The Definitive Guide to B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing is one of the best ways to demonstrate authority, provide value to users, and get leads. But if the art and/or science of it is unclear to you, then you should definitely be reading this guide so you can learn how to make the most of it for your business or startup as part of your sales funnel.

 

What Is B2B Content Marketing?

Content marketing is when you write or create value-infused content that’s relevant and helpful to your target audience. Then you market it so you can get people to come back to your website to digest it with the purpose of building trust and authority with your company.

Meanwhile, you can get even better results for your business by giving them an opportunity to opt-in to a free offer through that piece of content, such as a lead magnet or content upgrade that provides extra information on the given topic that the visitor can download. These opt-ins give will provide them with an even more helpful piece of content that is synergistically aligned with the piece of content you marketed.

This is also referred to as inbound marketing, as you want people to be coming to your company’s site and building a connection with your brand. It’s better to do inbound marketing rather than vice versa by doing cold outreach to get something from them without them initiating the first interaction with your brand.

Evergreen blog posts such as this one provide a stable and consistent method to get traffic from search engines (as long as you get ranked on the first page of results for your target keyword(s)) and they enable you to create helpful opt-in offers for potential customers.

There are many other types of content to market and many types you can use for lead magnets, so you don’t have to be boring and do the same thing all the time. Your readers will surely appreciate that too.

Let’s see what types of content you can create and how they can help your business with its B2B content marketing.

10 Common Types of Content Used in Content Marketing

  1. Blog Posts
  2. E-Books
  3. Checklists
  4. Slide Decks
  5. Helpful Lists
  6. Templates
  7. Videos
  8. Podcasts
  9. Product Reviews
  10. Case Studies/White Papers

1) Blog Posts

Blogging allows the writer to create more advanced content and you can easily edit and update blog posts.  Sure, you can write short blog posts, but really — how helpful will they be?  You can’t create advanced content as easily with most other forms of content. In-depth blog posts with super easy readability should be the goal.

These are what you can easily market on social media and in your email list. You can promote both your post and the opt-in offer in these channels. Blogging is also a great way to get affiliate revenue if  sign up for affiliate partnerships and you’re doing tools lists or something similar.

2) PDF E-Books or Guides

E-books are an awesome way to provide guidance on a certain topic or set of topics. You’ve surely seen this before. They demonstrated knowledge and authority on the subject matter, so doesn’t that make you trust them more? You are likely an expert in your own domain, and if you share that through some downloadable content, then that will surely help your company build trust.

But don’t be overwhelmed by thinking you’ve got to write a 50, 100, or 200 page book!

That’s totally not the case. 10 to 15 nicely formatted pages with images can be enough and save you material to create for other e-books to go deeper into that topic.

In this instance, you’d not be driving traffic to the guide or e-book itself, but rather a post that has it as a content upgrade.

3) Checklists

I love checklists! Checklists are short and sweet (like me haha) and give people a high-level overview of what needs to get done to achieve a goal — small and large alike. And they can be great additions to blog posts as opt-in offers.

4) Slide Decks

Slide decks are excellent pieces of content. They’re usually pretty succinct because you can only fit so much content on each slide. In addition, they usually contain lots of images to help drive their points across, which makes them easier for people to remember, and can usually retain peoples interest, even those of whom have short attention spans.

5) Helpful Lists

Like checklists, lists can be amazingly helpful. Think of how other people or companies have provided you with lists that you’ve opted-in for. Maybe it’s a list of tactics, or a list of gear or equipment you need to do an activity, or anything in between. You can be creative, but it’s got to be helpful for the type of visitors you get.

6) Templates

I love templates too. They save people so much time! Have you ever created an Excel spreadsheet for a business activity that you thought would be helpful to people in the same situation? Maybe you can use that as an email opt-in offer!

What an “Excel-lent idea”!

7) Videos

Videos are so popular because it provides both a visual and auditory experience for the viewer.  Video is basically the king of content types because it’s basically everyone’s favorite type of content to consume. It allows the viewer to connect better with the message portrayed in the video. We can easily get encapsulated in the narrative of the story and that makes it a particularly potent type of content. And, if there is a person in the video (unlike in animated explainer videos), then it creates a human element to the video and makes it easier for the viewer to connect emotionally.

You can market email opt-ins through your videos, as well. So marketing the video works and marketing an opt-in within the video works too.

8) Podcasts

Podcasts have risen quickly as a dominant force on the internet and they are easy to listen to on the go when people are out and about.  Like video, podcasts allow the listener to form an emotional bond with the podcaster. You can market them and opt-ins the same way that you market podcasts. In addition, you can offer a transcript of the podcast.

9) Product Reviews

Do this well and you’ll have people coming back for more product reviews on your site. A lot of companies will do product reviews of competitors’ products and include their own with a quasi-biased review of theirs. If it’s a blog post, video, or podcast, you’ll be able to easily market a valuable opt-in offer to your target audience throughout your review. And as aforementioned, it’s a great way to make affiliate income.

10) Case Studies/White Papers

As you know, case studies and white papers are the type of content that will be, on the whole, quite educational and detailed. We see a lot of growth case studies from startups who have had very successful launches and are showing the public how they did it. If you share your expertise of something similar in your business, it’s likely that this will be a great piece for B2B content marketing.

 

Why Is B2B Content Marketing Important for Startups and Business In General?

Startups are new and trying to make an impact on the world and in their community.

It takes a long time to get established, but blogging, in particular, and when done correctly, can be a consistent source of organic traffic for your company, and therefore leads.

Even if your business isn’t a startup, content marketing can still be a potential delivery mechanism for establishing a foothold in your market.

And think of it this way — once your ads or other marketing campaigns stop running, then that’s the end of that and they’re unlikely to continue to drive in more traffic after they’re done.

Moreover, as previously mentioned, it helps to establish trust, value, and favor within your niche.

Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

As with any important project, developing a strategy to tackle it is super important.

Doing your research, creating an outline, gathering your sources and statistics, images that reinforce your written or spoken content, who you will be marketing it to, and how you will be marketing it — are all steps that are going to help you create some kick-ass material for your visitors.

Our friends at CrazyEgg created a helpful article detailing A Step-by-Step Guide to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy that Converts that we recommend you check out.

Like this post and many other posts in our blog, we do intensive and in-depth articles on subject matter so our visitors can become as informed as possible on a given topic. This makes it easier for our posts to rank highly on Google and get more traffic.

Moreover, to really hit a home-run with your content, it’s especially helpful to make your content better than everyone else’s. That’s where the research comes in.

The two methods for making them better are called the 10x content strategy and skyscraper technique. They are not easy to do, but they’re incredibly valuable assets for your company when doing B2B content marketing.

Creating Content Geared Towards User Intent

When you’re developing content, you want each piece of content to have a purpose.

This is called user intent.  And it’s extremely important.

User intent is important to understand and integrate into your content because your content should be speaking to your target customer about something they would need to or want to know.

Think about search engine queries.

When you type in something in Google or Yahoo/Bing, you have an intent.  You’re looking for something specific 9/10 times.

The same goes for your target customer.

Furthermore, when you’re content marketing, definitely make sure there’s a purpose woven into your content that will help your target customer and make them want to click on your link.

Ideally, you want to create your content in a way that it targets one of the three stages of the buyer’s journey, which are 1) awareness, 2) consideration, and 3) decision.

The big however, is that, you’ll need to lock down your target search keywords before you start creating any content. 

My favorite keyword research tools are:

The Effectiveness of B2B Content Marketing Efforts

There are a lot of different ways to be effective in content marketing.

Some of these ways are increasing search engine rankings through on-page optimization with tools like Yoast SEO, making sure there’s adequate content length (as long as it’s not boring and dull), creating high quality content, marketing content that’s highly relevant to your audience, increased content distribution, having strong and catchy headlines, and enhancing readability.

I cover a lot of these throughout this post, but I’ll talk about some of these in this section.

Search Engine Indexing and Rankings

Written posts have the added benefit of being scanable by search engines for indexing (this allows you to be ranked on the search engine results pages (SERP)), but there’s a trick to help search engines find other content of yours, such as podcast episodes or videos on your website.

What I’m referring to are both post tags and categories.

I’ve achieved well over 20 different first page rankings on Google and I’ve found that by creating relevant tags and variants of those tags which are the target keywords of the post, I got much better rankings and more traffic by doing so.

Check out this image showing the different tags I used for this post.

Startup content marketing post tags for SEO

These help Google categorize the post into more search results and makes it easier for people to find your content on the SERP.

 

Content Length

According to Neil Patel, a content marketing and search engine optimization expert, Google ranks posts higher that have over 2000 words.

length of blog posts affecting search engine rankings - startup content marketing

However, you can still be effective with content marketing by writing 300 to 800-word posts.

 

Content Quality vs Quantity

The more quality content you post about something within your niche, the higher your post gets ranked and the more organic traffic comes. Therefore posting lower quality content less frequently will not help you as much.

There is a caveat, though. While Google gives preference to quality content from you, consistently posting content on social media and across the web will, in the long run, also benefit your website or blog as a whole because it has a compounding effect.

The compounding effect occurs when you post consistently on social media for at least a couple of months.

As people are searching through group histories and page histories, your older content will show up and the more they see, the more likely they are to find something that interests them enough to click on it and visit your website.

What’s great about content marketing is that the content does most of the selling for you.

You just have to casually talk about how your product or service can help with a specific element of the content you’ve created. As long as the content is of high quality, you don’t have to do as many hard sells on social media.

Neil Patel, a founder of 4 multi-million dollar startups, attracts almost 200,000 people to his website per month through free traffic.

He gets that traffic to his website through organic search, social media, referrals, and from backlinks.

Neil is consistently creating and posting new high-quality content every day.  This has enabled him to earn an enormous following of people, including myself. However, he does have a huge team behind him to help with all aspects of putting out killer content day by day.

Regardless of whether or not you have a team, if you do enough quality content marketing, you’ll gradually become an industry and writing expert, and will be able to bring lots of free traffic to your website, too.

Just try to create one great piece of content a week and gradually work up from there to two pieces a week, or more, if you’re serious about your startup content marketing strategy.

How and Where To Do Content Marketing

Now that you have the content, it has to be promoted. You don’t have to pay to promote it and can market it on social media pretty easily. Although they should be relevant to any group you post them into and they should definitely include topical hashtags so people can find them easily on social networks.

The best channels to do content marketing for businesses are:

  • Your Email List!
  • Facebook pages, groups, and personal profiles, individually messaging people, Facebook messenger, and posting your link in relevant comments.
  • LinkedIn pages, posts, articles, groups, individually messaging people, and posting your link in relevant comments.
  • Twitter tweets, messages, topics, and in replies to relevant tweets
  • Instagram with pictures and text in the picture description, individually messaging people, and posting your link in relevant comments.
  • Pinterest by creating boards (they’re like categories) and posting your images or infographics on them.

For more resources on how to market your content on social media, you can check out these resources I wrote:

Writing the Content in Your Posts

Did you know that the best way to write blog posts and talk in your videos and podcasts is by talking like you would to another person?

I’m serious! And it helps you by making your content less boring, which will, in turn, keep your readers more engaged with your content rather than exiting the page and/or website quickly.

If you’re writing blog posts, then by adding/embedding videos (they don’t have to be your own), infographics, images, and even podcast episodes — people will stay on your page longer and become more engaged.

As long as it’s relevant to the topic and helpful for the reader, Google will notice this and as people start staying on your page longer, Google will start to rank your posts higher, as well.

 

The Impact of Visuals

How visuals and images drive more engagement and traffic

It’s likely that you’ve heard the saying, “it’s always nice to connect a face to the name.”  Visuals are incredibly important to keep your content interesting and memorable.

There’s another saying about pictures:  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Relevant visuals will make your content more exciting!  Whether they’re images, videos, infographics, or GIFs, they will play a vital role as part of your content marketing strategy.

 

Where You Can Get Free Pictures

  • Pixaby – This site is amazing and both attribution and royalty free AND free!
  • Gratisophotagry – Free high-resolution photos
  • Stocksnap.io – Beautiful free photos
  • MorgueFile – Free images with no attribution required
  • Pikwizard – Beautiful and free high quality stock photos

 

How to Make Your Own Images

Canva – There are so many options on this website to create your own images for free. However, Canva has dozens of various templates, scores of fonts, and even has templates for specific types of social media post image sizes.

Neil Patel created this post called How to Make Custom Images Without Hiring a Designer. I recommend you check it out if you want to DIY.

 

Blog Post Structure

All of your posts should have:

  • An outline before you even start
  • An introduction – you don’t need to label it as an introduction, though.
  • A body
    • The body should consist of your main topics and have subheadings when you’re breaking down each section.
    • The main section title headings will be H2 or heading 2 formatting
    • Each subsection title of each section will be H3 or heading 3 formatting
    • Each subsection of each subsection will be H4 or heading 4 formatting, and so forth.
  • A conclusion – this should be labeled as “conclusion”

You should NEVER not have subheadings. Long, unrelenting paragraphs are a nightmare for most visitors and will result in them clicking that x on their browser tab.

Of course, that’s a super basic outline.

But I’m going to share a writing formula I’ve learned from a copywriting expert, Kevin Halbert.

Halbert shares a basic, yet highly effective writing formula which will help you with your content writing too!

Kevin Halbert’s Three Phases of Writing

According to Kevin Halbert in an interview by Ray Edwards (another copywriting expert) from the Global Copywriting Summit of 2016, Kevin states that there are three phases to his writing.

Kevin Halbert is one of two sons by the anointed “King of Copywriting,” Gary Halbert.  Gary trained his sons to become amazing copywriters too, especially through his acclaimed “Boron Letters.”

Kevin suggests each phase should have the same amount of time put into them by setting a deadline for the piece.

So, if you schedule 9 hours for writing a piece of content, then split that into thirds for each phase.

 

Phase One

The first phase is research and planning.

Doing the research on the topic which you speak on or write about will adequately prepare you to begin your writing and gives you ammunition for the copy you write.

Find lots of helpful articles to reference and save the links together in a Google Doc as you’re researching.

You’ll also want to find helpful and interesting statistics to help your readers understand the topic better and get extra insights.

Before you write your article, you should do some keyword research on Google to see what long-tail keywords work the best. Once you’ve found your keywords that match your desired topic, then you’ll be able to maximize the keyword density in your article for content marketing.

 

Phase Two

The second phase is writing.

However, it was recently discovered that keyword density matters less now than it did before.  So, instead of packing your article with the same exact keywords, using a variation of them will suffice.

Furthermore, when you cite and quote experts from your field and present those interesting facts to your audience, you will also gain credibility and social proof, especially if your brand is new.  You become an authority on that material.

According to Kevin Halbert, when you’re writing, you should just let it flow without correcting errors, typos, and write until that time frame deadline.

Don’t make your content BORING.

Do your best to make your content as amazing and engaging as possible!

Try to make your writing more exciting by writing in more of a conversational way, like the way you would talk.

It may be counter-intuitive to you because we’re taught to write things all business-ey.  But writing boring content doesn’t convert into good results for your brand or any brand for that matter.

You want your words to pop out and you want your content to speak to people.

More importantly, you want your content to be relevant to your target audience.  You’re not going to be able to write one piece that speaks to everyone.  Instead, be sure to write for your specific audience.

If you’re not speaking to your audience, then who are you speaking to?

The golden rule in public speaking is to cater each speech to each unique audience.

This is why it’s so important to learn your target audience as much as possible, for your company or startup’s sake.

In addition, this is also why new blogs or startups with no target audience don’t get any traction because they are talking to too wide of an audience.

Then, they have a high bounce rate and/or low time on page because the writer isn’t properly engaging with their target readers.

Now, as you write more and your content development improves, so will the smaller things that are interrelated, yet not yet mentioned.

That’s why in the next section I’ll be showing you the third phase of writing, editing.  It’s full of juicy editing tips ready for your consumption that will make you masterful in no time.

 

Phase Three

The third phase is editing.

After writing you do your editing and make it flow as smoothly as possible.

Meanwhile, you should also be editing it to be as optimized for SEO as you can.

 

Editing Tips

  • When editing your work, look for long sentences and shorten them to 20 words or less.  According to Yoast, a top SEO company, the recommended maximum of sentences above 20 words shouldn’t exceed 25% of your sentences. (Get the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress if you’re using WP, it’s a gift from the heavens)
  • Look for difficult words and see if you can make them easier to understand.
  • Long paragraphs will be more intimidating to a reader, so split up your paragraphs to be between one and three sentence blocks.  Use this article as an example.
  • Move content around if it doesn’t fit with its surrounding paragraphs and put it in sections that it will fit in.
  • Use the heading 1, heading 2, and heading 3 text styles to break up your content and make it easier to read. If a reader goes through your work, they should be able to understand the gist of your post or article by scrolling through and reading the headers. The heading 1 is more general, heading 2 is more specific, heading 3 is much more specific, and so on.
  • Try to keep each the word count of each section between titles and subtitles at a maximum of 300 words.  This helps search engines digest your content and optimize it for search engine results.
  • Use words that transition from one section to the other. Think of a segue that a reporter does from story to story.  Speaking of xyz…
  • Use target keywords for your articles and cleanly insert variations of them into your posts.  This helps with SEO. However, don’t do it at the expense of the reader.
  • Make sure to cite other industry professionals and experts.

 

Grammar

If you have issues with grammar, then you should without a doubt, download the Chrome extension grammar.ly and use Chrome when you’re writing in Google Docs or any text editor in the browser. It’s free and awesome.

Grammarly has caught numerous typos and grammatical errors of mine that I wouldn’t have otherwise caught.  I highly suggest you use it.  A majority of people have grammar issues, so don’t feel bashful about it.

Just try to learn from your mistakes so you can make your life easier in the future.

 

Difficulty of Reading

According to an article by Neil Patel, if you write your articles simply and without words that are advanced past the 8th-grade level, then your writing will be easier to digest.

Neil also said that if your audience college-educated then writing more advanced content at a 12th-grade level should generally be applied.

Remember that if you’re writing in English, a lot of other countries have unofficially and officially adopted English into their cultures, so their English comprehension is good but not excellent.  Google will translate a lot of the material, though.

Now that you’re more educated on the type of content to write in your social media posts and website, naturally, you’ll want to know how to make it stand out.  You’ll find this information in the following sections.

 

Brainstorming Article Ideas

Now that we have the formula to make great quality content, dig some time out to do brainstorming sessions for article ideas.

Think about your customers’ pain points or things that would be useful to them and write down several ideas for articles to write about.

These articles will be an important part of your marketing and content marketing strategy.  In social media, they will increase your brand popularity, increase traffic back to your website, and will likely drive in sales.

As you brainstorm article ideas, many times headline ideas will invariably start to come forth.

 

Headlines for Your Content

Being able to create great headlines is vitally important so you’ll get clicks which will lead back to your website.

The title has to be interesting enough so people don’t just share it but will click on your link because they want to find out more information.

Thus, the main overarching goal when approaching social media marketing should always be to bring people back to your website.

Then, your next goal should be to get them to sign up to your email list and/or make a purchase.

 

Breaking Down the Psychology of Good Headlines

  1. Good headlines provide value to the target audience
  2. They either are showing the reader:
    1. How to do something
    2. Helpful tips
    3. A specific goal in mind for each post
    4. Something someone wants
    5. Exciting information
    6. News or something that’s new
  3. Numbers show specificity to the degree in which you can help the reader understand the depth of the publication.
  4. There are adjectives and adverbs which display an emotion or situation that’s trying to be conveyed
  5. Use “power words” to display, well, power.  This invokes emotion into the reader.  Words like: amazing, powerful, drastic, dramatic, ultimate, easy, exclusive.  Check out this awesome guide from Buffer of powerful words and phrases
  6. Use persuasive words like instantly, new, because, free, & you.

 

How to Write Headlines for Your Content

Headlines are the first things people see, so naturally, you want them to work well so they can grab a potential user’s attention.

According to CopyBlogger.com, “copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.  It’s designed to get you up and running with the basics of writing great copy.”

Writing good copy for your headlines is both a science and an art.

There are proven ways that writers can craft their content in manners that will make them feel almost any emotion.

But why do you want the reader to have emotion?

Emotion plays a large role in the art of selling.

Did you know that buyers act on emotion more than they do with logic?  It’s true!  Writers control the power when they can control their words they write.

If you share a small story in your content about why you created your product or service and how you can help with the aspect of the content you’ve written about, then you can tap into that emotion and make your blog posts work for you to drive in sales.

There are vast lists of power words that you can harness to deliver greater results if you word the rest of your copy properly. Just search Google for “power words list” to find them.

 

Six examples of headlines which will get attention:

  • 5 Ways to Network Which Will Help You Land More Customers
  • 7 Cheap Holiday Gift Ideas That Your Employees Will LOVE
  • 12 Ways to Make More Money with xyzApp
  • 6 Strategies Which Will Massively Help You With Customer Acquisition
  • 10 Tips to Help You Increase Your Productivity FOR LIFE
  • How to Make Stunning Graphics for Your Website

Be interesting with your headlines.  Remember that emotion drives purchases and emotion also drives clicks.

If something is interesting, that’s often an emotional thought and not necessarily a logical thought, but can sometimes be both.

However, article headlines are totally different than email subject lines as well, so don’t mistake one for the other.

 

15 blog post headline templates:

  1. How to Simply Your _______ Process to Save Time and Money
  2. (#) Strategies to ________
  3. (#) Creative Ways to _______
  4. Top (#) Tools to do _________
  5. (#) Essential Steps to _________
  6. (#) Smart Habits of Successful _________
  7. How to Make ______ with ________
  8. (#) Great Resources to Use for __________
  9. (#) Mistakes I Made in _______ that Almost _________
  10. How to ____ The Right Way
  11. (#) Popular _____ in _______
  12. (#) Cheap but Effective Strategies to  _______ for _________
  13. A Complete Guide To __________
  14. (#) Phenomenal ______ You Must Try Now
  15. (#) Secrets to ______ for _________

Now that you’ve learned headlines, you have the formula to create great content!

All you need to know is where to market it.

Conclusion

Content marketing has become an important aspect of new businesses and even more so startups.

We recognize it can be a big undertaking to publish new content every day or even every week, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, especially when you automate your content marketing.

Even if you haven’t been a great writer in the past, as long as you’re not typing with just two fingers, then you can get the hang of this and get better every day.  It really does get a lot easier every time.

Believe in yourself, because you can do it!  And once you get into the swing of things, you can then start planning posts and creating a content calendar, and will eventually be driving huge amounts of traffic to your website!

 

What’s your experience with content marketing and what challenges are you looking to overcome with it?  (Scroll all the way down to see the comment box)

 

 

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