In this article, we examine effective B2B content marketing practices and why they work.
- Explainer Posts
- Thought Leadership Articles
- Downloadable Guides
- Social Media Usage
- Use Cases or Case Studies
- Email Newsletters
This type of content can be long-form articles, short blog posts, or how-to guides that walk the end-user or prospect through how to use certain products or services.
Why do B2B explainer videos work? These are not sales pieces, but can help a potential buyer understand how a product works, what it entails, and what to expect. In order to educate a potential buyer or end-user about B2B products and services, these types of content pieces are essential.
Thought Leadership Articles
When most B2B marketers talk about content marketing, they mean thought leadership articles. In fact, thought leadership articles are educational content (copy, video, illustrations) that share experienced insights with readers. These articles can be short or long, but they all feature an industry expert sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Why are thought leadership articles so effective? Essentially, they demonstrate your team’s expertise, educate the user, and establish your firm’s credibility. Like sales sheets or brochures, these give the reader or viewer information that will help them in their job, whether it is making a decision, using a product or service, learning about industry trends, or a variety of other topics. Thought leadership content builds trust with prospects and positions your company as an industry expert.
Downloadable guides are seen as top-of-funnel lead generators in B2B marketing. While this is true for gated content (guides only accessible after completing a form), these guides can also be used as giveaways (i.e., ungated and accessible without trading an email address). Whether gated or not, downloadable guides are a great way to help the user decide if a product or service is right for them.
Clientele, product or service, and industry will all influence the guide. A marketing guide may be 10-12 pages long, whereas an installation guide for an airborne server may be 50 pages or more.
Why include guides in your content marketing strategy? Weakly disguised sales pitches abound on the internet, making it difficult to find accurate, useful information. Customized guides that share actual steps, best practices, or clear processes are extremely valuable. It’s a guide they can use to find, follow, and implement best practices. It’s free advice without constant sales follow-up.
Social Media Usage
We live in a hyper-connected world where many companies produce content. On top of that, it’s a great way to engage in industry conversations.
Why use social media? Sharing carefully curated content from other industry thought leaders, partners, clients, and vendors shows anyone researching your company, products, or services that you are active in your industry and looking to contribute. Sharing helpful articles from others shows you prioritize customer needs over sales. Of course, this matters to your prospects.
Use Cases or Case Studies
“How is your product or service being used?” “How do your existing clients fare?”
Buyers frequently ask these two questions. Case studies or use cases are vital components of a B2B content marketing strategy. They can be long, detailed, or even anonymous. In fact, they really sell the value of your products or services. The best use cases or case studies use data and analysis. Some may even highlight a usage roadblock and the end solution.
While you and even the end-user may understand the purpose or outcome of your product or service, others in the decision-making pool may be curious about other applications or expected ROI. These powerful content pieces help the end-user of your product or service make a case to their leadership. Your sales team may not be able to meet with all decision-makers, but this content will be shared with all stakeholders.
Do you have a weekly, monthly, or quarterly email that you look forward to? Email newsletters are unique emails with educational or thought leadership content. The emails may contain a sales element, but they are primarily educational.
What good are email newsletters? The sales cycle for B2B companies is often much longer than expected, from the time a prospect first considers a product or service to the time they actually contact a salesperson. A prospect may sign up for your email newsletter to stay informed, but may not have the budget or internal resources to buy or use your products or services. With regular, helpful emails, your firm will stay top of mind, and when they have the budget, get the OK to buy, or move to a new firm with the resources, they will contact you first.
Inbound lead generation is more likely with thoughtful and strategic B2B content marketing. In a world where people hate being sold to but love shopping, it’s vital to provide them with useful information.