There are few companies out there that don’t realize the necessity of having a strong content marketing strategy. It has become a tactic many marketers and executives accept as essential to compete in today’s markets and build relationships with potential customers.
And recently, the big content question for many B2B companies has advanced from “Should we produce content?” to “How do we produce quality content that can help us increase traffic and ROI?”
As a result of the reign of “King Content,” we’ve entered into a thriving and competitive environment where writers, designers, and managers have opportunities to develop their skills and make a living in corporate environments.
You can see this in the inbound marketing job growth in just one year below:
These opportunities also mean the content landscape is increasingly competitive, and targeted audience attention is harder to capture and occupy. If you’re producing written, video, or audio content, keep reading to ensure you’re not leaving money on the table with underperforming deliverables.
And keep your eyes peeled for 3 actionable tips you’ll need to rescue your B2B content marketing strategy.
Why is B2B Content Different?
B2B content pieces tend to revolve around complex decision-making processes, so content marketers have a lot to tackle when it comes to building trust and connection with their audiences.
Because of this, it’s more critical with B2B to provide content that brings actionable advice to your audience that helps them address real issues marketers face.
Common pain points B2B content should aim to alleviate (that are not typically relevant to B2C content) include:
- Aligning with stakeholders
- Getting internal and external followers interested in new marketing initiatives
- Managing skills and talent gaps on your teams
- Building compelling business cases for your projects to gain executive level buy-in
So, make sure you are shaping your B2B content to fit these needs.
Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs Rescuing
Too often, content failures result from misalignment and not giving your audience valuable materials.
Maybe you’re publishing content in the wrong places, producing mediocre work, not engaging enough with your audience, or you’re missing the mark on what they’re interested in.
Here’s a quick growth snapshot that happened when our team recently rescued a B2B content marketing strategy.
When this client first started working with us, they were averaging about 200 organic users to their blog, per month. After six months of consistently implementing the tips I’ll outline below, they are now gaining over 15,000 visitors per month.
Below, I’ve included a hypothetical situation that you may find yourself in. In fact, I’ve based this off of a situation that one of my clients faced. The data included is from a real content marketing strategy that hit the mark (and that you can try out yourself).
Picture yourself at your desk. You have coffee in your hand, headphones in your ears, and you bounce between Slack and your inbox, working hard to meet deadlines and deliver great work.
But when it comes time to gather metrics, analyze the data, and prepare quarterly reports, you notice your results aren’t looking like you expected.
Your heart sinks as you discover conversion volume is on a downward trend, organic traffic is down too, domain authority hasn’t risen, and your team is looking to you for answers.
You need a plan of action and you need it now. You’ve been focused on daily workflow for months and didn’t dive into your data to discover if your efforts were working, until now.
Luckily, you find the SEO and content hotline at DigitalMarketer (which you’re reading right now) and obtain actionable tips to find a way through the fog.
Get Connected to Get Aligned
Start by clearing your mind of what you think you know about your audience. Instead, ponder what your audience needs when they consume content.
What will your content bring to them that they can’t get anywhere else?
At the top of the funnel, it’s a mistake to be too quick to prescribe specific solutions. Instead, this stage should help people understand the full scope of their problems before diving into a solution.
So instead of “How can I solve their problem,” try asking “What do they want to talk about?”
If the blog is aimed at attracting CTOs who are in the market for ITSM software in the next 18 months, wouldn’t it make sense to consider what else they care about? Or speak to CTOs and ask what they need to know to build a business case or make a decision for their organization?
You’ll have a really hard time fitting that need if your objective is to sell to them right away.
You might ask yourself, “But isn’t selling our product/services the point of creating content?”
And I would answer that the reader is consuming content at this stage to get their generic questions answered. You have to EARN their relationship here, so they trust your actionable content down the road.
Your objective should be to simply establish a connection. Seth Godin is on the money when he says “…we market with people, not at them.”
Your audience may need specific information on ITSM software today, but many don’t yet. You’re missing an opportunity to get their attention and build your brand by writing only about your services. This brings us to step one of rescuing your B2B content strategy.
B2B Content Strategy Step #1:
Join your audience where they are rather than pushing your objectives on them.
Effective content works to create a bond, and ultimately facilitates a conversation (rather than creating a conversion). Here’s how you can realign:
1. Respect the Value Exchange
- Remember, there’s a transaction dynamic to respect. The content and value you provide needs to build sufficient trust and credibility with your user, and ultimately betters their perception of your company.
- This will improve your chances for them to make an exchange. You can see that here, “47% of buyers viewed 3–5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.” (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
2. Introduce a Customer Feedback Loop
- Talk to your sales team about common questions and objections they receive from your audience. Find out their most effective responses! You can then use this feedback in your content topic ideation and calls to action.
- Use social listening. Observe how your brand and competitors are discussed on social media (Facebook groups, Twitter, Yelp) and on forums (Quora, Reddit). What is the buzz around your brand? Do people have questions they need answered?
3. Tackle Difficult Topics
CXL calls it “Movement First.” Consider offering contrarian perspectives. Go beyond educating and cast a future potential scenario. Help people see a vision for what your industry could become.
GrooveHQ’s Blog shares their vision to help business leaders become empowered to grow and improve their customer service performance, whether they use GrooveHQ products or another solution.
Occam’s Razor deconstructs complex marketing analytics topics into paradigms that are simple and useful. By doing so, it shares their vision for the power of analytics in decision making.
Maybe the basic topics are being covered sufficiently by existing blogs, and a fresh perspective on a particular topic is what your niche needs. Do your research and find out what can help them solve specific problems.
2. Conduct Better Keyword Research
Avoid choosing keywords based solely on search volume. It’s helpful to also consider the intent of the search query and competitiveness based on who’s already ranking when choosing keywords.
Target keywords based on data. We often see pages built for personas or verticals that don’t have any real keyword research behind them, which results in a great article that gets little to no organic traffic. Not ideal!
When you are shifting your content to better fit your audience’s needs, you have an important choice to make. Do you focus on creating new content, or go back and optimize existing content?
If you have quality content that could be optimized to better reach your audience, start there and produce new content when you’re ready.
Dive into your keyword research and find opportunities for each of your top blogs to rank better. Using the techniques we just described, use this strategy to better connect with your audience.
Then, once your existing content fits the bill, you can move on to the next step in saving your B2B content strategy.
B2B Content Strategy Step #2:
Expand the depth of your content to provide a thorough explanation or discussion of the topics.
1. Obtain a Sufficient Word Count
- It’s essential to provide an ample word count to compete with pages currently ranking on page one of Google’s search results. However, don’t simply add fluff words for word count’s sake.
- Expand your content to cover additional subtopics with a depth of information that other pages lack. “The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.”
2. Post Quality Content Often
- When asked how frequently blog articles should be published, consider this statistic from Hubspot, “B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3 times more traffic than those blogging 0–1 times per month.”
3. Expand Keyword and Topic Focus
- Target less competitive, longer-tail keywords to start. Long-tail keywords refer to keyword phrases containing at least three words and are narrowly focused on niche topics. This opposes shorter phrase keywords with mass appeal. An example of a short-tail keyword is “CRM Software,” and a long-tail version would be “ERP and CRM Software Solutions”.
- After you’ve gained traction from the right audience, pivot to higher-volume keywords and make your mark.
Now, you’re ready to develop a more personalized and relevant funnel path for your readers. It’s time to start strategically targeting your content to the right step in your customer’s journey.
B2B Content Strategy Step #3:
Go “full-funnel” with your strategy (TOFU MOFU BOFU).
1. Plan Content for Each Stage of the Funnel
TOFU (top of the funnel) content should bring in relevant traffic and increase brand awareness.
This content answers this general question, “Why is this topic important to me and my goals?”
Sharing related blogs or videos is an effective way to foster interaction at this stage.
MOFU (middle of the funnel) content offers help for people looking to solve problems and to reinforce your expertise to them.
These offers help visitors progress from their entry point to the next level down the marketing funnel.
BOFU (bottom of the funnel) content meets your readers when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
How can you share insight that builds trust with your audience and makes them pick you over your competitors?
This is the perfect transition to offer a free trial, demo, or sales call. Seal the deal here!
2. Offer Relevant Calls to Action
- Here’s another perspective on the statistic we shared above, “47% of buyers viewed 3–5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.” If your company doesn’t have lead scoring and marketing automation tools in place, this suggests it would be more effective to “sell” another content piece in your call to action (CTA) instead of some type of “Contact Us” or “Speak with Sales” CTA.
- Ensure your CTAs are appropriately placed in your content and not thrown in at the very bottom. You want your audience to have access to them.
The Phoenix Rises
Now that you are freshly-informed about ways to enhance your content marketing strategy, it’s just a matter of trusting the process and continuing to diligently work it.
Remember the traffic growth screenshot above? Throughout those early months we monitored the site for positive signals like consistent relevant keyword rankings growth and modest traffic increases.
We worked diligently, starting in November, and did not start see big traffic gains until the end of February when 10 percent traffic increases started becoming 100 percent traffic increases.
Follow this process and increase your probability of traffic and conversions growth. Soon, you’ll be looking forward to showing off your impressive reports to your C-suite.