How to create a successful B2B content marketing strategy

6 November 2023
13 minutes

In short

67% of B2B buyer journeys begin online. This means it’s essential for B2B brands to engage potential customers through a strong content marketing strategy. Content marketing creates touchpoints with potential and existing B2B clients, enabling you to attract more visitors to your brand’s website. B2B content marketers rely on content to achieve many important goals, including building their brand’s visibility online, generating high-quality leads and boosting conversion.

There are some unique characteristics that make B2B content challenging. These include longer sales cycles, niche audiences, tight budgets and complex products. To overcome these challenges, over 84% of B2B marketers outsource content creation to experienced, professional content creators. Finding the right content creation partner is a key factor for B2B content marketing success.

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As a B2B marketer, you face some unique challenges compared to your B2C counterparts. But in our experience, one thing is clear: content marketing is just as important for B2B marketing as it is for B2C – and maybe even more so.

In fact, 71% of B2B marketers say content marketing is growing in importance for them, and the average B2B marketer devotes 25 to 30% of their budget to content creation.

While most B2B marketers agree that content marketing is one of the most powerful tools at their disposal, there are a lot of questions about how to put a successful B2B content marketing strategy in place.

We’re here to set the record straight with this helpful guide. It gives you a recap of all the most important terminology and concepts related to B2B content marketing. Plus, we’ll walk you through setting up your own flexible yet effective B2B content marketing strategy one step at a time.

Infographic of content marketers saying how important content marketing is for them

What is B2B content marketing?

Let’s start with a clear definition: B2B content marketing is a marketing tactic that involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, easily findable content with the aim of attracting, engaging and converting potential business prospects.

Since 67% of B2B buyer journeys begin with an online search, the brands who attract the most attention are the ones who have the best, easiest-to-find online content.

Just like with B2C content marketing, B2B content marketing can be used to achieve many different goals, such as:

  • Establishing your brand’s authority as an expert in your field or market.
  • Building trust among potential customers.
  • Raising awareness of your brand (for example, by making your brand more visible through SEO content).
  • Driving conversion and sales.

Yet B2B content marketing has some unique characteristics that makes it distinct from B2C. Here are some of the main differences – and challenges. Do any of them sound familiar to you?

  • Longer sales cycles: The average amount of time it takes to close a B2B sale across all industries is 2.1 months. Compare that to a B2C sales cycle, which is often impulse-driven and lasts as little as a few minutes.
  • Complex buyer journeys: Because of those longer sales cycles, the B2B buyer journey is more complex. That’s why B2B content marketers usually break down their buyer journey into multiple stages, especially the awareness – consideration – conversion stages, but often including after-sales stages like engagement and advocacy. Your content has to be tailored to buyers at each of those stages in order to truly foster meaningful relationships.
  • Different buyer priorities: B2B buyers are spending their company’s money (with the exception of self-employed or family business owners). This means they have different priorities, pain points and motivators when it comes to cost. Cost-related messaging is generally less emotionalised in B2B content marketing and more focused on fact-driven risk-benefit analysis.
  • Complex, abstract products: B2B products and services are often designed to solve complex business problems. This means they are often highly technical and may be difficult to explain in a nutshell. It takes in-depth knowledge and excellent storytelling skills to bring complex, abstract products like these to life for your target audiences.
  • Smaller niches: Unlike B2C products which often target mass markets, B2B products often target very specific markets and work in highly specialised use cases. You need real insider expertise if you want your content to appeal to buyers in your niche market.
  • Limited resources: B2B brands generally devote a much smaller budget to marketing than B2C brands. According to Hubspot, B2B product-driven brands spend around 8% of their revenue on marketing, compared to around 15% for B2C product-driven brands. This means B2B content marketers often have to achieve “more with less.”

All these unique characteristics of B2B content marketing make it increasingly important to have a strong content marketing strategy in place. With the right strategy, you reduce complexity, streamline your processes and keep your costs under control. We’ll explore this in greater length below.

a picture of a person that think about the benefits of B2B content marketing

The benefits of B2B content marketing

Despite the challenges mentioned above, most B2B marketers still agree that content marketing is well worth the effort. It’s a proven method for achieving many key marketing goals, including these:

Infographic about the online buyer journey in B2B marketing

Enhanced brand visibility

Strategic B2B content marketing (including SEO) makes it much easier to find your brand online. By consistently publishing valuable content, you position your brand as a credible source of information, which leads to greater recognition among your target audience.

Lead generation and conversion

One of the primary goals of B2B content marketing is to generate leads. By offering content that addresses the pain points and interests of your target audience, you can attract potential clients, nurturing them through the buyer journey.

Thought leadership

Thought leadership is a powerful aspect of B2B content marketing. When your content showcases expertise, original insights and innovative solutions, it establishes your brand as a trusted authority.

Strengthening client relationships

The best B2B content marketing goes beyond acquisition. It also focuses on client retention and relationship building. Regular, high-quality content keeps your clients engaged and reinforces their trust in your brand.

Increasing organic traffic

Quality content also drives organic traffic to your website. By creating SEO content that focuses on relevant keywords and topics, you improve your website’s search engine ranking, leading to increased traffic and ultimately more potential leads.

Build a B2B content marketing strategy in 7 steps

Now that we’ve covered the basics of B2B content marketing, let’s take a closer look at how to create a successful B2B content marketing strategy.

In our experience of working with experienced marketing partners at some of the world’s fastest-growing brands, we’ve found that this 7-step approach provides a firm foundation for building an effective strategy:

a photo of a person that survey an audience to build a B2B content marketing strategy

Step 1: Always start with your audience

It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many marketers overlook their audiences’ needs and preferences. Sometimes it’s tempting to stick to a specific line of messaging or a content format, just because it’s familiar, fast or easy to create. But the only way to really succeed with your content is to align it fully with your audience.

Here are 3 vital audience research tools that we always recommend when trying to figure out who your audience is and what’s on their mind:

  • Buyer personas: Detailed buyer personas help you visualise your target audience. To create your own effective buyer personas, follow the recommendations in Contentoo’s ultimate guide to buyer personas.
  • Data analytics tools: Your data never lies, but you might be reading it all wrong unless you have effective analytics tools. Use trusted tools like Google Analytics and SEMRush to collect data about your audiences’ behaviours, interests and preferences.
  • Surveys and questionnaires: If you want to know something about your audience, it can never hurt to simply ask them directly. Engage your existing audience with surveys and questionnaires to learn valuable information about their needs and expectations.

Step 2: Select the right content formats and channels

Once you have a clear view of what your audience needs, choose content formats and channels that align with their preferences and online habits.

B2B audiences often have a much longer attention span than B2C, which means it’s usually worthwhile to incorporate long-form text and detailed articles into your content mix. It’s also useful to cover important topics from multiple angles, because research shows that the average B2B buyer consults 3 to 7 pieces of content before making a purchase decision.

Here are the most common content types and channels used in B2B marketing:

Blog posts

Informative articles are a cornerstone for engaging your audience. In fact, 77% of content marketing experts we recently surveyed said their blog is their top content marketing channel.

Why blogging? The experts we spoke to say regularly publishing short pieces of content brings many key advantages, including:

  • Direct ownership of your message.
  • Showcasing your thought leadership and expertise.
  • Full control of your brand image.
  • The ability to compete for keyword rankings.

In addition, your blog can serve as a resource to many different types of reader. This means you can create posts or campaigns that cater to buyers at different stages of their journey.

Research or survey reports

Data-driven insights bolster your brand’s credibility and authority, especially if you have conducted original market research. B2B buyers prefer to do business with brands who have a clear point of view on topics that matter to the market.

Whitepapers

In-depth reports also reinforce your brand’s role as a thought leader. Many B2B buyers are interested in learning new insights that can help them do their jobs better. Whitepapers are an ideal format for sharing valuable, detailed information like that.

Case studies

Real-life examples of your successes can build trust and inspire confidence in your audience. Case studies (also known as use cases or customer success stories) are also a perfect way to shine a spotlight on your customers. Be sure to focus on their story first and foremost, and then demonstrate how your product or solution contributed to their success.

Videos

Visual content is highly engaging and enables you to break down complex topics more easily. While video production used to be out-of-budget for many smaller brands, today’s audiences are accustomed to simple video formats that can be produced on virtually any budget. A quick, informal tutorial video, such as a narrated screen recording, or a 10-second behind-the-scenes video posted on social media can be great ways to boost engagement.

Infographics

Visual representations make facts and data easier to understand and remember. Plus, they’re very likeable and shareable on social media. When presenting factual data, think of ways to present it visually as an infographic. Better yet, work with a professional graphic designer to create eye-catching visuals that audiences will love to engage with.

Social media content

Social media content is more of a “channel” than a content “type”. You can post virtually any type of content on social media, whether it’s a quick announcement, a short video, an infographic or a link to your latest blog post. The beauty of social media content is that it is concise, fast and easy to publish and likely to appear in front of your audience members in a location where they already spend lots of their time online.

Another great option for B2B social media content in particular is to “curate” content. This means you write a post (usually on a business-focused platform like LinkedIn or X) in which you comment on a piece of content created by someone else. For example, you might post about a popular article, video or TED Talk that’s recently come out in your industry. Be sure to state your brand’s unique point of view on the topic and say why you agree or disagree.

This type of content contributes to your brand’s thought leadership. Plus, it’s a low-cost yet engaging alternative to creating all-new original content.

Webinars

Live or online events are a powerful B2B content marketing tool, especially for lead generation (signups). The key is to offer something that people will genuinely want to attend. This is another area where it helps to know your audience and what’s likely to excite them.

Podcasts

Podcasts are also hugely popular among B2B content marketers, especially in the last few years. They’re relatively cheap and easy to produce, and can be highly engaging as long as you’re able to choose topics and guests who really interest your audience.

Step 3: Watch what your competitors are doing

Next, it’s time to analyse your competitors’ content. This helps you determine how to position your brand’s content so that it stands out from what’s already out there. Here’s what to do:

  • Content analysis: Examine the types of content your competitors are producing and the topics they’re covering. Gaps in their content can present you with a great opportunity to compete.
  • SEO strategies: Analyse their SEO tactics to see which keywords they target and how they rank in search engines. Are they missing any keywords?
  • Social media presence: Evaluate their social media activity to see where they are most active and what type of content gets the most engagement.
  • Backlink profiles: Check their backlinks to understand their link-building strategies and find opportunities to acquire high-quality backlinks.
a photo of a group of people having a discussion to pick the best topics to build a successful B2B content strategy

Step 4: Pick the best topics

Relevant topics are the key to any successful B2B content strategy. Finding topics that resonate with your audience is crucial. Here are some places to start:

  • Keyword research tools: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Ahrefs to identify relevant keywords and topics in your niche.
  • Social media trends: Monitor social media trends and conversations to discover what topics resonate with your target audience.
  • Audience surveys: Directly ask your audience about the topics they’re interested in through surveys or social media polls.
  • Competitor content: Analyse your competitors’ content to see which topics are working for them. Just remember to avoid copying content. Always look for ways to put an original spin on any topic.

Step 5: Create an effective content creation workflow

Next, you’ll need to establish a realistic, manageable workflow for creating and publishing your B2B content. Here are some key components to incorporate into your process:

  • Content calendar: Create a content calendar that outlines what content will be created, who is responsible and when it will be published.
  • Content creation workflows: Define clear workflows that include research, writing, editing and publishing.
  • Content distribution plan: Develop a plan for how and where your content will be distributed, whether through email, social media or other channels.
  • Automation tools: Implement automation tools for tasks like social media posting and email marketing to save time and maintain consistency.

Step 6: Set KPIs

Effective measurement is essential to gauge the success of your content marketing efforts. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) helps you see what’s working and what needs improvement. Here are some of the main KPIs that B2B content marketers monitor to determine the success of a specific piece of content or campaign:

  • Website traffic.
  • Conversion.
  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Social media engagement (Metrics such as likes, shares, comments and click-throughs)
  • Email open and click rates.
  • SEO performance (platforms like Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs provide insights into your website’s search engine rankings and keyword performance).
  • Lead attribution (tools like HubSpot and Google Attribution offer comprehensive analytics to identify how many leads your content is actually generating).

Step 7: Follow best practices to ensure success

Now that you’ve got a strong, audience-focused B2B content strategy in place, you’re ready to start rolling out your content. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of successful B2B content marketing campaigns. Here are some of the best practices behind those campaigns:

Always use at least 2 channels for every asset

Any time you publish a new piece of content, be sure to promote it via as many channels as possible. No matter what, if you publish a new blog post, article or video on your website, always promote that by posting about it on your social media channels.

Use categories and filters on your blog

Organise your blog content into categories and offer search filters to make it more accessible and user-friendly. This helps your audience find the content that’s most relevant to them.

Make SEO a top priority – and do it the right way

Findability is the key to B2B content marketing success, and that means always optimising your content for search engines. But remember that SEO should be about ensuring that your content finds its way to the right audience. If you’re just stuffing keywords and using clickbait tactics to attract traffic, you’re not doing yourself any favours in the long run. Focus instead on high-quality, user-focused content that really adds value for the people you’re trying to reach.

Measure your ROI and keep optimising

As marketing attribution tools become more and more sophisticated, it’s becoming increasingly easy to track the performance and ROI of your content. Monitor what’s working. Learn from your successes and mistakes. And constantly be optimising your content, as well as your overall strategy.

Refresh and repurpose your existing content

Some leading content marketers devote up to 80% of their content marketing activity to repurposing and refreshing existing content. This is a smart way to extend the lifespan of your content and achieve an even higher ROI.

Work only with experienced, professional content creators

Content marketing is often too much work to handle on your own. That’s why at least 84% of B2B marketers say they rely on external partners to help with their content creation and content marketing strategy.

Contentoo has years of experience as a content creation and strategy partner to hundreds of leading B2B brands. Below, we want to share some of what we’ve learned along the way, so you can make better choices about how to implement your own B2B content marketing strategy

In-house vs. outsourcing content creation

As mentioned above, the vast majority of B2B marketers choose to outsource some or all of their content creation to external partners. There are many benefits to outsourcing your content creation:

  • Cost-effective: It’s cheaper to work on a project basis with freelance content creators, agencies or platforms instead of hiring full-time content creators.
  • Faster: External content creators can devote their full attention to creating your content on time.
  • Higher-quality content: Experienced, professional content creators know how to create engaging SEO content.
  • Access to better tools: Professional content creators have access to the latest tools, including generative AI and SEO tools, that ensure higher-quality content.

Yet there are also some risks to outsourcing your content creation:

  • Lack of transparency and control: Many content agencies use untransparent processes and prevent you from having direct interaction with your content creators.
  • Brand safety: External content creators do not have direct knowledge of your brand, so they may struggle to create content in your brand’s unique tone of voice.
  • Lack of niche expertise: It may be hard to find content creators who are experienced in your industry.

Choosing the right partner for your B2B content marketing strategy

If you’re like most B2B content marketers, you’ll probably choose to outsource at least some of your content creation. Here are a few reasons why we believe our approach makes us the best choice for your B2B content creation partner:

  • Contentoo’s platform was built to give content marketers all the benefits of outsourcing their content creation while minimising the risks.
  • We offer transparent, predictable pricing and ensure fast, on-time delivery.
  • We connect our clients with experienced content creators who have a proven track record of excellence in their industry.
  • Our content creators offer the specialised, insider perspective that it takes to resonate with a niche B2B audience.
  • Contentoo gives you full control over the content you create with us: We provide you with a pool of carefully selected freelance content creators whom we fully onboard onto your brand and content strategy.
  • You interact directly with your content creators throughout each project using the streamlined workflow on our platform. This ensures the best outcome, because you’re involved at every step of the process, and you build a working relationship with your content creators over time, so the content just keeps getting better and better.
Get a taste of how we helped our clients! Download our Schouten & Nelissen case study and find out how they built their content marketing strategy with Contentoo!

Who says B2B content is boring?

As you can see, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to B2B content marketing. With the right strategy – and the right content creation partners – you can produce powerful, emotional content that brings your product and brand to life. There’s no reason why B2B content should be less engaging or exciting than B2C. After all, it’s all about producing relevant, valuable content that caters to your audience.

Interested in getting the best results with your B2B content marketing? Click here to learn why we’re the preferred choice for expertise, speed, and customer service in content marketing!

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FAQs

What makes a B2B content marketing strategy successful?

The key ingredients to a successful B2B content marketing strategy are audience focus, content relevance, performance tracking and continual optimisation.

Is a content marketing strategy essential for B2B businesses?

Yes! Over two-thirds of B2B buyer journeys start online, so building your brand’s web presence is essential for attracting new business.

What is the main challenge in creating a B2B content marketing strategy?

Limited resources make it difficult to devote enough time to implementing a consistent content strategy. That’s why over 84% of B2B marketers outsource content creation.

How Is B2B content marketing different from B2C?

B2B content marketing focuses on educating, informing and building trust with a professional, niche audience. B2C marketing typically targets a mass audience.

What are some examples of creative B2B content marketing?

Creative B2B content marketing includes engaging case studies, informative webinars, thought-provoking white papers and niche-oriented podcasts.

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