With more and more business revenue driven by leads that are generated online, the focus on B2B content creation has intensified. Smart companies realize that relevant, useful information draws potential customers into the sales funnel.
While content creation for consumers—B2C—might garner more attention in the marketplace, a strong B2B content creation strategy can produce quantifiable, bottom-line results for B2B businesses as well. More than just snackable content designed to engage for a few minutes and drive a quick consumer purchase, B2B content is based on strategic initiatives. It needs to attract, engage, and most importantly, generate quality leads. By building trust and helping prospects, great B2B content moves potential buyers further along the sales funnel.
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Differences Between B2B Content and B2C Content
Before we dive into B2B content, let’s talk about three ways it’s different from typical B2C content.
B2C purchase decisions are typically driven by emotion. When it’s B2C content, you want to connect with buyers on an emotional level—make them feel good about your brand and the qualities it imbues. With B2B content, you need to start by developing content that establishes trust with potential customers. The stakes are higher in B2B—purchase decisions typically involve multiple people, and are often long-term contracts.
B2B buyers want to see the ROI of your product or service. When a consumer chooses one brand of toothpaste over another, they probably don’t view it as an investment they plan to evaluate. So B2C content can have an informal voice. In contrast, B2B content needs to start the process of convincing a potential customer that the product or service will create cost savings or efficiencies that will help them grow revenue. A solid B2B content strategy will use logic and data to sway the decision-makers.
B2B content needs detail. Most of the daily decisions we make as consumers are not based on deep, investigative research. But details matter when a business is considering a product or service—they increase the confidence of the buyer. Quality content should establish you as an authority, so information needs to be valuable, pertinent, and useful. Use relevant statistics and draw on real-world examples. Engaging content isn’t focused on creating basic awareness or prompting someone to do something as simple as clicking to make a purchase—it’s building confidence in you, your services, or your products that will lead to outreach and a sale. Getting this right is a special skill set. Remember many of your readers will be experts in their own right, so your content needs to speak to them.
Benefits of a B2B Content Strategy
Maybe you’re not convinced that a B2B content strategy will really move the sales needle for your company. Wondering how an investment in high quality content will make a difference is a valid concern.
The reality is that all kinds of companies are currently using B2B content successfully. Done well, it provides quantifiable ROI. Whether it’s through blog posts, social media, white papers, user-generated content, or any of the other avenues that are available to B2B marketers, the right content marketing strategy delivers results. A critical piece is providing intelligent, well-researched material. Remember that people who are deeply involved in an industry, especially those who are empowered to make purchase decisions, have a great deal of knowledge already. They are experts already, and they’ll have little patience for B2B content that is thin or just scratches the surface of a topic.
What are the main benefits of a B2B content strategy?
More qualified leads. Content creation for B2B brands can drive customers to your website at the key moment in their decision-making process. Specifically, they’ll land there after an internet search, where they have entered a specific query, provided your content is optimized for search. When your products or services match up with their needs, and you have B2B content that establishes your authority, you have a customer who is far more likely to buy from you.
A premium spot in a competitive marketplace. With effective B2B content that establishes thought leadership, you can create a presence outline that outstrips even larger competitors. Work with writers who understand the principles of SEO, and your content will rank higher in search queries. Which, of course, means that a potential customer is more likely to reach out to you first.
Enhanced brand image. It no longer requires a multi-million dollar traditional advertising campaign to create good feelings about a brand, and you don’t need to allocate a big chunk of your marketing budget for paid search to build awareness. Detail-oriented, educational B2B content that reaches your target audience at the moment they’re searching for your products or services imbues your company with positive attributes. When you produce valuable B2B content on a consistent basis, current and potential customers are more likely to only work with you but also tell their friends and colleagues about your company.
Enables the sales team. When the right content is created for a B2B brand, it also helps educate and empower salespeople. It provides them with material they can use to navigate a potential buyer through the process and turn them into a customer, and reinforces the pain points that are likely for the prospect.
Content marketing is affordable, and when done well, more effective—according to some studies, B2B content marketing generates three times as many leads as paid search.
Quality content matters for B2B marketers
Still not convinced that investing time and resources in B2B content creation is worth it?
Well, a quick browse of the internet will show you just how much is out there—blog posts, visual content, landing pages, webinars, and more. And that endless supply has raised expectations, so your customers and potential customers now expect high quality content. If your target audience visits your website and doesn’t see fresh, informative material, it sets off alarms. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and you’ll appear less capable than your competitors. It’s important to deliver factual, well-researched content that will establish you as an authority.
In fact, 47% of the people making B2B purchases will look at three to five pieces of content before they engage with a salesperson for the first time.
What’s more, the same purchase patterns that have emerged for consumers are relevant in B2B—just like the person figuring out which flat screen TV to buy, the team that is buying for a company will conduct extensive online research before making a decision. According to the Content Marketing Institute, this happens nearly 50% of the time. In the year ahead, it’s likely that content marketing statistics will reveal that number is growing, as millennials and Gen Z move up the ranks and become the key decision-makers at more and more companies.
Tips for Creating B2B Content
Once you commit to creating content for a B2B audience, how do you ensure that it’s a valuable part of your overall marketing strategy? How do you create content that delivers ROI? What kinds of content will drive lead generation?
Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, developing quality content takes creativity, attention to detail, and consistency. For every company that does it well, there are scores that flounder or just muddle along without seeing an impact. If you want to be a part of the former group and develop B2B content that really works, here are some tips:
Tell good stories. Not fibs or half-truths, but relevant information delivered in a human way. When embarking on a B2B content marketing strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of filling everything with industry jargon or buzzwords in an attempt to sound like your idea of an industry professional. Don’t go overboard on the lingo—keep your content clear and easy to understand. Think about the best storytellers you’ve met in your life. Have they been the people who seem intent on demonstrating how intelligent they are? Or the ones who engaged you throughout a tale with wit, relevance, or imagination?
Target buyer personas. As much as possible, think about B2B content like a one-on-one conversation instead of a presentation in a massive lecture hall. Before you create a piece of content—whether it’s a blog article, a webinar, a LinkedIn post, a video—decide who you’re hoping to reach. Your buyer persona shouldn’t be an audience so narrow that it’s not useful, but recognizing different kinds of customers will help you craft B2B content that connects with purchasers at the key point in their decision-making process. To help define your target audiences, account-based marketing can be an effective way to create messages that resonate with the people receiving them.
Don’t just write it. Use your words is good advice for your preschooler, but quality B2B content builds on great copy with other attention-grabbing elements. Use infographics to reinforce key points, build a subscriber list and use email marketing to let people know when new content is available, and foster user-generated content to augment your own material. If you have a great article, don’t be afraid to promote it months later with a press release, an attention-getting LinkedIn post, or a message on another social media platform. You can also take quality content and repurpose it for other channels. Ben Culpin, Content Marketer at Wakeupdata, says, “The strategy that has worked best for us is clustering content for SEO and then repurposing certain content for different formats and channels. As an example, a client case in which we increased Google Shopping conversions worked pretty well as a blog article. However, once we used the same case in a YouTube video, an infographic, a newsletter, and a podcast discussion,, we saw traffic to the original article increase by 160% in a month, while signups to a downloadable ebook from the page rose by 83%. Since then, organic traffic to the article has increased by around 7% month-over-month, so it’s a strategy that yields results in the long-term too.
The right content at the right time. What kind of content will resonate with a prospect at different phases of the sales funnel? A first-time visitor to your site is likely to examine the features of your product or service, and engage with some of the articles—your tone and voice need to establish both personality and authority. But few B2B decision-makers are going to make a decision based on a quick scan of your site. Can you capture their email and follow up with a white paper that may be especially relevant to them? After a salesperson takes them through a demo, can you share some visual content? Consider filming testimonials of some current customers and creating short videos you can share—these can help your buyer communicate your value to other key constituents in the company. Reach out to the prospect through your social media channels attention to those will ensure they see bite-sized reminders about your company. Andrew DeBell, co-founder of Water Bear Learning, relies on LinkedIn, “…because that is where most of our best B2B leads are and is the best opportunity for us to get eyes on our brand.”
Build the right team. If you run a small to mid-sized business and have an entrepreneurial mindset, it’s easy to think that you can handle B2B content creation on your own. The reality is that running your operation will always take precedent, and your content marketing efforts will be pushed lower on the priority list. Whether you staff a group yourself or rely on a content marketing services company, it’s a mistake to take on the task of creating B2B content without any help.
Put yourself on a path to better B2B content creation.
There’s not one, clear path to creating quality content that works for your company. It’s an ongoing process—companies need to consistently provide information that clients and prospects find valuable and moves them closer to a purchase decision.
Use data-driven marketing research to help you measure the effectiveness of your content. Use SEO tools like Google Analytics to find out what content performs well and what fails to gain traction. Google Search Console will help you find keywords that can drive quality content. Olga Mykhoparkinam, Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty, notes, “The majority of the content we create is for B2B audience and it has a strong focus on SEO. Before creating a piece of content, we do keyword research to see what the content needs to be optimized for. For example, our top-performing post is one about Slack alternatives, which targets this very keyword. This article alone brings us more than 100 new users every month. The purpose of the article is to present the reader with an overview of Slack alternatives and present us as the best choice. It works incredibly well and articles like these are the main reason we now have over 10,000 active users and more than 50,000 website visitors every month.”
Remain open to fresh thinking—you just might find your target audience reacts really well to long-form articles when you figured they would be more likely to embrace webinars and visual content. Reach out to your customers and have conversations to help you identify areas that interest them. Connect with your sales team to find out what prospects consistently identify as pain points. Keep up with the topics covered in your trade journals to see if there is material you can build upon and make especially relevant to your products or services.
Yes, B2B content creation is an investment of valuable time and resources. But done well and consistently, it pays off.