Successful B2B content marketing depends on an in-depth understanding of what your target audience needs and when they need it. If you don’t understand these two things, then you’ll find yourself constantly struggling to produce content which people value.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
This is an easy question to answer. B2B content marketing is the use of creative and informative material to promote your company’s core product or service to other businesses.
Plain and simple, this is content marketing that is geared to promote a B2B business. Are you still unclear about whether your business operates in a B2B environment? Here are some examples:
- Shopify: A business which helps entrepreneurs to set up online stores and sell their products remotely.
- HubSpot: A sales and marketing platform that helps companies to convert leads into actual clients.
- Contio: A project management platform that helps content creators work together to collaborate while producing and publishing content faster for their clients.
In contrast, here are some well-known B2C business examples:
- Amazon: An e-commerce store which sells household items, toys, books, music and other products either directly to customers or as a middleman for other retailers.
- Walmart: A physical store which sells food items, cosmetic products, clothes, household products, books and other items directly to customers.
- Netflix: A subscription-based streaming service for watching TV shows and movies.
As you can see, it’s not that difficult to differentiate between a B2B and a B2C business. A B2B business sells to other businesses whereas a B2C business sells directly to individual customers.
In a previous post, we talked about how you can use the different types of content marketing to boost your business. Today we want to talk about how to use these types of content marketing to give your brand a boost in a B2B market.
Why do you need B2B content marketing?
If you’re operating in a B2B environment, then investing in content marketing can be beneficial in a few ways:
Building thought leadership
Sharing valuable content over a period of time can help you establish your brand as a thought leader. Once you become a trusted authority in the industry, other businesses are more likely to turn to you to solve their problems.
Boosting your SEO rankings
Consistently providing valuable information helps you rank higher on search engines. This will help potential clients who are searching for your services to find you more easily.
Increasing web traffic
Repurposing your content and sharing it widely generates curiosity about your business as a whole. People who see content which you have shared on social media will want to check your website out to learn more about the services you offer. In time, this increases traffic to your website and general awareness of your brand.
When you’re operating in a B2B environment, it’s normal for users to request the same piece of content repeatedly. For example, people will ask to see the same demo video or webinar recording over and over again. Having this content ready in advance will help you save the time you would’ve spent scrambling to produce this content every time someone asks for it.
B2B Content Marketing vs. B2C Content Marketing
Okay, so now you understand how content marketing can be helpful for your B2B business. But do you know how it’s different from B2C content marketing?
Most people make the mistake of assuming that content marketing for B2B should be focused more on your core product or service. These people often default to producing content which is more informative than it is engaging. In other words, if you get into your content marketing with this mindset, it’s easy to produce content which is lifeless and boring.
In reality, the content for your B2B business should be just as engaging and fun to consume as it should be for a B2C company. After all, the priorities for your content marketing are the same: to connect with potential clients and convert them into actual clients.
The difference in content marketing for B2B and B2C businesses isn’t the strategy – what you want to do. As we just said, in both industries, the aim is to connect with your target audience. The real difference lies in your tactics – how you will do that.
Why is it so important to focus on the how of it all? Because there are two differences between the target audience for B2B and the target audience for B2C.
Firstly, the purchase journey – the time it takes for a potential client to buy your product – is longer in a B2B environment.
Secondly, the sales funnel – the process which converts a potential client to an actual client – is more complex.
In order to meet the needs of this complex marketplace, it is very important to refine your tactics.
How to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy in 3 Easy Steps
So, how do you develop a content marketing strategy that’ll work for your business?
1) Build a client persona
Yes, it’s important to understand your target audience regardless of whether you are a B2B business or a B2C business. However, since it takes longer to convert a lead to a paying customer in B2B, understanding your audience is even more crucial here. If you want to convert leads to clients then you must take time to understand then needs of these people.
When you’re building a client persona, you need to go beyond the obvious. It is important to go beyond the demographics of your target audience so that you can also understand their psychographics – what matters to them.
Understanding the psychographics of your target audience will help you produce content which consistently meets their needs. And if you can meet their needs over time, then you will create an audience which relies on you as a source of valuable information. This is good news because people who trust you are more likely to purchase your core product or service.
2) Chart your sales funnel
The second part of your content marketing strategy should be charting your sales funnel and defining what needs to be done at each stage.
Are you hearing the term “sales funnel” for the first time? Don’t panic. Before we get into the deep end, let’s talk about what this is.
Picture an actual funnel. It’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, and it’s designed to guide a large amount of material into a different container in stages. This is exactly what your sales funnel does with potential clients.
A sales funnel is a strategic process which guides leads from one stage of content marketing to the next, with the ultimate goal of converting them into paying customers.
In this sales funnel model, businesses normally start with a large number of potential clients but only a few eventually convert into paying clients. However, you shouldn’t let that discourage you from your content marketing efforts. At the end of the day, B2B clients stay with you for a longer time than B2C clients do.
As a content marketer in B2B, each piece of content you produce is an opportunity to move your potential customers further along in their journey to becoming actual customers. In order to move clients successfully from one stage to the next, you must understand their needs at each stage.
Stages of the sales funnel
A potential client typically goes through 4 stages which can be described using the AIDA model:
- Awareness: when a potential client first becomes aware of the business problem they need to solve. At the same time, they’ve just heard about your brand and the product you’re selling.
- Interest: the potential client starts to evaluate whether the solution you’re offering is a good fit. They also start comparing you with your competition.
- Desire: the potential client starts to evaluate the value your solution will add to their business.
- Action: the potential client makes a decision and becomes a paying client.
In order to successfully move your clients from one stage to the next, you must make strategic use of your content.
What do I need to do at each stage of the sales funnel?
Awareness: At the awareness stage, you need to educate your clients on the problem they’re dealing with and inform them that you have the solution.
Interest: At the interest stage, you need to entice them by convincing them your solution is worth investing in. This is a good time to get a small commitment. For example, you can ask for their email address.
Desire: At the desire stage, you need to build a relationship by offering them value and giving them reasons to trust in your solution.
Action: At the action stage, you need to offer a unique and memorable experience. This will not only turn them into repeat customers but also encourage them to promote you to their friends.
What type of content is best for each stage?
To educate your target audience: use online advertisements, landing pages, videos and infographics.
To entice your target audience and build a relationship with them: use blog posts (including guides and how-tos), social media posts, white papers/eBooks, case studies, webinars, interviews and Q&As. You can also use podcasts, reviews and testimonials, and email marketing.
To offer a unique and memorable experience: use surveys, demos of how to use your product, and email marketing.
3) Evaluate the results and adjust your strategy
It’s always good to have a guide like ours before you start producing content. Even so, content marketing always involves a bit of trial and error. For this reason, it’s important to keep analysing how each piece of content performs. In the long run, this will help you develop a strategy that works for your business, with content which your audience enjoys.
As you can see, developing a content marketing strategy for your B2B business isn’t hard. It is crucial to understand your client persona as well as your sales funnel. Once you understand both those elements, you’ll be ready to develop an effective strategy.
Once you’ve developed a content marketing strategy, Contio is a great place to brainstorm content ideas and produce different types of content as a team.