How to Create a Great B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Creating a good content marketing strategy is what will help you promote your business and get more visibility within your niche.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

You can’t just jump into creating content for content’s sake and assume to accomplish the outcome you wish for.

In fact, every single day, thousands if not millions of content articles are published, so you’ll have to create articles that are worth reading, sharing and ultimately, earn backlinks. This is where the content marketing strategy comes into play.

But before we dive into these steps, it is important to understand that a good SEO strategy should be an integral part of your content creation. They both go hand in hand.

What is Content Marketing?

As the definition found on Content Marketing Institute “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

So, it is always about creating good and valuable articles that will help people.

Before we Start

The first step in building your content marketing strategy is to identify your business goals.

Basically, you will have to align your effort with different business leads within your company and get to know what exactly they need to achieve before moving forward with your content strategy.

I can’t stress how important this step is, otherwise, you risk of doing work that will not get the results you expect.

The Marketing Funnel.

Or in other words, the user journey. This funnel is not specific to digital or content marketing, in fact, all marketing funnels work like this:

Content marketing strategy - Marketing funnel

  1. Awareness Stage: usually provide general information about a certain topic or product.
  2. Consideration Stage: At this stage, visitors would deeper information about a product or service. Usually, it would address different solutions, trends or outcomes.
  3. Decision (conversion): This is the closing stage where you will tell your reader why your product is the best they could find and that they should proceed with their purchase.
  4. Engagement Stage: Once they become a customer that is the engagement portion of the funnel where you keep communication channel with your customer.

Remember it is always harder and more expensive to generate revenues from a new customer than from an existing one.

You should create every article or page on your website with client conversion / and lead generation in mind.

It does not mean that you will have to include lead capture form, but the least what you could do is make sure that the article fits within your content strategy that will eventually lead the user to convert and continue the journey till the end of the funnel – thus become a customer.

KPIs: Evaluating your success

In order to measure the success of your content marketing, you will need to measure the right type of metrics per stage.

For example at the bottom of the funnel, we would be looking at the number of leads generated. I would say social shares, engagement and number of sessions generated on the website won’t be as important.

What I urge you to do is to take note of what you’re trying to improve and apply the right metrics to it.

Don’t take the raw metrics such as sessions or new users that are measured on awareness for conversion or the number of leads for awareness.

This is critically important, or you’re going to focus on the wrong parts of the solution you’re trying to build.

Target the right Stage of the Marketing Funnel

The first step in building your content marketing strategy is to identify which parts of the funnel is well served and which needs help. Do you need more conversion? Does the problem lie in the awareness?

We tend to write the content and presume that it will serve all stages of the funnel.

Once you have identified weaknesses and strengths, try to assign content to different parts of the funnel.

Don’t assign any piece of content to more than two of these stages. You might say “The article I am currently writing can work really well for awareness and consideration.” Or “this white paper will work fine with decision and engagement”

That’s fine. What is not ok is when you say (and trust me, I came across many content creators who will do that) “This is going to help throughout the funnel — awareness, consideration, decision, and engagement”

Well, I wish we could do that but unfortunately, it is not the case, and it will never happen that way.

Types of Content for B2B Lead Generation

Top-of-the-Funnel Content

The top of the funnel i.e. awareness stage is where users searching for solutions and answers to a certain problem.

At this stage, users tend to search for high level articles that explains the problem and different ways to resolve it.

The intent of the user is to search for informational content regardless to which brand is offering it.

Content Formats

For your content in this phrase, create informative articles, blogs, social posts, and infographics that educate audiences about topics related to your industry. Since the search are more generic, there are lots more searches at this stage, which will help boost your brand visibility

Usually the keywords that we need to target fall under:

  • How do/does
  • How to
  • What is
  • What are the benefits of
  • Ways to
  • Difference between
  • Compare
  • [topic] Tutorial
  • Alternatives

You can use info graphs, blogs, guides, mini-courses, and other branded industry-related gated content.

Although this stage focuses on traffic you can still generate leads by requesting signup from users to get a more detailed version of the content.

The sweet spot is finding research is high keyword search volume and value with low difficulty. I will not go into the how to but there are different SEO tools that will help you do that efficiently.

KPIs

Here you’ll need to look at:

  • Sessions
  • New sessions
  • New users
  • Bounce rate
  • Pageviews
  • Average session duration
  • Goals
  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Retweets

content marketing funnel - awareness stage

Middle-of-the-Funnel Content

Which is also called consideration/comparison/evaluation stage. That’s basically where you have the “meat” of your content.

Here audiences have already found answers and solutions to their problems and are now in the evaluation phase.

Audiences are looking for specific offerings that provide what they need to solve their problems.

They are searching for a brand or business that has the best solution.

At this stage, you can really focus on luring converters with premium yet free content only accessible after signing up.

Now it is the time to relate directly to your products.

Content Formats

This content may include landing pages for lead generation, detailed case studies, and blog posts.

Target navigational keywords. Navigational keywords are terms searchers use to find a specific website, webpage, or piece of information.

In this phase, target these terms that help people find material about your products, services, or brand details.

Your keywords would be one of the following:

  • Best
  • Cheap
  • Alternatives to
  • Compare [product/service]
  • [product/service] review
  • Features of
  • ROI of [product/service]

KPIs

  • Sessions
  • New sessions
  • Returning Users
  • Traffic Source (Referrals)
  • Page views (especially products and services pages)
  • Leads / Email subscriptions
  • Goal conversions

content marketing funnel - consideration stage

Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content

The decision phase. That when your prospects have made a decision. They have done their research, decided on the best approach and now they are getting ready to place an order.

At this stage, your prospects are looking at specific products/services. They are looking at the transactional keyword.

As you create content in this phrase, keep these lead generation marketing ideas in mind.

Content Formats

Create content that helps customer overcome purchasing objections. At this point, prospects are very close to buying. They are trying to find details to determine if the purchase is the right decision.

Make sure to put great emphasis on reviews, testimonials, revenues generated (if applicable), and trial periods.

Your keywords would be:

  • Brand name
  • Buy [product name]
  • Review [product/brand name]
  • Demo
  • Free Trials
  • After sales reviews
  • Support
  • Discount

KPIs

  • Conversions
  • Leads

content marketing funnel - decision stage

Engagement

As you collect leads, you can then nurture those leads using email marketing. This strategy helps you keep a close relationship with your customers/leads and always be on top of their mind.

As I mentioned earlier, it is easier to have a recurrent customer than acquiring a new one.

What frustrates me is when you don’t reuse the email lists you have acquired for future campaigns.

Basically, when someone willingly gives you his email address, along with it he gives you his consent that he’s interested in whatever you have to offer in terms of content.

Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Audience: The Heart of Your Content Marketing

persona for content marketing

After you’ve understood your marketing funnel, audited your content and defined your goals, you will need to define your audience. In other words, people who might be interested in what you do.

For B2B is it much trickier. Most of the time, in B2B the person that you’re in talks with is not the same who takes the final purchase decision. He is just a link in a long chain of individuals involved in the process.

It is important to always put this fact in mind.

That’s why you will need to create an overlapping persona study when you create your content. For an engineering firm, you might want to write an article describing the industry’s best practices (consideration stage) while including the return on investment that your company achieved.

In that case, you overlap both the engineer who reads about trends as well as the CFO who will actually be the one taking the final purchase decision.

Well, that’s all folks, please let me know your thoughts and comments. Do you do things differently?

2018-01-16T14:43:01+00:00

5 Comments

  1. Angela January 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Great article!

  2. Christophe Mégevand January 10, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Hi Samer,
    Thanks for the article – very interesting indeed!
    One question I have and I have it for a while without getting a good answer
    As a marketer (not as a sales rep), from my database, I don’t know if a contact is at the Awareness, Consideration or Decision stage.
    It means when I plan an email drop for instance I will push the same content to everyone hoping some of them will engage.
    I have the same issue for Content Syndication since I don’t have an unlimited Budget and an unlimited number of assets.
    Of course inside sales or EAM can personalized the interaction when the stage is clearly identified but it’s far from being the majority of the contacts
    So it’s very tricky for me to set up a process to target correctly the audience based on the Buyer journey stage
    Any comment on that please
    Thanks again for your article

    • Samer Riad January 10, 2018 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Christophe,

      In fact, this is an awesome question!!
      My approach to that is to create a different email list within every article or theme. So for the top of the funnel, I would create an “Awareness – [Topic List]” email list and so on. So whenever you have new lead, it will automatically get segmented under your created lists. Next time you publish an article, you can push the email per list.

      Does this answer to your question?

  3. BJ January 11, 2018 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Hello Samer,

    Thank you for the great article. Can you please let me know do we need three different articles for each of the funnel stages?

    Best Regards 🙂

    • Samer Riad January 11, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      Hello BJ,

      Yes, Ideally, you’ll have to create topics for every stage of the funnel. But as I mentioned within the article, sometimes 1 article can overlap 2 stages.
      It depends on your personas.
      I hope this helps
      Sam

Leave A Comment