How to create B2B content your customers will care about
Most B2B content falls flat when it comes to engagement and/or conversions. According to Content Marketing Institute‘s report, only 25% of B2B marketers rate their company’s content marketing efforts as an overall success. The vast majority (58%) consider it “somewhat successful” while a not-so-small minority (16%) think it was either minimally or not successful at all. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
Marti Sanchez on LinkedIn claims that B2B content is boring. And I think he has a point. If you compare B2B content, even the most successful pieces, to some B2C examples such as Burger King’s social media posts, it really seems dull. But that’s just a piece of the puzzle.
There are many ways in which B2B content can be improved and because the bar is set so low, companies that make their content more engaging to the target audience can easily stand out and become a favorite resource for professionals in a certain industry.
Start with the Buyer Personas
If you’re creating content for everybody, then you’re actually creating content for nobody. In other words, if your content is not specifically crafted for a particular type of prospect, it will most likely be generic, bland, and boring. Many B2B brands are doing exactly that because it’s easier to do so.
The best way to counteract this tendency is to define your buyer persona before you create your first piece of content. A buyer persona is outlined in an ideal client profile (I.C.P). An I.C.P defines key attributes of your decision-maker such as industry and department problems, where they spend their time online, organizations they frequent, decision maker titles and pain points, etc.
In some cases, you will need more than one I.C.P. If your business offers different services to various industries or departments, you can diversify your content based on each industry or department that you serve. Deloitte does this exceptionally well with Deloitte Insights where you can find blog posts, podcasts, and videos on different topics targeted at the number of industries they serve.
Your I.C.P sets the foundation for all marketing efforts but especially your content. It will tell you what medium to use, what topics you should focus on, and much more. Check out this free course that shows you how to craft your I.C.P in a few easy steps.
Include video and audio content in your strategy
In a 2021 report by Content Marketing Institute, social media posts, blog posts, and email newsletters were the top 3 types of content among B2B marketers. Each of these relies heavily upon words to convey the information. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Almost anyone can write an article or an email.
However, because almost anyone can do it, the competition is enormous and it’s hard to stand out. Every month, more than 70 million blog posts are published on WordPress only. (WordPress, 2020)
At the same time, 45% of Americans have listened to a podcast while driving a car (Edison Research, 2020), and many of them are professionals – managers and executives – the target audience of many B2B marketers.
If you think that starting a podcast is much harder than writing a blog, check out this detailed breakdown by Right Source in which their team shares the ins and outs of running a B2B podcast. According to them, it can be fun (and profitable.)
Video, on the other hand, can provide even more opportunities to engage your customers and generate a positive ROI. In a 2020 survey by Wyzowl, 96% of respondents said they were enticed to learn more about the product or service after watching an explainer video while 86% of them shared they want to see more videos from brands in the future. (Wyzowl, 2019)
HubSpot’s YouTube channel is a great example of B2B video marketing done the right way – engaging, informational, simple, and to the point.
Provide social proof
One of the areas where B2B content marketing is lagging behind B2C is social proof.
Sure, you will find testimonials and reviews on many B2B websites, but that’s already standard practice in 2020. Brands that want to stand out and be memorable should take this a step further.
Accenture found in 2018 that 51% of B2B customers are using social media to do their initial research (Accenture, 2018) which makes a great opportunity to provide social proof to them in creative, non-formal ways.
Mailchimp does a great job featuring various users on their Instagram profile. They show how other users are having success with their marketing automation platform and imply that you can have it, too.
If you want to create content that customers care about, injecting a bit of personality can come a long way. In the words of Marti Sanchez: “There’s no better way to make your B2B brand human than having a human share it. No one cares about the faceless entity your company is.”
However, you shouldn’t cross the line between professionalism and exhibitionism. The goal is to make your company more easily recognizable and your content more interesting, not to become an actual celebrity.
For example, instead of writing blog posts under the impersonal handle such as “Company’s team”, you can write it under your own name. You can be the podcast host, talking head in the video, or you can just share the company’s blog on your personal LinkedIn profile with a short message to your audience.
Here are some examples of successful personal brands in the B2B sector to draw inspiration from:
● Lily Zheng – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategist
● Casey Graham – CEO of Gravy
● Andy Raskin – Strategic Narrative Advisor
● Deborrah Ashley – LinkedIn Strategy Advisor
Above all – be useful
The common denominator of all successful B2B content marketing strategies and tactics is their usefulness. Every piece of content you put out must connect, solve a problem or teach your audience. This is why I created a content methodology called the C.H.E.S.T method that helps B2B companies craft intentional content specific to their audiences.
To achieve that, you must be focused on your customers instead of your product. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about the product, it just means that the product should only be mentioned in relation to the question you’re answering or the issue you’re helping to deal with.
Ahrefs, an SEO tools provider, knows how to balance between usefulness and promotion on their blog. In every post or video they publish, they give enough details to be useful while also plugging in their software here and there to highlight different ways it can help save time or increase efficiency in SEO tasks. And they don’t avoid humor either.
Because the B2B buyer has evolved, you as a company should evolve as well. Your content should embody who you are as a company and what value you deliver all while keeping in mind that you are speaking to a human being first and a decision maker second.
Davis Professional Services helps clients develop an integrated, data-focused, people-driven approach to B2B Marketing. We help you identify and build your B2B client profile, uncover your ideal client’s core problems, and translate how your solutions create the transformation your ideal clients desire.