35 top experts share their tips for a winning B2B content marketing strategy

35 top experts share their tips for a winning B2B content marketing strategy

By August 4, 2016 B2B No Comments

How do I beat the market with content marketing? What consists a great B2B content marketing strategy? How should I proceed with my content marketing efforts? If you’ve been asking yourself these questions lately, you can stop worrying. We gathered for you the best tips from the biggest global experts. Read, learn, and join the success club!

 

Step I

Define Your Audience

Shane Barker – Independent Digital Strategist

For Sprout Social, Shane writes: “Developing an effective content marketing plan requires you to clearly define your target audience or “buyer persona.” It’s important to remember that you’re not targeting yourself. Once you have a better understanding of your target audience, you can model them based on different buyer personas.

 

Target creatively

Mike Bates – Organic Search Executive, We Are Boutique

“My main tip for B2B content marketing is to not restrict your options to targeting business publications and influencers: everybody is using B2B publications and networks in the same ways and it is very hard to be heard above the noise. Remember that everybody who has a business is an individual with a life outside of the office, so you can target these people outside of their business roles, whether through social campaigns or wider awareness or brand exercises. It’s about getting the attention of businesspeople, in and outside of the office. I believe that this can generate real success; it feels less like a hard sell to the audience and you have an opportunity to forge a more naturalistic relationship between a brand and its audience this way.”

 

Create a documented content marketing strategy

Ron Sela – Head of Marketing, Start a Fire

Ron writes in his blog: “Having a documented strategy gets everybody on the same page. One result of this is that your audience is less likely to be confused by inconsistencies in messaging when content creators work without a set of guidelines.” 

 

Target the right stages of the marketing funnel

Rand Fishkin – Founder, Moz

In his famous “Whiteboard Friday”, the wizard of Moz suggests: “Try to choose. When you’re creating your content, when you’re designing the strategy for why you’re going to produce a particular piece, decide what it’s going to help with. Point it at the area of the funnel that is in most need of assistance.”

 

Create a content calendar

John Kennedy – Digital Marketing Director, Brands on Digital

John writes at Business2Community: “It is a best practice to create a content calendar so you can plan ahead of major events in the year and create a rhythm of content suitable for your audiences. Regular content generally achieves greater results.”

 

Consider creative ways to scale content production. 

Sachin Kamdar  CEO, Parse.ly

“You’re regularly publishing, blog traffic is increasing, and you’re even seeing a decent amount of conversion. You just need to do more of it. Don’t fret if you can’t justify an increase in headcount because you may be able to tap into other existing resources. Don’t be afraid to republish content that did well in the past. Look at your blog analytics, see what an impact, and republish popular content with a fresh introduction and/or updated links and images. Not only is this now an accepted content strategy practice, it’s a highly effective one that enables you to make the most out of the polished work you put so much time into creating in the first place.”

 

Market before you launch

Michael Passanante – Senior Director of Marketing, BESLER Consulting

“Content marketing can be a powerful tool to fuel B2B product launches. Don’t wait until your product hits the market to create quality content assets and deploy campaigns. Prepare the market for your solution by using content marketing to talk about the problem you are solving, explore current (and perhaps inadequate) solutions, and educate them about unknown or unmet needs. Leverage these campaigns to foster a community and build a key contact list you can reach out to when your offering arrives!”

 

Monitor your competition

Rich Missey – Director of SEO, Insureon

“If you’re going to play the content game, play to win. To do so, you need to know your enemies. Monitor competitor activities and make sure you’re on top of the latest trends for your industry and your customers’ industry/industries.”

 

Step II

 Turn down the sales, turn on the value

Linda Pophal – Owner, Strategic Communications

“Content marketing is only effective to the extent that it meets some need on the part of the audience it is reaching. That seems logical, however, too often marketers focus too much on what’s important to them (sales!) and too little on bringing value to their audience. Bringing value = engagement which, ultimately, will yield sales. It’s not an immediate process but it’s a powerful one if done well. If not done well, marketers will fail to engage their audience and, worse yet, turn off those they have connected with. Turn down the sales pitch and turn up the value by gaining a clear understanding of who your audience is (very specifically), and what’s important to them and then finding the connection between what you’re selling and what they value and producing content that connects the two.”

 

Engage other teams in content creation

Amanda Dodge – Contributor, Copypress

Amanda Dodge writes for Copypress: “Involving multiple teams in content creation opens up your blog to new ideas and perspectives. Someone in HR is much more qualified to write about a new skill requirement, while the production team is better at explaining their new product. Involving the company as a whole in your content will make it more real, and more enjoyable for the audience.”

 

Write in conversational language

Joshua Nite – Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing

Writing for the TopRank Marketing blog, Joshua proposes: “Write the way you would talk to an old friend. You don’t ever have writer’s block in a casual conversation, right? So write the way you would talk. Even better, exaggerate the tone—let yourself be silly. Try to make yourself smile.”

 

Resonate your customer’s stories

Christopher Fox – Managing Partner, Syncresis

“Make sure you include detailed customer stories in your content marketing mix. Prospects want to know exactly how your product or service affects their day-to-day working life. This approach resonates much more than claims about product features and benefits. If prospects can “feel it” in the content they read, they will consider it, and move closer to buying it.”

 

Go deep

Neil Patel – Co-founder, Crazy Egg

Globally known marketing guru Neil Patel writes for Hubspot: “B2B readers are proud of their knowledge, and rightly so. They have invested their lives, their education, their careers, and their time into acquiring professional skills. They love it when people speak to them on their level — a deep level. That’s why the B2B content that you produce should go deep.”

 

Focus on the Pain

Adam Johnson & Justin BrownContent Managers, Quote Wizard

“Understanding customer pain points and their decision making journey are especially useful because B2B clients are more savvy about their challenges and often need guidance to help overcome them. Broad scope content can be a great honey pot, and is necessary, but more specific content focused on detailed industry or vertical “pain points” will build more authority amongst customers that take action on your CTA’s. Add “actionable” directives that decision makers can apply immediately or a concise picture of benefits they can use to get approval or buy-in from other members in their organization. Solve immediate and common problems with detailed guidance, rinse, repeat.”

 

Use content that converts

Daniel Slomka – Content and Social Media Specialist, Boost the News

“Content marketing is not only about increasing visibility, social shares and traffics that look nice in the statistics. In the end, it’s about generating leads and converting them. That is why you must focus on content that helps you push leads down the funnel, content that makes them sign up for newsletters or free trials, and gives you direct contact to them.”

 

Focus on relevancy

Samuel Edwards

At Entrepreneur, Samuel Edwards shares the following thought: “The problem businesses have in unattractive industries is they can’t easily brainstorm topics. It’s challenging to develop engaging content that centers on things like office chairs, hearing aids or insurance. As such, the temptation can be to create unrelated content just for the sake of gaining backlinks and traffic. Don’t do this. It’s far more valuable to focus on relevant content, even if it doesn’t have link bait qualities. While it may not provide the same SEO boost as link bait articles, do you really want to build a faulty foundation of users who don’t make up your target market?”

 

Make people’s life easier

Vincent Magaline – CMO, Rebrandly

“Provide value to your audience, don’t talk about yourself, just give them something you know they’re looking for…something that makes their job easier. This isn’t hard to do, and you should already know what your target clients are looking for. You can use SEO to see what people in your space or businesses in your target audience are searching for, put a list of tools or tips which will help them reach their goals, and do your best to make the content you share as easy to navigate through as possible while spending the time to create high quality ‘11 out of 10’ content.”

  

Make people care

Terri Trespicio – Co-founder, Lights Camera Expert

“Make sure EVERY single piece of content–email, blog post, what have you–quickly and clearly answers the question, “WHY DO I CARE”–this is the key to creating relevance and urgency. Far too many people think making a piece “accessible and fun” means, “I can get away with yammering about stuff and amusing myself.” Nope. Now, granted, that’s not usually B2B’s issue. But if the piece does more to serve YOUR needs than the reader/customer’s, then you’re not really helping them at all…and you haven’t created value. And if content has no value, it ain’t content.” 

 

Write P.E.A.C. content

Nadya Khoja – CMO, Venngage

“P.E.A.C. stands for Practical, Entertaining, Awe-Inspiring and Credible. If you can achieve this, you will build up a reputation for yourself as a producer of great content. Not only will your outreach process be easier, since your writing will be providing readers with useful and actionable tips, but it will also be more likely that those you outreach to will continue to read your content in the future. As a result, your content will also get more social interactions, and more people linking back to it.”

 

Write guest posts and articles

Michelle Garrett – PR consultant, Garrett Public Relations

“To boost your B2B content marketing efforts, use contributed articles. Whatever industry you may be in, there are vertical publications who are looking for content. If you have an idea you can pitch for a contributed article, many times these publications will allow to submit an article that may be published on their site and/or in print. This will help you with content marketing, as well as PR and social media (as you may post the article to your social media channels once it appears). You may link to the article from your site, as well, and perhaps even use it in your customer newsletter.” 

 

Be an expert

Daren Low – Founder, Bitcatcha

“Carefully plan the topics you are going to present in your content and make sure they are meaningful to your audience. This is a great approach that allows you to discuss how your product or service can save money, increase the efficiency of production or streamline tasks. Not only does it provide a chance to introduce your product, it establishes your expert status in the industry. The most important point is to post not only about your own products, but other products your target market is sure to find useful. This way your audience knows you are genuine in your efforts to enhance their business and find you and your company to be trustworthy.”

 

Give back to the community and to the audience

Marc Joseph – CEO & President, DollarDays

“Give Back to Your Customers and the Causes They Believe In. Our strongest content marketing and social media effort to giving back is through Facebook. We have 248,000 followers. For a B2B business that sells 225,000 general merchandise products, this is quite a following. To create such a following, we give back to our community with a different give away each month.  We also have a program where any of our customers can designate 5% of their purchase dollars to their favorite charity, and created a free wish list program for nonprofits to get what they need.”

 

Don’t forget the SEO

Molly Phillips – Senior Account Manager, Greenroom

“My advice is to remember that content marketing is married to modern SEO. You need to optimize both onshore (native to your website) and offshore (published on social media or by a third party site) content with your SEO key words, proper link structure, and rich contextual clues such as key-word named images. Google’s algorithm has shifted significantly in the past decade to favor sites with the highest quality and most visited content over those that game the system and use tactics such as key-word cramming or landing pages designed only for SEO. Do your research, and consult with your SEO professional before launching any new content marketing strategies.”

 

Go Video

Kent Lewis – President & Founder / Anvil Media

“Go Video. YouTube is more effective than Facebook in generating B2B leads. I’ve long preached the value of video marketing for brands, including B2B. Keep in mind, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, and is owned by Google, which means greater potential visibility in organic search results. Considering the fact that video also has 5x greater recall than the written word, why tell your complicated B2B story in text when you can tell it with a concise, compelling video?”

 

Invest in content marketing software

Scott Severson – President, Brandpoint

“As companies continue to invest in content marketing, there is a tremendous opportunity for content marketers to focus on content operations. Selecting the right content marketing platform can help marketers create more and better content in less time. Once my own company started using our content marketing platform, we found that we saved 74 minutes of staff time per piece of content produced now that we were no longer emailing Word documents around and trying to track it all on a spreadsheet. For the average company, that kind of inefficiency comes with a very real price tag. Companies pay an extra $120,000 per year to produce the same volume of content as firms that invested in workflow software, according to a recent Gleanster Research study. Taking a close look at your content operations is more than worth the effort.”

 

Create leaderboards

Toby Beresford – CEO, Rise

“The best way to engage a B2B audience with easy repeatable content is to create a “power 100” leaderboard of top influencers in the sector. Update it every week and you can be sure it will become the de facto standard ranking for your industry sector bringing everyone to your site and content.” 

 

Step III

Go where your audience is

Kristian Rivera – Digital Marketing Associate, Fit Small Business

“You should only focus on social media platforms that you know your audience is using and is generating great results for your business. If Facebook is performing better than Twitter, then shift your time and resources to promoting your content on Facebook. It’s tempting to be on every single platform, but starting out, focus on the places that will give you the most bang for your buck.”

 

Used paid promotion on Facebook

Sujan Patel – Co-founder, Web Profits

In an article on Forbes, Famous growth-marketer Sujan Patel writes for Forbes: “Use social ads as a way to amplify the reach of your content marketing when you push it out through your social channels. A $10-20 boost on Facebook can go a long way.

 

Used paid promotion on LinkedIn

Judy Schramm  – CEO, Pro Resource

A very cost-effective way to get your B2B content into the right hands is to use LinkedIn Sponsored Content ads. You can define your audience by title, industry, company size, company name, age, gender and more. Thousands of people will see your content, so you build brand awareness, but you only pay when someone is interested enough to click through. The average cost is about $5 per click – it’s a great tool for B2B content marketers.

 

Automate Where Possible

Ben Jacobson – Director, Action Packed Media

At the Search Engine Journal, Ben writes: “You’re only one person, and you’ve only got 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re highly productive and efficient, automation can help you make even better use of your time by removing bottlenecks and rendering processes infinitely scalable. Automated tools also help your audience – bots might not have the same nuanced touch as a human, but they also never make mistakes like humans do and they respond far faster.”

 

Contact Industry Influencers

Daniel Tolliday – Chief Content Officer, B2B Marketer

For Business.com, Daniel writes: “Did you mention anyone in your article? If so, send them a link to it. Who are the most influential people in your niche? Contact these people and ask what they think about your article. Who knows, they might even decide to share it with their followers!”

 

Link out to other websites

Steven Macdonald – Digital Marketing Manager, Super Office
“Link out to authoritative websites when referencing research, studies and reports. Linking out to external sites has three main benefits:

  1. It’s good for SEO. Linking to authoritative websites can improve your own website authority.
  2. It’s good for UX. When you reference a report, the reader might want to learn more and a link to that site will improve their experience.
  3. It builds credibility. By referencing a study, it shows you know your stuff.

Another benefit of linking is that you can tag them when sharing your content on social media.”

 

Reuse your content

Emily Sidley  Senior Director of Publicity, Three Girls Media

“Reuse your content whenever possible to reinforce your message and save time. For example, after you write a blog post you can use it as an article in your e-newsletter or share it across your social media platforms. Or you could take a few of your blog posts that are related to each other and turn them into an infographic. You could even pull a helpful paragraph from a blog post and turn it into a helpful “quick tip” video! By repackaging the same content in different ways, you can generate content that’s a good fit for your brand more efficiently.”

 

Create e-briefs

Anita O’Malley – CEO, Leadarati

“Create an e-Brief from your existing materials. Every organization has a sales sheet or case study, or even some general statistics they may use in sales presentations. Put all three together and create an e-brief. Make sure to remove sales-y language, use proper citations for statistics and make the tone expert and informative for your readers.”

 

Continue to promote your content after the initial push

Alastair McDermott – Technical Director at WebsiteDoctor
“Most content creators give the content a push on social media just after publishing, and usually see a spike in traffic numbers which then falls away and they move on to the next task or piece of content. But only a tiny fraction of their social network ever got to see that content. That’s where social scheduling tools come into play – you should be sharing each piece of content regularly on your social networks. Some fear that over-promoting a piece will irritate their followers, but if you do it properly you should avoid doing that.”