Content marketing is an effective channel for most B2B companies - but getting started or knowing where to focus your efforts can be a challenge. It's about nailing down the role you want content to play in your marketing strategy and how you'll execute that strategy and stand out in a sea of digital clutter.
B2B Content Marketing: Making it Work
Our CEO, Ali Schwanke, recently covered this topic in depth on the Monetization Nation podcast - making it the perfect resource for you if you want to level up your B2B content marketing, increase your performance and revisit your commitment to the fundamentals that make it work. We've got three ways for you to get this insight:
Listen to the podcast episode, keep reading, or watch here:
Not the watching or listening type? No worries - we've got you covered. Here are the top takeaways from the episode that you can put into practice to re-ground and level up your B2B content marketing program.
1. Define the type of content you’re creating
Content marketing is not one-size fits all - and you must know what you're creating and why before you jump in. This seems like a no-brainer, but really it comes down to understanding the two types of content (this is especially true for blogging).
The two types of content most typically used in B2B content marketing include thought leadership and search-driven content.
One is not necessarily better than the other. But the problem is...most companies are unintentionally doing one type of content and they don’t know why they’re doing it. This is like using two machines at the treadmill but not really knowing what you want to get out of each machine or how it contributes to your fitness goals! So let's explore that a bit:
Thought-leadership content is all about positioning your company as the expert. It's getting eyeballs and attention for a specific point of view that clearly shows the audience that you know what you're talking about and have credibility as an authority in that space.
It’s less about optimizing your content to be discovered on search engines (though sometimes in rare cases it can do this too) and more about standing out on social media or in an email newsletter. To that point, thought-leadership typically content relies on another platform’s audience to get started – for example, LinkedIn – as opposed to generating your own audience through search strategy and brand.
Search-driven content is geared toward being found via search engines like Google, or even YouTube (if your content is a video-first strategy). This is the content your team creates with SEO (search engine optimization) as a primary driver. Search-driven content is less likely to “tug at the heart strings” and is more about answering a key search query such as "how" to do something or "examples of xyz".
Of course, you shouldn’t sacrifice the story for SEO – but we’ll get to that soon!
#2 – Understand what truly drives customer behavior
Do you know why your customers make buying decisions? If not, finding this answer for your different customer segments should be a priority.
When it comes to content marketing (or marketing in general) the hidden challenge here is -- customers are liars. Not intentionally, but most don’t actually know what motivated their behavior. For example, many companies will ask a customer, "How did you hear about us?" The answer they provide may be the top of mind response, but not necessarily the trigger or circumstances that motivated their buying behavior.
A better way to approach these conversations and analyses is to identify the underlying factors involved in the customer journey.
- What was going on in your customer’s life when they chose to purchase?
- What problems were they facing at that time?
- How had they tried to solve the problem first?
#3 – Be consistent and relevant
Everybody is looking for the silver bullet in marketing. However, marketing is really building a relationship with the customer over time - it requires consistent input and upkeep, which is why it's no surprise that the top two keys to content marketing success are consistency and relevancy.
It’s about showing up and creating a repeatable system. When you stop publishing content, people ask questions. And when you can’t answer those questions, people make up their own answers.
Inconsistent content can lead to fear and doubt around your brand - are they still in business? What's happening with their product? Why haven't they published a blog for 2 years?
Your content should also be relevant to the intended reader – something your customers care about and search for. Imagine a Venn diagram, where there are “things your customers care about” and “things your products solve for.” Where these two labels intersect is your B2B content marketing sweet spot. To level up your content game, you must create value for the customers while also weaving in the main benefits of your solution.
Pro tip: Repurpose and re-share! Promotion is just as important as creation. If you don’t have the bandwidth to create a lot of content, focus on one quality piece each month, repurpose it for multiple channels, and then promote it – a lot.
#4 – Balance analytics and creativity
As data becomes more powerful and easier to find, analytics have become a staple of modern marketing programs. This is one of those "duh" observations, but we challenge you to think about it a step further.
Some people cling to data and will only make decisions from it. Some people think data is overrated and only pitch wildly creative ideas. But to level up your content marketing, you’ve got to strike a balance between these two.
If you're really understanding your audience and seeking creative ways to interact with them, you may have a gut feeling for what will strike a chord from a content standpoint. Just because the search data suggest something might not be a good blog idea, don't let that stop you. Put it out in the market and use the engagement as your own analytics testing ground.
#5 – Think outside the box with your B2B video content
Video content can be a gamechanger for many B2B companies. Some stories are just better expressed visually than in a blog.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box – make your videos entertaining! Think like a Hollywood producer; what keeps you engaged in a film? What makes you crave that next episode of a Netflix series?
Stay relevant, be yourselves, and create something worth sticking around for. Here’s an example of video content that mixes it up – relevant, authentic, and funny!
Content marketing is powerful because it equips customers with the power to make their own buying decisions. If you want to tap into the power of content marketing, zoom out and consider the simple tips mentioned in this post.
Start simply, listen to your customers, create, promote, test, and repeat.
For more insights, catch the whole interview with Ali on the Monetization Nation Podcast.