A B2B content marketing strategy is designed to put you in front of your ideal customers and solve their pressing problems so they want to learn more about your business. Your content should inspire a feeling of reciprocity, so that your audience wants to do business with you, and not your competitors.
Because of the potential to get affordable, organic leads and stand out amongst your competitors, your content strategy is super important.
It’s not as simple as slapping together a spreadsheet of target keyphrases or tweeting 10 times a week.
Your strategy needs to start with a deep knowledge of your target customers.
In this post, we’ll explore a 5-step process for building your B2B content marketing strategy. Plus, we show you 20 unique ways to take your content marketing from dull to profitable.
What’s in this guide:
- Elements of a great B2B content marketing strategy
- 5 steps to develop your strategy
- 20 B2B content marketing tactics
Elements of a great B2B content marketing strategy
What are the world’s best B2B content marketing teams doing that other companies aren’t?
What makes content marketing truly advanced is the ability to target potential customers directly, generate leads in a cost-effective way, and maximize the reach and revenue-generating capabilities of each piece of content.
Advanced and effective content marketing looks like this:
- Complete alignment between the target customer and the actual target audience of the content
- Involvement in content from senior leaders, product team, and sales team as needed to provide strategic guidance and subject matter expertise
- Feedback loop from customers and target audience in terms of content engagement measurement, comments, surveys, and focus groups
- Monthly, quarterly, and annual KPIs and goal tracking
Let’s build out your own winning strategy.
5 steps to develop your overall B2B content marketing strategy
Content marketing can look wildly different at each B2B company. One company might target one specific type of small business owner. Another might target every type of business, non-profit, and school under the sun.
If you have different audiences (or different offerings), then your process for developing a strategy will be more complex. You’ll repeat the following steps for each audience.
Step 1. Understand your audience
To keep things simple, let’s move through this process with one B2B business with a very clear audience. DesignFiles is a platform that interior designers use to book clients, design rooms, and get feedback from clients.
To better understand the audience, we can start by checking out relevant YouTube videos about how to start or grow an interior design business.
In the videos’ comments, you’ll find all sorts of questions like “Where do you find clients to do free projects for to create your portfolio” or “How do I make networking connections with real estate agents?”
Read through questions in the comments section and take note of the ones that match your ideal target audience.
You could also read the reviews of competitor apps.
For example, this MyDoma review mentions that the company has become more organized with giving design project information to their clients. This shows you that client communication and collaboration is a topic of interest.
DesignFiles has its own private Facebook community, where designers ask questions every day about finding clients, getting designs approved, etc.
If you don’t have your own community, you could join the community of a competitor or other site.
There’s so much information that’s freely available, so make sure to use it.
You should also be in the habit of surveying and talking with your audience. You could incentivize the conversations with gift cards, or simply ask your most devoted customers for 10 minutes of their time. Ask them what they’re working on in their business, and what they’re currently struggling with.
Step 2. Pick your core content formats & channels
Next, you’ll want to pick your main content formats and the channels you’ll use to distribute this content.
As a B2B company, SEO will most likely be a big channel for you (so you can spend less on paid advertising). Depending on your audience, you might also want to create videos or a podcast.
DesignFiles publishes ebooks and long form blog posts. But, because designers are highly visual people, they also offer lots of video tutorials.
You’ll also want to choose the right social media platforms. While many B2B companies are better suited towards LinkedIn, much of the DesignFiles audience spends most of their time on Facebook and Instagram. That’s because most interior designers work with consumers, so those platforms are where their target audience lives.
When you start with a deep understanding of your audience, it’s a lot easier to pick the right content formats and channels.
Step 3. Come up with amazing topics
A deep understanding of your audience will also help you come up with meaningful topics.
Here’s a great example guide that includes both long form content and an accompying video tutorial. This post shows designers how to create a landing page for their e-design services that’s so good, it sells itself.
That’s a great topic idea because it’s more advanced and caters to designers who already have a business (not people just starting out).
Step 4. Systematize your content process
Too many B2B marketers think that their strategy ends with the channels and the topics. But it doesn’t.
Your content process is equally as important as your channels and topics.
That’s because without a great content process, nothing gets done.
With StoryChief, you can plan stories and social posts in your content calendar, then assign them to the right content collaborators, review their work, and publish it.
Instead of managing things with email, docs, and spreadsheets, you’ll be able to collaborate inside of one platform. This makes it so much easier to see where all of your content is in the process.
Speed is a major factor in any successful B2B content marketing strategy. You want to get helpful content to your target audience as quickly as possible, so you can convert more people into customers.
Step 5. Measure leads and micro-metrics
The most advanced B2B content teams are great at analytics. Without data, you can’t measure what’s working.
Here are the top metrics to measure as a B2B content team:
- Total social impressions for recent posts
- Total views for recent posts
- Total conversions for recent posts (email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, purchases, etc.)
- Number of social media shares for recent posts
Benchmarks and trends:
- Changes in read time versus the previous time period
- Changes in bounce rate versus the previous time period
- Number of active email subscribers versus the previous time period
Highest performing content:
- Top 20 posts with the highest views
- Top 20 posts with the highest read time
- Top 20 posts with the highest conversions (email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, purchases, etc.)
Use these insights to help you better adjust your strategy. For example, if you find a piece of content performing well in terms of views and shares, then you can turn it into a series and create more pieces just like it. And if a piece of content is getting higher-than-average conversion rates, you could give it extra promotion with paid social ads or sponsored content.
20 B2B content marketing tactics to add to your strategy
Ready for some swoon-worthy inspiration?
Let’s check out what some of the world’s top B2B content marketing teams are up to as well as tools and strategies you can use.
While many of these strategies can be put into place by your content marketing team alone, some will require support from growth marketers.
1. Personalized nurture journeys based on behavior
One of the best ways to get better results from your content marketing efforts is to set up personalized nurture journeys.
Using a simple automation tool like GoSquared for example, you can nurture leads based on what actions they have taken on your website.
You can set up automated emails and on-site chat prompts that are customized to which assets have been downloaded, which pages have been viewed, how many times the user has been on your website and a whole lot more.
2. Fast hand-off of content leads to sales
Another important tenet of advanced B2B content marketing is the quick hand-off of leads to sales.
A tool like Drift can make this a reality. With Drift, leads can book a demo straight away, instead of downloading an asset with company information and waiting for a response.
By booking a demo quickly, you’re able to set the appointment when the lead is most interested. With the old way of forms and manual responses, you run the risk of your leads forgetting why they even filled out the form in the first place.
3. Meaningful employee advocacy
Many companies are trying to do employee advocacy, but not all of them are doing it well. Gong has several employees engaged in very active audience building and employee advocacy.
Basic employee advocacy means asking your employees to comment on the CEO’s post or to share links to their profiles even though they aren’t building an engaged audience. In essence, it means posting to crickets.
On the other hand, you can practice advanced employee advocacy by training your employees in audience building, growth, and engagement so that their company-related posts perform well.
4. Problem-solving content for key buying-cycle stages and audience segments
The worst type of content exists for its own sake.
It has no inspiration, no goals.
It was literally created just to fill in the content calendar.
Great content, like this post on Instagram for B2B content marketing teams (if we do say so ourselves), should seek to solve a problem.
It isn’t easy to build an engaged B2B audience on Instagram, and yet because it’s a platform with so many opportunities for brands, many B2B companies want to try their hand at it.
By creating content aimed at this problem, we’re able to attract our target audience and satisfy the needs of our existing customers.
5. YouTube SEO
Many B2B content teams are only creating content for search engines like Google and Bing. They’re completely ignoring another important search engine, YouTube.
But when we type in “what is a CRM” in YouTube, we get a video from Zoho with nearly 370k views and one from Salesforce with 660k views.
In reality, you don’t have to post to YouTube every week to get similar results. Even one SEO-focused video per month can offer great results in terms of brand awareness and new leads.
6. Competitive research of Google search results
Forgive the use of the word “hacking”, but is there a better word for the strategy we’re discussing here?
Sure, you’ve seen “competitor” and “alternatives” blog posts, but have you written them yourself?
Blog posts that hack your competitors’ brand name can be enormously effective. When you can get them to rank on search engines, they often produce more leads and sign-ups than any other category of blog posts.
7. Content upgrades to gated assets
It can be hard to get downloads for generic assets. One strategy that works particularly well is to offer gated assets that act as upgrades to your blog content.
For example, in this blog post on finding property management leads, there’s a large image CTA for a free guide on growing a property management business.
While you may not be able to create a guide for each individual blog post, you should seek to have about 3 to 10 unique downloadables so that you can increase the relevancy of what you’re offering in your blogs.
Because the downloadable is super relevant to the post, it generates far more leads.
8. Tutorial-style case studies that benefit readers
Traditional case studies are really important for many B2B content marketers if they’re companies that serve enterprise clients.
However, B2B companies that serve small businesses can put off potential customers with case studies that are too formal and stuffy.
Instead, try making a tutorial-style case study blog post like this one from quiz software Interact.
In this example, we learn about a customer’s success with the product and the steps they took to get there.
This sort of content can help potential customers and existing customers alike get inspired to make use of your solution.
9. Practical gated assets like templates and calculators
Hubspot does a great job of making practical-use downloadables instead of just the traditional guides.
Check out their blog post templates, which is a gated asset bundle that is linked to many blog posts related to...you guessed it...writing blog posts. How meta.
Templates, calculators, example lookbooks, video tutorials, and other useful content tends to get downloaded more frequently than PDF guides.
Because these items save time for your target audience, instead of requiring them to spend time reading.
Regardless of if they become a customer or not, these items hold value.
(Hubspot also employs #7 on our list, because they typically offer a download that is very relevant to each blog post.)
10. Smart pop-ups that are based on user behavior
Poptin’s popups are smart and data-driven. This is why they’re so effective. They have tons of advanced triggers and targeting options, so you can ensure that the user experience will be tailored and as unobtrusive as possible.
For example, you can set a specific popup for a free trial after someone has visited 3 pages on your website. Or, you can also offer a free ebook download after someone has scrolled through 40% of your blog post.
By creating popups that are based on user behavior, you improve the user experience and your popup conversion rate, because they are more relevant to the individual.
11. Snackable product education
Another pro tip is to create bite-sized content about complicated things: your product, your industry, thought leadership, etc.
Clickup’s Instagram account features snackable product tips. In the center of their grid, they’ve got very short videos that explain a different feature each week.
You can use this strategy to educate potential customers and current customers about your features, or you could use it to dissect complicated industry-related content and thought leadership, such as AI in marketing or scaling company culture.
12. Digital PR for promotion and reach
Many small companies don’t have dedicated press professionals on staff. Instead, B2B content marketing teams often need to take some digital PR into their own hands.
You can pitch C-suite bylines to popular online news outlets and industry blogs. You can even write for blogs of companies in your industry, so long as they aren’t competitors of course.
Take these opportunities to link to gated assets or high converting blog posts that are proven to bring in leads.
13. Segmented retargeting ads
Being omnipresent means that you show up everywhere for your ideal audience.
While they’re going about their day reading recipes for street corn, there you are. In this example, LinkedIn is showing an ad targeted only to business owners.
You can also use your content categories to create segments for Google display ads.
For example, maybe you have beginner and advanced blog content. You’ll want the display ad to show a freebie download or offer that is best suited to their level.
You could also segment your retargeting audience based on their industry or user role.
Set up your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts to accurately target the right segments with the right offers.
14. Google search ads for high-converting assets
Do you run search ads to your best assets?
If you have downloadable assets that are known to convert well and deliver high-quality leads, then you should experiment with different ways of promoting them.
Collaborate with your growth marketing team to determine the best potential keyphrases for your highest-converting assets.
15. Facebook ad promotion for high-converting blog posts
You should also promote your high-converting blog posts: the ones that lead to the most email subscribers, asset downloads, lead forms, chatbot conversations, or free trial subscriptions.
Once you know which blog posts perform the best, try boosting them on Facebook or other advertising platforms.
16. SEO-driven glossary or library for valuable topic clusters
Google loves well-organized content.
Glossaries and libraries like this example from Hotjar are a great way to organize content on related keyword clusters.
Creating glossaries and libraries gives you a chance of ranking for high volume key phrases that would otherwise be too competitive.
You can reserve this strategy for keyphrases very closely related to your solution, or try it out for several keyphrase clusters on different topics.
17. Virtual events with cutting edge content that hits popular pain points
Many people bemoan virtual events. Aren’t they all boring?
They can be very effective for driving leads if you get one thing right: the content of course.
To attract the highest amount of qualified leads (translation: attendees) to your event, make sure that the content is cutting edge, can’t be found elsewhere, and solves problems.
This virtual summit from Usersnap took knowledge about scaling CX and qualitative feedback from the world’s leading brands and delivered it straight to attendees for a very affordable price.
Capturing and utilizing large amounts of qualitative feedback is notoriously complicated. By partnering up with companies who are doing it right, Usersnap solved this problem for potential customers and gained thousands of leads.
18. B2B content marketing partnerships
Content marketing partnerships are another underused strategy.
You can partner with brands and influencers in your industry to create guides, webinars, ebooks, events, and more.
Don’t just look for companies you can partner with. Consider individual consultants too. That’s what Privy did with their Ecommerce Marketing Handbook. They’ve partnered with e-commerce email marketing expert Val Geisler and other consultants and experts.
The great thing about working with people of influence is that they include your resource in their social media posts and marketing newsletters. Check out the below example from Val.
19. Proprietary research that gets picked up by journalists
Every year for four years in a row, Upwork releases their Future Workforce Report, which yields illuminating statistics on the growth of freelancing and the gig economy, as well as with how US businesses hire freelancers. From the survey results, the B2B content marketing team produces a press release, results deck, trends report, and infographic.
Their PR department sends the report to journalists and bloggers, and every year their statistics get tons of reach, visibility, and backlinks.
You might think that only a company with a massive budget could take this, but that’s not true. Examples from much smaller companies than Upwork include:
- Userpilot’s State of SaaS Product Onboarding, in which 1000 SaaS product trials or free plans were analyzed.
- TravelPerk’s How Innovative Companies Travel, in which business travel statistics from the company’s own customers were presented.
20. Incentivized backlink outreach that works
It’s easy to write off backlinking outreach as unnecessary, obnoxious, and ineffective. But the truth is that the number of backlinks to an SEO page or post has a huge impact on whether it ranks or not.
However, backlink outreach is a lot of work. You need to research your prospects and email them. Seige Media recommends that you email 100 to 150 people for each post or page.
In this example from Chameleon, the writer says “To say thanks for making the change, we’ll plant a tree in the Amazon rainforest for mentioning our article, so you'll be making more than just one chameleon happy.”
In other words, the request for a backlink is incentivized.
Here are some smart ways to incentivize your prospects to link to your SEO-optimized blog posts and web pages:
- Donate to a charity of their choice if they place your backlink.
- Give them a free lifetime deal to your product if they place your backlink.
- Backlink to them from a guest post that you write on another website (so that the backlink exchange is indirect).
You won’t be able to tackle all of these strategies and tactics. Nor should you. Consider each one, its likely ROI, and how effectively your team could achieve it. Then choose the top ones to implement.
And don’t forget, there’s always room to grow. Save this list and come back to it.
Create better content faster with a content ops platform that serves your strategists and writers alike. Check out StoryChief.