How to build a B2B content strategy
Engaging B2B content strategies play an integral role in moving prospects through the consumer journey. With the right mix of content formats and topics, The Brains (a UK-based digital marketing agency) believes that B2B businesses can attract new, quality leads, engage them with relevant information, convert them by building up trust and delight them with continued tips, tricks, and guidance. However, just creating content is not enough.
The best B2B marketers will develop a strategy to act as a blueprint to success. With a thoughtful content strategy, you can make sure your content is impactful and tailored to your audience.
Having a content strategy is also a more cost-effective option compared with other marketing methods. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute goes as far as to say that content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing, all while costing 62% less. In this blog, you’ll learn how to get started in building your own cost-effective B2B content strategy, from its foundations all the way to continuous improvement later down the line.
Why do B2B and B2C need different content strategies?
Now, you might be wondering why B2B and B2C businesses need different types of content strategies. First, the decision process and customer journey tend to be a lot longer for B2B than for B2C. A lot more stakeholders are involved, and decisions tend to involve a lot of back-and-forth between businesses. Having a robust content strategy creates more opportunities for your prospect to engage with you throughout the process. For B2C, there’s less of a need, because the journey from awareness to conversion is much much shorter.
B2B prospects will also want to see evidence of your expertise and prestige within your field. This kind of trust is best built up through that continuous content strategy: making it clear that your team can deliver on your proposal. Consumers are more likely to seek that information out through external reviews and comparisons, which are much more difficult to create for B2B businesses.
Where to begin: The foundations of a brilliant B2B content strategy
Any brilliant strategy needs a strong foundation, and the same applies to building a B2B content strategy. You need to have a complete understanding of:
- Your brand vision.
- Your marketing campaign goals.
- Your target audience.
- What your audience wants to know.
- What your audience needs to know.
One of the most important tasks involved in developing a B2B content strategy is establishing your buyer personas - it’s likely there are a few different groups that you engage with in different ways. Buyer personas formalise and generalise these groups so that you can easily target them with more relevant content. Outline the different priorities or questions each persona has, as well as the specific problems that you can solve. Consider where they are online and how you can reach them, as well as any identifying characteristics like budget or how busy they are. Be sure to build your buyer personas on real data, or even real clients - estimations won’t give you the most useful reference points.
Spend time researching the landscape that you’re jumping into. Understand your competitors and what they’re doing, take note of the keywords that are relevant and that you might want to rank for, and consider the actionable goals and KPIs that are achievable within your timescales.
A final point to consider is how much you can commit to delivering on your content strategy. Being honest with what you can achieve (while still being ambitious!) will make it more likely that you can meet your goals and maintain momentum. If you’re worried about managing the various elements of your content strategy, such as your goals and budget, it is best to get the assistance of an established B2B content marketing agency to keep you on track and support you to achieve great results.
Blogs or videos: What content types work best?
Now that you’ve built your B2B content strategy foundations, you can get stuck into developing content. But with so many different formats available, how do you know which are best suited to your business? Refer to your buyer personas here: as part of your research, you should know how each group likes to consume their content. This might be anecdotal evidence or based on data from different platforms. If you know that one of your personas likes to consume video content, be sure to create video content to suit them.
There are a few content types that universally work well for B2B businesses:
- Blog posts are particularly popular as they provide a lot of flexibility in how you demonstrate your expertise and build trust.
- Video is another effective format that you can play with; from webinars to short and snappy social media clips.
- Case studies are a powerful medium through which you can demonstrate expertise in a way that is relatable and clear.
- Infographics can help to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time.
Remember, the most important thing is that your content needs to be solving problems for your audience. This applies both to the formats you’re using and the content itself - go back to your personas and ask: what are their key pain points and how do I solve them through my content?
Beyond content creation: How to drive continued improvement and build a long-lasting strategy
A B2B content strategy doesn’t just end with a developed piece of content. There are a whole host of things to consider beyond content creation! Ask yourself: how can you repurpose or reshape content that performs particularly well to give it longevity? For example, a webinar might become an eBook, or an infographic might be a good video demonstration for Instagram. Repurposing content fills out your schedule without creating more research and work for your team, so plan how you want to repurpose popular pieces for longevity.
Once a piece is out in the world, how will you drive the right traffic to it? Promotion plans should be another significant area of focus, as you’ll need to consider how to build its reach. It’s no good if a video that took you three days to develop is only pushed out on Twitter at 5.23 pm; you won’t get the return on your efforts. Email nurturing campaigns, social media and paid advertising can all help to promote your work and get it in front of the right people at the right time.
Lastly, how often will you be revisiting and updating your content? Keeping your blogs and articles up-to-date with the most recent statistics and ideas means that you can build on your own historical success while remaining relevant to a changing market. Say that one of your blogs from 2019 is still proving popular today; some of those statistics or ideas might be a little outdated for 2021, but the main point of the post is still accurate. Adding updates (and highlighting that you’ve done so) is a fantastic way of demonstrating that you’re on the cutting edge of industry knowledge without having to build up traffic on a newer blog.
When you’re building your B2B content strategy, there’s one thing that you should always keep in mind: your audience. From the places they get their content to the questions they want you to answer, they should always be in the front of your mind as you build out your ideas.
With this blog, you should have everything you need to build a successful B2B content strategy that keeps your efforts focused, ensures you’re producing things that are useful and impactful, and will drive results throughout the year. For new B2B marketers looking for more support, it can be useful to seek guidance from an established B2B marketing agency.
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to come together, share insights and learn from industry-leading experts. Propolis includes an entire Hive (group) purpose-built to help marketers improve their brand and content strategy.