Now it’s time to fully understand how content plays a role in each phase of the marketing funnel.
It’s been noted that content marketing is currently having a huge impact in the B2B industry. For starters, 96% of B2B decision makers said they prefer to read a piece of custom content before making a purchase.
We not only want to create excellent content, but we want to understand what type of content we should be producing and the context of what phase of the marketing funnel your leads are in.
Before we start outlining how to implement a B2B content marketing strategy for your business, let’s take a second to answer this common question:
What is B2B Content Marketing?
Content can come in many forms:
- Case Studies
- Email Campaigns
The goal is to be informative to your target market. People making B2B decisions are doing so on the behalf of their entire company. This means they need the information necessary to guide them through each stage of the marketing funnel (top, middle, bottom) and buyer’s journey:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Decision Stage
Having select pieces of content for each of your B2B buyer personas at each of these stages of the marketing funnel is one thing that a content marketing strategy absolutely needs in order to be successful.
Executing on your B2B content with the highest degree of quality and consistency will allow your business to continually maximize your content marketing ROI. It will also prove vital to your businesses ability to generate more B2B leads and convert them.
Benefits of B2B Content Marketing
B2B content marketing is one of the best ways to build your business online at a far cheaper cost per click than traditional ads. On top of that, they ultimately build a larger amount of organic search traffic and your brand in the process.
But, does B2B content marketing work?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at some key B2B Content Marketing Statistics:
- 79% of B2B buyers share white papers
- 8 touch points are needed on average to convert a B2B lead
- $40 ROI on average generated from $1 in email campaigns
- 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing strategies
Now that we have an understanding of what B2B content marketing is and why it’s important, let’s examine some strategies for each stage of the marketing funnel.
5 Top of the Funnel B2B Content Marketing Strategies
Let’s start with how to use B2B content marketing at the top of the funnel. This is where we cast the widest net and try to go after the highest volume worth of leads.
1. Research Your Audience
One of the most important things to understand when it comes to marketing for your B2B audience is understanding exactly who is in your target market. This sounds simple, but it is absolutely necessary for content marketing to be effective.
The best exercise for creating high quality content for your audience is to first develop buyer personas for your audience. Once you have created your buyer personas, you will want to understand each problem, objection and question they may have about your industry, brand, or product/service.
- Research questions your audience is asking Google
- Conduct content research
- Conduct keyword research
- Find content gaps in your industry
- Create a content calendar
- Optimize your SEO
- Create custom landing pages
Taking each one of these steps will help you to optimize your customers’ experience, establishing their trust, and making them more likely to convert. Click the links above for comprehensive guides on each topic.
2. Differentiate and Focus on Niche
There is no substitute for being the best at what you do. This is essential to any company achieving monumental success. That being said, before you engage on a B2B content marketing campaign, you want to make sure that your offerings and campaign goals are niche enough in order to be successful.
Now, some companies are large enough that they can afford to be jacks of all trades, or have multiple areas of specialty under their control. For companies in this situation, or for those who have niched down their services appropriately, you want to then focus on:
- Segmenting your audiences into different campaigns
- Testing campaigns and optimizing them
- Improving your CTR on landing pages
- Maximize your retargeting efforts
Implementing each one of these tips and tricks into your B2B content marketing strategy will enable you to take the power of your content to the next level. Organizing leads into their respective categories, and bringing your leads through the marketing funnel without them even knowing it.
3. Develop Your Brand
Building a brand is one of those ethereal and illusive things that usually gets chalked up to being magic or luck of the draw, or something businesses either have or they don’t.
I refuse this definition. At the end of the day, all of the best brands on the planet do a few things the right way on a consistent basis:
- Not stressing selling until it is time
- Informing their audience through permission marketing
- Telling the story of their brand dynamically
- Differentiating themselves
- Focusing on customer needs and wants
- Consistently producing high quality content
- Has well planned out metrics and goals
Your content is an excellent way to perform each one of these steps parts of building a B2B brand. A brand is not built overnight, but over years and years. This takes commitment, consistency, and a vision.
Content is the mouthpiece between you and your clients. It translates your goals, mission, vision,values, knowledge, reputation, and more. At the end of the day if you have no reputation established about your brand, how can you expect someone to trust you enough to make a large financial commitment?
You can build your B2B brand faster by:
- Utilizing testimonials in your content
- Employing the power of video
- Using statistics in your content
- Providing your audience with unique insights
- Asking for feedback and interacting with your audience
- Focus on providing value, not making money
4. Answer Your Audience’s Questions
Have you or your sales team noticed that there are a lot of common questions among your customers?
These frequently asked questions are one of the best places to start because you already know that there’s a need for these answers and you can also be confident knowing that if your customers are having these questions then it is very likely that there are many other people asking the same things.
Answering your audience’s questions is one of the best way to build awareness through organic search traffic. This can be a long process, but in the end, that traffic can be very valuable to your business if cultivated properly.
So basically the top of the funnel content is used to teach, answer questions, provide value, spread awareness of your brand, and get people on to your website.
5. Guide Them to the Next Stage of the Funnel
Once you have informed your audience enough about your industry and product/service in order to convince them that you are a source of trust and an industry leader, now it is time to start providing more value to the people who are looking for it.
This is where more in depth content begins to come into he picture. We will go more in depth about what type of content to make for the middle of the funnel. But before we worry about what type of B2B content to make for people in our target market in the middle of the funnel, you first need to be successful at directing them there.
The idea is to get them to make an action in order to identify themselves as someone who is interested in learning more. Not only that, but to get them to give you more contact information necessary for getting them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. So how do we do this?
Really, it is not super complicated. You can start by doing things like:
- Making internal links to your other content
- Creating custom images and CTAs for your site
- Make your blog content more specific, to attract more qualified leads
- Telling your readers to perform an action
- Use popups in order to gather contact information
- Promote additional pieces of content at the end
- Link related articles
- Create free tools for your audience
- Point your audience to contact forms
5 Middle of the Funnel B2B Content Marketing Strategies
If we are assigning monetary values to our leads depending on where they are in our marketing funnel, then those in the middle part of our funnel are much more valuable to our business than those at the top of our marketing funnel.
There is a few reasons and some are pretty self-explanatory. The main use of our top of the funnel content is to really capture a lead, but the way to turn that lead into our sales qualified lead and potential customer is by moving them down our funnel.
In the middle of the marketing funnel, your lead already knows your brand, and has already shown that they are interested in a topic of your industry. Now it is time to start showing them why your company would be a great direction for them to go in to fulfill their needs.
1. Create More in Depth Content
In the middle of the funnel, people are now screening your business to see if they are the right solution for their problems. This means that they likely expect more information to help them determine that your service or product is right for them. In order to portray the value that your brand brings, you must create content with more depth.
The best types of B2B content for the middle of the funnel are:
- Instructional videos
- Landing pages
- Email newsletters
When creating each of these types of content, you need to make sure that your subject matter is very clear and concise, less broad. This type of B2B content needs to be aligned with the EXACT NEEDS of each potential buyer. This is another reason why creating B2B buyer personas is very important.
You need your customer to feel like you are addressing them personally, and that you crafted this solution directly for their needs. This means outlining a very comprehensive piece of content in order to not miss a thing. The goal of this is to establish your brand as industry leaders, and remove any doubt about it being the best solution – while remaining non-sales oriented.
2. Segment Your Audience
Middle of the funnel content is where you really want to begin segmenting your audience in order to make sure that each type of potential B2B customer is accounted for with custom content.
Each buyer persona should have their very own B2B content marketing campaign, with different pieces of content outlined for each of their questions, objections and needs.
You should also outline custom landing pages for each buyer persona. This will allow you to capitalize on your leads by driving them to a page that is specifically designed to convert them into a client based on what they are struggling with.
3. Deploy Your Content on the Best B2B Platforms
It is essential to remember that every B2B content marketing strategy should have some paid advertising incorporated with it. There are various platforms out there that are great for B2B, but LinkedIn is by far the most effective, with Twitter being a close second.
It’s important to understand just how important LinkedIn is for B2B marketers, that’s why we wrote this guide. We can’t cram it all in this section, so here is one of the most important facts to absorb:
In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. Twitter ranks second, generating just under 13% of B2B leads.
YouTube is also growing in B2B importance, with 73% of marketers reporting using YouTube in their B2B marketing campaigns.
YouTube is also it’s entirely own subject when it comes to content marketing, which is why we created this comprehensive guide to ranking on YouTube.
By creating paid campaigns on these platforms rather than Google AdWords, you are allowed to focus more on the content of your site. While AdWords is still important, more often than not, CPC in B2B is too expensive, and even for the most effective companies has a very low conversion rate.
The goal of B2B content marketing is to be more effective while building a long term brand image and organic search traffic. So how do you do this?
- Distribute specific campaigns for each buyer persona
- Monitor results and report them
- Test feedback from customers
- Sync your social media with your marketing goals
4. Test Your Campaigns Rigorously
Once your content is created and your B2B content marketing campaigns are in place, it’s time to start monitoring your results. Try to answer questions like:
- How well is each campaign performing?
- Which pages are receiving the most traffic?
- What can we change to drive more conversions?
- Which campaigns are performing the worst?
- Which ones have a high bounce rate
- Which ones have a high exit rate?
- Which ones have a high dwell time?
- Which ones have driven desired actions?
- Why are people not clicking, not converting, or leaving?
The best ways to analyze these questions is to use the power of Google Analytics for your content marketing campaigns. We have a whole guide on it here.
Basically, within the first few days of your campaigns, you want to identify which ones are performing the best, and worst, then ditch the bad ones and optimize the best ones.
This means testing EVERYTHING from title to description to images to ad copy once they arrive, targeting etc… Just make sure you don’t go overboard. Try to focus on a few metrics at a time and run a few mostly similar campaigns with slight differences to really dial in your effectiveness.
5. Retarget Your Audience
No matter how much you tweak your campaigns, there are going to be some people who are just genuinely not interested in your services, or in a solution at all. This is not always a bad thing, and a certain amount of this is always to be expected, even if you were selling water.
But, the important thing is to make absolutely sure they are not interested in your services. It doesn’t hurt to ask right?
Studies show that it takes an average of 8 touch points before a B2B buyer makes a decision. So if you are only touching with someone in your audience one time, how can you ever realistically expect to convert them?
So, you want to begin retargeting campaigns by using the power of cookies through Google or Facebook when people arrive on your website. This allows you to suggest more content to them on sites they visit, much like what happens to everyone in heir web browsing experience.
Your goals with retargeting campaigns should be:
- Get people to return to your site for a second time
- Establish more brand awareness and trust
- Provide people with information that can help them make a buying decision
- Get people who return to take a desired action
The content you want to focus on in your retargeting campaigns should mostly be conversion driven, focusing on providing more in depth information through the types of content we showed above. Often times, one of the best ways to get people to give you contact information is to require an email before they can read your middle of the funnel B2B content.
Once you have brought people back to your site, you want to be guiding them towards conversions – the bottom of the funnel.
5 Bottom of the Funnel B2B Content Marketing Strategies
Here we are, the bottom of the funnel, trying to turn our leads from our B2B content marketing into paying clients. So now what?
1. Email Marketing
This is where email marketing starts to come in to play, either by capturing their email or already having it and starting to send the correct type of content via email to these potential leads.
So how do use content in the middle of the marketing funnel?
This is where you do a little bit of selling, but you’re not trying to sell your product yet you are selling your business and why they should choose you.
A great way to do this is by showing off things like your industry knowledge, case studies, and testimonials.
2. Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader
To start with industry knowledge you really want to be giving them the impression that they are making the right decision working with you because you are a master in your field.
You can use things such as data sheets, white papers, or continue using any of the platforms we talked about earlier but the content will just be slightly tweaked.
When you use a case study it really shows off your industry experience and expertise.
You can have a relevant example of exactly where your lead is showing them how you have helped take someone from where they are to where they want to be.
Case Studies Are a great way to show a lead that you can help get them from where they are to where they want to be.
Now to probably the most important one that goes along with case studies.
3. Use Testimonials to Your Advantage
People trust other people online. Way more so than they trust businesses. Right out of the gate, you are at a disadvantage because you are selling something online.
Yes the Internet is now a mature platform, but there are still those people online who have a hard time trusting innately. One way that we can counter this is the use of testimonials.
This shows a lead a real human just was working with our business and getting excellent results. Testimonials and reviews continue to gain traction as one of the most important things to your business online or in person.
In fact, testimonials used on landing pages have been shown to improve conversion rates by more than 300% in some cases, and regularly improve conversions by well over 80% on average.
It’s all about gaining the trust of the customer. And what better way than by showing that you have produced great work with someone else just like them?
Receiving testimonials needs to be an ongoing process for your business. You always want to be asking customers to rate and review your service or product when they’re done with the purchase.
This gives you a lot of credibility. Often times it’s as easy as just asking. If you really did give excellent service or provided a great product, your customers will have no hesitation leaving you a great review or testimonial. These can be absolutely crucial for your company so please keep asking.
4. Offer Free Trials
This is where you want to be giving free trials if that is something your company offers.
This is where you want to meet with your leads if it’s that type of business. Basically here is where you have the context, you know what your leads are looking for and you’re helping them to make a purchase.
If you look at our site, you will notice a lot of call to action buttons that offer free consultations.
That is an excellent tactic to use at the bottom of the funnel. What we do during a free consultation has some great benefits to the lead and also to our business.
5. Include Personalized Assistance
We not only get to make a more personal connection by either having a phone call discussing their needs, but this is where we start to show our value and our industry expertise.
I will get on the phone with a potential client and usually give them a quick breakdown of their needs for working with a content marketing agency and will give them a couple options of how to fix this.
This shows that we take the time to be personal with them and also that we are capable of helping. Another great tool, if you have the type of business that offers it, is a free trial.
This can give the lead a great understanding of your product or service and they can test it out for themselves to see if it’s something that they want to purchase.
People that have gone through a free trial of your service are the warmest leads you can get. Some people have a philosophy against free trials, but I just see them as an excellent tool to getting more warm leads.
B2B Content Marketing – Wrapping it Up
Well, you now know about how to use content marketing for B2B sales to guide your leads through every section of the marketing funnel and stage of the buyer’s journey.
If you take away anything from this article, make sure that you implement these techniques into your B2B content marketing strategy:
- Focus on quality and value
- Research is key
- Answer audience questions
- Use content to build awareness, traffic, and trust
- Segment your audiences
- Create custom content with specific goals
- Monitor and modify your content marketing campaigns
- Run retargeting campaigns
If you focus on implementing each of these tactics into your B2B content marketing strategy, you will become more successful and boost your conversion rates along with other key metrics.
For those of you who are looking for additional help with B2B content marketing, give us a call. We offer free consultations for our clients at your convenience.
Our call will focus on your needs and marketing goals, helping us learn more about your business, and helping you learn more about where you can begin providing value to your clients.
Click the link below to schedule a free content marketing consultation with one of our founders.