We are all investing time and money in B2C and B2B content marketing.
Content sells, it allows you to get ahead of the competition and increase sales, awareness or traffic to a website.
But not all content marketing is directed to the general audience.
In fact, there are many forms of content marketing and today we are going to talk about B2B content marketing (Business to business content marketing).
B2B marketing definition
What is B2B marketing?
Why is it a choice and what does this idea encompass? Well, as the name suggests, business to business marketing refers to a specific marketing strategy that aims to promote products or services to other businesses and organizations.
What is the difference between B2B marketing and B2C marketing?
Business to business marketing focuses on delivering the message to key individuals from other businesses and not to the regular consumer.
While B2C marketing is oriented towards consumers, B2B marketing focused on target businesses and organizations. Consequently, the B2B content marketing strategy will focus on creating content for decision makers, people who think about more about return on investment (ROI) and less about getting informed on one subject or another, as opposed to the regular user.
If you need a quick example on how the B2B marketing addresses the businesses and their employees, you can take a look at two pages from Wersm and Social Media Today.
They both refer to a study we have conducted at Bannersnack, a study that addressed marketing professionals.
It was a study case on Reddit and Quora ads aimed at marketers who want to sell on these two platforms.
Being linked by two reputable websites and shared across the Internet, the study is a good example of content marketing.
And, it’s B2B because it doesn’t address regular users or end users.
Who is B2B marketing for?
B2B marketing is suitable for any company that sells or intends to sell directly to other companies. Many organizations engage in both B2B and B2C marketing, regardless the type of the services or products they list on the market.
For example, many SaaS companies sell to both other companies and individual users.
Hardware or software producers may as well engage in these types of marketing strategies.
How to start creating a B2B content marketing strategy:
The first thing you need to do is to identify your consumer. It’s important to know who you want to sell to, understand their needs and talk to them about how you can help them today and tomorrow as well.
The content marketing strategy will therefore focus on this “talk”. In order to make it work, you will need to create content and find the appropriate content distribution channels for it. It depends on your goals and your target audience and can include blogging, guest blogging, newsletters, printed and digital brochures and magazines, social media content, video and audio.
Tactics to use for a B2B content marketing strategy
There are many options when you embark on such a journey.
I am going to talk during the next paragraphs about some of the most popular and at the same time effective tactics.
A. Create a story around your product and/or service
Storytelling is popular these days and it’s not without reason. People like stories, as they help them better relate with the main characters – in this case, the main character is the product/service. Tell them the story of your product or service. Tell them how it all happened, what your brand values are, how everything came into place and how can you help them with your offer.
Here’s a great example of a storytelling adventure that went beyond the traditional style through creativity and ingenuity.
It comes from Wistia, a company that created a story around their industry (video content) and asked a video production agency to create 3 different video ads with three different budgets: 1000, 10,000 and 100,000 dollars. The results are available here as well as the entire story behind the campaign.
Furthermore, storytelling can also be focused when you present new features, new versions or events surrounding the brand or the product.
These stories can be shared on blogs, social media, video streaming services or even on printed materials.
B. Create evergreen content
What is evergreen content? Well, as the name suggests, the terms refer to the types of content that need not be updated overtime or that need little updates to keep their value. Green content contains information of general use that does not lose its value.
For instance, a tutorial or a piece containing a list of advice may fall into the green content category should it not be focused on a specific product or version of a software.
According to this B2B marketing study, evergreen content is not only effective but also recommended when you embark on a marketing journey across the business to business sector.
However, as the article suggests, it’s important to start with a good headline.
C. Choose between entertainment, educational, informational or inspirational content
There are many ways in which you can convince your audience to pay attention to you and consume your content.
You can choose either one or all of them, based on what you want to promote, the target audience and the time available for the creative process.
The most common types available are the following:
Each of these options comes with their own benefits.
For example, a SaaS company will use a lot of informational and educational content while fashion brands are usually creating inspirational content on social media.
D. Create a content hub
What is a content hub?
A content hub aggregates all kinds of branded content that is curated and shared with the audience. It facilitates access to green content and allows the users to find easier what they are searching for.
What are the benefits?
The first benefit that comes to mind here is authority. A hub publishes a lot of content and it’s not just content. It’s, as I have already said, quality, curated content that attracts viewers, creates trust and builds online authority. Other websites will share the articles posted on the hub and search engines will favor them and place them above the competitors.
On the other hand, a content hub fosters engagement as well. It does it through constant updates, shares and by keeping the audience close.
A great example of a content hub is Open Forum by American Express, one of the firsts of its kind. The website curates content from experts, trend reports and research papers. It also allows business owners to connect with one another and fosters a community that focuses on reciprocal support.
Another good example in this case comes from RingCentral’s Blog. Through this page, they use the ScoopIt platform to find business and media news and use them to create a constant stream of curated, quality content for their popular blog.
E. Use the 4 Holy Grails of content marketing: text (blog), photo, video and audio
Yes, there are 4 approaches to content marketing, each of them effective in its own way. You can use them all or select the ones that best fit your goals and your audience expectations. Let’s take it one step at a time:
1. Text based content (blog)
This is the traditional approach in digital marketing. And, it has been proven to be effective on numerous occasions. While video and audio content are rising in popularity, people still read a lot. They use search engines to find relevant content and answers for their questions.
Whether the blog posts are educational or informational, they contribute to increase awareness of your brand and products.
A great example in this case comes from HubSpot. The brand is well known among digital marketers and business owners. They provide a full suite of apps and tools that help people run their businesses and create better marketing strategy.
Although they are already established on the market, they promote themselves constantly via great quality content on their dedicated blog.
2. Video content
Another great approach towards B2B content marketing is via video content. Video is more accessible than text and, in many ways,, more entertaining. This is why video platforms such as YouTube has become increasingly popular and social media channels are focusing now on the creation and publication of video content, more than ever.
How can you do this?
You can follow in the footsteps of Ahrefs and take a look at their methods, if you need a working example.
Their publish tutorials and helpful videos on YouTube and at the same time, they publish these materials on their blog as well, complimented by textual articles.
3. Audio content
People who can make decisions when it comes to acquisitions inside a company, are people who have little to no time to spend reading and watching videos online. However, they have the opportunity to listen to podcasts while traveling for business or commuting from a meeting to another.
Thus, audio podcasts present themselves as the best way to satisfy their needs of knowledge without losing precious time with it.
Who creates and publishes this type of content? Well, a lot of marketers and businesses.
While I don’t have enough space to mention everybody in this article, I am still able to invite you to take a look at “The Growth Show Podcast”.
There’s a lot you can learn from their strategy and of course, from their very helpful and interesting episodes.
At the same time, you can expand your podcast and host in person events just like Gary Vee, who always someone interesting invited in his show, someone we can learn a lot from.
Images, the same as videos, are able to convey a message faster and with a better impact to our eyes. They can create instant emotional responses as the brain deciphers an image in just a second. Infographics, represent the bridge between traditional photos and a text-based content.
They convey a message faster than an article, in a rather colorful way and they attract the eye immediately.
The information is condensed and this is why you can learn sometimes even more through an infographic that you would learn by reading an article.
If you need inspiration in this area, just take a look at Vengage’s blog and especially at this example of a typical visual piece of content published by them. Vengage provides the tool to create insightful infographics and offers a lot of tips and tricks to help you improve yourself in this area.
The above example combines the visual attractiveness of an infographic with a serious study with quite interesting results.
To wrap up…
There are many ways to create successful marketing strategies and content is only one of them. However, it may prove more effective than other approaches since it generates value for both the marketer and the audience.
Business to business marketing, more than that, needs to be focused on value added for the decision makers which means that you will have to increase your efforts in aiming at this specific audience.
Based on what we’ve talked so far, here’s a short resume of tips that will help you leave this page without forgetting anything important:
Start by understanding what content marketing is and how to approach it from a business to business perspective.
Create a brand story. You can follow up with a new story for each of your products but nevertheless, the brand story should be your starting point.
Invest in evergreen content. Invest in content that once shared or indexed by the search engines, will generate traffic for unlimited periods of time.
Entertain your audience but also focus on giving them value. In this case, the value is informational, educational or technical.
If you have the resources to do it, create a content hub. Curate, aggregate, publish as much content as you can. Invite your audience to contribute as well.
When it comes to effective marketing and real conversions, the B2B strategy can approach the audience the same way as the other types of strategies do it. Content marketing has been proven to be effective as a digital marketing strategy since the dawn of the internet.
It converts for B2C, for individual bloggers and it has the potential to do the same thing for a business to business company.
With this article, we’ve seen some of the best tactics and some of the best types of content that are suitable for this type of marketing. We’ve also seen some good example of B2B companies that are creating success with their marketing efforts.
What other types of content or approaches to B2B content marketing do you know or use?