B2B marketers know the drill. Your job is the engage potential customers, ideally at the exact moments when they make crucial buying decisions. Generally, the accepted approach is to somehow entice prospective buyers to enter your company’s sales funnel, at which point you work with the sales team to transition them through the funnel to conversion as seamlessly as possible.
For B2B prospects, this business process starts with engaging them online through content marketing.
B2B buyers depend on online content to research industries and businesses, identify services for their business needs, and review and compare providers.
So, in order to engage B2B customers to market your company, you need to create content that appeals to those customers’ needs throughout their buying process.
The process of creating an effective content marketing strategy can be broken down into a 3-step approach:
- Understand what sort of content appeals to your target customers
- Craft your content so that it is compelling and relevant to your target customers
- Invest in SEO and other digital marketing services so that your target customers can find your content
Use these 3 approaches to create and market content that engages your target B2B audiences and carries them through your funnel to conversion.
Research Your Target Customers’ Content Preferences
Before you create content to engage B2B buyers, you need to understand the kind of content they want to consume.
According to recent research from Clutch, B2B audiences are most likely to read blogs or articles online compared to other content formats (infographics, videos, reviews, etc).
The content format that B2B buyers consume, however, depends on their buying intent.
For example, B2B audiences that consume business content to make a buying decision are most likely to read reviews and product descriptions.
On the other hand, those who read business content online to stay informed about industry trends prefer blogs or articles. This group is less concerned about comparing companies or products. Instead, they are focused on information about broader topics, which they find more with blogs and articles.
Using this sort of research, you can understand how to format your content strategy to address the needs of your target B2B audiences.
Diversify Your Content Portfolio
The two examples above illustrate B2B audiences’ demand for content that they can use to inform their purchasing decisions.
To respond to this demand, your business needs to have a diverse content portfolio. A broader variety of content provides your company with more opportunities to engage with B2B customers, regardless of their place in the sales funnel.
For example, because buyers at the top of the funnel are more interested in reading a blog post about industry trends, you should consider writing a blog about the state of your industry or that discusses topical subject matter in your segment.
While this sort of content may not lead directly to conversion, it provides brand awareness for your site among this group. It is also much easier to direct users to your product and services pages once they are already on your site compared to those that originate from third-party channels.
For prospective customers that are further down in the sales funnel – such as those who read business content to decide whether to purchase a company’s services – you should focus content efforts on creating and/or curating product pages and descriptions on your site and ensuring you have reviews featured on relevant directory sites.
Product descriptions and reviews directly appeal to buyers who have moved beyond researching your industry and are considering the best services partner for their needs.
Creating and curating a content portfolio for your business that appeals to every type of buyer increases the chances that they engage, or at least encounter, your company’s content.
Use SEO Services to Achieve Visibility for B2B Audiences
Prospective customers don’t typically enter your sales funnel in a vacuum. To engage with your company’s content, they need to encounter it first.
In the context of B2B buyers, this means that your content needs to appear highly in search rankings for relevant terms.
According to Forrester, 90% of B2B buyers start their research with a generic search query.
Clutch’s survey also found that 87% of B2B audiences frequently encounter business content through search.
Investing in SEO services provides that opportunity. Quality SEO services, especially content marketing, boost your site’s search ranking for the key terms and keywords that your target customers are likely to use when researching relevant topics to your industry or business.
It should be noted that the numerous factors that affect a site’s SEO may impact how effective content marketing efforts are for boosting your site’s search ranking. For example, if your company website does is not mobile-response, or you have been assessed a Google penalty, content marketing won’t be your magic bullet (I would suggest an SEO consultant if this applies to you).
However, the general principle stands that creating quality content that addresses your target customers’ needs improves search rankings and improves your chances to encounter B2B buyers through search.
Collect Data and Adapt Your Content Strategy
B2B marketers can use content to achieve their objective of appealing to and engaging prospective buyers.
Specifically, by researching their target customers' content preferences and in turn creating a diverse, optimized content portfolio, you can find, appeal, and engage B2B buyers.
That being said, your content marketing efforts should not stop at SEO.
You need to follow up and measure exactly how your target customers engage with your content. With this data, you can further narrow your content efforts to engage audiences most likely to convert at the best moments.