8 Steps to Creating an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy
There’s no doubt that B2B businesses need a content marketing strategy. However, the exact strategy varies as you move from one type of business to another. For example, a B2B content marketing strategy can’t be 100% similar to a B2C content marketing strategy.
With the former, the content marketer must remember that B2B clients are more rigorous in their research. In some cases, the researcher going through the content might not necessarily be the ultimate decision-maker.
Therefore, creating a B2B content marketing strategy requires one to be more calculative and detail-oriented. This article will take you through an 8-step plan to create an effective B2B content marketing strategy.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
An effective B2B content marketing strategy starts with a B2B marketer identifying the target audience. To write engaging publications, you must know who you are writing for.
If a company doesn’t know its target audience, it will be hard to engage with them. Any company has to understand customers’ goals and challenges, to work towards earning trust and their business.
Start by creating your buyer (or user) persona. A buyer persona is not a real person but a representation of your ideal customers. A buyer persona is based on your actual customers’ demographics, behavior, motivations, and challenges. In a B2B context, a buyer persona represents the buyers who make business purchasing decisions.
When creating your buyer persona, you’ll need to define their job title, the type of company they work for, and their challenges. Visit LinkedIn to do your research on companies and industries.
Here’s an example buyer persona created for the B2B field:
You need to understand here that the whole point of creating content is to convert your audience into B2B buyers. Therefore, your B2B content marketing strategy must meet your clients' specific demands and needs. If your content doesn't relate to your business audience, they won’t move through the sales funnel.
2. Review the Customer Journey
Now that you have an idea of who your target audience is, review your customers’ journey. Your B2B buyers can engage with your brand through different channels during the target customer journey.
Create a Customer Journey Map to understand the current customer experience. A customer journey map is a visual display of customer interactions with your company. Once you’ve created one, you can use it as a tool to investigate and analyze your clients’ journey.
To create your customer journey map, you first need to segment your B2B customers by firmographics, behaviors, and needs. You’ll need this to learn how different clients' journeys with your company can be.
Next, map the journey of each of the segments from where it starts to the finish. Detail customer touch points with the company and how customers responded.
You should engage the stakeholders to complete this task. Organize staff workshops, interviews, or focus groups. Speak with your customers to ensure no critical touch points have been missed.
B2B content includes thought leadership blog articles, posts on social media channels, podcasts, white papers, email newsletters, webinars, and videos. Writing case studies is also essential, especially at the bottom of the funnel where you’re trying to show prospects how your product is the solution to their pain points.
3. Do a Competitor Analysis
Analyzing your competitors, especially the most successful ones, is another critical step in creating an effective B2B content marketing strategy. Check what different content types your competitors offer to current customers. What publications make them successful? What do they do that your company doesn’t? What can you do to set yourself apart and make your business more valuable?
To conduct your research, look at your competitors' websites and social media platforms. Use free tools like Sitechecker Pro or SEMRush.
With SEMRush you can check how your competitors promote their major products. Just type in the domain name into the Advertising Research tool. Analyze the ad copy and special offers under ad history they use when promoting their products.
You’ll require a unique selling point (USP) to win B2B customers. Find an area where you could do better than competitors and highlight what makes you unique when promoting your goods and services.
4. Put Together a Marketing Plan
After completing your research, it’s time to put together your B2B marketing plan. Your content strategy should be based on the data you’ve collected from your research so far. For example, use what you’ve learned from the competitor’s analysis to focus on the areas that are most successful for them.
Your plan should cover the details and critical points of your B2B content marketing strategy. Say, for example, you decide to focus on blog content. You’ll have to define what keywords to target and how often you publish new posts.
Your plan can be in the form of a content calendar or a simple excel spreadsheet. List the relevant content topics, types, publication dates, content owners, and similar information. Map out when you’ll create your pieces of content and who is responsible for creating and promoting them.
You also don’t want to overlook other seemingly minor tasks. For example, editorial guidelines can help you maintain consistent brand messaging across all your marketing channels. That’s essential for building customer trust and brand reputation.
5. Set KPIs for Your Strategy
An effective B2B content marketing strategy needs clearly defined goals to help you stay on track and measure your progress.
Most companies use Key Performance Indicators, KPIs, to track success.
The prime KPI for your content marketing plan could be a financial target. Let’s say, for example, that you want to generate $100,000 this quarter from your content marketing, and you put your plan in place. You can then split the $100,000 across the different marketing channels you use: $10,000 from ads in industry magazines, $60,000 from the blog, and $30,000 from the podcast.
Then you can break the channels even further and set targets for each. Here are some examples of performance metrics that could be used:
- Write four blog articles a month
- Publish ten guest posts on authority blogs per month
- Increase website traffic by 2k a month
- Grow the email list by 100 new subscribers a month
If you break your KPIs down, creating and implementing an appropriate and realistic plan will be easier.
For example, to hit your targets for guest posts, you could invest in an effective email lookup tool to acquire contacts for more bloggers in your industry. Similarly, you could invest in social media automation tools to scale your marketing campaigns.
When choosing your goals, follow the SMART objectives rule. SMART business goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
To set your SMART goals, you should ask yourself the right questions. Think about what you are trying to accomplish and what steps you should take to reach your marketing goals.
6. Create the Content
The next step in your B2B content marketing strategy should be creating valuable content. As pointed out earlier, B2B clients are more detail-oriented than your typical B2C clients. Needless to say that B2B clients are experts in their own fields.
Therefore, anything less than thought leadership content will not work well. You’ll need to understand business writing and create valuable blog posts, white papers, guides, and other materials that your clients will find invaluable.
Moreover, multi-layered relevant content will help you create an impressive and engaging user experience. Including images in the blog posts, for example, helps you illustrate a point and break up the text.
Remember that you’re targeting business clients whose lifestyle is busy. So, keep your content engaging with various media types to make it exciting and easy to remember.
Take this blog post from Close as an example. The introduction hooks the readers right away:
The reader learns about the B2B sales strategy not just by reading related content but also by watching videos interspersed with the text. That’s the kind of high-quality content you want to present to your readers.
7. Focus on Engagement
Once you release your content, your audience will probably engage with you. People can like, share, and comment on your content. You can double down on the engagement by using user-generated content when creating posts for social media channels, emails, and your website. This strategy works great for B2B and B2C companies.
Here’s an example from Trello’s Instagram. The B2B company published a video that a client released on TikTok. The video shows how the client navigated the Trello app with ease.
Other types of engaging content include surveys or polls, educational games, or interactive landing pages.
Another example of engaging content comes from Deloitte. The company created the Business Chemistry system, an advanced Facebook quiz for the C-Suite.
Deloitte has now led more than 2,000 Business Chemistry sessions in 30 countries. The tool has been used by many professionals worldwide—a great example of how to engage with prospective B2B customers.
8. Track Your Performance
Tracking your performance gives you an insight into what marketing strategies work and what don’t. It also helps you in prioritizing tasks based on your goals or KPIs. For example, you could look at a well-performing channel and decide to double down on it.
You can use various tools to measure results and track your SMART goals. Examples include social media analytics tools and Google Analytics for your website performance.
Stay positive even when some of your campaigns don’t bring great results. In the long run, it’s worth trying new things from different angles. If something’s not working, just try a different approach.
An effective B2B content marketing strategy is essential to creating the right content and reaching your target audience.
Start by identifying your audience and reviewing your potential customer's journey. Then, do a competitor analysis. Once your marketing team has a plan, set KPIs and create high-quality content. B2B content marketers should focus on audience engagement, tracking performance, and making the necessary tweaks.
Follow these steps, and you’ll increase your leads, sales, and revenue for your B2B business. Best of luck!
About the Author: Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer, an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly, and Fictiv.