We asked a variety of founders, marketing managers, and online marketing experts:
When it comes to content marketing, what is the single most effective tactic or strategy for B2B companies and why?
There was an overwhelming response, and we’ve highlighted our top expert opinions.
Leverage Relationships/Influencers for Mentions/Links – 2
E-Books/Whitepapers with Paid Ads – 3
Be a Problem Solver – 2
Educate/Be an Authority – 2
Niche Targeting/Segmentation – 3
Produce Content (ie Blogging – But Be Unique!) – 7
Create Video Content – 1
Website + Social Promotion – 1
SEO Optimization/Analytics – 2
Other – 7
There seems to be a consensus across the board that blogging is very effective, as is any form of content creation with paid ads. I love every single one of these answers, and I employ each and every one of these tactics every day. Each one is very effective in marketing to other businesses.
Without further ado, I’ll kick things off:
Brock Murray, Director of Web Marketing at seoplus+
The single most effective strategy in terms of content marketing is to leverage the authority of influencers in your field. Start with mentioning influential trendsetters, thought leaders, and companies in your content. It can never hurt to stroke the egos and pique the interest of influencers, because if you catch their attention they will promote your content on social media, engage with it, and ultimately drive an interested audience to your site.
The primary purpose of this strategy is to make use of the power and legitimacy of influencers for your company’s own gain – reputation by association. You are able to tap into their network of connections and increase exposure, drive traffic, and hopefully also benefit from linking.
Even with this highly effective tactic, the absolute most important thing to start with is high-quality original content. You can have the most inspired content marketing strategy imaginable, but if the content you are trying to market is poorly written, boring, or plagiarized, you’ll get nowhere. Therefore B2B companies are encouraged produce quality content and leverage the power of influencers for content marketing success.
Takeshi Young, SEO Manager at Optimizely
One effective tactic for B2B content marketing is to leverage your relationships with other businesses (business partners or customers) for content creation and promotion.
An easy way to do this is through expert round-ups where you interview people from these businesses to create a piece of content. This can be a great way to create high quality content without investing much resources in content production, and has the added bonus that the businesses featured in your content will also help promote it to their networks.
Another great content creation and promotion strategy is to co-host webinars with other businesses in your space. Webinars are a great way to bring in leads for your business, and by partnering with someone else you split the burden of having to create content and have a partner who can help promote the content once it’s live.
Dylan Kissane, Content Manager at Doz
The single most effective strategy for a business that is looking for returns from a content marketing strategy is to maintain a dual focus: quantity and quality.
On the quantity side the business needs to make sure that they are publishing enough content regularly to make their site a likely return visit for their B2B clients. A website that doesn’t change or a blog that is updated every six months whenever someone in the management team has a free afternoon is not going to attract attention or invite the regular visits that lead to a company becoming a ‘top of mind’ reference for their field.
That said, the second focus needs to be on quality of content. The content produced needs to be useful, well-written, well-designed, and directed to addressing the pain points of the company’s clients. Additionally, the quality of the SEO has to be high: while good quality content can be useful for existing customers, quality content that is optimized for search can help drag in new customers and drive additional sales.
For any B2B enterprise seeking to maximize the returns from their content marketing strategy, both quantity and quality need to remain front and center at all times.
Sean Si, Founder at SEO Hacker and Qeryz
I’ve done content marketing for B2B companies and the most effective strategy so far is to create the kind of content that your target person in the company will love. This can be as broad as trivial articles or as specialized as how-to’s.
For example, if I’m selling enterprise-level accounting software, I would create articles that would cater to the high-level accountants or the CFO of the companies that I’d like to build my authority to. This may sound simple but a lot of B2B content marketers miss out on this. We fall into the sinful trap of getting the click-throughs and selling beef-less articles – and that’s just not gonna work.
The bullcrap radar of people – especially in B2B industries today are super strong. They know when you’re winging it and they know when you’re nailing it.
Brian Carter, Author, Speaker and Consultant at The Carter Group
The combination of great content marketing (usually ebooks and whitepapers) with Facebook advertising. We’ve seen nearly a dozen case studies of great lead generation that way. The Facebook ad interface can target job titles and companies, as well as specifically B2B industries and seniority. It is also easier to decrease the cost per lead with Facebook ads than with AdWords, because Facebook doesn’t shackle you to CPC bidding. With diligent testing, you can decrease cost per lead by at least 50% of your original cost per lead. And because so many people believe the myth that Facebook is only for B2C, the competition is still low- there is a big advantage right now for the early movers.
Collin Jarman, SEO Analyst at Healthgrades
Provide value. If you want users to engage with your content, you need to offer them something. Answer their questions, solve a problem for them, provide a resource, be entertaining — whatever best applies to your niche. When people search, they are looking for answers and/or solutions to their problems. That’s where you want to be. When you solve a problem for someone, it makes them far more likely to remember you and to be willing to engage with you in the future. Don’t waste your time yelling about how awesome you or your brand are… that’s obnoxious and no one likes it. So maybe you provide secret knowledge, or teach them something, or whatever –just be useful.
Shane Robert Walton at Green Vine Marketing
In a B2B realm, your content marketing needs to accomplish two goals: You first need to catch your prospect’s attention, and then you need to show them that you are the industry expert they can trust. The most effective strategy for achieving these goals is consistent education.
Education in content marketing refers to training and resources that your company provides to the market for free. This could be white
papers, online videos, podcasts, e-books, well researched articles, or infographics. Whatever the medium, the educational piece needs to
gives something of true value to your audience. It should showcase your strong expertise in the field, provide up to date information, and
contain actionable tips rather than self promotion.
Education is the most effective content marketing strategy because it provides prospects with the information they care about. No one wants to know why your SEO company is the best. But they do want to know what a great SEO campaign should look like, how they can get started on their own, or how they can meaningfully evaluate potential SEO vendors. Once you give them what they care about, you have earned both their attention and their trust.
Using consistency in your education marketing is critical. For each new educational tool your company develops, you need to recycle it again and again. We encourage clients to weave each new podcast, training video, white paper, or ebook into their social media content stream over a period of 6 months. Take a few months off, update the content, and then re-release.
The same strategy holds true for your email marketing and phone calls. No one wants to open an email or pick up the phone to hear “Buy Now!” But a great educational piece allows you to reach out and re-engage prospects and past customers by giving them something of value. Once you’ve put the work into creating an educational piece, your company needs to fully leverage it by consistently re-marketing it again and again. With consistent usage, educational content can quickly become your most powerful and cost effective marketing strategy.
Nicole Hayward, SVP of Marketing at OnSIP
The most important strategy for B2B content marketing is to write useful, human content. Since Google Panda 2011 and Penguin 2012 algorithm changes, Google has gotten increasingly good at presenting natural content that people want to read. It may have been brutal for us web marketers to see our keyword-packed pages plummet on Google. But, it’s better for everyone in the long run because your readers won’t become buyers if your content is written for robots. They won’t share your content with their colleagues and bosses if it’s not useful. Keyword drivel will never assist a purchase decision. Today, you must know your readers. They are seeking inspiration, entertainment, education, etc., and your single most important strategy is to help them as a fellow human in your content.
Nick Nelson, Interactive Marketing Specialist at Top Source Media
In my mind, the most effective content marketing strategy for a B2B company is blogging combined with active outreach. Maintain a blog with consistent output, and with content targeted at a very specific audience, then reach out to fellow thought leaders in your industry via email or social media. Offer to write guest blogs, or engage in a link exchange, or invite quotes and insights to include in your piece. This creates excellent opportunities for networking and exposure, and costs very little outside of time and effort.
Kacee Johnson, Founder at Blue Ocean Principles
The single most effective strategy for B2B companies is showing specialization in a target niche. Everyone believes that their company is unique (and most are) but in that they want to feel special, and know that the chosen vendors understand their individual needs. When an organization defines themselves and their clients in a specialized niche, like accounting, construction, legal etc. then they have the upper hand in winning business that the client then perceives they relate to more intimately than the competition that is casting a wider net.
Tim Lynch, Growth Hacker and Digital Marketing Consultant at Lynch Insights
The most effective strategy for B2B content companies is to focus their content on their expertise and passion. You are in business because you have a unique perspective… share that. That is what your current customers are buying and others will want to buy. Don’t get distracted by spin or pitching in your content. Awesome genuine content can be chopped up for each marketing channel. As for tactics that flow from the strategy it is imperative to be native to the platform. When on Pinterest post in the norms of the platform, same for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Chatter, etc… If the platform is important to you, then you MUST show that you care. So often I come across great content that was written on LinkedIn and the poster clicked the ‘twitter’ button. This creates a crap tweet with a link back to LinkedIn. It doesn’t follow the twitter norms, does not properly use hash tags. It is like creating an awesome speech and then as you walk to the mic you shoot yourself in the foot. C.E. Goodman said it best “when you care enough to send the very best”. Your content IS your very best.
Nima Noori, CEO & Founder at TorontoVaporizer
“Content marketing trends for B2B companies are moving away from text-based marketing ( for example blog posts ) and moving toward high quality, rich image based content ; in particular, creating rich video content that is legitimately valuable, engaging, entertaining and most of all, easy to digest by your target audience – other businesses. Video content marketing can come in the form of commercials, product/ tutorial videos, or promotional videos, all which help draw your audience in to your business’ products or services, and engage them in an entertaining and relaxed manner.
Now, up until this point most B2B eCommerce retailers continue to shy away from video content marketing because it seems intimidating, expensive and difficult to produce. However professional video and audio equipment is less expensive now than ever. This, coupled with a good graphic designer/animator and a creative marketing team means creating high quality video content is now an accessible and highly valuable form of marketing that will be the biggest content marketing trend, and must have for B2B eCommerce retailers to boost SEO, establish your company as an industry leader and drive revenue.”
Beth Bridges, Vice President of Digital Identity at J – I.T. Outsource
Consistency. The longer your sales cycle, the more important it is. In our industry – managed I.T. services – companies only change providers every 3 to 5 years. We’ve learned that it takes about 36 touches before we even get an opportunity to show them what we have to offer. It takes a great deal of patience and a lot of faith that when you put your content out there – really good, original content – people will take notice. And when they are ready to make a move, it will pay off. Our largest client to date signed on after getting our print newsletter in the mail every month for half a year. They said, “This professional, useful information kept showing up, consistently, month after month, and we want to do business with a company that works like that.”
Josh Currier, Founder at Currier Marketing
The most important thing a B2B company should get right when creating their content is to know their audience, their target market. Not only does this dictate what types of content to produce, but it also allows you to create content that speaks directly to someone, rather than to everyone, which is far more effective. By knowing your audience, you can get insights from your target market about the type of information/content they would find valuable.
Not only will you be providing valuable content, but you’ll be creating content that matches what they are looking for in search engines.
Simon Ensor, Managing Director at Yellowball
Whilst content marketing needs to utilise all other marketing channels to help increase reach, the segmentation of your target market and creation of content specific to their particular needs is critical to the success of a content marketing campaign. A ‘spray and pray’ methodology, or an overly ‘salesy’ approach to your services will likely fail to attract the attention or validate your position in the market. Identifying who the key stakeholders in your target businesses are and the information that they require gives you the best foundations upon which to not only create your content but also in identifying the channels through which that content can then be pushed to them. From an SEO perspective you want to tie this content in with your overall search goals so that any potential social sharing and/or link earning serves your overall aims in search.
Nicole Buergers, Marketing Manager at TopSpot Internet Marketing
The single most effective tactic that B2B companies are currently not taking advantage of is video content. According to the 2014 B2B Path to Purchase study by Google and Millward Brown Digital, 70% of B2B buyers watch online video specifically to do research for business purposes. Displaying product features through a video or a “how to” video can greatly benefit a B2B company. The same study states that after viewing a video, B2B buyers took action:
– 42% Talked with colleagues about the content
– 34% Researched more info about the company
– 30% Visited the store or website
– 22% Shared the video
We would also recommend promoting videos via email marketing, social media and YouTube advertising. Video usage is skyrocketing and it’s up to B2B companies to showcase themselves through video.
Gabriel Kuperman, CEO and Founder at Huge Impact
The most effective tactic and content marketing strategy is blogging – but more specifically, creating what I call ‘epic web masterpieces’. Many bloggers or companies create mediocre blog pieces that have 500 words approximately with little to no value to readers. Epic blog posts that generate lots of traffic tend to be 2,500+ words and contain lots of media: images, embedded videos, screenshots, links to external and reliable sources, PDFs, etc. We’ve seen sites outrank and draw in significantly more traffic with 10 phenomenal blog posts, in comparison to others in the same niche with 100s of short and dull posts.
Alex Mason at Closefox
The single most effective tactic for B2B business to grow is a clear sales process: All B2B company needs marketing and sales. Even if most of the leads are generated through content, the majority of leads are not qualified and ready to buy. That means that someone needs to follow-up with them. Having a clear process for both sales and marketing will allow for marketing and sales to maximize their return on time. Empowering marketing to pursue certain leads, and passing the rest onto the sales team once they have been properly qualified.
Tom Shurville, Managing Directory at Distinctly
Content. Finding content that has already proved popular in an industry, either through links or social traction, and creating a new, even better version is our most successful technique bar none.
It has the added advantage of being easier to sell into clients than other ideas as the idea has a proven track record of generating results.
Helen C. Holt, Founder at The Writing-Preneur
One timeless piece of advice I learned from the marketing greats is what they describe as “the greatest brochure in the world”.
This “brochure” is… a book.
Writing a book on your specialty is the most effective, tried- and- true strategy to becoming an instant authority in your niche. There’s no field of marketing that requires you to know what you’re talking about more than B2B, so writing a book (be it an eBook or hardcopy) never goes out of style.
As a marketing copywriter and brand strategist, I’ve seen this work well with both B2B and B2C clients; however, it is more essential in the B2B market when prospecting your services to other professionals. The stakes are higher and the more you can demonstrate credibility in your field, the higher the chance you have of landing the client. And a book does just that..
There’s just one more thing:
The real secret to marketing with a book is to *give your book** away* to as many potential clients as possible.
That may sound time-consuming and expensive, but the payoff is that your “brochure” won’t end up in the trash or with a round coffee cup stain on it. Especially if the person has a hard copy sitting on their shelf or desk.
Be sure that your book or “brochure” has useful content that your prospect can use—presented in a clear, concise and palatable way. If you have to hire a ghostwriter and graphic designer to make sure it rocks, then do so. Even if your prospect never gets around to opening it, it will be in their peripheral vision on a consistent basis. Or when they’re digging through the pile of papers on their desk, your book will make a timely appearance. And when the need arises, they can just reach over to the bookshelf or do a few clicks on their mobile device to get your book to find your contact information.
In real time, many successful entrepreneurs and business people can attest to the law of averages. Out of the many books you distribute or promote offline or online, a certain number of people will be interested and contact you to inquire about your services.
And there isn’t a more qualified lead than someone who reads your book, (enjoys it) and then contacts you with an inquiry. So why wait? Get started on your “brochure” today!
Makenzi Wood, Acquisition Marketer at Visual Net Design
The best advice I can give for companies looking to implement a B2B content strategy would be to watch your timing. After taking your audience into consideration, it’s always important to know when they’re online and where they are online. For example, I would distribute content on our social media during business hours to reach our audience. It wasn’t until I looked at in-depth reports that I realized our audience is business professionals—they’re not on social media during the day because they’re working. This means that our content was almost 12 hours old by the time our audience was online—and 12 hours is an eternity on a Twitter feed. Constantly research your audience and their viewing habits to ensure that the content you carefully create is actually being read.
Anthony De Guzman, SEO Specialist at Saatchi & Saatchi Canada
The single most effective tactic or strategy for B2B companies is to adapt content for different mediums. Let’s say one company is making an animated infographic .gif, this can easily be adapted into a regular infographic – as well as a slideshare and a short 4-5 page ebook, depending on the length of content.
Having one piece of content multiplied by several types of mediums can exponentially amplify the effect of content marketing, especially after factoring in social media and organic referrals. Not only does this strategy create more linking opportunities, it expands the company’s outreach to their target audience.
Christine Rochelle, Director of Digital Marketing & Operations at lotus823
When it comes to B2B content marketing the single most effective strategy is to market to the people of the business, not the business.
There are some differences in B2B and B2C marketing, however, at the end of the day we’re all looking to tell a story about our brand to develop relationships with our target audience. B2B marketing means being able to tell that story to different people at different levels of the business and having your content resonate with each of them. Digital content has made that possible by allowing us to hone in on each level of the target audience and track through analytics the response we’re receiving back from those visitors.
All in all, content marketing has allowed us to see the people behind the businesses once again and target them much more effectively, resulting in stronger relationships and ultimately a stronger conversion.
Kristen Shue, Principal at Regatta Marketing
The single most effective content marketing tactic is to create a report or a survey. Because 1. everyone’s always curious to know what their peers are doing, and 2. you can easily pitch it to editors for free coverage. Do keep in mind, however, that you must ask interesting questions and avoid the ones with obvious answers.
Ana Levley, Owner at Levley Marketing
Integrated approach. What does that mean? That you create your website based on honest services and use only a few keywords that actually describe what you do and where you are, then use social media to gain your audience and promote your website, then use keywords and SEO for both social media and your website (as you grow, you learn better keywords to describe what you do and to reach your audience) then integrate an e-mail campaign with your social media, while also physically telling clients about your social media and your website. Then, from the e-mail list adding that to a blog so people can find you via Google and e-mail. Then, integrating with media such as creating a YouTube video and images that describe your business and posting them via blog, e-mail, social media, and website.
Now depending on your audience and what you already have – the steps above can change. But I think the main thing to keep in mind is every business and audience is different. Therefore, there will have to be different approaches. Definitely a data and analysis is the best approach to taking an integrated approach so you can know which integrated approach will be most effective. Also, another tip is to add all your partners and the non-profits you give to your social media campaigns – it will gain a wider audience and bring more people to your social channel.
Andrew Silcox, Director at The Lead Agency
Content Marketing is intrinsically linked to SEO. The most recent Google Panda 4.2 updates have been called the “Quality Update” as Google moves to promote research, writing and reward quality content.
For any B2B company, the most effective content marketing strategy is to focus on keyword analytics. SEO best-practices from as little as 2012 will not hold up anymore. One of our clients came to us for help when their SERPs were hit badly from a focus on old techniques like keyword stuffing and quantity link-building.
B2B companies operate in a niche to begin with so keyword analytics should be familiar. If you know what keywords work for you it’s the perfect base to build any content strategy. What keywords are you most visible? What keywords provide the best conversion rates? If possible, what keywords are required for each stage of the marketing/sales funnel?
The old adage of marketing rings true in 2015: “I know that 50% of my marketing works, I just don’t know which 50%”. The difference is that data is easily accessible, can be analyzed and provide great insights.
Those insights help anyone to build better content:
– Spend less time on unsuccessful content, more time on quality
content that works for you
– Be more creative on the content that you know leads to conversions
to increase your metrics
– Test and measure. Tweak. Test and measure. Tweak. Test and measure
Your customers and clients are telling you what you need to know to service them – you just need to know how to listen properly.
Jess Install, Marketing Manager at Vodoo Creative
Asking for a single and most effective tactic is difficult as there are many components that go into a fantastic content marketing strategy. However, if you don’t start with the correct outlook you are likely to produce an ineffective content strategy.
Don’t focus on selling, don’t focus on what you do, focus on content that will genuinely help and offer advice. This type of content will build relationships, increase interaction and reinforce that you and your company know more than your competitors. This will all aid with SEO, and more than anything with visitors to the site. Don’t sell, don’t be selfish, Do advise, Do talk about what your clients’ needs. That’s the perfect foundation to any marketing and content strategy.
David Smethie, Founder at GrowthOnFire!
Promoting your best content via paid social amplification, because it maximizes leads, revenue, inbound links, and social shares.
By now, it’s obvious that stellar content-not decent, not pretty good-but truly awesome content-is a necessary foundation for any B2B content marketing initiative. However, you can create the best, most useful content in the world, but if it’s not consumed by your target audience, it might as well not exist. Therefore, content promotion, also known as content amplification, is absolutely crucial-from both a revenue and SEO perspective.
Most B2B marketers promote their blog posts, videos, whitepapers, etc. on their corporate social media channels. This is a start, but organic engagement is significantly down across the major social media platforms, especially Facebook.
Paid social content amplification is the key to getting your content in front of as many targeted eyeballs as possible. This includes Facebook promoted posts, Twitter ads, and LinkedIn sponsored updates. All three platforms offer extensive targeting options, allowing you to get your content in front of your ideal prospect.
The more targeted traffic you drive to your content:
1. The more leads and revenue you generate.
2. The more links and social shares your content receives.
While increasing revenue is the main goal, effective content amplification has the secondary benefits of increasing links and social shares. A boost in targeted prospects that consume your content naturally results in more sharing and linking. The extent of this will of course vary from industry to industry.
Although you’re paying to promote your content, the links and social shares you acquire are totally white hat. And since your content is amplified to your target market, these earned links and social signals are of extremely high relevance and quality.
Kate Proykova, Managing Director at Hop Online
From my experience, when it comes to B2B content marketing, the most effective content assets are e-books and tutorials. Here are the major
points that need to be taken care of:
(1) Target Audience: The content should be well targeted, e.g. not “Email marketing for E-commerce”, but something narrower like “Email marketing for
Selling Smartphones Online”;
(2) Keywords: You should do keyword research and choose your major and secondary keywords, so that your content would start gaining Search Engine
traffic in time;
(3) Backlinks: You need to research whether there is a potential for gaining backlinks with the content, (if there are sites or articles on the topic, which might be interested in linking to it);
(4) Outreach: And you need to promote the content so it gets in front of your audience.
Luke Rees, Digital Marketing at ResponseTap
The most effective tactic for B2B companies when it comes to content marketing is in making sure the campaign is SEO optimized; this is especially critical if the content is targeted towards a very niche audience. Many companies are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon, it seems, so in order to make your content visible you need a strategy in place that makes it search friendly (PR guarantees lots of immediate eyeballs on your brand, but SEO ensures the content has longevity).
The way to optimize is to first of all identify the most relevant keywords to the content and places these within the title, the content copy, and the meta tags. These keywords then also need to appear in every piece of promotional content that surrounds the main content page – including press releases, social shares, and blog posts. On top of this, it’s also advisable to build a list of keyword synonyms, and to weave them naturally into the additional promotional material. If, for example, you produce a series of blog posts that expand on the main content, use keyword synonyms differently in each post to ensure you get full coverage across the search funnel. In addition, if your market is very niche or is a topic with a low search volume, adding keyword synonyms ensures that you can educate and attract leads that may be searching for more generic content in your field.