B2B Content Creation
Here’s where you’ll find the latest on how content managers are creating effective B2B marketing content — written, visual, and beyond. For solopreneurs, writers, editors, content managers, and B2B marketers who want to rock their content.
Quality content doesn’t just happen on its own.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, producing visual content assets, or just trying to optimize a landing page, you need to create content that’s both engaging and designed to convert. Sound easier said than done? We get it.
A good B2B content strategy starts with understanding the basics. Here are some of the fundamentals that you’ll need to know as you get to work producing high quality, highly effective content assets.
What is B2B content creation?
B2B content creation is the process of producing engaging content that serves to generate leads and nurture them through the sales pipeline. When done right, your company will have content assets that bring more traffic to your site, build brand awareness, and answer customer questions at each stage of their journey.
How do you define your target audience?
It’s important to come up with one or more well-defined buyer personas that you can use as guidelines for structuring the tone and style of your content.
As much as you can, hone in on your audiences’ goals, resources, and pain points, with an eye toward developing content that’s on their page in both language and overall purpose.
Is B2B content just about selling a product or service?
Yes… and no.
While your ultimate goal with your content is to foster a sale, good content should do a lot more than that. You want to bolster your brand identity and establish yourself as an authority in your field. Sometimes your content will lead to a direct sale, but equally important is that it builds awareness of your company and serves to facilitate relationships between yourself and your leads.
The 10 Tenets of B2B Content
Content isn’t just about words and pictures. It’s about purpose, delivery, and cohesion with your brand. So how do you make sure the content you create aligns with your overall objectives? Start by following the ten commandments of effective B2B content creation.
1. Have a plan
From landing pages to social media and everything in between, it’s always better to go in with a plan. Before you start writing, figure out what the distinct purpose is of a particular content asset is and how you plan to achieve it.
2. Never sacrifice good writing for keywords
Search engines are a lot smarter than they used to be. That means that they can parse out topics better than they used to, and don’t rely solely on the use of keywords. If a keyword or phrase doesn’t sound natural, skip it. Google will be able to figure it out.
Instead, use keywords as a brainstorming tool to learn more about what your audience is searching for.
3. Don’t neglect graphics
Images are key, especially when it comes to conveying big ideas in easily digestible pieces (not to mention SEO). Always look for areas in your content than can be enhanced — or even replaced—with graphics.
“…image optimization is just as important as text optimization — and maybe even more so, in a couple of instances.” – The Five Core Rules of Optimizing Images for SEO
4. Don’t be afraid of giving away information
Some advice might tell you to avoid solving your audience’s problems (and you definitely don’t want to give away the recipe for the secret sauce). However, there’s no denying that information is everywhere these days. If someone wants information, they’re going to find it for free — whether you’re the one providing it or not.
So don’t be afraid to give away information. Just don’t give away your product or service.
5. Place priority on the call to action
Your call to action is one of the most important facets of any piece of content. Whether it’s overt or a little bit more subtle, always inspire some sort of action on the part of the individual who’s engaging with your content. Without a call to action, your content loses its persuasive “punch.”
6. Keep it interesting
Losing interest might mean losing a lead. Everything from the length of your paragraphs to the topics that you cover should be optimized to keep your readers on the page.
7. Stay true to your brand
Just because you write an engaging post doesn’t mean that it’s a good fit for your company. Always make sure that any content you distribute fits clearly into your agenda and your voice.
Plus, keeping it real will set your content apart from the massive amounts of mediocre work out there.
8. Try gated content
Some B2B companies make the mistake of sharing content without a distinct lead generation strategy. If you have content that’s truly valuable, make it a downloadable asset that leads have to “pay” for with their contact information.
9. Invest in good content
Planning and writing strong B2B content is a skill worth paying for. If there’s no one on your team who is up to task, bring on a freelance expert or content agency (heyo! Get in touch here) to do the tough work for you.
“The real challenge is in making sure that you hire a team or an individual who has a proven track record of creating strong, valuable content that sells, and who understands your brand, your audience, and what you’re trying to accomplish with your content.” – Content Marketing Services: Should I Hire an Agency or a Writer?
10. Vary your formats
Blogs are great, but diversify your content formats to grow your impact. Case studies, whitepapers, infographics, and more can draw in increased traffic and serve to strengthen your overall content efforts.
And as more people gravitate toward video and audio, consider how you might repurpose what you have to appeal to a broader audience.
Coming Up With Content Ideas
We know what you’re thinking: We’re a service provider / product manufacturer / software development firm / etc. … we’re not writers!
It can be hard to take off your professional hat and put on your content creator hat. And while the actual writing is tough on it own, some B2B firms find the biggest challenge to be figuring out topics to write about in the first place.
Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel with your content. Take topics you know about — and topics that you know your customers care about — and go from there.
“The content within the article has to present something unique, it has to have some undercurrent of authenticity, or it's just another wannabe in a sea of wannabes.” – Write For People First, Robots Second
Here are three additional things to keep in mind when brainstorming content ideas.
#1 Think like a customer
What valuable information can your customers learn from you — and only you? What viewpoints do you have to offer that can help them improve their business? Try to get in the head of your audience and pinpoint those topics that will provide true value to the way they work.
#2 Look for ideas all around
There are infinite topic ideas out there. You just have to find them.
Finding ideas can be a quick process or a more involved one. It depends on what you’re looking for and what you find. In general though, aim to focus your research on one or more of the following areas:
Your sales and marketing teams
Even something as simple as an offhand question one of your customers asks in an email could spur on a blog post, tweet, or case study.
“When you’re pushing your own boundaries into the unknown, you make room for originality. When you join forces with other experts in your field, you’re getting access to a whole wealth of diverse perspectives and connections.” – Your First Idea Is Not Your Best Idea (Except When It Is)
#3 Engage with your industry
You’re (hopefully) in your industry because it interests you. Use that as a jumping off point to discover additional materials, created by industry experts, that can help you with brainstorming content ideas. Some places you might want to begin:
Conferences and conference materials
Social media groups and communities
You can either engage with these platforms regularly, or turn to them when you’re on the hunt for topics. Either way, you should be able to capture ideas that are top-of-mind in your industry and that you can turn into engaging and conversion-friendly content.
“If you’re new to B2B content marketing, here’s some good news. Business-to-business blog posts aren’t really that different from the ones you read for fun as a regular person in your downtime.” – How to Brainstorm B2B Blog Post Ideas
Okay, But What About SEO?
SEO, the shorthand term for search engine optimization, is the backbone of your content. While it's real people who you're writing for, it’s Google, Bing, or Yahoo that are going to ultimately decide who sees your work.
What is SEO?
SEO is a targeted effort to increase where your content shows up on a search results page.
Web giants like Google are notoriously tight-lipped about the factors that determine where your site and your content rank. It’s for a good reason: if every company knew the magic formula for ranking at #1, things would get messy — fast.
Instead, you’ll need to rely on some of the tried-and-true metrics that are already known to boost rankings and improve SEO. For the purposes of content itself, these generally fall into two camps: keywords and links.
“The more you understand about how not just B2B buyers in general but your B2B buyers move through the sales funnel, the better you can optimize your content to guide them from stage to stage.” – SEO for B2B Companies: How to Get More Exposure For Your Online Business
Keywords are words, phrases, and queries that someone might type into a search bar to find your content and other content like it. You want to organically sprinkle these words and phrases in to your written copy to ensure that search engines know exactly what your content is about.
Links come in various forms, but for the purposes of B2B content creation you’ll be mainly focused on outgoing and internal links. Outgoing links are links within your content to related content on other reputable sites. Internal links are links within your content to related content on your own site. Both matter when it comes to SEO.
Tip: It’s fine if you’re not an SEO expert. There are plenty of plug-ins, widgets, and other web-based SEO tools that can scan your copy for you and help you optimize it. As a good starting place, check out Yoast, SEMRush, and the Moz SEO Tool. For more, check out the 12 Content Marketing Tools We Can’t Live Without.
Content Creation + Your Overall Marketing Strategy = More Business
Once you start to realize that B2B content is not so much its own strategy as it is a part of your larger marketing plan, content creation becomes a whole lot less daunting.
To start, create content for—and based on—your community. More than just spitting out blog post after whitepaper after video demonstration and hoping for the best, this method forces you to look at the bigger picture.
“Create content that appeals to [your audience] directly, so that even if they’re not searching for you, they’re finding the answers to their questions in your content.” – Five Digital Marketing Strategies to Generate Leads In Your Sleep
Creating good B2B content is, of course, about stellar writing and innovative ideas. But it’s also about getting more eyes on your business.
That’s why promoting your content is just as important as producing it, and why you need to cover the topics your customers truly want to know about — not just the things that you think are interesting.
You also have to segment your audience. Don’t try to write for everybody at once. The content you create for potential leads is going to be different than the content you create for existing customers.
At each stage of the sales funnel, your topics and your purpose are going to change.
“To get to the heart of what your B2B customers want, here’s one question you should ask yourself: If my customer had one full week on the job that they could devote solely to their professional growth, how would they use it?” – What Do Your B2B Customers Really Want?
This goes back to developing customer personas, and establishing the unique needs and objectives of the decision makers you’re trying to appeal to.
Worry less about covering all relevant information at once and more on writing content that’s tailored to a certain subsect of your audience base.
And finally: think tactically.
You don’t wing your other marketing efforts, so don’t wing your content. Utilize A/B testing, play around with the days and times you post on social media, and experiment with different content formats.
Keep what works, drop what doesn’t, and always be on the lookout for new ways to excel with your content.
Need a hand with your content strategy? We’d be glad to help! Contact us for a quick meet and greet to see if we might be a good fit.