How do you do B2B content marketing? Our guide gives you the 3 most important strategies for creating content that targets the business sector.
B2B marketing is complex, complicated and follows completely different rules than in B2C. Not quite true! Just like end consumers, business customers are people who make decisions based on emotions. Companies should not neglect this aspect in B2B marketing.
Why does B2B have a harder time than B2C?
Of course, strong company and product brands are also important success factors in B2B. However, relying on the fact that the brand alone is enough to convince customers remains generally wishful thinking. One reason for this is that the markets and challenges in the B2B environment have changed drastically over the years.
In the past, B2B marketing was subject to a proven mechanism: a positive company image and a certain level of awareness were a guarantee for a sufficiently large number of recommendations. Self-marketing was simply not necessary. As a result, marketing measures were limited to form letters and cold acquisitions.
Methods that are used today – in times of digitization and GDPR- are unthinkable. But consumers have also changed. Thanks to smartphones and mobile internet, they are now very self-determined and more fully informed than ever before. In addition to these new challenges, there is also the fact that B2B marketing is much more complex than is the case in the B2C environment.
On the one hand, the products are generally less emotionally charged. On the other hand, other factors determine the buying process of companies. The following has to be taken into account in B2B marketing:
- the investment amounts are high.
- many decision-makers (buying centers) are involved.
- Buying processes are long and complex.
- Competitive pressures and price wars are the order of the day.
- buying behavior has changed.
Against this background, it is understandable that B2B transactions are generally more risky than private investments. You should therefore be well considered, because bad purchases have far-reaching consequences for companies. That all purchase decisions are based on pure ratio is again a widespread misconception.
Marketers are only too happy to forget that B2B buyers are not insensitive crowds, but flesh and blood people with individual needs and ideas. Even if they rationally justify their decisions to the outside world, just like in B2C, they are essentially influenced by (unconscious) feelings. Including emotional aspects can therefore determine success or failure in B2B marketing.
How to content market to business
There is no simple recipe for “the” perfect marketing strategy in the business customer sector. However, there are several basic rules that marketers should take to heart.
- Define buyer persona: Instead of first determining their target group, many companies first choose the channels to be used. Not a good idea, because only those who know their target group know where and how they can be reached. With the concept of the buyer persona , companies can give their target group a face. A buyer persona as a typical representative of the target group makes potential B2B customers tangible as real people. A corresponding marketing strategy can then be built on this.
- Use the website as a magnet: In the digital age, customers have countless options for doing extensive and fast research. This also affects their buying behavior. B2B prospects have already completed around 60 percent of the purchase process before contacting the sales department of a provider. Market researchers and analysts have also found that 80 to 90 percent of all B2B purchases are affected by website visits. A professional and user-friendly website that provides interested parties with all the important information is therefore crucial for success.
- Strengthening inbound marketing: With a well-prepared corporate website, the first step has been taken to be able to do more inbound marketing . It is important that companies provide content in which a prospect finds themselves and their own concerns. In addition to the website, other owned media channels such as blogs and social networks also play a role here. The main advantage of inbound marketing is that it works in the medium to long term and is therefore very sustainable.
- Do cross-channel marketing: In addition to owned media channels, you shouldn’t make the mistake of forgetting paid and earned media channels. Because a good B2B marketing strategy includes a cross-media marketing mix. Using different channels also allows different types of communication to be used. This means that even more tailored messages can be designed. Cleverly combined, cross-channel marketing creates synergy effects with which companies can increase conversion rates.
- Promote professional collaboration between marketing and sales: In times of Industry 4.0 and digital sales, the boundaries between marketing and sales are becoming increasingly blurred. Hybrid developments at all levels can be observed. Of course, B2B marketing does not remain unaffected. Marketing 4.0 means that marketing and sales work together professionally to attract new prospects and generate more sales with existing customers.
So one thing is certain: once marketing and sales have defined the buyer persona, launched a professional website and created tailor-made content for inbound and cross-channel marketing, nothing stands in the way of successful B2B marketing.
Strategies to improve B2B content marketing
How do I create good content in the B2B area that reaches my target group and is disseminated via social media? How do I find exciting topics and how do I prepare them so that my target group likes to read them? Which format is best for making the first contact? Business owners are faced with these questions when wanting to do effective B2B content marketing. Here are three strategies you can immediately implement to be successful with your 2019 B2B content marketing.
1. Always create content with added value.
Content marketing – in B2B and B2C – is always about creating added value for the Internet user. In the B2B area, the added value consists primarily in solving a problem for the Internet user .
Try to identify areas in your industry where you can place yourself as an expert.
- Research what internet users are looking for with your keywords online. Free online tools such as AnswerThePublic or the Google Adwords Keyword Planner show you what questions Internet users googling in connection with your topics when entering your keywords.
- A chat with colleagues from customer service or sales at your company is also worthwhile: What do customers ask about again and again? What topics are you interested in?
You can take up these questions and answer them in the appropriate content marketing format. For example, be a high-quality blog article, a guide in the white paper or a webinar.
This is how you demonstrate your professional competence and inspire confidence in your company. In the B2B area in particular, such a bond is an important prerequisite for later purchases: Compared to B2C, products and services are usually associated with a higher price and a longer period of time before a purchase decision is made.
In a 2018 study by MarketingProfs, B2B marketers were asked which content marketing format was the most successful in order to attract the attention of the future customer. The top 3 were in blog article, podcast and e-book formats.
2. Use more pictures than ever before.
The assumption is widespread among marketers that B2B contacts must be addressed in a rational and fact-oriented manner, while private individuals decide to buy through emotional appeals.
Basically that is correct, but you should never forget that every B2B contact is primarily an ordinary internet user. In today’s abundance of information on the Internet, he decides quickly and for easily digestible, visually appealing information that he can quickly scan. What does this mean for your B2B content marketing?
- Always illustrate your texts with pictures – it doesn’t always have to be shown on the picture what the content is about. Thematically fitting photos, icons and graphics also work wonders to spice up a text. Your company has hardly any image material that is suitable for this and no budget to buy pictures? No problem: You will find a large selection of high-quality and free images in online image databases.
- Visualize facts and figures with the help of infographics . You don’t have to be a graphic designer or designer: thanks to user-friendly online tools, you can quickly display dry numbers and complex processes in infographics that are popular for reading and dissemination. Helpful (free) infographic tools include Canva, Venngage or Piktochart.
A recent survey among online marketers showed that visual formats such as images, videos and graphics are becoming increasingly important. Stock photos (40%) and (info) graphics (37%) are used most frequently. According to the respondents, the (info) graphic is the format that caused the most interactions (40%). By the way, the survey results are shown in a nice infographic.
3. Social media: Don’t try to land a viral hit. Rather rely on continuous quality.
A study by the Pew Research Center showed that 20% of all employees use social media at work to find solutions to problems. For the B2B marketer, this means that the first contact to the potential buyer can be made in social media and thus the first touchpoint within the marketing funnel.
Many marketers are trying with all their might to get as much attention as possible on social media with their content. Don’t waste your capacity desperately trying to land a viral hit. It is possible, but very difficult to produce and extremely unlikely. Better invest your time in a long-term content strategy that consists of many high-quality contributions with added value for the social media user (see tip 1). Also take a look around at successful competitors in your industry: What kind of content do you regularly use to get likes and shares? What topics and formats did you use to build your community that has been loyal to you for a long time?
On this basis, develop your very own social media strategy with which you first establish initial contact, which you bind to your company over time and ultimately convert into a customer.