We know how challenging b2b content marketing can be, and coming up with ideas for new articles and writing in a way that will appeal to your readers is a stumbling block for many copywriters.
It’s often assumed that because the topics surrounding b2bs are pretty mundane, the content can get away with being boring – but it’s quite the opposite! B2b copywriters have the extra task of making unexciting subjects stimulating.
Just like any other element of your marketing mix, if you put together a solid content strategy, you’re sure to see great results. To help you write more captivating content your audiences will love, we’ve created this article explaining exactly what b2b content marketing is, how it differs to consumer-facing efforts, and tips and techniques to make your writing more engaging, informative and valuable to all the right people.
What is b2b content marketing?
A vital strategy for almost all types of modern-day business, content marketing is about creating and distributing valuable, relevant insights that key audiences will engage with. It can be used to expand your reach, strengthen your brand identity, connect with key decision makers and ultimately drive leads and sales by appealing to the right people.
As a business tactic, content marketing has become more favourable in recent years, as consumers have become more and more immune to advertising. There are now far more complex journeys standing between awareness and purchase and consumers require something new, innovative and creative to help them engage with organisations.
Demand Metric report that 91% of b2b marketers are using content marketing as part of their overall strategy, and it’s no wonder, since it costs on average 62% less than traditional efforts, whilst generating around three times as many leads.
B2b content marketing vs b2c content marketing.
Compared to consumer-facing purchases, we see much higher average order values and long-term commitments as an essential part of the b2b industry. There are very few FMCG or impulse buys when it comes to business purchases, and there’s often many people involved in the decision-making process, with ROI is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at all times.
These buyers require reassurance that they’re working with the right service provider or supplier – everything comes down to the budget, everything goes on the books, and everything needs to be cost-efficient.
Another key differentiator from b2c content is that articles for business buyers must be useful above all else. There needs to be clear value in reading your content; if they cannot apply the actionable elements to their work it won’t be of use to them. They just simply do not have time for anything that isn’t going to benefit them as a professional, or their business in some way.
Again, this doesn’t mean you can get away with boring or forgettable content, you just need to balance the engaging with the useful, the interesting with the practical. Content marketing actually offers a perfect opportunity to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry, and when done right will help your business attract, engage and delight your customer base.
How to do b2b content marketing right.
The central aim of your content strategy should be to guide your readers through the content marketing sales funnel:
The best way to achieve this is to provide them with compelling, informative content they can’t resist, and leave them wanting more so that they come to you as a source of industry insight.
How do I consistently develop new content ideas?
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to creating captivating content is actually coming up topics to write about that will resonate with your audiences. However, there a few tips and tricks we have to help you generate new ideas on a regular basis.
A great way to identify new topics is to see what people are sharing and talking about on social media. There are plenty of online marketing tools that can help you do this. For example, BuzzSumo provides you with real-time data about key topics and trends across all your social networks. This is a perfect way to keep your content relevant and timely, and get it noticed by new people. Use hashtags when you share your content to reach an even wider audience.
CoSend’s Content Discovery is a great tool to use too – you can search key words and it’ll show you all the latest articles surrounding that topic. This is perfect for seeing all the popular stories in your industry at a certain time.
Based on these trend insights you can create content that either presents a new angle on a popular topics, or even challenges the majority opinion (contrarian content marketing). Similarly, tools like Frase.io and Answer the Public show you exactly what sort of questions people are asking on search engines so you can tailor your content to give them the answer they need. Use key words that appear in their questions to help your article rank higher in the search results.
Another source of inspiration for your content can come from your competitors. Of course, we’re not suggesting by any means that you steal their content and brand it as your own, but check what article topics were most popular for them and think about why they resonated.
If the issue isn’t coming up with ideas, but rather framing your content in a way that will appeal to your readers, then there are free tools online that can generate blog titles for you. Use SEOpressor or Impact to come up with exciting new angles for your articles without having to brainstorm for hours.
What are the best formats for b2b content?
There are many different types of content out there, some of which suit certain industries better than others. These are some key content formats that work best for b2bs:
Unsurprisingly the number one content format for almost all businesses, blog posts are a great way to informally communicate engaging insights and best practices to your readers, in a way they’ll enjoy. On average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without, so there’s no doubt they work.
However, it’s no good having a blog if you don’t have the time, or aren’t willing, to put the work in. While admittedly it takes some effort and time to create good content, it’s worth it. Marketers who prioritise business blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI.
They ought to be seen as much more than just a destination to publish content. Blogs are an opportunity to position your brand as a thought leader whilst driving organic traffic. They’re often the first place business buyers come to research a company, and 47% of them will read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces prior to talking with a salesperson, so make them good. They could be the difference between a disinterested enquiry and a life-long working partnership.
Original research studies
While they take a lot of time and resources to conduct, research studies carried out and published by your company can help you really stand out from your competitors. Your website will be the place people come to find your unique data, and other publishers are likely to reference your work in their articles, leading to higher SEO ranking for you.
Making the effort to conduct your own research will demonstrate to your readers that you go above and beyond to really get your facts right. It will also boost your credibility, since there’s strength in doing your own primary data collection rather than finding it second-hand.
When planning your study, think about what questions your potential clients need answering, that they can’t already find online. What would really grab their attention? What hot, trending topics are yet to be researched in your industry?
White papers & eBooks
Similarly to original research, white papers and eBooks take significantly more effort and time than blog posts, but are a great way to mix up your content and prove to be hugely valuable resources to readers.
Not to be used as often as blogging, due to the time they take and the length of them, these formats could be introduced as a yearly project for your company to add credibility to your brand and instigate more engagement.
They’re often highly detailed and stat based, which appeals to business buyers in particular, since their looking for justification in all of their purchases. According to Forbes, 79% of b2b buyers list white papers as the material they are most likely to share with colleagues.
Last but by no means least, case studies are an incredibly powerful format for content to overcome barriers in a customers’ purchase journey. The power of real-life stories and testimonials should not be underestimated: 73% of b2b buyers view a case study during their research about a potential purchase.
Often, clients may be sceptical about a company’s self-professed greatness (for obvious reasons), but when another business similar to theirs talks about how great they are, it’s harder to refute. Case studies are a great way to show rather than tell of your capabilities as b2b, and are particularly valuable for service providers who don’t have anything material to showcase on their website.
Top tips for writing great content.
Now you know all the best tools to help you generate new ideas and are aware of the best content formats for b2bs, here are a few extra top tips to help you create captivating content.
- Write for the reader first – use the personal pronoun ‘you’ as much as possible so that you’re talking directly to your reader. This will make them feel involved in your content and feel like it’s written just for them. In every sentence you write, consider how it will be read by them, and tailor it specifically to your audience.
- Use specific examples to show vs tell – throughout your content try and include as many examples as possible to show your readers what you mean as well as tell them. Sometimes the best way to illustrate a point is to use real life scenarios.
- Use statistics to emphasise your points – a lot of the time, numbers speak louder than words. A hard-hitting figure that really drives your point home will resonate with your readers, as well as demonstrate that you’ve done your research and are not just plucking claims out of thin air.
- Include links to your reputable external sources – it’s important to credit a source when you cite it so that the reader knows where you got your facts from. It’s also handy to include links to external sources to help boost your credibility, not just from a reader perspective, but also a search engine’s.
- Link internally to other pages on your site – as well as linking out to your sources, make sure to include relevant links to other pages on your own website where appropriate. For example, if you mention a feature of your product, add in a link to that feature page. This will not only help the reader find all the information they need but will also keep them on your site longer. And remember! As your blog grows, go back to old posts and link to relevant newer ones.
- Make sure your articles are skimmable – 73% of readers admit to skimming blog articles so it’s important to make sure your content is easy to skim read so that your audiences can take value from it even if they don’t study it thoroughly. To do this, break up big chunks of text into new paragraphs, use bullet points where you can and make the most of subtitles.
- Write more rather than less – despite the lack of time business buyers have to be reading lengthy blog posts, evidence show that longer, in-depth articles generate 9x more success in lead generation then short ones. While many may merely skim read posts, once they realise that it’s one that is particularly valuable to them and their business, they’re likely to stop and read more thoroughly to get the most out of it. If your article is only 500 words long, it can’t offer much information that’s of actual value to a business buyer. So if you’re bothering to create a blog (which you definitely should), do it properly with well written, detailed content.
Getting your content out there.
If you’re spending time perfecting your content, you want to make sure it’s actually going to get read. While visitors to your website may naturally find your blog and subscribe, the majority of your engagement will take some special promotional effort – but this doesn’t have to be costly!
Social media is one of the best ways to get your content seen. In fact, 93% of organisations use social media as part of their content marketing strategy. It’s a great free tool to really connect with your audiences and can be made super simple by social media schedulers like CoSend.
Generally, b2b marketers are better positioned on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook than Instagram and Pinterest, because the latter are used more for recreation than professional purposes. Nevertheless, it’s worth trying out different platforms to see which ones return the most engagement, and adjusting where you post based on the results.
Check out our blog post 7 powerful ways to get your blog content noticed on social media for more insights.
There’s a lot that goes into making content marketing work for any business, but as an organisation in an industry that relies on strong, long-term relationships with loyal customers, the question is whether or not you can afford to ignore this powerful tactic.
All you need to do is recognise the importance of the user experience and see the potential for brand loyalty that exists within your content marketing efforts. Just ensure that you’re using your content to tell a compelling story and not just as a platform to self-promote – and keep your content up to date! Information can change quickly and no one wants to read outdated information, so make sure to go back through all your articles to check that it’s still accurate and relevant. This way, you’re sure to be one step ahead of your competition.