“Content is King!” You’ll hear that saying repeatedly – however, your B2B marketing team must understand that not all content is created equal. A B2B content marketing strategy is quite different from the typical B2C content marketing strategy due to the vast difference between audience members.
Before diving into building an effective B2B content marketing strategy, it’s essential to take a moment to define what B2B content marketing is and why it’s so different from B2C content marketing.
B2B content marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves creating, publishing, and distributing content to a carefully defined targeted audience. This strategy becomes vital in the B2B sphere because you are no longer speaking to general consumers. Instead, your primary audience is decision-makers in the business world looking for solutions to help them reach their own audience (likely those in the B2C community).
When many marketers hear the term “content marketing,” they don’t realize just how different B2B and B2C content marketing really is. When comparing the two, it’s vital to understand that one is speaking specifically to those in the business world, while the other is speaking directly to consumers.
Business-to-Business (B2B) content is more educational in nature and tends to speak to a much narrower audience, whereas a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) audience can be quite broad.
A great example of a B2C brand is Walmart. They cater to a wide variety of consumers, and therefore, their content tends to be more laidback and conversational.
In one of their most recent posts to their corporate blog, they decide to highlight their various gardening departments by talking about the importance of pollinators and why they’ve decided to roll out more pollinator-friendly plants in their stores.
While this post is educational in nature, it still speaks directly to consumers and encourages them to get their garden started by visiting their nearest Walmart store and picking up their own crop of pollinator-friendly plants.
This content can apply to such a wide variety of individuals, including:
– Home Gardeners
– Those interested in agriculture
When it comes to a B2B audience, it is vital that marketing teams cut down their focus quite a bit. Again, the goal is to reach a very strictly defined group of people. An excellent example of a B2B brand that may target a similar yet more defined audience is the AGCO Corporation.
AGCO Corporation is a B2B brand that manufactures agricultural solutions for farmers, particularly large-scale farming centers. Instead of trying to target home growers, they create and share content relevant to a very niche community.
They don’t focus their content on selling specific products. They highlight important topics such as sustainable farming, animal welfare, and responsible farming practices. You will notice that they do not share much in the way of promotional content on their pages. Instead, the focus is on becoming a thought leader within the agricultural community.
By posing themselves as a thought leader in the agricultural industry, those brands looking for farming solutions to help them get their product out to the everyday consumer will start trusting the AGCO name and their associated brands. The more trust that is built, the more likely they will turn to AGCO’s many solutions.
In one of their most recent posts, they talk about their 2020 Sustainability Report, which discusses important sustainability trends and benchmarks while also discussing what they plan to do as a brand to improve their efforts towards sustainability and how they plan to help others in the farming/agricultural niche strengthen their efforts as well. This report gives AGCO an authoritative voice in the industry, which other brands are highly attracted to. With information to back up their claims, they are more likely to attract brands, build trust, and form lasting relationships that will result in B2B purchases.
While B2B and B2C content marketing strategies will look surprisingly similar at first, it’s this understanding that a B2B audience is very different from a B2C audience that will help you see genuine success.
Here are some steps for building a strong B2B marketing strategy:
As with any business strategy, you need to begin by identifying and outlining your B2B content marketing goals. What is it that you hope to accomplish by providing content? If you struggle with goal setting, here are a few common places to start:
• Building brand awareness
• Become a thought leader in your industry/niche
• Building customer engagement
• Increasing traffic to your website
• Increasing lead generation/conversion
• Building brand loyalty
Of course, you’ll need to take each of these goals and break them down into detailed pieces. You need to be identifying the goal, how you plan to reach it, what constitutes success, etc. One of the best ways to outline your goals is by using the SMART goal-setting method, where you break each goal down by defining:
Identify the who, what, where, when, and why of your goal.
How will you track your goal and define what is considered a success or failure?
Just how realistic is your goal? Do you have the necessary tools/resources to accomplish it?
How well does each of these goals align with your company’s mission/values?
You need to give each goal a specific deadline.
With your goals ready to go, it’s time to talk about your ideal target audience. Don’t forget – this is one of the most important steps in building a B2B content marketing strategy because you need to remember that your audience isn’t nearly as broad as that of a B2C audience.
To help with this, you’ll want to think about what your brand is, what products/services you are offering, and who would most likely need them.
For example, AGCO isn’t going to be selling their combine harvesters and application equipment to a small-town gardener. Instead, they need to focus on who would be interested in their large-scale machinery and innovative farming solutions. An example of a possible B2B customer for AGCO might be Tyson since they likely would benefit from the brand’s aviary systems for raising their chickens.
To help you identify who your ideal target audience may be, you’ll want to start out by creating a detailed customer/buyer persona. This can be done using several different approaches, including:
Once you have enough information about who makes up both the industry’s audience and your current network, you can start outlining what a typical buyer may look like. You’ll want to make sure you’re not only addressing important demographics but also how potential buyers like to interact with various brands, what information they may enjoy consuming, and where they go to research this information.
With your audience defined, you’ll want to turn your attention to the content you’ve already started producing (if any). If you have a website, you’ll want to count each of these pages as content, as well as any social media posts you may have started sharing.
Performing a content audit simply means taking a detailed look at your current numbers. When monitoring your website, you’ll need to pay attention to key performance indicators such as time spent on page, clicks, click-throughs, and number of visitors to your website. For social media, you will want to pay careful attention to engagement numbers and reach.
Once you’ve collected enough information, you’ll start to get an idea of what has worked and what hasn’t up to this point, which will allow you to start building your content strategy further.
With an idea of what has worked before and what has not, it’s time to sit your content marketing team down and discuss your options. Content ideation meetings are an excellent opportunity to get all the options out on the table.
Not only should you have an idea of what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past, but if you’ve already conducted an industry/competitor analysis, you should have an even greater idea of what sorts of content has worked for your competitors.
It’s important to note that while B2B content needs to be more educational in nature, there is a time and place for promotional content. So, you want to make sure you are considering all viable options during the content ideation stage.
The next step after you begin content ideation is identifying which digital channel will best suit your brand and its audience. Once you start creating shareworthy content, you need to have somewhere to share it. Your website is where it will likely be published – however, you need to take further action to put it right in front of your audience.
If you haven’t already, this would be an excellent time to invest in some marketing channel research. This process will help you better understand where your audience is spending their time online, which will tell you precisely where your content needs to be shared. With the average individual spending approximately 10 hours a day consuming content, you want to take every action you can to put your content in the right place.
If you’ve already built a website and have begun to establish yourself on social media or online business listings, then you’ll want to make sure you are optimizing your online presence as much as possible. This becomes even more vital once you start regularly publishing your content because proper search engine optimization will ensure that your content is placed in front of the right audience at the right time.
You need to make sure you are conducting keyword research, using these words and phrases throughout your content and on your online profiles. Otherwise, you will have a hard time attracting the ideal audience.
Finally, once you have all your ducks lined up, you need to be revising your analytics. Whether it’s your social media or website analytics, you need to be paying careful attention to what is working and what isn’t.
If you don’t, you’ll continue shooting blanks into the dark. When you conscientiously monitor your content’s success, you’ll not only know that people are interested in what you have to say but also be able to start tweaking your content to suit their customer journey better.
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