it is to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
- State the Value Proposition
Even if organic channels take your landing page to the first page of Google, it won't generate leads if it misses a clear value proposition for potential customers. Which problems does it solve and how will your product do it –– these answers should be there.
- Make It Look Appealing
If your web page looks old and poorly designed, there's no hope that its visitors will ever read the value proposition or click the CTA button. Often, users judge the quality of the service by the design level. So, keep the right balance between the two.
- Optimize It for Mobile Devices
Mobile-first experience is here to stay, so don't make leads move the page right and left to read it in web version format from their smartphones. Make sure that pictures don't overlap the text and vice versa. And keep all links and buttons clickable.
- Place Clear CTAs
You have all of the above: top-notch design optimized for mobiles, an appealing value proposition. But you didn't clarify what your site visitors should do, and they just left. So, no clear CTA, no more leads — nobody has time to figure out what you mean.
5. Share your content with the target audience
The time to share your content has finally come, and by this moment, you need to know how to share it. How to help more leads see your blog post, social media publication, or press release? Let your content marketing specialists ask the buyer persona which channels to use first. Or choose these "classic" options.
- Your blog. Adding well-crafted, valuable, and engaging blog posts is the basis of inbound lead generation strategies. Once you have these articles published, you can refer to them when giving some advice or support your ideas.
- Social network. Going social is vital for B2B lead generation. When you know which social media your audience prefers, you won't have to create a dozen accounts in various social networks and keep them updated.
- Guest posting. Placing relevant posts with a backlink to their website for new businesses promotes them. Search algorithms will treat your web page as more credible and rank it higher in the search results.
- Industry leaders. Influencer marketing is great for letting thousands of people learn about your product and brand. Moreover, you'll meet opinion leaders and top players in your niche, allowing you to grow your professional network and number of potential clients.
- Paid distribution channels. Together with influencer marketing, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) banners and ad campaigns on social media will help you generate leads faster and more effectively. However, they require thorough lead research concerning trigger events.
6. Place CTAs that convert
CTA are critical elements on your web pages, blog posts, ad campaigns, and other content pieces because they attract leads, converting readers into potential buyers. So, these buttons have to be catchy, motivating, and appealing. That's because you won't have a second chance to invite users to join your community, subscribe to your newsletter, or buy from you. And here are several recommendations about effective CTAs.
- They should state the value proposition clearly. The call-to-action isn't always the text on a button. The whole section could briefly describe what the user will get in exchange for clicking this button. Is it a free trial of your SaaS product or a ticket to your webinar? Make it clear. A great example here would be the phrase "get my ticket now" instead of simply "buy."
- Use actionable words to motivate users. A CTA which calls to action with verbs encourages better. This way, "Get my place at the webinar" sounds more appealing than "Your ticket." Even the straightforward "Buy" from the previous example sounds more motivating than "Your ticket." So, always create your CTA for more effective content marketing with this idea in mind.
- Avoid adding more than five words to a button. You'd better explain all the details above or on the left from your primary button. Wordy call-to-actions are hard to perceive, and they look pretty unprofessional. Moreover, placing the whole sentence on a small button will make the text unreadable. And often, no one will bother trying.
- Add a bit of urgency. A countdown clock is a well-known trick, but it works! Provide discounts or special offers for a limited period. But it's critical to keep the right balance of urgency and not be too pushy in your content marketing approach. In addition, you need to be honest with your audience and remove the special offer once the time is over.
- Design your button correctly. Every detail matters here. From the button color and letters on it to the background — everything is essential. Even the space around your CTA also impacts the reaction of users. Should it have smoothed or sharp corners? And how much free space around it should you leave to make it quickly identifiable for users? You'll need to test several options before seeing which one works best to grow leads.
- Choose the right location. Whether it is your website, blog post, or thank you page, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers and suppose when to place the CTA section. And it shouldn't always be mentioned only once. For instance, you can offer your blog post readers to subscribe two or three times throughout the article.
7. Craft a lead magnet to collect more emails
When you create content, always think over the lead magnet you'll offer to your audience because it's an invaluable content marketing instrument for getting new leads. The main features of a magnet are that it is helpful, engaging, and accessible. So, users are often happy to share their emails in exchange for a piece of this content. This can be an ultimate guide, valuable tips, or a sample of your ebook. And it's definitely a must-have for your lead generation strategy.
When creating content like a lead magnet, you need to make it super relevant, helpful, and specific. Some companies offer a content upgrade with nearly each blog post they publish. This one is even more peculiar than a lead magnet on your website. For example, this could be the final part of your long read or its summary. Once readers find value in it, they'll "pay" with an email.
Features of good magnets for leads
- Prospects can take it immediately. One of the most attractive things about free resources is that users can use them when they provide their emails. So make sure it happens and don't ask them for any additional information at this marketing funnel stage.
- It should help users solve the stated problem. A promised quick win is the fundamental reason for sharing personal data. That's why you need to work hard to make your freebie’s content valuable, specific, and applicable. There's no point in adding general information into your magnet, as users can find it for free.
- Leads need to identify the value proposition quickly. To promote your product in free content pieces, you need to tie your value proposition to the content. So, don't just sell, but bring value, especially in this content format. If you share ways to grow leads, add a paragraph about your AI-based lead research tool, but don't sound too pushy.
Ways to market with content
Now you know how to use content marketing for attracting new leads. But let's summarize what you can do to help users can find you and leave their email addresses:
- Increase your rank on Google Search so that people can see you.
With professional SEO optimization and relevant content, Google search engines will give your web page will get a higher rank. So, with time, users will see your blog post or case study in response to your search intent. Or, maybe they won't search for any advice or additional information on their problem.
That's because they can directly search for an instrument that will help them find the right solution. And if your website is logically structured and well-designed, if your product has a clear description and promises to bring value, users will complete the contact form to ask for a demo or a call. That's when your sales team can welcome new leads on board.
- Create valuable blog posts, motivating users to read more and grow your brand awareness.
Nurturing your leads into actual customers with content marketing can take time. During this time, you'll have to show your expertise, so people can find answers and get some advice. They will start using your tips and see that they work little by little. It'll motivate them to find out more about your brand, read testimonials, and find out how your product helped other businesses.
How existing clients rate your customer support or what other business founders say about you is vital for making their final decision. And making this visible is your content marketing team's responsibility. Even how regularly you post on social media and whether you leave questions unanswered are critical factors for many decision-makers. So, when it goes about content, many elements get interconnected.
- Add CTAs and engaging elements to your articles.
As mentioned above, placing call-to-action elements on your website, blog posts, and other content will increase your conversion rates. Users will hardly want to go to your website or go back to the main blog menu to search for related articles and read them. That's why you need to do that for them and offer what they will most likely want at this stage of their customer experience.
The same is true, for example, for a case study. Once you describe how your product helped other businesses solve their problems and convince your readers to trust your brand, give them a button to contact you. Not many prospects will go to the home page and scroll to find the contact form, complete it, and send it. Business people often don't have time for that, so they prefer similar offers that require just a couple of clicks.