OpGen Media: Marketing Ops & Demand Generation Insights

B2B Content Marketing: How It Grows Your Business

Jul 5, 2020 6:59:54 PM / by Brandon Pindulic

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Get More Leads with B2B Content Marketing

For B2B marketers, qualified leads are the ultimate measure of success. As a marketer or Demand Gen team, your goal is to generate leads for your B2B business in a consistent manner. There are a variety of channels to generate leads from including advertising, email, cold calling, and others. One underrated channel for lead generation is B2B content marketing.   

Unlike B2C content marketing, where a simple video can drive customers to make purchases, B2B content is more involved. You have to account for multiple people and multiple decision-makers being part of the process. Your content has to drive value for most stakeholders so they can see why they should use your product or service.

In this post, we'll go over the details of B2B content, how it generates leads for your business, and how to write content that converts. 

What Is B2B Content Marketing?

B2B content marketing involves using content to ultimately drive sales by attracting external attention. If executed properly, B2B content marketing increases brand awareness, generates more leads, and ultimately leads to more customers.

Types of B2B Content

There are a number of different ways in which you can go about B2B content marketing. Content types include blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, and even videos. It’s important to identify which medium will best fulfill your business’s needs. Let’s take a look at what each method has to offer.

Blog posts

Blog posts are a popular medium for B2B content marketing. Statistics have shown that, if done right, B2B blogging can potentially:

  • Generate qualified leads
  • Drive organic traffic 
  • Improve search rankings and domain authority 

By ‘done right’, we mean that your blog posts should be useful, engaging, and high-quality. Your business should keep your audience in mind when producing blog posts; who is the content for? What are the ‘pain’ points of the businesses you are trying to appeal to?

If you can produce content that addresses the ‘pain points’ – the areas where your audience fails to perform well – and present promising solutions to them, then this will help you attract other businesses. Ultimately, your blog posts should guide your target audience. The businesses you’re aiming for should look to your posts for insight, and they should be able to relate to the problems that you are presenting solutions for.

eBooks & whitepapers 

For clients to truly understand your service or product, a simple blog post may not be sufficient. To explain the complexities of what you have to offer, whitepapers and eBooks may be the way to go. Using eBooks and whitepapers will allow you to comprehensively explain the problems that occur in your field of work, and outline potential solutions. Spreading the information out makes it easier for readers to engage with the material and digest it better as well.

Whitepapers are especially useful for technical businesses and technology companies. With a whitepaper, you can go into the details of how your technology can transform companies and drive better results. 

Case studies

Case studies are a form of B2B content that you definitely should take into consideration. As far as the statistics are concerned, over 58% of B2B tech buyers reportedly seek out testimonials and peer reviews before making a purchase. Case studies build confidence in potential B2B buyers. They are proof that your services or products are promising. Using case studies for B2B marketing requires you to keep your target audience in mind – make sure that the study is something that they can relate to.

Infographics

Content creators have found infographics to be an effective form of B2B content because of how easy it is for customers to digest. Infographics break down complex data into visually appealing, simpler representations that readers can comprehend with ease.  

Sales decks

Sales decks provide B2B companies with the option to address pain points and their solutions in a comprehensive, easy-to-digest manner. Sales decks should primarily be used for Sales Enablement, rather than for publishing on your site to attract top of funnel interest. These are strategic content pieces that can and should be, deployed by your sales team during your customers' buying journey.

Videos

Videos have often proven to be one of the most effective means of gaining a good ROI and encouraging potential customers to buy a product or available service. If you want to use videos for B2B marketing, though, then make sure you’re making the right ones.

A good video to attract B2B customers should:

  • Be as short and concise as possible – few people will have the patience to watch, say, a 30-minute video about your product
  • Contain high quality, relevant content
  • Address pain points and present possible solutions
  • Have proper attribution and lead scoring in place to ensure you're capturing the analytics and intent of your prospective customers

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How To Do B2B Content Marketing Right

As mentioned previously, B2B content marketing can help your business evolve in the right direction if carried out properly. There are some important considerations to take into account when B2B marketing. Let’s now explore the specifics.

Identify Your Ideal Audience

Before you can sit down and draft a B2B content strategy, you will need to identify whom your content is actually for. You might have a general idea about who your content should attract – e.g marketing heads, accountants, or technical staff. However, in order to create relevant content for B2B content marketing, you need to dig a little deeper and discover the specifics of your customer base and your buyer personas.

What age group do your customers fall under? What are the pain points that their businesses are facing? What sort of content can your audience relate to? These are the type of questions that you should be asking yourself when determining what kind of B2B content to prepare. This is because successful B2B content marketing requires you to really engage your audience and for your content to resonate with them.

How to Develop New Content Ideas Consistently

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it is now time to get down to business – that is, creating high-quality relevant content for your customer base.  This is easier said than done, as consistently producing fresh content isn’t particularly easy. However, there are some useful tactics that are worth considering:

  • Keep things diverse. To ensure that you are able to consistently deliver fresh, valuable content, keep bringing different perspectives to the table. You can accomplish this by putting staff from different departments in charge of content creation.
  • Refer to the statistics. Analyze any data points that you can get your hands on – especially your own. Scrutinize the buyer’s journey to determine what they’re searching for. And then proceed to produce educational content addressing their needs.
  • Go sleuthing. In the digital era, you can discover a lot just by searching online. Do some research on social media and take a look at customer feedback concerning your products and services.  This will give you new ideas about which topics to address.
  • Ask your audience. If you are running out of ideas for B2B content, the simplest thing to do is to ask your customers what they want to hear. You can send an email out, or conduct a survey, to determine what sort of content your audience would like to see.

B2B Content Marketing Statistics

B2B content marketing statistics provide useful insight into the technicalities of content marketing. The statistics themselves cover a variety of subjects, such as how many B2B businesses are employing content marketing strategies, and the level of success that companies are enjoying from a particular type of B2B content. B2B content marketing statistics can be used to your advantage - you can see what tried-and-tested methods are useful, and proceed to employ them yourself.

Where B2B content fits in the buyer's journey

The buyer’s journey refers to the 3-phase process that a customer follows through before making the decision to purchase a new service, or product. The 3 stages include:

  1. The awareness stage, in which your prospect starts to realize that they have a problem that requires a solution.
  2. The consideration stage, where the buyer has become aware of their pain points and is now seeking out a solution.
  3. The decision stage, where the buyer is now looking for a specific product or service to fulfill their needs.

B2B content plays a crucial, influential role in guiding prospects and decision-makers through the buyer’s journey. Here, it’s important to differentiate between promoting your product or service directly, and gradually guiding potential customers towards them. Taking buyer personas into account can improve the effectiveness of your content. Let’s now dive into the specifics of how B2B content ties in with the buyer’s journey.

Awareness

As mentioned above, this is the stage where your prospect will start to identify their pain points. As a B2B content marketer, you should focus on producing educational content to guide buyers at this stage. The high-quality B2B content that you produce should help them realize that they have problems and then identify their pain points.  

So, the question, for now, is this: what type of B2B content is best to guide your prospects through the awareness stage? Well, as you might have guessed, blog posts are generally the type of choice for this particular stage.

High-quality blog posts can make business owners aware of the need for your product or services. However, as we mentioned earlier, it’s important to realize the need to guide your buyers gradually. Thus, rather than producing a promotional blog post, consider producing informative content that makes your prospect aware of their need for what you are offering. For example, you might consider writing a post that addresses the benefits of using a service like your own.

Consideration

If you succeeded in guiding your prospect through the awareness stage, then they will have now arrived at the consideration phase. At this point, your buyer will have become aware of their pain points and will be looking for a solution to their problems. That is, they will have realized that their own business is lacking can benefit from what you have outlined. By talking to your sales team, they can get a better understanding of how your product or service will solve their issues. 

You can now guide your prospect through the consideration stage by presenting credible solutions to their problems. Now that you have your potential buyer’s attention, white papers and eBooks can help to convince your readers that your product or service is the way to fulfill their needs.

For successful B2B content marketing, white papers can be used to address the pain points of your audience and present promising solutions to their issues. This will convince your potential customers that they need to invest in your services.

EBooks are also a promising form of educational content. Thanks to how comprehensive they are; eBooks can help with lead generation as well as brand awareness. They can be used to paint a full picture of how your B2B product or service is the perfect solution to your buyer’s problems.

Decision

The decision stage is a crucial tipping point – your prospect is now aware of the solution to their pain points, and will be seeking it out. If your B2B content marketing proves effective, then the prospect will invest in your product or service. However, if you don’t play your cards right, they may end up choosing another service instead.

Thus, the decision stage requires you to convince your prospect that your business is superior to the competition. You need to highlight the strengths of your product or service so that your prospect realizes that your business is the only real choice.

This is where case studies prove to be most effective. An inspirational case study that involves your business solving a problem that your prospect is currently facing is exactly what you need for this stage. You can present reasons for why your product, or service, is the best way to overcome your prospect’s pain points. Thus, high-quality case studies can seal the deal between you and your new customer.

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B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Now that you have a good idea of what types of B2B content there are, and how to consistently produce good content, it’s time to discuss strategy.

B2B content marketing statistics revealed that only 30% of B2B companies consider their content marketing to be effective. This is typically due to the absence of a sound B2B marketing strategy.

Your business may have the tools to produce high-quality content, but without an effective B2B content marketing strategy, you may fail to see desired results. Don’t worry though – we’re about to explore the essentials for formulating an effective strategy.

Short or long-tail keywords

Keywords are necessary for SEO purposes – they help your target audience find you. Of course, in practice, finding the ‘right’ keywords can be a bit tricky.

As the name implies, short tail keywords are shorter in length and thus correspond to broader terminology. As such, short tail keywords are typically more competitive and thus cost more to use. Furthermore, due to them being less-specific, they will typically attract a more general audience. Many of the visitors may not actually be interested in your product or service.

On the other hand, long-tail words are less competitive and cheaper to use. Furthermore, since they are longer and hence more specific, long-tail keywords can be used to specifically attract your target audience. With some careful analysis, you can also discover the ‘search intent’ behind long-tail keywords. This is invaluable for content creation, as the ‘search intent’ reveals what problems your prospect is looking to solve. Thus, by isolating long-tail keywords that are specific to your target audience, you can now use them to generate relevant B2B content.

In conclusion, the identification and use of relevant long-tail keywords should be a part of your B2B marketing strategy. This is because these keywords can help attract customers that are specifically looking for what you have to offer.

Analyze your industry competition

Competitor analysis is a crucial part of formulating an effective B2B content marketing strategy. Analyzing the strategies employed by your competitors will give you invaluable insight into tactics that are successful. Furthermore, you will also learn about what mistakes to avoid making.

Thoroughly analyzing your competition is an extensive task, but it is definitely worth the time and effort. You need to look at the essentials, such as:

  • What types of B2B content do your competitors favor?
  • What B2B content marketing strategies have proved successful for your competitors?
  • What keywords is the competition using?
  • What platforms are your competition using to reach their audience, e.g social media?

There are many tools available that you can aid you in performing competitor analysis. If you’re serious about B2B content marketing, then we urge you to look into this.

Determine what you’ll be creating

The next stage of your content marketing strategy involves finalizing exactly what kind of content you will be creating. Up until now, we have already seen some specifics of what good content should include – long-tail keywords, and an engaging tone, for example. It should also address pain points and present solutions to them.

Furthermore, we also explored the key roles of different types of B2B content in the buyer’s journey. Now, it’s time to put together everything you know about content creation and formulate a strategic plan. You will need to outline the specifics such as:

  • What types of B2B content will you be utilizing?
  • What topics will you address?
  • How will you guide your prospects through the buyer’s journey?

It is not enough to simply decide that you will produce, say, blog posts and eBooks. For your B2B content marketing strategy, you will need to determine what each type of B2B content will be used for. Will you use blog posts to generate brand awareness? Will you use eBooks to address certain key pain points? These are the questions you need to ask yourself, and then incorporate answers to in your strategy.

Create a content calendar

Once you’ve ironed out the specifics of your content marketing strategy, and have determined what sort of content you will create, it’s time to organize the distribution. 

You can use an editorial calendar to determine how often your team produces content. Furthermore, you can also determine where the content will be shared and how to market it. Creating a detailed content calendar is the final stage of your B2B content strategizing process. We recommend creating a quarterly content calendar that is re-visited and tweaked once a month. After you’ve completed this phase, it’s time to execute your plan.

6 Examples of Great B2B Content

The best way to understand what B2B content is to see it in practice. Here are some of our favorite picks of B2B content in action:

  1. This blog post by Productive Edge, that educates organizations about the benefits of using Microsoft Azure Data Lake.
  2. Hubspot's blog post about content that can help businesses with lead generation.
  3. STR Software's how-to guide about managing and distributing information better.
  4. Scripted's podcast to help B2B marketers with challenges such as content creation and SEO optimization.
  5. Secureworks' blog post about how to protect industrial control systems from cyber-attacks.
  6. Nextview's guide for managing teams that are working from home or remote areas.

B2B Content Production Process

Now that you’ve formulated a B2B content marketing strategy, it’s time for the content creation phase. Producing high quality, informative B2B content is an extensive task. However, we’ll address the specific features in isolation to give you a good idea of how to go about things.

How to do Keyword Research

We already discussed how important long-tail keywords are. The question for now is, how do you discover long-tail keywords and determine which ones to use?

Well, to do so, keyword research is required. There are many tools available online to help you do so, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Topic. You can use these tools to search for keywords, both long-tail, and short-tail, and see their pricing, search volume, and how much they are being used.

Keyword tools are good for more than just identifying keywords – they can also be used for performing comprehensive competitor analysis. You can use your keyword tools to discover what keywords your competitors are using. Most tools will provide you with an option for sharing a page URL to have it analyzed. Thus, you can input say, a B2B blog post produced by your competitors and discover what keywords they used.  

When it comes to determining what keywords to use, it’s a good idea to take your time and perform thorough research. This is because identifying the right keywords is crucial for attracting the right audience.

Outlining Blog Posts

We’ve already covered the specifics of what a good B2B blog post should contain. Now it’s time to apply what you already know and create outlines for posts.

When creating an outline, you should always have the core theme and audience in mind. Who is the post for, and what pain points will you be addressing? Beyond this, you should ensure that your blog posts are visually appealing as well. Thus, ensure that your outline contains clear, relevant headings and subheadings where appropriate. The outline should break down key topics into smaller, digestible chunks.

Furthermore, keep in mind that high-quality points should be backed by evidence. Thus, when drafting your outline, include any statistics or facts that you think should be included in the post itself. If you take all of these considerations into account, then your outlines should be good-to-go. 

Writing and SEO optimization

SEO optimization through writing is a crucial part of B2B content production. You will need to make sure that your content is reaching your target audience in particular, which is crucial for lead generation.

Create a Standalone Resource

One option that some B2B marketers find highly beneficial is creating standalone resources for the purpose of content marketing. For example, you could create a separate blog that is entirely focused on producing educational content relevant to your service or product. Your blog can serve as a means of creating brand awareness, and making your target audience aware of their pain points.

Keywords — The Right Way to Optimize

As far as SEO optimization is concerned, using keywords is the way to go. As we discussed previously, long-tail keywords are particularly useful for attracting your target audience. Thus, when producing B2B content, be sure to include relevant keywords for optimization purposes.

Hook Readers with the Intro

By ‘hook readers’, we don’t mean clickbait. Your introduction should attract your target audience by addressing something that they can relate to; a pain point that may be causing them trouble, or a product that could interest them. Thus, for introductions, it’s a good idea to include a key theme off the bat.

Support Your Post with Design/Images/Photography

Visuals make your posts more aesthetically appealing, and also make the text itself more readable. Sequential blocks of paragraphs can put readers off – however, including an attractive image in between two paragraphs offers a break from the monotony.

Publishing

Now that you’ve generated your content, it’s time to determine where to publish it. The decision of where to publish your content depends on different factors, such as:

  • Which platform will provide you with the greatest reach?
  • Which platform does your target audience engage with the most?
  • What type of content are you hoping to promote?

This brings us to the next section; the platforms themselves. For example, YouTube is an excellent platform for publishing short videos that discuss your product and services. Furthermore, you could simply publish your B2B content on a standalone blog, and then proceed to promote the post. We’ll address how to distribute the content in the next section.

Social Media and Email Distribution

After you publish your content, it’s important to distribute it properly so that you can reach your target audience. Social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are suitable choices for promoting your content. Unlike B2C content marketing, LinkedIn remains a great channel for B2B content. However, Facebook and Twitter likely won't convert too much but are good for general branding purposes. 

Alternatively, you can consider launching a B2B content marketing campaign via email. That is, you can send out emails to potential customers sharing informative content that provides solutions to their pain points.

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B2B Content Marketing Tools

When it comes to marketing your content, you don’t have to do it on your own. There are many useful content marketing tools available online that are easy to use, such as SEMrush, Google Drive, and Screaming Frog. Content marketing tools can help you:

  • Identify relevant topics that are trending in your field.
  • Determine the extent of your online presence.
  • Discover and analyze useful data and B2B content marketing statistics.
  • Create high-quality, visually appealing content.

Recommend Content Marketing Tools

SEMrush or Ahrefs

SEMrush and Ahrefs are the premier tools for SEO and content marketing. Through both platforms, you can track keywords, check backlinks and determine which topics to write about to improve search rankings.

At OpGen Media, we personally prefer to use SEMrush, but Ahrefs is a good alternative.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a great tool for technical SEO. With Screaming Frog, you can analyze all of your website's pages to find errors like broken links, duplicate meta descriptions and more so that your site becomes easier to index by Google. 

Google Search Console

There's no better way to track your website's performance than checking the data from Google. With Search Console, you see how Google is crawling your site and where there are opportunities to fix your site.

Topic

Topic is a newer SEO tool focused on content optimization. Through Topic, you can create AI-generated content briefs that makes the content creation process much easier and better. 

B2B Content FAQs

B2B content marketing can be tricky, and we hope that this guide has provided you with some useful insight. We’re now going to take a look at some common questions that businesses that are new to B2B content marketing have.

Should I run ads to get views?

Advertising your content can be beneficial if it will help you reach your target audience. However, it’s important to note that the content you advertise should high quality, and useful to your customer base. Good content and advertising go hand-in-hand – having people view content that they won’t find useful will not generate new leads. The best content to run ads for is case studies, ebooks, whitepapers, and videos. 

Is Facebook a good channel for promotion?

This question does not have a specific answer, because Facebook’s usefulness varies from business to business. You can try using Facebook to promote your B2B content, but be sure to analyze the data using Google Analytics. If Facebook is helping your business with lead generation and sales, then it’s certainly beneficial.

One thing we can say for sure is that using Facebook by itself for promotion isn’t a good idea. The social media site is best used in conjunction with other platforms – for example, you could use Facebook posts to attract your target audience, and then navigate them towards your eBooks or white papers.

How long does it take to get organic traffic? 

The time that it takes to get organic traffic is dependent on some key factors, which include:

  • The competition
  • The specifics of the SEO keywords you are trying to rank for
  • The ease with which search engines can index your website – which depends on the technical SEO of your site.

As a ballpark figure, it can take 3-4 months for you to generate noticeable levels of organic traffic. While this can be frustrating, it’s certainly worth the wait. Generating organic traffic will help you develop a loyal customer base.

How do I hire writers?

When it comes to hiring writers for your B2B content marketing campaign, seeking out freelancers can prove useful. There are many websites and online platforms available, such as Upwork, through which you can recruit B2B content writers.

What's the best way to outline posts?

The best way to outline posts is to have a go-to template that you can craft each specific post around. You can adjust the template according to the specifics of each topic.

If you’re not comfortable with creating your own outlines, then there are many online tools that you can use for creating them, such as Topic.

How do you track content ROI?

ROI, or return of investment, is a percentage indicator of the revenue gained from your B2B content marketing compared to your investment.

To track your ROI, you will first need to determine your investment in content marketing. This includes the cost of content creation and distribution. You will then need to calculate the amount you made in return. Finally, you can determine the ROI by comparing the profit (return minus investment) to the investment ratio.

Here's an example of how to calculate content marketing ROI:

  • You spent $1,000 on content creation
  • 6 months later, you closed $20,000 worth of new business from content-sourced leads
  • Your ROI is 20x

In order to attribute these numbers properly, having a Marketing Automation Platform in place is critical. We strongly recommend HubSpot for most of our clients, but if their price-point is out of reach, Autopilot and ActiveCampaign are viable alternatives. 

Work with a B2B Content Marketing Agency

At this point, we hope that you have some understanding of the specifics of B2B Content Marketing. It’s a lot to take in – and the process can seem daunting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then don’t worry, because you don’t have to work alone. For your B2B content marketing campaign, there’s always the option to call in the professionals. If you need experts to help you with your content marketing, then feel free to reach out to us by clicking the button below:

Request Free Consultation

 

Topics: content marketing, Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Digital Marketing

Brandon Pindulic

Written by Brandon Pindulic