When it comes to B2B, content marketing is an entirely different beast than for the B2C market. Of course, the purpose remains the same – you want to create content that draws in a bigger audience for your business, content that strengthens your brand, and ultimately increases your leads and sales. The only thing that makes it different is it is content made by businesses, for businesses; it is not the typical consumer-facing content. As such, the content absolutely must be useful above all else. Can it be humorous and entertaining, too? Yes, of course, but without utility, it’s worthless. Does this mean B2C content doesn’t have to be useful? No, but there’s a bit more freedom with it.
1. Identify Your Audience
Before you’re able to provide the content your audience needs, you must first learn as much as you possibly can about said audience. You’ll segment your audience by the stage of the funnel they are in, but each audience is made up of various individuals. We’ve talked about buyer personas before, but in this case, we’ll talk about developing reader personas.
Use your Google Analytics data to determine more information about your audience. Of course you can see basic information like gender, age, and location, but there’s a bit more detail that can help you along. When you take a closer look, you can also see topics they’re interested in. If you notice these topics aren’t necessarily central to your business, it’s still important information to keep in mind. It gives you a way to expand your content into new areas that are still somehow relevant subjects, that will keep your readers interested.
When you see the summary of the interests data, you may be surprised by what you learn about your readers. At this point, you can safely begin to draw conclusions about who they are, allowing you to speak to them more clearly with your content.
It’s important to note that the percentages you see in the affinity categories is based on a samples of your overall traffic, therefore, it’s not necessarily exact data. This will be based on the amount of traffic your website receives.
When you’re identifying your audience, make sure you can answer these questions:
- What do they expect from my content?
- How should I interact with them?
- How are they interacting with each other? Or are they?
- What motivates their buying decisions?
2. Keep Ideation Fresh and Consistent
One of the challenges of content marketing, regardless of niche, is coming up with fresh content ideas consistently. When you’re just getting started, it’s easy to come up with all kinds of ideas. But once things are rolling, and you’ve covered everything you came up with in that initial wave of excitement, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce quality content. You’ll eventually reach a point where you feel like you’re running out of ideas. That’s a completely normal part of the process.
When it comes to beating writer’s block, you can of course look at your existing content for ways to repurpose and expand upon it. But, if you’re looking to find new topics in your niche, or want to know more about what people are sharing and talking about on social media, BuzzSumo is a quick and easy way to do this.
With it, you can see real-time data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. You can see which topics are trending in a niche, the most popular writers on a website, which topics are doing well on major publishing outlets, which topics are doing well on the competition’s site, and more.
With this information, you can create content that presents a new angle on a topic, or provides a counterpoint to a popular opinion about a topic that’s relevant to your business. But as you generate new content ideas, think about user intent. You already know more about your audience because of the demographic data from Google Analytics, but you must also anticipate not only what they what they want they read, but they want to accomplish by reading it.
Readers are only asking themselves one thing – “what’s in it for me?” And your job as a content marketer is to show them. You have to use your content to convince them you’re the better option than the competition… and one of the ways you can do this is by showing the benefits of using your product or service instead of the competitor.
As you come with ideas, always try to answer these questions:
- Is this something my audience would like to read?
- Is this a topic that would be useful in at least one stage of the purchase path?
- What questions does the content need to answer?
- Does this topic align with the overall marketing strategy?
3. Test Your Content Before You Create It
Testing your content before you go through the full creation process allows you to see which topics will do well in terms of engagement. This way, you’re only investing time in topics you know will resonate with your audience. I recommend using Twitter for testing purposes, since Facebook has made organic reach so difficult to obtain.
If there’s a topic you have in mind, you could find a similar piece, and tweet it, and then see what happens. You could find an infographic and share it. If it does well with your audience, consider writing a blog post based on it, and then publishing that. Chances are you’ll see much better engagement results than you would if you just used the old “publish, promote, and hope” approach.
4. Focus on the Lead Magnet
Your lead magnet – the thing you’re giving visitors in exchange for providing their contact information – needs to be a high value item. It should provide information you can’t find elsewhere on the internet, and information your target audience finds useful. Any number of things can be a lead magnet, from an eBook or free industry report, videos, audio, templates… the options are nearly limitless.
The lead magnet doesn’t have to be long, complex, or take you a long time to create. All that matters is that it solves a specific problem with a specific solution for a certain segment of your market. Your prospects must consume the magnet for it to have any kind of impact.
5. Promoting Your Content
If you’re relying solely on organic methods to get eyeballs on your content, you’re not going to get the best possible ROI. An advertising budget is essential to building traction on Facebook, especially since organic reach has been on the decline.
Social media is still a critical piece of the puzzle for the B2B sector, since you still have to build relationships and foster engagement. In the B2C world, we sing the praises of automation and scheduling updates with tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. While these tools are still an option, there’s another solution, specifically targeted at those in the B2B space – Oktopost.
With it, you can create and manage social media campaigns and editorial calendar with automation. You’ll also get analytics information to help you see what social activity translates to leads for your company – along with social engagement, audience and content analytics. It also includes content discovery and custom RSS feeds to make content curation easier, along with social listening so you can see who’s talking about you on social media and what they’re saying.
There are numerous ways to promote and amplify your content – including search engine optimization, email marketing, influencer marketing, paid advertising, and even having your employees promote the content. Regardless of which type of promotion you use, you’re helping your content reach a wider audience, that’s still relevant to your business. Each promotional tactic helps increase the chances of building engagement, brand awareness, and customer loyalty naturally.
6. Analyze Campaign Results
You should always be looking at metrics to see how well you were able to reach your KPIs and goals before you jump into additional campaigns with more content creation. Let’s say you created an eBook with the intention of increasing your email list subscribers and generating leads. While the eBook helped you get more social mentions, you find it didn’t help you get the leads you were hoping for. Because of this, the eBook campaign wasn’t successful, at least not at this stage. This could be because you were using the wrong goals, wrong distribution, or the wrong audience. At this point you’d need to re-evaluate your strategy to make sure your results expectations are in line with the rest of your content marketing efforts.
If you’re not already, consider using additional intelligence tools to get the most of your data. An average of only 2% of your site visitors will actually leave contact information and become a lead, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose out on the other 98%.
That’s where marketing technology like Leadfeeder comes in. It works with your Google Analytics account, and lets you see who’s visiting your site, whether they leave contact information or not. By matching the IP address of the visitor’s computer to companies on LinkedIn, Leadfeeder makes it possible for you to see the companies that are interested in your products and services. From there, you can see if you know anyone at the company, or reach out to someone in your network for an introduction.
7. Remain Consistent
No matter what you do, it’s important to produce a steady stream of content. Create a mixture of blog posts, infographics, eBooks, white papers, case studies, reports, and other types of content to educate and inform your audience. What matters isn’t the volume of content, but the consistency and quality. Though your strategy and approach may change, consistent content is key.
What is your experience with B2B content marketing? Share in the comments below.