When done well, content marketing can be a valuable part of your overall B2B marketing strategy. In fact, content marketing is both more effective and cheaper than traditional methods of lead generation. Over three-quarters of respondents to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B marketing survey reported success with their content marketing in 2018.
However, content marketing needs understanding of top content marketing trends, careful planning and implementation of campaigns to ensure success. For your strategy to be effective you must:
- Identify your target audience
- Set clear goals that align with your B2B marketing strategy
- Have an effective strategy for researching topic ideas that resonate with your audience
- Create compelling content that people want to read, and that generate quality B2B leads
- Optimize your content for SEO
- Distribute your content in the most effective way
- Continuously measure performance and adapt your strategy as needed.
Technology can assist at each step of this process, from initial research right through to data analytics and measuring the success of each of your B2B marketing campaigns.
Let’s look at some of these in greater detail
B2B Content Marketing Research
The research phase is one of the most important aspects of your overall strategy. Get it wrong, and you’ll find yourself talking to the wrong audience or publishing content on topics that aren’t of any interest to your target audience.
The first step is to clearly identify your audience. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through an exercise in which you will create B2B buyer personas that describe your target customers, including their wants, needs, and motivations.
Use data as a starting point for this exercise, so you’re not simply guessing what your audience looks like. Some of the places you can gather data from include:
- Google Analytics or other analytics software
- Your CRM
- Marketing automation platform
- Social media
- User surveys.
You can use this data to identify useful information about your audience, which may include:
- Job title
- Needs and challenges
- Content and brands they already interact with.
You can use this information to come up with a detailed buyer persona that brings an actual name, face, and personality to your “ideal” reader. This step helps immensely when creating content, as rather than trying to appeal to a general audience, you’re writing specifically for one persona that represents the motivations and challenges of your audience.
In most cases, one buyer persona won’t be enough to cover the variation in your audience. You’ll probably end up with several personas, which you can use when creating content for different audience segments.
Once you’ve got a clear picture of exactly who your audience is, it’s time to move onto researching the topics that you will create content about.
Software tools can be invaluable here, for providing insight into trending topics and helping to refine your ideas from an initial brainstorming session into actual article titles and specific content ideas.
Buzzsumo is a tool that businesses in any industry can use to find existing high-performing content. You can use Buzzsumo to analyze your own content, your competitors’ content, or content published across the internet on a particular topic.
Keyword research for SEO should not be forgotten during this initial research phase. While compelling content can bring you new leads via email and social media, SEO is the key to bringing in traffic from search engines.
Many keyword research tools on the market will help you to craft content optimized for Google and other search engines. Some of the market leaders include Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
Software for Distributing & Promoting B2B Content
Once you’ve created content that’s optimized, compelling, and your audience actually wants to read, you need to get it in front of their eyes.
There are various channels you can use to do this including:
- Social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
- Email marketing
- Your own blog
- SEO and SEM (paid ads on search engines)
- Guest posting on other blogs
- Video sites like YouTube
The most effective strategies include a combination of several of these methods. While content marketing may include producing content in video or graphic form, it’s likely that the majority of your content will be made up of blog posts and published articles.
One of the most effective channels for marketing these articles is social media. This is because of its ability to reach many more individuals than your initial target audience as people share and promote content they find valuable.
In some cases, very popular content can even go “viral” – meaning it reaches millions of users in a matter of days or even hours.
Of course, there’s more to an effective content marketing promotion strategy than just posting up links to your content as soon as it’s published. You need to identify the best social networks to post on (LinkedIn often performs well for B2B marketing but it’s not always the best choice) and post content at the right time and with a compelling description to ensure maximum visibility and click-through rate.
Again, software tools can assist you in this task. Concured’s Distribute tool helps to identify your best content and promote it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at the best time for maximum engagement.
Tools like Buffer can be used to schedule your social media posts in advance, saving you hours each day. You can also analyze your posts to identify the best posting times for optimal engagement.
Analyzing the Effectiveness of Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns
So you’ve now researched, created, published, and promoted your content, but this isn’t the end of the story. An effective content marketing strategy should evolve over time, and to do this, you need to analyze your content to identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Most content marketing platforms come with a data analysis tool so that you can identify your best performing content and measure metrics such as traffic, click-through rate, shares, and conversions. You can also use a standalone tool like Google Analytics to collect this data.
Just as any other form of B2B marketing, you can optimize your content marketing strategy with experimentation. Try out different types of headlines and content to see what converts best. You can utilize A/B split testing to compare the results of two different versions of the same content, or use AI-powered optimization software to experiment with several different variables and optimize your content in real time.