Grow Your Brand With B2B Content Marketing

Grow Your Brand With B2B Content Marketing

If you don’t have content marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy, it’s time you do. Great content can help you build trust and credibility with your target audience.

Successful business-to-business (B2B) marketing means establishing brand recognition within several job functions and throughout multiple departments. And since the B2B sales process can be more complex and time-consuming than selling to individuals, it’s important that you have a plan and strategy in place to get the results you want.

Read on to learn more about B2B content marketing, why you need it, what formats to use, and how to build it the most effective way. Use the links to jump to the following sections:

What is B2B content marketing?

B2B content marketing refers to the practice of using content to increase brand awareness, drive leads and sales, and strengthen the relationship between the company and its customers.

B2B content marketing, in particular, is produced and distributed by businesses to appeal to other businesses. It’s done with varied types of content, including email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, and infographics.

Why is content marketing crucial for B2B companies?

Content marketing is crucial for B2B companies because they face several challenges when it comes to acquiring leads and customers. These obstacles include having a small segment of the market that needs their products or services. Further, the sales cycle for B2B companies is often longer than B2C sales, partly because it takes more time to hone in on the right audience.

Content marketing offers companies a cost-effective way of launching advertising campaigns. Content marketing helps B2B companies build trust, establish their brand, and prove their credibility by providing their target audience with valuable information. They can also use it to connect with their target audience and develop a following.

Social media marketing and advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads are part of the digital marketing strategy, but data shows that both small businesses and large companies are also seeing great results from content creation.

In fact, companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t have blogs. Of course, not all B2B brands succeed in content marketing, but those that engage their audience through value-driven and educational approaches typically do.

B2B vs. B2C content marketing

B2C is short for “business to consumer,” which is the most common type of business model. Their customers are individual buyers or consumers. A consumer is someone who purchases goods or services for their needs and wants. The brands most people make purchases from typically fall under the B2C category, like Sephora, Best Buy, and Nike.

The main difference between B2B and B2C content marketing is the target audience. In B2B marketing, companies cater to other businesses where they have to engage stakeholders or decision-makers usually classified by their roles, such as CMO (chief marketing officer), CEO (chief executive officer), or CFO (chief financial officer). In contrast, B2C marketing is looking to appeal to the general population.

In terms of distribution, B2C companies typically involve large-scale marketing created for a wide range of products or services with the aim of reaching as many people as possible. On the other hand, B2B marketers focus on finding their niche and developing company-client relationships.

Formats for B2C marketing include blog posts, social media posts, videos, and infographics. B2B companies use these same formats in addition to white papers, e-books, and case or research studies.

Also B2B marketing campaigns rely on the knowledge that buying decisions for businesses are usually rationally driven for improved business performance. So marketers focus on lead generation. They then nurture the relationship and sell by showing how their product or service can benefit the client. In contrast, B2C content marketers typically use emotional appeals knowing that customers respond the most to this approach.

B2B content marketing formats that actually work


B2B companies should explore multiple marketing formats as part of their content marketing strategies. These are some of the best:

Research studies

Research is always a welcome topic in the B2B world. This is why studies are an effective format for B2B content marketing. In settings where large amounts of money and significant commitments are at stake, case studies, in particular, serve as assurance and proof that what you claim about your product or service is true.

Research studies are used to generate leads, warm up a prospect for a pitch, and share details to influence the prospect to finally buy. B2B case studies can also help your target audience see the potential impact of your product or service on their company. Further, publishing studies can build your credibility and set you apart from your competitors as a thought leader in the industry.

Tailor your content to your audience. A great example is this case study by Zendesk detailing their partnership with Airbnb. The study tells a good story and champions the client’s services, including photographs of Airbnb locations. But readers still get a call to action (CTA) right at the beginning of the case study where Zendesk gives two options: Find a solution or start a trial.

Blog posts

Blog posts are essential to a B2B company’s marketing strategy. Blogging is a great marketing format to increase traffic on your website, rank through search engine optimization (SEO), increase brand awareness, grow your email list, build credibility, and more.

Also since the B2B customer journey is lengthy and complex, B2B audiences appreciate any useful information along the way that can make their overall journey and decision-making process easier.

When writing B2B content, take a more serious approach than for B2C, but keep it engaging so it’s not dry and boring. B2B posts are typically long form because they’re detailed and data-driven. Make sure to spend enough time with keyword research to address potential customer needs and issues and regularly create new content to maintain interest.

HubSpot’s blog posts are great examples of B2B content. As the inventor of the inbound marketing methodology, HubSpot does an amazing job showcasing how blogs can attract leads and increase engagement. Their value-packed posts, such as this article on customer metrics, are categorized into marketing, sales, and service.

Newsletters

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 31% of B2B businesses use email newsletters for generating leads and  building relationships with prospective clients. Email marketing is also great for increasing brand awareness because companies can reach hundreds (or thousands) of business contacts. Your emails are constant reminders that your business exists.

Start a newsletter with a solid strategy, be consistent, provide valuable, helpful information, and grow your email list. Over time, increased readership can lead to more sales.

An example of a business doing B2B newsletters well is the email design company Litmus. The emails are direct—with some funny content—and include a sign-off from a real person. Below is an example of their weekly roundup of curated content for their subscribers.

Newsletter 1

Newsletter 2

Newsletter 3

White papers

A white paper is a powerful marketing asset that argues a specific position or solves a problem for your target audience. Companies use this document to share original insights, data, and expertise. White papers are  great for helping brands establish authority and credibility.

You can use a white paper to build trust with your audience or position yourself as an option for a target client who is researching potential providers. White papers are more complex to produce than other marketing materials such as blogs or newsletters, but they are powerful lead magnets.

Companies typically offer a white paper in exchange for an email address. Take a look at Freshbooks’ “6 Smart Ways to Future-Proof Your Business” for an example. It features an eye-catching cover page and outlines exactly what readers will take away from the document.

Webinars

“Webinar” is a term that combines the words “web” and “seminar.” This marketing format helps companies connect with a wider audience and promote their products or services. Webinars are typically used as lead magnets.

During the webinar, companies provide free, valuable information in the hope that attendees will see the need to upgrade to paid products or services. Webinars usually consist of a presentation followed by a Q&A session. The format uses a visual medium, allowing the presenters to connect with participants quickly and actively.

Webinar marketing events are typically conducted for companies to demonstrate products or services, explain and expand concepts published in blog posts, or showcase thought leadership.

One company that produces amazing webinars is Marketo. Here’s one webinar showing how to bring sales and marketing together where Sam Gong, BDR Director for Adobe Experience Cloud, presents how to bring your sales and marketing together. The webinars are on-demand so viewers can watch them on their own time and learn from people who are leaders in the industry.

Videos

Video marketing involves using videos to promote your brand. You can use videos to market your product or service, increase engagement on your website and social media platforms, and reach your audience using a new medium. Video content isn’t just for entertainment anymore—it can also be used to educate your clients and potential customers.

For instance, you can produce demo videos where you showcase how your product works. If your company is planning to host an event, a highlight reel or interesting interviews from previous attendees can also increase attention for the gathering.

Check out this explainer video on simplifying work from Method: CRM. The how-to video takes viewers through adding a customer care case into their platform and features the important aspects of the service for clients in an upbeat and enthusiastic tone.

Guides

Guides are often downloadable documents that contain in-depth explanations of specific topics. They can be on any subject that suits the needs of your content marketing strategy target clients. Guides can be detailed “how-to” educational documents or they may simply be information on how your product or service can help your target audience achieve their goals.

B2B companies use guides for lead generation. You can also use them to capture emails and ask the respondents to provide key information about themselves before they can download their copy.

Here’s an example with Upwork’s “Why Businesses Use Independent Talent to Customize Their CRM.” It’s straightforward, concise, and visually dynamic.

How to build your brand’s B2B content marketing strategy

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build your brand’s B2B content marketing strategy. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Identify your buyer persona

Remember that the ultimate goal of your content marketing strategy is to convert your audience into paying clients. Your content must engage them and meet their needs. The first step to engaging your target audience is creating a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a fictional person who combines your target audiences into one. A persona represents the most common characteristics of your clients but goes beyond demographics such as age, occupation, and income; this person also has passions, strengths, and pain points.

Step 2: Understand your sales funnel

Your sales funnel follows the series of steps that your client will take to make a purchasing decision. The first stage of the B2B buying process is awareness—this begins when a customer realizes there’s a problem. After awareness, the next stage of the B2B buyer’s journey occurs when the customer commits to fixing the problem and starts looking for solutions.

Decision-makers will start researching different options for the best solution for their problem. Then it’s time to actually make the decision. Understanding where your clients are in the sales cycle can help guide your content strategy. This knowledge can also help you create relevant content that answers their questions.

Step 3: Research competitors

Successfully navigating B2B content marketing involves researching your competitors. Identify your biggest competitor and analyze what they’re doing. What are they offering and what’s working for them?

Identify your unique selling points to attract clients and design your strategy from there. Brainstorm your strengths and determine what you can offer to set your product or service apart from the competition’s.

Step 4: Define your goals

It’s important to define your goals before you start cranking out content. Make sure these objectives are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This means your goals are realistic and your progress can be tracked using defined key performance indicators (KPIs).

Set your goals by identifying the outcome you want to achieve from this campaign. You can start by asking, “What am I trying to achieve?” For example, do you aim to increase sales or brand awareness or to establish a social media presence?

Step 5: Create a mix of content types and formats

Remember your buyer persona and note that you’re targeting busy people. Create multilayered content and experiment with text, videos, and images for a visually engaging user experience. Utilize at least three to four content formats to start to keep people interested.

Step 6: Track your progress

Track your progress to see what’s working and what’s not. Google Analytics and other tracking metrics are very useful in this area. Pay attention to what’s working and simply try to do more of that. Remember that you may have to try a few things before becoming expert at producing content that resonates with your target audience.

Step 7: Consider linking opportunities and collaboration

To grow your digital reach, establish brand credibility, and increase brand recognition, you’re going to need backlinks or inbound links. These are links pointing toward your website from another site. Backlinks are important to your content marketing strategy because they help drive traffic to your website and improve your search engine rankings.

The best way to generate quality backlinks is to produce high-quality content that others want to cite. In addition, linking opportunities and collaboration on your overall content marketing strategy can offer a big boost to helping people know you exist. The easiest way to gain backlinks is to share your expertise and create guest posts on other business websites that you can reciprocate by accepting guest posts as part of your content.

On the back end, sending outreach emails to ask other businesses and publishers to link to your content may also help in gaining broader visibility.

Step 8: Promote your content across different platforms

Once again, refer to your buyer persona when deciding where to promote your content. Where do your prospective clients hang out? Are they on Twitter, LinkedIn, or maybe the more casual Instagram platform?

First, make sure your website and content are at least showing up, if not ranking, on the search engines. Then, engage your target audience on social media. You may also want to run a paid ad to help drive your material to the top of search rankings for specific keywords.

Content marketing is not an easy feat. Not only do you need time to see it produce results but it also involves a lot of work and resources. But don’t worry: There’s a lot of help available through marketing automation.

You can also outsource most of the work. One way to do this is to connect with talented content marketers through Upwork.

Examples of effective B2B content marketing

Below are three examples of companies successfully executing B2B content marketing.

HubSpot

HubSpot is a company that develops and markets software products for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. It’s not a surprise that HubSpot publishes one of the best marketing blogs. HubSpot is an excellent example of B2B content marketing done well.

HubSpot produces quality content and offers detailed guides and free resources. As a top-notch content provider, the company also provides original data, research, and insights. It’s truly one of the best examples of B2B content.

Shopify

Shopify is one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms. The platform offers an easy path for an e-commerce business to build an online store.

Through both the Shopify blog and podcast, the company has become an important go-to destination for entrepreneurs. Offering tangible advice and thoughtful insights to growing founders has helped propel the Shopify brand and foster the business as a whole.

Slack

Slack is one of the most popular messaging apps for businesses. Its goal is to connect people to the information they need and transform the way organizations communicate. Slack is typically used for sharing  content ideas and collaborating.

According to Similarweb, 94% of Slack’s visitor traffic is direct. This means that most people either visit the blog from native channels such as Slack’s desktop or mobile apps, their Twitter mobile app, or by typing in “slackhq.com.”

Slack has a great handle on its content marketing strategy. The Slack blog is designed not just as a customer acquisition channel but also as one that engages existing clients.

Need a hand? Hire a freelance content marketer

You need useful content to cultivate trust and establish credibility for your company. Don’t hold yourself back if you are unsure about where and how to get started. Connect with the globe’s top content marketers through Upwork and grow your B2B brand through content marketing success.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Grow Your Brand With B2B Content Marketing
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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