With this guide, we’ll show you how to build an effective, lead-generating B2B content marketing strategy.
Just by the fact that you’re reading this blog post, and have hopefully read the previous one, you should hopefully know that we are major proponents of content marketing. Content marketing works. While it’s not just as simple as slapping together a 600-word blog post twice a month, it’s an effective source of leads when done correctly.
According to the 2019 trends report released by The Content Marketing Institute, 78% of B2B marketers already make use of content marketing. The most successful of these have a well-documented content marketing strategy. Another study by MarketingProfs and ContentMarketing puts the number even higher, at 91%.
On average, B2B marketers are spending up to 33% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
Unfortunately, having said this, not all marketers get it right, and executing your content marketing the wrong way can lead to frustration and mediocre results. In a study by CMI, only around 30% of B2B marketers claimed that their organisations effectively implemented content marketing.
WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING IMPORTANT
Content is the foundation of a good and healthy website, and search engines like Google prioritise websites with a decent amount of content. SEO and lead generation are all about increasing time on page and building engagement. You can do this by following the EAT guidelines with your content.
By positioning yourself as an expert in your field, your content automatically gains more authority. The more authority your content has, the more your audience will trust you. In turn, having the trust of your audience is vital for improving your search rankings.
Why is any of this important?
The top five results on the search engine results page (SERP) receive 67.6% of all clicks.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is an approach whereby businesses use content – blogs, eBooks, case studies, market research, videos, podcasts and so on – to attract, engage and convert website visitors.
It’s the most cost-effective marketing strategy and can help support a business’ long-term objectives, be they brand awareness, lead generation, revenue or growth.
A content marketing strategy is essentially the plan of attack; how these content assets are brainstormed, created, published and promoted to meet a particular objective.
So, think about the following questions:
- Who are you creating content for?
- What are the problems you are trying to solve?
- What makes your content unique?
- Which keywords do you want to be found for?
- What content types are you going to use?
- Do you have a CMS to create and publish content?
- What channels will you use for promotion?
- What are your main KPIs?
- Do you have content you can repurpose to start with?
Where do you start with a B2B content marketing strategy?
- Set goals
- Create buyer personas
- Run a content audit to identify gaps
- Brainstorm content ideas
- Keywords and search intent
- Use topic clusters in your content strategy
- Other content brainstorming methods you can use
- Choose the right content types
- Create a market research report
- Work out how you’ll create and manage content
- Leverage your existing workforce as spokespeople and content creators
- Content promotion and amplification
- Paid advertising
- Email marketing
- How does content help you to generate leads?
- Track and report on the performance of content
- Repurpose and update content
Content is still king.
Though more than two decades have passed since Bill Gates’ seminal article, Content is King (1996), content marketing remains – and overwhelmingly so – the single-most powerful and cost-effective means of B2B lead generation.
Nowadays, every business understands the power of content marketing; they’ve heard the praises, seen the reviews and read the statistics. If they haven’t, they’re already long behind the competition.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). Similarly, 72% of marketers said that having a good content strategy was “key to their success in 2018”. (B2B Content Marketing, 2018 via HubSpot).
But while every business understands the value of content, few implement content marketing campaigns or strategies properly. Indeed – in 2018, only 39% of marketers had a documented content marketing strategy, and while that number jumped to 65% in 2019 – there’s still a whopping 35% of marketers without one.
Who Are You Creating Content For?
It’s a question we often ask prospects and clients and, for many of them, it’s the first time they’ve really thought about it.
Some of them have answers, of course – business leaders, marketing managers, technicians, engineers – but few have gone about researching their customer base and identifying the challenges they have before creating a B2B content marketing strategy.
As a result, the content they create (while well-written and interesting) can be wide of the mark and fails to resonate with their target audience(s). Sure, it reaches people and receives views – but there’s no engagement beyond that initial click or view.
Eventually, they become frustrated with how B2B content marketing can take a long time to provide results – gradually reducing the amount of content they create – and invest their time and efforts elsewhere.
But the great thing about content creation is that there’s never a bad time to get started. You just need to ensure you know who you want to speak to and how to speak to them before you start creating.
An example from another world…
In banking – there’s a process called ‘Know Your Customer’, alternatively known as know your client or simply ‘KYC’.
This process is essentially where a business verifies the identity of its clients and assesses their suitability for particular products or services, along with the potential risks of illegal intentions – i.e. money laundering.
It’s a well-established process but ultimately, it enables banks and other financial institutions to know who they are dealing with and tailor their products and services accordingly.
And it isn’t limited to just banking. In some way, shape or form, every industry has its own routine to identifying and understanding target customers and in marketing, we use ‘buyer personas’.
What Problems Are You Trying to Solve?
As harsh as it sounds, marketing isn’t about you. It’s not about your brand; it’s not about your product and it’s not about what you do.
It’s all about helping your customers.
Your B2B content marketing strategy should, therefore, focus on solving the business challenges your customers have. They want answers, help and advice – they don’t want to be sold to.
By educating customers, demonstrating you get what they’re going through and can help them resolve their challenges, you can quickly build trust.
So, what are the problems you are trying to solve?
It all comes back to your buyer personas: what are their pain points, business challenges, and drivers for change? Once you have this information, you can start creating content that really does resonate with your target audience.
What Makes Your Content Unique?
OK, here’s the kicker: even if you create a B2B content marketing strategy, there’s no guarantee that your content will generate views, traction, leads, sales – at least, not until you create stuff that’s unique and interesting.
It’s all well and good writing blogs, eBooks, etc – but if you’re saying the same thing your competitors or other businesses are saying, people won’t get any value from it.
But perhaps more importantly – a lot of the content available doesn’t answer the ‘difficult questions’, provide comparisons or suit the way that people search or educate themselves.
The responsibility falls to you, as an expert in your particular area, to answer the questions that people have, provide comparisons so that they might educate themselves, and ensure the content you produce is 10x better than what’s out there already.
“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.”
— Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot
What content types are you going to use?
When we talk about ‘content types’ we’re referring to blogs, eBooks, case studies, infographics, videos – essentially what kind of content asset you’re going to create.
Each content type has its advantages and disadvantages – and how and where you use them will affect overall engagement. For example, a short promotional video on Instagram will be infinitely better than a blog post on the same topic on LinkedIn.
In today’s world, it would be accurate to say we’re in the age of video and consumable media. Think Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok. People like watching things. It’s easy and more engaging. Reading still has a place at the table but that’s often reserved for when people – your prospects – have time to do so… and more often than not, they don’t.
You also have to think about how your target audience goes about consuming media and where they hang out online. Your B2B content marketing strategy needs to be built around how your prospects like to consume content.
According to Smart Insights, the top-performing content assets are:
- Long-form content
- White papers
- Resource pages
- Guest blogs