B2B content marketing is an indispensable strategy for businesses looking to establish their brand, engage their target audience and drive conversions.

In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of B2B content marketing, delve into effective strategies for creating impactful content, and examine the role of generative AI in enhancing content creation.

What is B2B content marketing?

B2B content marketing is the creation and distribution of content, in all its forms, related to your business and relevant to customers. This content includes articles, blogs, videos and podcasts, as well as in-depth whitepapers and research.

Increasingly, B2B customers depend on self-guided research on digital channels to find out more about business products and services and reach buying decisions. Content produced and distributed by your marketing team and partners should be available on any channel where your customers are conducting research. The most comprehensive content marketing strategies include all digital channels where customers are, including social media platforms.

Like B2C content marketing, B2B content aims at building authority and brand recognition for the business on digital channels where customers seek information and participate in digital communities. B2B content marketing is different because buying decisions are made by teams, not individuals, so the buying journey is more complex, and usually longer, than for consumer purchases.

Above all, B2B content marketing — like consumer content — must be relevant and tied closely to the buyer’s journey in order to be effective.

Dig deeper: B2B Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

B2B content marketing strategies

Developing a comprehensive content marketing strategy

A successful B2B content strategy covers all stages of the customer journey. It includes general topics related to your industry for customers in the early discovery stages, as well as more detailed content about specific products and services for customers close to making a purchase.

To ensure that content is relevant and useful, B2B marketers need to have a deep understanding of who their customers are. As mentioned earlier, B2B customers make buying decisions in teams. B2B marketers need to know the kinds of businesses that purchase their product or service. And within these organizations, they need to know the roles that usually serve on the buying teams.

Build personas based on key roles using demographics and industry-specific attributes. For instance, if your business is selling a payroll product or service, it helps to determine the possible age range, common interests and professional challenges for a human resources director who is likely on the buying team. The persona will point to the digital channels where this role will look to find answers related to work. And the persona will help shape the content geared to these roles.

Successful B2B content marketing demonstrates a deep knowledge of common pain points for your customers, as well as other important topics related to your industry that your customers want to know more about. Your competitors are already executing their own content marketing programs, so make sure to research them. Search for pain points and related topics online and create content for “content gaps” where customer issues you’re aware of haven’t been addressed with content. At the same time, look for the most popular keywords in your industry and make sure your business has content covering those topics.

By taking advantage of these content opportunities, your brand will be front-and-center when your prospect is looking for an answer online.

Crafting compelling and relevant content

The main purpose for B2B content marketing is to build authority and trust between your brand and the buying team. Content will be passed over if it isn’t useful or trusted.

Creating and distributing high-quality, well-researched articles and white papers establishes your brand as a trusted authority. A detailed whitepaper about industry trends and pain points demonstrates that your business has earned the customer’s attention. Once familiar with your brand, customers and prospects will look at other content your team produces because it has proven to be useful and relevant.

Leaders within your organization can also demonstrate their authority and relevance to the broader public, as well as to customers, by authoring thought leadership articles. These pieces are shorter and more focused than whitepapers, but they can be just as valuable in speaking to the latest news related to your industry. Thought leadership articles appear in many industry publications that are read by your prospects. These pieces can also be published on your business’s website, or shared on LinkedIn or in other online communities related to your industry.

In addition to thought leadership articles and whitepapers, your B2B content marketing program should include case studies and success stories. These kinds of pieces have the added advantage of showing respected customers and specific solutions that your business’s products or services can provide to customers. While thought leadership pieces and whitepapers lend authority to the brand for customers at all levels of the buyer’s journey, case studies and success stories help make the case for buying teams closer to making a decision. They help put the prospect in the role of a customer, imagining how they could benefit in a similar way from your business’s solution.

B2B content marketers can also produce a wide array of how-to guides, industry guides, tutorials and webinars to fit the needs of specific prospects on their buying journey. These guides can be shared on the company’s website or appear in respected publications to a similar audience. Webinars and other multimedia content can be conducted live, increasing the engagement of participants or shared on-demand for a broader, passive audience that can consumer it, conveniently, at any time.

Maximizing the role of generative AI in B2B content creation

As organizations consider, test and adopt generative AI tools to help in creating content, pressure shifts to competitors to scale their content with similar tools in order to keep up.

Generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT can speed up production by providing suggestions for content topics and talking points. Tools like Midjourney can help in creative visual assets to accompany articles. Major enterprise marketing platforms like Adobe have genAI integrations, with more tools and updates rolling out every week. All results produced by generative AI should be reviewed by humans, and human creators should be involved in content production at every stage.

AI technology was used in content marketing long before OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT. AI and machine learning can be used to add personalized elements to content based on data from existing customers who engage with your organization’s content. This data can also be used by AI tools to create personalized experiences for customers on owned properties like web pages and mobile apps.

Additionally, AI tools can be used to automatically optimize content and serve it to customer segments based on how previous iterations of the content performed in front of these audiences. The AI continues to optimize, using better combinations of content elements, over the course of a campaign or across multiple campaigns. 

Dig deeper: 3 ways B2B marketers can use generative AI

Best Practices for B2B Content Marketing

Implementing a data-driven approach to content creation

B2B content marketing programs should use data to make sure that all assets are relevant to customers. Behavioral and performance data should also be used to analyze which assets work best.

Search engine optimization (SEO) should be used to produce content that fits into content gaps and maintains a brand presence for major topics your customers search. Major search destinations like Google should be closely and continuously monitored by marketers with SEO experience.

Content performance for all assets should also be monitored and analyzed. Develop KPIs like click-throughs and viewing time to define which pieces of content are most engaging to customers.

Building a strong content distribution and promotion strategy

It’s not enough to produce engaging content. An important part of B2B content marketing is where the content is placed and how it is shared. Placing your content in the right digital communities and social media platforms lends authority to your content and brand.

Identify key thought leaders and communities in your industry. These industry hot spots exist wherever decision-makers communicate online. They could be in groups on LinkedIn or other social platforms, or they could be built around independent industry organizations that have a strong online presence.

Individuals on the content marketing team should reach out to thought leaders with large followings and engage them with relevant questions and comments, facilitating a conversation relevant to your brand’s audience. Mention key articles, webinars or whitepapers that your team produced in order to amplify your business’s content.

Also, develop a strategy for how your customers and prospects will share data to engage with a particular valuable piece of content. If a customer signs up or registers in order to engage with the content, your business can maintain contact and nurture leads with email and marketing automation programs.

By understanding the fundamentals, implementing effective strategies, and harnessing the power of generative AI, marketers can unlock the full potential of B2B content marketing and achieve remarkable results in today’s digital landscape.

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