Marketing directly to consumers and marketing to businesses walk a similar strategy path but with some key differences. Using content marketing to support each part of the sale funnel helps you close your deal easier. But where do you start and what type of content should you create for B2B content marketing?
We’ll walk you through the process.
Understand your B2B audience
The first step in setting up your B2B content marketing strategy is knowing who you’re talking to. This guides how and what you write. You don’t want to use regional slang if your audience is far beyond that region.
Your target audience will be made up of various businesses who would benefit from the product or service that you’re offering them. Usually, businesses already have these audiences in mind even if they’re not defined in detail. In this process, it’s best to write these audiences down so you can reference them later as you plan out your content.
Next, think of some marketing personas that would reside in these audiences. Part of the persona’s profile should include the types of content they enjoy. Knowing this helps determine which content types to prioritize. One important point for a B2B persona is to identify the individual buyer’s job position. You can market all you want to a business but at the end of the day, someone or a group of people are making those final decisions.
You can’t have content marketing without content and for that to happen, you need a bucket of ideas. The content ideation and development process is the same regardless of who you are aiming to serve.
There are multiple ways to source your content ideas so you never run out:
- Identify current content gaps: There might be something missing in your current content and new content would fill in those gaps.
- Address customer pain points: Your product or service solves a pain point for your business customers. Use these as a jump-off point when you are creating new content.
- Connect with other departments: Your sales and customer service teams are excellent resources for knowing what the customers want.
- Research your competitors: What are your competitors creating and what are they missing? If something is working for your competitors but you can do it better, by all means, go after it.
- Use social listening: Social listening does cover competitor research but it also extends out to general industry trends and brand sentiment. Use social listening as a trendspotting technique.
- Have team brainstorming sessions: A good ol’ brainstorming won’t let you down. Gather people from key departments and discuss ideas and topics together.
- Ask your audience: No one knows better than your own audience what they’re looking for. Ask them what they’d like to learn more about.
These are just a few ways of sourcing B2B content topics. Don’t wait until you’re fresh out of ideas to think up new ones.
Choosing the right content for the B2B buyer’s journey
Now that you have your audiences sorted out and a stack of ideas to go, it’s time to move on to content production. But which types should you focus on? It’s likely that you already have some content produced. Match these to each stage of the marketing funnel and you’ll be able to find which stages need more content.
There are many maps out there that detail the marketing funnel or buyer’s journey. Some maps, like the two above, even reference the type of content or marketing that is used for each stage. Even these two examples differ in opinion on which type of content fits where. Use these as starting points to creating your own funnel or map. Some content, like social media, can fit into all of the areas if you create posts to do so.
Let’s take a look at the various content types and how you can use them on your social media accounts.
In the awareness stage, infographics are useful for delivering dense information in simple, graphical layouts. They often take already existing data in your business to make them relevant to the audience they want to target. Infographics are also very shareable, making press releases to industry publishers easy. When using infographics in the awareness stage, you want to serve general information that your audience wants to know, not information on what your business does.
One of the best things about infographics is there’s no single format to follow. You’re not limited to a single style of sharing quick stats and facts. Rather, you can get creative with your data and information, as shown by Visme’s own infographic above. So whether you’re sharing stats about your business or a new tool or feature that could affect your customers, an infographic is a great visual representation of the facts.
How to use infographics on social media
- Crop the infographic into bite-sized pieces and share those as social media graphics.
- Quote a single statistic or data point and link to the original infographic.
- Reshare the information multiple times if it’s applicable.
A blog post is a written article published in the blog section of your company’s website. Blog posts can rest in the awareness stage but since they’re basically written content about anything, you can use them in the other stages, too. When using it in the first stage, the post should be educational in tone with very little to no call to action.
Todoist offers a software that helps you manage your to-do list. Its audience varies from individuals to businesses and their blog covers a similar wide range of topics. This topic on crafting the perfect daily schedule is a great example of covering both B2C and B2B. An individual could read this and figure out their own productivity times. And a business manager who needs a way to track productivity might read this and forward the useful information. There’s even a section in the blog post on how the software could help with productivity.
How to use blog posts on social media
- Share blog posts as links.
- Create quote graphics from the post and share them.
- Share any images or graphics from the post on social.
Testimonials & reviews
Reviews take place on sites that have a designated review area while testimonials are solicited directly from the businesses you serve. Both use social proof to help convince the reader to make a decision. Depending on the details of them, testimonials and reviews can be used in the awareness, consideration and decision stages.
Hotjar, a heat map and behavior analytics tool, uses a unique approach when curating customer testimonials. Rather than only sharing positive pull quotes, it uses testimonials to set up the reader to understand the customer’s initial concerns and objections and how it approaches customer service problem solving. Hotjar shares customer testimonials from across all industries to help push decision-makers further into why they need its tools. And when using pull quotes, putting the person’s photo to each testimonial makes the testimonial more real and relatable.
White paper, industry report & e-books
A white paper is a downloadable piece of content that serves up knowledge that your business is experienced in. An industry report summarizes a survey or study that your business executed and relates it to the industry you’re in. And an e-book covers a single topic divided up into chapters.
These are grouped together because they are used to convey a business’ expertise on a topic. They are used most often in the consideration stage.
White papers and industry reports tend to have a reputation for being dry and unattractive. Every year, Pinterest releases a predicting trends report based on its current data. The predictions help businesses on Pinterest decide which topics might be better to focus on that year. Pinterest is a visual platform and it makes sense for it to invest in a graphical way to illustrate their predictions.
How to use white papers, industry reports and e-books on social media
- Quote parts of the report and link it. If the report is gated by an email address request, the quotes serve as teasers.
- When a business reaches out with a business question, send them a link to the landing page with the file and offer additional support.
- Since these content types tend to be more evergreen, feel free to post about them often.
Used most often in the decision stage, case studies take an in-depth look at one of your customers. They follow a common format of presenting an issue at hand and then details of how your business helped them solve the issue. These days, case studies are readily available on the business’ website. Featured businesses represent your various target audiences so the reader can easily identify themselves in at least one of the case studies.
Example: Sprout Social
Sprout’s software covers a lot of industries and businesses of various sizes. There are also many features that some businesses might not realize are useful to them. The case studies page highlights different businesses, shares quotes from the featured business’ marketing team and references Sprout’s features. Along with that, actual numbers are provided to demonstrate the ROI of the software.
How to use on social media
- Run a series that features the business and highlight parts of the case study
- Send to businesses that are still thinking about using your business
- Turn quotes into graphics and share them
FAQs & tutorials
Once you’ve got businesses interested or even onboarded, the process doesn’t stop there. You’ll need to help them along and make sure they’re taking full advantage of everything you have to offer. FAQs and tutorials are used in the retention stage, helping the customer through setup and beyond.
Airtable is a collaboration software with a hybrid spreadsheet-database interface that is great for teams. It offers many features which can make it overwhelming to the newbie. To help with onboarding and training, it provides a thorough help center with guides to walk users through the process. This is one of a few ways—besides FAQs and webinars—it guides users through the setup.
How to use FAQs and tutorials on social media
- Help center articles are basically readily available content for you. Share snippets and link to them when needed.
- Direct users to tutorials if they express confusion at using your product before directing them to a customer service representative.
- Publish the video tutorials onto your social media channels and organize them into playlists.
Most people are part of a loyalty program. Whether it’s points for purchases or referral bonuses, these programs are made to keep the customer happy. In the advocacy stage, the customer positively talks about your business and wants others to know about it, too.
Dubsado is a CRM program aimed at service-based small businesses and freelancers. On top of its usual loyalty program, they also offer special perks on their own anniversary. One of Dubsado’s biggest offers is the forever plan giveaway, which is a one-time payment to use its software forever. To enter, you’ll need to share about its software online. If you’re already using its program and you love it, then this offer is enticing enough to push you to be a louder brand advocate.
These are only a few of many content types available to you for B2B content marketing. After you’ve decided which content types align with your strategy and goals, the next moves are to execute and promote the content. Of course, you’ll want to know how your fresh content is performing, which is why you should look at your social media data to guide your analysis.
Convinced that you need a B2B content marketing strategy but want to start with what you already have? You don’t have to start from scratch, this helpful B2B content plan worksheet leads you through the process of maximizing your existing content.
This post A guide to B2B content marketing in 2021 originally appeared on Sprout Social.