(Updated, June 24, 2019, to give you the latest information)
B2B content marketing has become the white bread of content marketing. It's on every B2B marketer's menu and unfortunately a lot of it is as exciting as white bread. It lacks texture, and flavor and gusto.
Beyond that, it's often missing a solid foundation. Simply content without a strategy, it isn't a solid part of B2B marketing strategies.
And yet...done right it works. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates 3X as many leads."
So how do you get your B2B content marketing up to snuff? What do you need to do differently?
To help you do just that, we've gathered key information from several expert sources, including Content Marketing Institute's B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends. Learn how B2B content marketers are investing their time and money -- and how you can improve the quality of your brand's content.
Let's look at some of the content marketing tips we glean from this latest report and learn how to empower content marketing strategies for the future.
10 B2B Content Marketing Tips That You Need to Know
1. Document Your Strategy
Only 39% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy. But why is a documented content strategy important?
The key reason to have a documented strategy is that it keeps you on track. Throughout the content creation process it gives you and your team a road map so you're on the same page -- ensuring fewer hiccups along the way.
Begin with a clear understanding of your audience. Review the demographics that make up your target audience. Monitor such factors as...
- Job description
- Company size
- Geographic location
- Age range
Once you've nailed down your target audience's makeup, it's time to focus on your goals. Decide what you want to accomplish with your content marketing. That might include increased traffic, sales calls, or campaign interaction.
Once you have your audience and goals nailed down, you're ready to plan your content. Remember to vary your content formats enough to keep your audience engaged. Include a good mix of written, visual, and audio content that will engage all members of your audience, whether they prefer long-form blog posts, or something more visual.
Finally, determine what areas of the PESO model (paid, earned, shared, and owned content) you're going to invest your time and money. Are you going to invest it in paid promotions? Social posting? Getting noticed in trade publications? Creating content for your own blog?
2. Learn Your Buyer's Journey
The end goal of your content is to engage your audience. In order to do that, you need to understand what they're going through. Realize what stage they're at along the buyer's journey. These stages are as follows:
- Awareness stage: They are aware that they have a problem.
- Consideration stage: They have keyed in on their problem and are researching various solutions
- Decision stage: After researching various solutions, they are ready to choose one.
Why is this information important? Once you understand your buyers' mindset on each stage of this journey, you know what their pain points are and what questions they are asking. Knowing this, you are in a better position to create content for each stage.
Most brands have a large library of content that address the awareness stage, but their decision stage content is considerably sparser. That's why it's a good idea to audit your content library and strategically fill in any gaps.
3. Invest in Email Marketing
While email sometimes gets forgotten in the sea of marketing strategies, it is one of the most powerful tools for B2B content marketers. 87% of B2B content marketers use email marketing to nurture their leads.
The reality is that your audience has different interests and needs. To meet those needs and keep all of your audience members engaged, it's important to segment your audience. When creating a form to collect emails, include questions about company size and job roles that will provide the data for future segmentation. With that, you can write personalized and targeted messages.
An essential part of your email marketing strategy is a regular newsletter. A newsletter promotes your content, but also gives your audience a chance to get to know and trust your brand.
Use A/B testing to discover what headlines, delivery times, and other variables work best. It may take some time, but once you find that special combination, your emails will have the power to move your audience to action. To encourage them to take the next step, include a call to action in each email.
4. Craft Videos
When you mention content marketing, people think of blogs and ebooks. But over the past few years, audiences have become ever more hungry for audio/visual content, especially video.
In response to this demand, 64% of respondents in the Content Marketing Institute's survey reported that they increased their video content assets.
Have you jumped on this popular and effective trend? If not, don't delay. Invest your time in such popular social tools as Facebook Live and Instagram Stories. Try an interview, a Q and A session, or a behind the scenes glimpse of your company.
How about other video strategies? Invest in a budget friendly video creation software that will allow you to craft a variety of easy-to-watch and engaging videos. There are a number of video software options available, depending on your tastes and preferences. You can find software to create animated videos, transform your blog posts into videos, or merely edit video from your phone or tablet. One platform we like is Lumen5, which has a free version if you don't mind the company's branding.
5. Create In-Depth Content
What do I mean by "in-depth content"? This is content that goes deeper into its subject matter than similar content by other brands. It's generally longer and of higher quality, as well. This goes beyond a simple 4-step guide or an infographic on current trends. It has long-term implications for your audience.
What kind of in-depth content can you create? Consider crafting a guide that is unique in your industry and is truly ultimate in terms of subject matter depth. Pick a subject that you know inside and out, and create content that explores the length and breadth of it. Examine it from different angles so that your audience gets a complete picture.
This not only attracts a high-quality audience, but it also scores major points with Google. If you want to improve your website's SEO, then this kind of in-depth content is just the remedy you need. Studies have shown that long-form, in-depth content gets ranked higher on search engines and generally boosts a brand's SEO.
6. Educate Your Audience
Content for content sake is no way to run a powerful content strategy. The number one goal for B2B content strategies? Education. 77% of B2B content marketers use educational content to nurture leads, according to Content Marketing Institute.
Where should you start? Discover what questions are on your audience's mind. Use social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to suss out what questions your audience is asking right now. Or use an online community such as Quora or a research tool like BuzzSumo to see what's on people's minds.
Once you know what challenges your audience, it's time to get to work creating educational content that fills that need. If it's a simple question, you might use a simple blog post to answer it. If it requires a deeper explanation, consider creating an ebook or video.
However you do it, educating your audience is the first step to creating trust between your brand and your audience.
7. Invest in Paid Content Marketing
Sometimes just creating content, though, isn't enough. Sometimes you need to know how to amplify your content marketing using paid promotion to truly reach your goals. There are a number of paid content marketing options that can help you do just that.
For instance, you could invest in...
- Paid Content Distribution -- Amplify your content on such platforms as Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing.
- Paid Social Ads -- Learn what social networks house your target audience. Do they mostly use Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Once you find this out, create a campaign and pay to promote it on that network.
- Native Advertising -- This content, also known as branded content, is the antithesis of traditional advertising. Instead of creating content that actively promotes your brand, you create content that fits the needs of your audience, and weaves seamlessly into the site where you promote it. It's so native that your customers at first may have no idea that it is about your brand.
While your strategy shouldn't consist solely of paid content marketing, it's an effective way to enhance your strategy and reach new audiences. Check out what paid opportunities are available and determine which ones fit your industry and your brand.
8. Maintain a Consistent Voice
Your brand's voice is one of your most important assets. Once your audience is familiar with it, it can create a sense of comfort, no matter what channel someone is on. This includes your social media, videos, blog posts, email correspondence -- every piece of content that engages your audience.
To maintain a consistent voice -- and avoid confusing your audience -- nail down exactly what you want your voice to be and how you want to convey it. If you have other people on your team, make sure that they understand and use the voice that you want for your brand.
9. Measure and Re-Assess
Measurement is what separates great content marketing from its inferior equivalent.
Why? The fact is that no campaign is perfect -- and every audience is different. Measurement helps you to see how your audience is responding and when and how you might need to change it for the best results.
The reality is that measurement doesn't have to be blind alley. Use a free analytics program such as Google Analytics to collect your data. This data will tell you which campaigns are working and which need some TLC to get them up to snuff.
10. Repurpose Content
Just because your content is published does not mean that it can't be improved on or used again. In fact, repurposing content can be a major boon to your entire B2B content strategy. It can help you to find new audiences and re-engage past audiences.
This could be as simple as updating your blog post with a new title, images and information. On the other end of the spectrum, it could mean transforming a popular blog post into an ebook, infographic, or video, to appeal to new and different audiences.
These tactics can be helpful when you already have a large backlog of content that has waned in engagement. Instead of investing in new content creation, spend less to revive your old content, which will probably seem brand new to your audience once you're done updating it.
B2B content marketing is not just a matter of creation. There needs to be an intelligent driving force behind that creation. Such a force is honed by keeping up to date with content marketing tips and strategies such as those above.
Let us know in the comments below what strategies are part of your marketing arsenal.
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