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The Big Do’s and Don’ts of B2B Content Marketing

7 September 2021
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The Big Do’s and Don’ts of B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing strategies are centred around informational articles showcasing expertise that can engage new leads and nurture current relationships to generate sales and revenue.

B2B is shorthand for business-to-business marketing and requires a different approach than business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. This is because it involves marketing to other companies instead of directly to consumers. The demands, wants and needs of each of these target audiences are very different.

When creating content for brands, you will need to include more industry-specific terms and jargon, catering to a reader or viewer seeking professional expertise and assistance, and often with the aim of supporting a lengthy decision-making process. A survey by FocusVision found B2B buyers consume 13 pieces of content on average before deciding on a vendor for a specific objective.

This means the buying journey is fundamentally different. When asked how they find the content they need, seven in 10 buyers said they get it directly from a vendor’s website, while two-thirds used internet search. This highlights the need to manage blogs and publish content on a website, as well as optimising campaigns for SEO to rank for target keywords and terms B2B audiences are using in search.

Do consider each stage of the cycle

Understanding the decision-making process can help you put content in front of buyers that can ease them through the sales cycle seamlessly. The main stages of the process are:

  • Awareness – Buyer recognises there is a problem
  • Consideration – Buyer understands the problem and starts looking for solutions
  • Decision – Buyer shortlists best solutions and makes a decision

While this process is usually linear and shorter for B2C audiences, B2B journeys are not as predictable. Many will jump back and forth between stages, which is why buyers read and watch so much content before making a final decision. Each stage also requires different types of content to be effective.

Don’t just create content for brand awareness

Being able to publish content that supports B2B audiences across the cycle rather than just at the top-of-the-funnel is important. The annual B2B study by the Content Marketing Institute found “top performers” are equally adept at using content to find new leads as they are at driving sales and revenue.

That means you might have to follow up a thought leadership piece that positions you as an expert in your industry with a second blog that can solve a reader’s specific pain points, before finishing with a review or tutorial article about a particular product or service. CMI says it’s naive to think clients will follow your brand “neatly down the path to purchase”.

Do outsource content creation

CMI found half of companies outsource one or more core activities to a third party. This is driven both by necessity and the knowledge that a digital marketing agency with a team of skilled copywriters offering SEO services is in a better position to deliver high-quality campaigns consistently.

Necessity is related to the fact that the majority of companies have only small, internal content teams with five or fewer employees. Outsourcing here is critical for not only crafting the sheer quantity of resources needed to resonate with experienced professionals in executive positions but also managing the process to ensure deadlines are met and content calendars are adhered to.

It is no surprise then that ‘content creation’ is also the most popular task being outsourced, with 84% of B2B brands revealing they rely on agencies and other freelancers for the work to produce articles, blogs, whitepapers and other popular content formats in this space.

Don’t forget about relationship management

The three main stages of the buying process are a prelude to the after-sales journey, which should be another major consideration. Relationship management and retention are crucial in B2B, especially if you are providing a service that will require a contract renewal at a later date. That means you will need to use content to build loyalty and trust while deepening relationships with existing clients.

“Getting attention is great, but marketers must keep that attention. Kudos to those who are creating lasting impressions and super fans,” CMI general manager, Stephanie Stahl, noted in the latest study. A key tool for this stage of the process is social media. You can republish blogs posted on your social accounts and generally look at new ways of keeping clients engaged, happy and tuned in to your brand over time.

Do use metrics and KPIs to gauge success

A list of tips for B2B content marketing would not be complete without a mention of data and analytics. The most successful B2B marketers use a range of metrics linked to key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the success of campaigns. Not only does this help you to improve campaigns but it also allows you to demonstrate that content marketing delivers adequate ROI.

You can start by using Google Analytics and Google Search Console to keep tabs on metrics such as website traffic, conversions and engagement. This is a good time to take a closer look at why some content is performing better than others. Many content marketing services will take care of this kind of administration for you, allowing you to focus on the channels, topics and strategies that resonate with B2B audiences.

Don’t forget to experiment

Moving forward, it’s also useful to define a primary buyer persona that you can target based on demographics and your ‘best’ customers. This is because B2B marketing is generally more geared towards a specific type of client with a particular set of issues and requirements, in contrast to B2C where products generally appeal to a broader audience.

Over time, you will be able to home in on the content, channels and tactics that deliver the best leads and enable you to achieve your main objectives. This is why it is important to experiment and use analytics to create a cycle of improvement with each content campaign.

If you want to overhaul your content marketing output and increase your visibility in search to attract new business clients, we offer a range of SEO-driven services that will get the job done. Contact us today to find out more about our core offerings, which include outreach campaigns, blog management and content creation.

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