Establishing a strong online presence is no longer a choice for modern B2B brands and businesses. 71% of B2B researchers begin their research process with an organic search. This invariably exposes them to B2B content which will likely shape and govern their purchasing decisions.
From there, B2B researchers consume some 13 pieces of content before reaching a buying decision and are 52% more likely to buy from a vendor after reading their content.
It’s unsurprising that B2B businesses that actively invest in their content marketing efforts are more likely to be successful than those that don’t. A well-executed B2B content marketing strategy extends its reach throughout the entire sales funnel, and can even transcend a business beyond its classic product category and audience, helping them reach more customers than was previously thought possible.
Building and optimizing B2B content is fine art. Implementing a few tips and tricks can go a long way in improving content performance. This article delves into B2B content marketing tactics and their optimization, helping you squeeze the most out of your past, present, and future content.
1. Identify your ideal audience
Don’t assume anything about your audience — it could prove a fatal error!
Today’s hugely diverse business landscape means a wider potential audience. And with that comes a wider array of opportunities for content targeting. So, what sort of things do you need to consider?
Think With Google provides two interesting facts to ponder here:
- Millennial B2B buyers aged between 18 and 34 account for nearly half of all B2B buyers, representing an increase of 70%.
- 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in B2B purchasing decisions and while 64% of the C-suite do still have final sign-off on a purchasing decision, so do 24% of the non-C-suite.
This immediately shows that optimizing B2B buyers and researchers are an eclectic bunch. Your content may need an eclectic appeal to match, but again, don’t assume without some digging.
The Google Analytics ‘Audience’ tab provides a trove of highly useful insights into your web users. The three most important tabs are:
- Demographics, providing broad demographic data such as gender and age.
- Geo, providing locational data.
- Interests, probably the most interesting selection of audience data, broken down into Affinity Category, In-market Segment, and Other Category.
This data can be cross-checked against your CRM or customer database if you have one. The end goal is the creation of a number of personas together with mutual interests and pain points. Audience data can be used for other purposes down the line, e.g. email marketing.
Audience analysis and segmentation are time-consuming. B2B marketing agencies can help businesses properly discover their audience and create buyer personas, then use that data to better inform inbound marketing strategies.
2. What types of content are you going to use?
Numerous content types make up the content universe that is the modern internet, including:
- Blogs, broken down into everything from informational and educational posts like how-tos and listicles as well as news stories and thought leadership.
- eBooks and long-form (4,000 words plus).
- Case studies.
The former two content types are broad and ubiquitous across both B2B and B2C spaces, whereas the latter two lean more naturally on B2B.
Moreover, different content types affix themselves to different stages of the sales funnel. You’ll need to include a strong mix of awareness and discovery-focused SEO-optimized blog content and video balanced with product guides and case studies that revolve around your products, services, and business processes.
This illustrates both “what our business knows, and our expertise” combined with “what we do, and how we can help you”.
3. Don’t neglect existing content
A fresh lick of paint and a spot of TLC can breathe new life into old and existing content.
Delving into the site’s back catalog of older posts can provide numerous opportunities for improving and repurposing old content, bringing it in line with current best practices.
Consider making the following improvements to old content:
- Checking spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting, and readability.
- Including tables of contents.
- Adding new links to new blog content.
- Strengthening CTAs.
- Adding new content around keyword gaps.
4. Make sure you’re utilizing keywords to their full potential
Keyword research is easily neglected. But it’s the one rather laborious and technical step that you don’t want to skip.
There are many routes to discovering keywords. Once you’ve obtained some decent keywords for your content, you’ll need to make sure you squeeze the most out of them. Keyword research is worth investing in, so consider expert help if you’re lost, stuck, or otherwise confused.
The advent of the NLP algorithm Google BERT means that including stacks of exact-match keywords in every piece of content is no longer entirely necessary, with the emphasis being placed on the quality of language, structure, and overall use of terminology. With that said, classic best-practice for keyword placement (e.g. titles, headings, and intros) still apply.
The most important thing, however, is having a strong list of topics with keywords to explore with your content.
5. Use topic clusters
When Google or any other search engine indexes your site it’ll likely prefer to see well-grouped content with evident and obvious topical and semantic links, or topic clusters. Topic clusters are clusters of related content that complement one another, creating a strong internal linking structure in the process.
Gripped’s own blog is an example of well-clustered topics. We won’t elaborate on important subjects over just one blog post, but over several which work to complement each other and provide additional scope for readers.
6. Continually track and report performance
Tracking content performance is vital for understanding how your traffic fluctuates and where it comes from. It also serves as a means to optimize future content based on your findings.
Tracking content metrics also enables businesses to analyze the performance of their content marketing campaigns.
Google Analytics is your go-to free web content tracking tool. 3 website metrics worth measuring in Google Analytics include:
- Traffic Sources: Understanding whether traffic is organic, direct (resulting from someone typing the address directly into the URL bar), or referred from another domain allows you to separate your organic traffic from other traffic sources.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of users that land on your pages and leave without committing to any further interactions. Bounce rates exceeding 70% should ring alarm bells in practically all cases, potentially indicating slow page speeds and web page design improvement opportunities, loading errors, or device and browser incompatibility issues.
- New vs Returning Users: Increases in new users might indicate that top-of-the-funnel marketing activity is working, whereas increases in existing users signify that users are progressing further down the funnel and are potentially there to be converted by BOFU content.
7. Amplify your reach with paid advertising
Paid advertising is worth toying with at one stage or another, but requires specialist skills and expertise that many businesses don’t have access to internally.
There are two avenues for paid advertising:
- PPC advertising
- Paid social advertising
PPC is laser-targeted and works well for terms with high purchase intent. Whereas social media promotions are unbeatable for extending reach.
When orchestrated correctly, paid advertising can be the boost many businesses need to extend their reach and awareness. Whilst paid advertising unquestionably demands specialist skills, expertise, and dedication to get right, it’s often not as costly as businesses expect it to be.
8. Keep producing new content
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Many marketers agree that a content marketing strategy needs at least 6 to 9 months to yield meaningful results. Even though your posts might be indexed and discoverable within the SERPs within just days, it can take a lot longer for them to pick up a more constant stream of traffic.
Another aspect of this is that it can be difficult to predict which pieces of content will go on to outperform themselves. Pieces of content can even lie seemingly dormant only for their traffic to suddenly increase without heed or warning!
Consider the 80:20 rule. 80% of content marketing results are generated from just 20% of content (or less). Content marketing requires a process of constant mining for new keywords and grinding to write them up into quality content. It’s always worth considering using expert assistance to scale content marketing efforts if you’re struggling to cope internally.
9. Work with experts for the best outcomes
Content marketing is multi-faceted, dynamic, and forever evolving. Working with content marketing experts provides businesses with the skills and execution they need to successfully orchestrate a killer content strategy at scale.
When it comes to the finer, more technical aspects of content marketing such as keyword research and paid promotion, professional collaboration also ensures that budgets are well-invested.
About the author
Steve Eveleigh is a founder of B2B Digital Marketing Agency Gripped. He has over 15 years of marketing and product marketing experience split across telecoms, infrastructure and SaaS businesses. Steve is the former CMO of Colt Technology Services and essensys, with roles at Star, Claranet and BT. He is obsessive about growth and how businesses take an idea, find an audience and drive new revenue streams.