In 2021, seventy-three percent of successful marketers spent 10 to 70% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
And 78% of the successful marketers had a documented content strategy.
That’s no surprise because, in 2020, 69% of successful B2B marketers attributed their success to a well documented and tracked content marketing strategy.
So, B2B content marketing involves a sound content strategy built around your target audience. But beyond that, content that will guide and nurture them to become paying customers.
And that’s my basis for creating this guide. You’ll learn how to create a B2B content marketing strategy practically and directly targeting the people that matter to your business.
But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page on what B2B marketing is.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content (videos, blog posts, social media posts, etc) to attract and engage potential customers (business owners or company decision-makers).
For example, Hubspot provides software products for sales, inbound marketing, and customer service. Their target market is other businesses. So they’re a B2B company.
For their content marketing strategy, they distribute informative blog posts, newsletters, industry reports, templates, ebooks, and more to educate their market about their problem, possible solutions, pain points, and their software products as a solution.
Besides generating leads, B2B content marketing increases organic traffic to your website and pushes the leads down the sales funnel.
It also increases brand awareness and educates your offering and its value to your market’s problem.
In fact, the Content Marketing Institute found that B2B marketers achieve their brand awareness goals more than any other with content marketing.
What are the different types of B2B content formats?
B2B content marketing includes a solid strategy and creating content in any of the following formats:
- Blog post: Short pieces of content or long, in-depth posts that promote your product or service and educate your audience.
- Webinar: Digital events that you can host to promote your product or service.
- Testimonial: Short video content or written accounts from customers that speak to the success they’ve had using your product or service.
- Case study: In-depth documents that speak to the successes of a specific customer.
- Ebook: Long-form content that can be downloaded and read at the reader’s convenience.
- Industry report: Pieces that take an in-depth look at trends happening in your industry.
- White paper: Detailed reports that focus on a specific topic. They’re usually quite lengthy but offer readers in-depth information.
- Online course: Multimedia presentations that focus on a particular topic. They’re great for educating potential customers about your product or service.
- Email Newsletter: Weekly or monthly emails that feature content related to your target market.
- Video content: Educational content that can be published on a youtube channel to help drive targeted traffic.
- Infographic: Visual presentations that help explain a complicated topic to potential customers in an easy-to-digest way.
- Podcast: Audio segments can be hosted on your website or another site. They educate potential customers about your product, service, and industry.
B2B vs. B2C content marketing
B2B content marketing is directed to organizations or businesses looking for a solution from other organizations. It could be a marketing director, chief engineer, product lead, etc.
Conversely, the audience for B2C content is a direct consumer.
While B2B content marketing highlights the expected return on investment and how to improve an organization’s bottom line, B2C content marketing efforts mostly appeal to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (basic needs, psychological and self-fulfillment needs).
Other differences between B2B and B2C content marketing include:
|B2B content marketing||B2C content marketing|
|Practical and straightforward content||Could be entertaining|
|Appeals to ROI and logic||Mostly appeals to emotions|
|Social media is not a priority. Prioritizes email and website content||Using social media platforms is a top priority.|
How do you create a B2B content marketing strategy?
Here’s my process for creating an effective B2B content marketing strategy.
Step 1: Choose Your Marketing and Business Goals
First, you want to determine what you want to achieve and the timeframe.
Your core business goals will help you keep track of your content marketing campaigns.
For example, if you want to get 100 new customers for your HR consultancy, you might need to attract 300 leads on your website. But to get 300 website leads, you might need about 1,500 unique visits.
The best way to do that over time is through a content strategy that aims to generate organic traffic.
So, your content marketing goal could be to increase monthly unique visitors from 1,000 to 2,500. Make sure you document and write down your goals specifically.
|Business Goals||Content Marketing Goals||Timeframe||Notes|
|– Increase sales by 10% year-over-year|
– 100 new email subscribers every month
|Get 1,500 monthly unique views.||3 months||– Host webinars|
– Network on online platforms and events where my target market hangs out
– Publish 4 comprehensive articles every month targeting low-competition keywords
– Publish success stories/testimonials
– Promote content on email and LinkedIn
– Answer questions on online communities
Step 2: Identify your target audience and how you’ll help them
Every content you publish should prioritize value to the reader while maximizing on opportunities to turn them into customers.
That’s why you need clear buyer personas and corresponding buyer journeys detailing how to turn them into buying customers using content.
Did you know that using personas makes websites 2 to 5 times more effective?
That’s because personas help you target better keywords, segment your email list, choose promotional channels, prioritize content, and align your content to resonate with their worldview.
Going back to the HR consultancy example, the target audience would be medium businesses that outsource their HR needs.
Though you’re creating content for the business, it’s a human who’ll read the content – not a business.
So, the buyer persona could look like this
|Goals||Challenges||How they look for solutions||How you’ll help|
|Legal compliance||Lacking legal expertise||– uses Google search engines to find answers|
– posts a job in online marketplaces
– asks friends and online communities (Reddit, HR Slack communities, etc)
– reads industry reports
|– educate on legal compliance, best practices, and HR policies.|
– provide HR consulting services
|Do what’s best for employees and the business||Lacking expert advice|
|Keep employees motivated||No performance-management system in place|
|Get things done quickly||Spending too much time managing employees|
You can use Hubspot’s buyer persona generator to create your persona.
Note that you can (and should) have multiple personas depending on the problem that the persona wants to solve.
Wondering how to learn about your audience?
A solid strategy could be to gather data about your persona from your Google Analytics data, CRM data, Reddit, Quora, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or surveys.
If you have a very limited or not-targeted audience, you can use Sparktoro to learn about your competitor’s audience.
Simply select “My audience frequently visits the website” and add your competitor’s URL to the dashboard.
Then scroll down the report to view:
- What your audience talks about online
- Who your audience engages with online
- And more
The next thing you’ll create is your personas’ buyer journeys.
A buyer journey is the process that a prospect goes through to learn about their problem, discover solutions, and buy into one solution.
The buyer journey helps you identify the content that you’ll use to educate your prospects and ultimately convert them to paying customers.
The typical buyer journey has three broad stages:
- Awareness– the persona knows (is aware) they have a problem/pain, but they haven’t articulated it. In this stage, you’d explore topics addressing their problems. For example, “5 Pervasive HR mistakes to avoid (industry report),” “HR policy template,” “best practices for HR checklist,” etc.
- Consideration – the persona is actively looking (considering) for solutions to their problem. You’d publish content on different solutions at this stage, including your offer. For example, “How to choose an HR consulting firm.”
- Decision – the persona is looking for the best service provider to solve their problem. At this stage, you’d push out webinars/case studies/white papers showing how you solve their problem. Here, your call-to-action would probably be “book a strategy/discovery call.”
Initially, you’d be looking to create lead generation content dedicated to your “Decision” target audience, especially for small businesses.
That’s because these are qualified leads ready to buy and require less time to nurture from the offset. So if your content creation strategy is designed to rank in search engines, you’ll be able to meet them where they look to solve their problems and turn them to paying customers.
It’s only over the long term when you have greater resources and have achieved product-market that you can create content that will drive greater organic traffic for audiences in the Awareness and Considerating stage. This is where your sales team and having a content strategy designed to nurture these audience become especially helpful.
Next, audit your organization’s assets to identify content ideas and opportunities.
Step 3: Audit your content assets
Look for gaps in the type of content and content formats your business is currently using to attract and turn your audience into customers.
Here’s how to go about it.
Have a spreadsheet up with the following columns:
|Title||Buyer journey stage||Content format||Targeteted buyer persona||Notes|
|E.g., “The ultimate HR policy template”||Awareness||Blog post||Jill||Could be repurposed into LinkedIn post|
Then list all the content you have (blog post, newsletter series, videos, podcasts, webinars, case studies, etc.)
After you’ve audited all your content, you’ll have a clear picture of what’s missing. You should be able to see the types of content you currently have, whether they are suitable for the buyer persona and buyer journey, and how you can adjust or repurpose existing content.
So you’re ready to move to the next step.
Step 4: List the Topics You’ll Cover
With a small audience and small team, start with a narrow subject. For example, the HR consultancy could start by covering all aspects of legal compliance in your country.
Or, you could start with one persona.
For example, start with Jill and answer all the questions Jill might have from the awareness stage to the decision stage.
Here are ways to determine the topics you’ll cover:
- Use Ahrefs’ content gap tool to see the keywords that your competitors rank for that you don’t.
Below is an example of a content gap analysis for the domain ahrefs.com.
- Analyze the kind of content that’s generating traffic and engagement from your competitors. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer can show your competitors’ top-performing pages (they generate the most traffic) and their keywords. You simply plug in your competitors’ domain, explore the data to find any relevant content for your own content marketing strategy.
For example, here are the top-performing pages for the domain ahrefs.com
You can click on the keywords to see the specific keywords that users are searching to get to these pages.
- Brainstorm the content ideas that might interest your persona throughout the buyer journey. You can check out what people are asking on Reddit, Quora, and social media groups.
- You can also send out surveys and social media polls to your audience asking them about their major challenges in HR for example.
In this step, list all the topics and their respective persona and stage in the buyer journey.
Note: I’ve done the steps above with Ahrefs (my favorite SEO tool) but if you can’t afford Ahrefs you can also do these steps with SEMrush. SEMrush is the biggest competitor to Ahrefs and what’s crucial to you, they sometimes offer official discount codes. If you can get a SEMrush coupon, then you can save money and get a great tool to uncover topics to write about on your blog.
Step 5: Choose Your Content Formats and Publishing Frequency
Turns out – a consistent strategy can increase your blog traffic by 90% over a six-month period.
So, check your Google Analytics report to see when your content performs best, then choose that as your publishing frequency for blog posts.
If you don’t already have enough data to make that decision, then look toward your content budget. You may choose a publishing cadence of once or twice per week, or enlist AI writing software like Jasper to help scale your content production. Of course, quantity shouldn’t be done at the expense of creating high-quality content. The key here is to stay consistent with GREAT content.
Also, check out the analytics report for your email marketing campaigns and social media channels (if you use business pages). That should help you determine the best publishing time and frequency.
You can also borrow some content-creation insights from your best-performing posts.
As for formats, the 12th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that webinars produced the best results, followed by research reports, and articles.
Of course, you should only be creating content that will cater for your target audience.
Here’s an example of what your spreadsheet for content and publishing frequency could look like:
|Format||Where to publish||Frequency|
|E.g., Blog posts||E.g., Blog||E.g., Weekly|
Step 6: Pick Your Promotional Channels
According to research on B2B content consumption, most B2B buyers get content from the vendor’s website.
So besides your website, the best channels for B2B content marketing are:
- Email: which promises a $36 profit for every dollar spent – a whopping 3,600% ROI!👋 Psst! I’ve compiled eleven of the best email list management tools to manage and grow your brand if you’re looking for helpful tools.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the most preferred social media platform for B2B marketing, closely followed by Facebook and Twitter at 80% and 71%, respectively.
After you determine your best promotional channels, list them down.
Having a solid content marketing remains to be the best way to generate leads from search engines and social media platforms.
For B2B content marketing, you need a strategy, high-quality content, and consistency.
But most importantly, prioritize giving the most value to your audience while capitalizing on opportunities to convert them to buyers.
Any idea why you’re not getting the most out of your B2B content marketing strategy?
Let me know in the comments below.
And if you’re finding it difficult to create ROI with your content, it’s always a safe bet to have an experienced content marketer like me give you a complementary assessment to see what could be costing you big $$.