What makes a successful business-to-business (B2B) content marketing strategy different from marketing directly to consumers? At its core, every content marketing strategy includes the same elements of defining goals and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs), but a B2B strategy comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Unlike business to consumer (B2C) content marketing, a B2B strategy supports organizational goals by targeting buyers. Ultimately, it’s all about driving leads and sales among busy industry professionals and business owners, which means it’s more important than ever to be targeted, relevant and engaging.
B2B content marketers know they’re competing in a crowded playing field. In today’s attention economy, it can be difficult to cut through the noise in a way that truly resonates. In my years since founding my agency, I’ve seen content marketing trends come and go, but a few best practices for B2B have risen to the top. Here are five steps for a successful B2B content marketing strategy.
1. Create buyer personas.
Ah, everyone’s favorite marketing exercise: developing detailed buyer personas. It can be a time-consuming process to agree on the traits of your target market (Is Buyer Brielle a millennial or Gen Xer? Is she from the Midwest or West Coast? Does she prefer phone calls or email?), but it’s a critical step in your B2B strategy.
By investing the effort upfront into understanding the people you’re selling to, buyer personas will become your North Star for developing targeted, valuable content. These personas should also highlight any pain points you’re trying to address by identifying buyer motivations, challenges and goals.
A strong buyer persona should include:
• The fictional buyer’s name and title
• Some basic demographics and personal information including age, income, lifestyle and location
• Key identifiers, preferences and values
• Challenges and pain points (What problem does your product or service solve for them?)
2. Research, research, research.
Members of your sales team are key for helping develop a targeted B2B content marketing strategy because they’re the ones talking to prospects and customers on a regular basis. Begin your research by asking your salespeople what questions and issues customers are bringing up and what their common objections may be.
Tools like Google Analytics can help identify relevant search terms and keywords as well as detailed information about who visits your website and what they’re looking for. Social platform analytics will also reveal what topics your prospects are sharing and commenting on and what other brands and businesses they’re interested in.
B2B buyers conduct the majority of their initial research online before they ever reach out to a salesperson. Take advantage of this fact by doing your own research to make sure your content is highly customized around the topics your buyers care about.
3. Encourage user-generated content.
B2B, B2C, KPIs and now UGC? If you can deal with one more marketing initialism, UGC stands for user-generated content — i.e., any content related to a business that’s voluntarily produced by its customers.
B2B decision-makers value the opinions of other professionals when making buying choices, and persuasive user-generated content helps inspire them to take action. You can encourage UGC with influencers, search out great UGC via hashtags and keywords and prompt existing customers to contribute to your UGC by rewarding them for doing so.
4. Get more engagement with paid promotion.
Thanks to increased competition and algorithm changes, social shares on nearly every platform have been sharply declining over time. The irony of creating that amazing B2B content that’s oh-so-perfectly mapped to your overall strategy and business goals? There’s a good chance your target audience simply won’t see it.
In order to help ensure your great content gets the engagement it deserves, consider boosting your posts with paid support. When you advertise on a social platform like Facebook or Twitter, you get amplification among highly targeted users along with the metrics provided by the site’s ad structure.
Think back to your buyer personas. Today’s platforms allow for granular targeting, and having spent the time to identify the characteristics of your buyers will serve you well when it comes time to develop a paid campaign.
In the end, the success of your B2B content marketing strategy will depend on being able to reach the right people with the right message. By truly understanding your market and what they care about, you’ll be able to deliver valuable, relevant information to your prospects and, in turn, they’ll reward you with their business and loyalty.
Written by Danielle Wiley