Most businesses benefit from content. But for B2B companies, content marketing makes a huge difference—like 67% more leads difference. Most founders and leaders just don’t know where to start. And with content, the starting line is of massive importance.
This is our guide to creating valuable B2B content. We’ll go over how your B2B company can master the art of content marketing. Here are some valuable tips, tools and tactics to create content that results in new leads and revenue:
Create Content Your Audience Cares About
To create something valuable, you have to understand your target market.
When we say understand them, we don’t mean, “the CTO is the decision maker for our product.” Customer avatars much?
Just because you’re B2B doesn’t mean you don’t need a customer avatar. Here’s a good example of a customer avatar: “Tommy is our average customer. He’s a middle-aged and VP of Sales working at a mid-sized tech firm in Silicon Valley.”
B2B brands can also opt for an ICP (ideal company profile). This means you’d define your target company’s size, yearly revenue, location, industry/vertical and other details that paint a picture of who your content should target.
Your Customer Avatar Should Shape Your Content
The more specific your audience, the more targeted your copy can be. Tommy from our example, is probably interested in becoming a better sales manager and might also be into team productivity. In order to appeal to him, you could add a tidbit of productivity content to your blog.
Other examples of shaping content to your audience would be things like:
- Avoid saying ROFL or TL;DR in posts targeting non-millennials.
- Minimize tech jargon in your posts for sales leadership or non-techies.
Create Value by Teaching Your Audience Something New
Knowledge is value. Think about what you have to teach your target market. Share the right knowledge, and people will read it and subscribe for more.
Shopify’s audience consists of brands always on the hunt for ways to market their products and services. So creating and sharing a piece of content on how to start a podcast is valuable to their audience.
— Shopify (@Shopify) February 20, 2018
You can even build upon what other experts have written.
For example, if you see a top-ranked post called The Ultimate Guide To Content Marketing, you could use that same idea but targeted toward different readers like The Ultimate Guide To B2B Content Marketing.
What Is Valuable to Your Market?
Use Google to find out what appeals to your readers. If you target Fintech startups, then Google “best fintech blogs” or “LinkedIn groups + Fintech.”
You could also use a tool like Buzzsumo to search for industry-related content that’s been highly shared.
Read the posts and the comments and questions posted by your target readers. Search your industry or blog topic ideas on Reddit. Listen to your market and you’ll start to understand what they want.
Keywords Help You Discover Value
Research keywords and phrases that you think will drive the most traffic. You can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, KWFinder or SEMrush to find the keywords and phrases your audience is searching for.
Something to keep in mind is that the more specific a search query, the further a prospect is in the buying process. For instance, someone searching “best marketing software for B2B startups” is probably more qualified than someone that Googles “marketing tools.”
Targeting those highly specific searches might bring if fewer visitors, but the quality will be higher.
Watch this video below to learn how to use Google’s Keyword Planner.
When doing keyword research, don’t focus only on keywords and phrases that have high search volume. Oftentimes, it’s easier to rank for keywords with lower search volume and less competition.
Add each keyword or phrase to a spreadsheet or Airtable to start a content calendar. Each keyword could be the basis for an article or even a cluster of articles (more on this in the next section).
Google Your Competitors
What are your competitors writing about? Do their posts get a lot of shares, comments or backlinks? Subscribe to their newsletters and look at what’s in their emails.
You can use Ahrefs (mentioned below) to see which keywords your competitors rank for as well.
Building Keyword Pillars Is Essential
New research tells us that pillar and cluster content rank well in SERPs (search engine results page). Pillar posts are like the center of a bicycle wheel, focused on broad topics. Cluster posts are like the spokes of the wheel—they’re focused on longer, more specific keyword phrases.
Check out this infographic from HubSpot for a visual:
Let’s say you’re a SaaS company offering a one-click data analytics dashboard that measures marketing efforts. You target startups with less than $5MM in funding.
You might decide that one pillar you’d like to rank for is content marketing and another is email marketing. You can write a ton of cluster content around each of these pillars. These two topics are broad, but not too broad.
Once you’ve decided on your pillars, you need to write in-depth posts on each. You might write a post titled “Content Marketing 101 For Startup Founders” for your keyword, content marketing.
Next, you’d create cluster content around that post.
For example, you may want to rank for the more specific keyword phrase, “best content marketing tools for startups.” You could write a cluster post titled “The 10 Best Content Marketing Tools For Startups.” This cluster post would be a link in your in-depth, content marketing pillar post.
The Baremetrics blog is a great way to get a clear visual of this practice in action. They’ve got pillar content in their Academy, where they teach startups about broad topics like SaaS sales, hiring or building startup culture.
Then, they have this genius Glossary where they define specific analytics metrics. They then link to these hyper-specific metric articles from any article on their blog.
Many of their pillar and cluster articles rank in the top spots in SERPs.
B2B Content Marketing Tools
Here are a few great B2B content marketing tools to help with SEO, research, writing, publishing, and sharing content.
- WordPress – The most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. WordPress makes it easy for non-techies to create great content.
- Yoast – A lovely little plugin for WordPress that will help anyone to optimize a page for SEO easily.
- Ahrefs – A tool content marketers can use to get details about their competitors and their niche including which sites link to you, what keywords you rank for and more.
- Canva – Create infographics, logos, and other images to make your content pretty.
- Sprout Social – Social media management software to help with everything from scheduling content to analysis of your social media campaigns.
- OmmWriter – This writing app is easy to use, affordable, and will help you stay focused.
- Evernote Web Clipper – Use this browser extension to highlight and save images/text from your research.
- Grammarly – Keep your grammar in check.
- Hemingway App – Make sure the reading level of your content is at 8th grade or below.
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer – Write a compelling headline.
- Airtable – Create and manage your content calendar.
- Bambu – An employee advocacy tool that makes it easy for you to curate new content to your entire company.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Amazing B2B Content
After you’ve got your keywords, pillars and customer avatars all mapped out, it’s time to write. We’ve created a list of the do’s and don’ts of robust B2B content crafting.
Do Use Correct Grammar & Spelling
Grammarly and Hemingway App are great first checks on grammar and style. Opt for another set of eyes after you’ve checked your own work. Read your copy from bottom to top if you can’t get a fresh set of eyes on it.
Don’t Use a Big Word When a Small Word Will Do
Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King and so many big-named authors live by this rule. When it comes to writing great content, keep it simple.
Do Prioritize Quality When Looking for Writers
You get what you pay for. Don’t expect five-star quality content when you’re paying pennies.
Instead, opt for an intermediate freelance writer if you’ve got a tight budget. Content is an investment and hiring folks that will do a bad job is a bad investment.
This should go without saying, but we’ve seen it happen so many times that it’s worth mentioning. Plagiarism is the worst look ever for your brand.
Don’t do it.
Do Write a Compelling Title
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer will help you write a more compelling headline. Just remember to avoid being too click-baity.
Don’t Overdo It With Adverbs
This is another biggie with B2B content. Some businesses think they need to have everything “salesly.” So they use adverbs like “truly stunning” or “really necessary.”
Poor Hemingway is rolling in his grave.
Do yourself a favor and use the Hemingway App and limit your use of these horrendous words. They’re not adding value to your content.
Do Keep it Simple
This is a big one in the world of B2B content marketing.
Sometimes it can’t be avoided, particularly if you write technical content. But if you can find a more straightforward way to say something, stick with simplicity, even if you write for a technical audience.
Here’s a great of example of how Invision clearly states what they do in a way anyone can understand.
Don’t Be Stuffy
Just because you’re writing B2B content doesn’t mean it should read like a 1950’s press release.
Here’s a good rule of thumb if your writing tends to be too formal—type it how you would say it in a conversation.
Do Write For Humans
Don’t stuff as many keywords as you can into your content in hopes of ranking higher in Google. Keep it conversational and natural.
Search engines have evolved since 2007 when you could jam as many keywords into a page as possible and rank.
Remember, you’re writing for humans, not bots.
Packaging & Distributing B2B Content
The number of ways to package and distribute your content is growing like crazy. There are blogs, ebooks, podcasts and videos. I even noticed that one of my favorite startups, HotJar, created their own show.
Smart companies are listening to what their customers want and packaging content in the ways their audience prefers.
Here are some ideas on how to package your B2B content:
- A blog is essential. It’s the bread and butter of content. A blog should be informative, easy to navigate and organized. If your content is a dining room, your blog is the chandelier.
- Ebooks are great for lead generation. Something about having content in downloadable format makes it all the more valuable to your target market. You can take several of your most popular blog posts and find a way to elaborate on those articles or combine them to form a cohesive ebook. Then use that ebook as a way to generate more email subscribers.
- Podcasts have never been more popular. In fact, 40% of Americans have listened to at least one podcast. An easy way to start a podcast is to simply turn existing written content into audio.
- Webinars and videos work well. These formats are a great way to connect with and educate your market. You can use webinars to collect more leads too. Simply make a landing page for people to sign up for the webinar and capture their email address. Here’s an example of a signup page for Sprout’s webinar on how to build a B2B social content calendar. You can check it out here.
How to Distribute B2B Content
Your content means nothing if people don’t see it. You need to get it in front of the eyeballs that matter.
- Social media: Schedule your content to be shared on all your social channels the day it’s published. You can use Sprout Social’s scheduling tools to make planning your social media calendar a breeze.
- E-mail: Email is an effective way to get B2B conversions, so definitely keep your subscribers in-the-know with valuable content.
- LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your target market are great for sharing new content, particularly B2B content. Spend some time looking for groups that you can join.
- Slack channels: Slack channels are another, lesser-known, way to share your content. I’ve had some personal success building relationships and converting prospects to clients by sharing my content in relevant Slack communities.
Be in It for the Long-Haul
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the content game is long-term. It takes months to get your search rankings up, months to build a community on social networks, and months to streamline your content creation process.
Be consistent and over time, you’ll start to see results.
Share Your Thoughts
What are some B2B content marketing practices that have paid off for your company? What are your favorite tools? What types of content do you prefer to share and why?