Content plays a crucial role in today’s digital landscape, one that businesses can’t afford to ignore, whatever their size. In its many forms, content serves as the cornerstone of organic opportunities, fuelling a business’s growth and brand recognition, fostering credibility and boosting online sales.
In this article, we’ll help you uncover a roadmap to use content to drive traffic and generate leads for your B2B business. We’ll explore expert B2B content marketing strategies and proven techniques to enhance your online presence and achieve digital marketing success, covering everything you need to know – from strategic keyword research to targeted content distribution. But first, back to basics…
Why content is crucial for B2B businesses
Let’s start with a look at the various reasons why your business needs to take its B2B content marketing strategy seriously.
Credibility and trust building
First and foremost, great content positions you as an authority in your field. Expertly created in-depth content like a whitepaper or guide can go a long way towards portraying your expertise, which then gains the trust of your audience. If you’re a start-up with no case studies to fall back on and no “decades of experience” to shout about, these in-depth articles and guides can go a long way towards demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about – overcoming any concerns a potential sales lead may have about your experience or place in the market.
Taking this idea a step further, thought leadership content – such as opinion pieces, expert interviews and industry analyses – can transform your business into a go-to source for industry knowledge. By offering valuable insights into your field, such content helps foster trust among peers and customers alike.
Continuing on the subject of trust, content is a great way to demonstrate transparency and authenticity. In a world where transparent communication has become more highly valued than ever, using content to openly discuss your processes, values and challenges is a fast route to reflecting openness and honesty. This also allows sales leads to engage emotionally with your business – something that can be further enhanced through authentic storytelling. Such authenticity has the potential to resonate profoundly with your audience, creating a genuine connection that may prove easier to convert into a sale.
Client testimonials and case studies are another great way to boost confidence among your target audience, as it’s proof of your success. Social proof is a powerful way to influence buying decisions in the B2B world just as in B2C, with positive feedback from people you’ve worked with serving as a huge trust-builder among potential customers.
Organic search visibility
Establishing your position as an authority with potential customers is only part of the story; your business also needs to be trusted by search engines. Content is crucial to your organic SEO rankings in several ways.
- Firstly, keyword optimisation allows algorithms to understand what services you offer, and therefore which searches your website should appear higher in. Conducting keyword research to identify what your target audience searches for when they’re looking for businesses like yours will enable you to weave the right words and phrases into your content, enhancing your visibility in search engines.
- Secondly, your website’s ability to rank for relevant keywords also depends on having quality backlinks from reputable websites to yours. And the secret to securing those backlinks? You guessed it: quality content. Creating shareable, link-worthy content on interesting subjects relevant to your business is a surefire way to attract those all-important backlinks, which improve domain authority and therefore search rankings.
- Another important consideration in organic search visibility is the mobile responsiveness of your website, especially when you consider that 70% of internet users get their content from this medium. Make sure your site is just as usable on mobile as it is on a desktop, and vice versa.
See an example of this in action below:
Mastering keyword research for B2B SEO
The first step in any SEO content marketing campaign is to conduct keyword research. This will identify the terms your potential customers use to find the products or services your business offers. Here’s how to do it.
Building your keyword strategy
Comprehensive keyword research takes some time and effort and requires a nuanced approach that goes beyond simply identifying relevant keywords.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the need to understand keyword intent. In other words, what did the person typing in this keyword intend to find from it? It’s vital to differentiate between informational, navigational and transactional keywords so that you can align different types of content on your website with these different user behaviours.
By doing so, you can build a keyword strategy that enhances user experience and therefore engagement, making a conversion more likely. Thinking about this in terms of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) intent, you can then tailor content to appear in these different types of searches, which typically reflect different stages in the buying cycle. For example, you can target informational SERPs with articles and blogs, and transactional SERPs – further down the sales funnel – with product listings and reviews.
Key metrics and factors in keyword selection
Once you’ve understood keyword intent, you’re in a stronger position to select keywords. A common mistake is to pick these solely based on search volumes – that is, picking the keywords that are predicted to result in the most clicks. The problem with this is that they’re only rough estimates, and may not always reflect exact user queries. Overall, it’s always better to focus on trends and patterns rather than fixating on search volumes.
Keywords with high search volumes are also more competitive, with more brands competing to rank for them. With this in mind, keyword difficulty/rankability is a metric to take into consideration. Ideally, you need to find relevant keywords that strike an optimal balance between search volume and difficulty.
Strategic considerations for keyword selection
We’ve already advised caution on opting exclusively for keywords with the highest search volumes, but it’s worth taking this a step further and actively paying close attention to keywords with low search volumes. Though not many people search for them, they can cater to highly specific niches, which reflects a more focused and engaged audience more likely to make a purchase. In this way, low-volume terms can enhance your conversion rates.
It’s also important to remember that, like everything else, keywords go through peaks and troughs of popularity. Being alert to trending keywords gives you opportunities to create timely content around the topics currently gaining traction. Conversely, declining keywords highlight changing user interests – a sign that it’s time to proactively change focus.
Useful keyword research tools
A diversified toolkit will help you conduct your keyword research comprehensively, tap into as many potential keyword ideas as possible and gather insights into keyword metrics and trends. To start with, we’ve listed some of the tools that we use:
Supporting content creation with AI
It might not be the big scary robot that The Terminator promised us, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here, and it has come a long way in terms of content creation. However, it is far from a suitable replacement for human-written content, with search engines constantly finding innovative ways to root it out and penalise websites for using it. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid AI entirely:
Benefits of AI content support
AI can help you in the content planning stage by generating diverse content ideas. AI algorithms are capable of analysing huge volumes of data to work out interesting topic ideas, or new angles you might not have thought of on subjects you’ve covered before. AI tools can also identify relevant keywords and trends that you can weave naturally into your content to help it get picked up in search engines.
While purely AI-generated copy is best avoided, you can still use AI to help you refine your drafts to help them appeal to a specific target audience. From rewording sentences to make them more readable to tweaking the tone of voice or offering synonyms, AI can help you write more engaging content, whilst also remaining a useful tool for fact-checking – though it isn’t 100% accurate, so watch out.
Pitfalls and considerations
While AI is undoubtedly useful for helping you plan, refine and monitor your content, it doesn’t have the emotional intelligence needed to create relatable, empathic content that resonates with human readers. It’s therefore vital not to fall into the trap of relying on it to create your content for you. As we’ve seen, you can use it to tweak your drafts – but context, emotion and cultural references all rely on a human writer, as does getting the tone of voice and messaging right for your brand.
And there’s another important concern with AI: plagiarism.
AI content generators are essentially regurgitating what’s already out there, rather than creating original thought, and that can leave your business vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism. The final piece of work needs to be your own, and if you’ve generated content using AI you’ll need to edit it heavily and provide proper attributions and citations to use it ethically.
Finally, AI content generators can’t always be relied on to create accurate, reliable content. Because it’s pulling information from all over the internet, a lot of misleading information leaks through – and it’s been known to make things up completely. You’ll need to go through the content with a fine tooth comb to make sure you’re not inadvertently spreading misinformation.
AI best practices for content managers
If you are going to use AI to help with your content campaign, then it is important to keep the following points in mind:
- Provide a detailed brief – as with briefing a human writer, briefing AI in as much detail as possible will help steer the tool in the right direction. Make sure you include instructions on the target audience and tone of voice as well as the topic you want it to write about.
- Keep the AI model up to date – to make sure your AI tool generates content that’s up-to-date and relevant, make sure you regularly update the model with recent trends and industry-specific knowledge.
- Add the human touch – enhance AI-generated content with human creativity. Adding in personal experience, humour and analogies will help the content to connect with your target audience. Remember, the final piece needs to be written by a human – AI just speeds up the process.
- Edit collaboratively – getting your content team to work together on editing AI-written drafts will help infuse it with a range of critical thinking and creativity, improving its quality.
- Establish a feedback loop between your human editors and AI tools, as this will help the AI model learn and produce better content next time.
How to scale your content creation efforts
Everybody starts small, but a growing business will eventually need to scale up its content creation efforts to compete within the ever-changing digital landscape. Here’s how to do that effectively.
Three essential actions for scaling content creation
To create content at scale, you need to start with three crucial steps:
- Understand the content type: what purpose will your content be serving; Brand awareness? Building loyalty? Thought leadership? Driving sales? Understanding your content goals is the first step to designing an effective scaled-up strategy.
- Establish a consistent process: when you’re creating content at scale, an efficient process is important. Streamlining your content creation process helps you produce new content consistently and to a designated timeline, all while making sure it’s top quality.
- Allocate the right resources: what resources will you need to create your content? This might include finding skilled writers, editors and designers and subscribing to the right tools to get your content creation underway.
Choosing the right content types for different stages of the customer journey
You need different content types for the different stages that your customers might be in, so familiarise yourself with the following::
- Awareness: this stage is about capturing people who may not yet know about your business. Informative blog posts, infographics and social media content are all great ways to engage prospects.
- Consideration: at this stage, people are weighing up their options and may be comparing you with your competitors, so provide them with in-depth guides, case studies and comparison articles to aid their decision-making.
- Preference: compelling testimonials, product demonstrations and interactive content will help steer prospects towards your business over your competitors.
- Action: by this stage, they’re ready to commit to a sale. Use persuasive landing pages, product/service descriptions and calls-to-action to help drive conversions.
- Loyalty: once a prospect has become a customer, make sure you keep them on board. Create regular newsletters, exclusive offers and customer-centric content to foster loyalty.
- Advocacy: word of mouth is a powerful driver of new business, so encourage happy customers to share their experiences through user-generated content, reviews and referrals.
Implementing a robust content framework
We mentioned earlier that it’s important to create a streamlined process for your content creation. This should also encompass a structured content framework that includes the following:
- Keyword research: as we talked about earlier, start by performing keyword research to identify relevant high-impact keywords relevant to your industry. These can inform content ideas and then be woven into your content to make sure it’s aligned with industry trends and searcher intent.
- Competitor research: it’s also worth looking at what your competitors are doing with their content strategies, as this can help you spot gaps and opportunities where you can do better, cover areas they haven’t, or approach a topic from a different angle.
- Internal expertise: remember to use the expertise of your team members! This can help you create content that delivers thought leadership, expert insights and different perspectives from within your industry.
- AI enhancement: as we’ve seen in this guide, you can use AI to enhance rather than replace human content writing. As well as doing the legwork for you, it can automate repetitive tasks and analyse data to give you content performance insights, freeing up your team to focus on thinking strategically and getting creative.
Content calendar management
When you’re scaling up your content strategy, a structured content calendar is essential for planning your content and staying on track. Put this together using keyword insights to plan content topics that match up with changing search trends and user queries at different times, and by analysing competitor content strategies for potential opportunities. You can then organise content using a pillar and cluster strategy, with pillar pieces providing comprehensive coverage of a key topic and cluster pieces covering related subtopics.
Strategic content distribution for maximum impact
There’s no point in creating great content if nobody sees it, so having an effective content distribution plan is an essential part of your strategy. Here’s what you need to think about.
Exploring content distribution channels
There are numerous different ways of making sure your content gets seen by as many potential customers as possible – here are just a few.
- Social media platforms: whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, different social media platforms suit different businesses, so spend some time exploring the pros and cons of each for reaching B2B audiences in your niche. Think about which content formats – such as text posts, videos and infographics – are best suited to each platform and what you could do to encourage more engagement.
- Email marketing: This is a highly effective method for nurturing leads and building relationships with both current and potential customers. Consider email automation, segmentation and personalisation techniques that could work for your business, as tailored content can drive higher open and click-through rates.
- Guest posting: as we mentioned right at the start, backlinks are a vital part of establishing your website’s authority in search engines. Guest posting on reputable industry websites and blogs will help you build them. You’ll need to factor in time for identifying suitable platforms, pitching compelling topics and creating guest posts that establish thought leadership and drive traffic back to your website.
- Partnerships and collaborations: partnerships can be a powerful way of expanding your reach, so think about whether there are any collaboration opportunities with influencers in your industry, or with industry associations or complementary businesses. These mutually beneficial relationships can be fostered through co-created content for maximum impact.
Tailoring strategies for B2B sectors
B2B content strategies can vary dramatically from one sector to another. Content to appeal to a technology business, for example, would look very different from content intended to get a healthcare or finance company on board. That’s why it’s important to tailor your strategy to sector-specific challenges, trends and opportunities for your content to resonate with different target audiences.
By using industry-specific language and showing you understand their jargon, you can ensure you’re speaking the language of your intended readers and establish credibility and trust. Another way to do this is to create sector-specific case studies to appeal to people in different industries, showcasing practical solutions and impressive results you’ve achieved for customers in different types of business – just like we’ve done with this Martech case study.
Data-driven content distribution
As your content distribution gets underway, you can start to use data to help you understand which channels work best for your business. Use website analytics, social media metrics and email campaign data to understand your audience – what content do they read most, and at what times of the day and week? When you know this, you can refine your content strategy to further tailor it to your audience.
A/B testing is another useful way to gauge the effectiveness of your content distribution channels. This allows you to experiment with different content formats, posting schedules and channels in a systematic way that gives you clear data on which are most effective.
In this guide, we’ve seen that a B2B content marketing strategy is both critical to your organic SEO and an important part of demonstrating your business’s credibility. Both these things fuel business growth, so getting to grips with the strategies we’ve discussed here has the potential to transform the effectiveness of your online presence.With our bespoke content marketing and SEO solutions, we’re a trusted partner for B2B businesses – so why not drop us a line and arrange a free consultation? We’ll show you how to leverage content to generate traffic, nurture leads and assist you with all aspects of content marketing for business success.