The Advanced Guide to B2B Content Marketing

By Tom Shapiro on May 24, 2024
B2B Content Marketing

What do HubSpot, Drift, Arrow Electronics, SAP, WP Engine, Ahrefs, and NextView Ventures have in common?

All of them use content marketing to grow their businesses.

Business-to-business (B2B) verticals are becoming more crowded and competitive. B2B content marketing can be your secret weapon for differentiated marketing, building your brand, increasing visibility, attracting traffic, driving leads, and ultimately increasing revenue.

In this guide to B2B content marketing, we will discuss why content marketing is so valuable for B2B brands, how to develop a strategy, and what types of content to create.

What is B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing involves strategically planning, creating, and marketing content specifically for B2B businesses to drive audience action. Content creation includes blog posts, white papers, ebooks, research reports, webinars, videos, podcasts, infographics, and more.

In most cases, the content doesn’t promote the brand but educates or entertains the audience. Overall, content marketing for B2Bs includes planning, production, and distribution.

B2B vs. B2C Content Marketing

B2B content marketing targets niche audiences with deep expertise, addresses complex sales processes, and focuses on delivering value, while B2C content aims for broad awareness and virality.

B2B content must address each stage of the long B2B customer journey. Execs want to see how you’ll impact their bottom line, and many influencers in the buying group have a say in the final purchase decision.

B2C content, in contrast, casts a wider net and segments audiences using demographic and psychographic data. Quizzes, contests, and interactive content are popular B2C tactics.

Ultimately, B2B content must deliver exceptional value to earn trust and drive conversions in a niche market. B2C content focuses on entertainment and inspiration to build brand affinity with the masses.

Why B2B Content Marketing is Important

Content marketing is a cornerstone for B2B strategies that foster engagement and long-term relationships. Content Marketing Institute’s research highlights that 28% of B2B marketers say their organization is extremely or successful with content marketing.

And it’s no surprise why — the same study shows that in the last 12 months, B2B marketers used content marketing to achieve business goals ranging from brand awareness to growing loyalty:

goals B2B marketers achieved by using content marketing in the last 12 months

How does content marketing impact so many areas?

For starters, it delivers incredible ROI. HubSpot found that marketers who prioritize blogging get 13X more ROI than those who don’t. Plus, content has a compounding effect — it generates leads and builds trust long after publication.

Take Ahrefs, the SEO tool. They grew their ARR to $55M, primarily through content. They attracted organic traffic by publishing valuable, evergreen guides and established authority to fuel long-term growth.

Content also nurtures prospects through the lengthy B2B sales cycle. Each decision maker in the B2B buying group is armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently.

Content cements your expertise, differentiates your brand, and grows lasting customer relationships.

How to Develop a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Determine Your Content Marketing Goals

Want your content to drive real results? Start by setting clear goals that align with your broader business objectives.

Maybe you’re looking to:

  • Boost brand awareness and establish thought leadership
  • Drive more high-quality leads and MQLs
  • Increase organic traffic and search engine rankings
  • Nurture prospects through the lengthy B2B sales cycle
  • Improve customer retention and loyalty

Your goals shape your entire strategy — the content types you create, the topics you cover, and the channels you use to promote it.

Let’s say lead generation is your top priority. Create gated content like whitepapers or webinars to capture contact info. Organic traffic more your speed? Focus on SEO-optimized blog posts targeting top-of-the-funnel keywords.

Align your content goals with broader business objectives. Work with sales and product teams to set the right KPIs. Track metrics influenced by content, such as form fills, downloads, and revenue.

The key is to be specific and measurable. “Increase brand awareness” is vague. “Grow site traffic by 50% in Q3” is actionable.

Remember, your content goals ladder up to revenue impact. Generating leads is great, but you need to nurture them into customers. Set goals around sales conversions, too.

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Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure your content’s efficiency in achieving its key goals. Almost half of B2B marketers agree their organization measures content marketing success. Here’s a breakdown of what they measure:

b2b marketers rely on metrics to evaluate content performance

But measuring every KPI is like throwing spaghetti at the wall — overwhelming and useless. Instead, focus on the metrics that matter most to your goals.

Trying to establish thought leadership? Track share of voice, brand mentions, and earned media placements. Aiming for lead generation? Monitor form submissions, content downloads, and MQLs.

Even better: align your KPIs with the buyer’s journey:

  • Top of Funnel: Brand awareness, site traffic, social engagement
  • Middle of Funnel: Lead generation, form fills, content downloads
  • Bottom of Funnel: Sales qualified leads, pipeline revenue, closed/won deals

The key is quality over quantity. Don’t just chase vanity metrics. Measure what moves the needle for your business.

Define Audience Segments and Buyer Personas

Start by identifying your key audience segments. Maybe they’re marketing managers, sales directors, and C-suite executives, or small business owners, enterprise decision-makers, and technical users.

Then, create buyer personas for each segment. These detailed profiles capture buyers’ goals, challenges, and preferences.

Include info like:

  • Job title and responsibilities
  • Company size and industry
  • Biggest pain points and priorities
  • Preferred content formats and channels
  • Psychological needs and motivators

That last one is key. HBR found that B2B buyers prioritize interactions that fuel their psychological needs — even if they require more time or money.

So don’t just focus on demographics. Dig into their emotional drivers. Do they crave confidence, pride, or excitement? Craft content that speaks to those desires.

Personas help you create content that resonates on a deeper level. Instead of generic content, you’ll deliver targeted insights that address your audience’s specific challenges. Take the time to truly understand your audience. Interview customers, analyze data, and collaborate with sales. The more you know, the more impactful your content is.

Determine the Specific Questions Going through Their Minds

Know what’s on your audience’s mind at each stage of the funnel to create content that converts.

In the awareness stage, they’re asking high-level questions like:

  • What is [problem/opportunity]?
  • Why is [problem/opportunity] important?
  • How do I know if I have [problem/opportunity]?

In the consideration stage, they’re evaluating potential solutions:

  • What are the different approaches to solving [problem]?
  • What are the pros and cons of each approach?
  • How do I choose the right solution for my needs?

In the decision stage, they’re comparing specific vendors:

  • How does [your product] compare to [competitor]?
  • What are the implementation and onboarding processes like?
  • What ROI can I expect from [your product]?

To uncover these questions, start with keyword research. Look at Google’s “People Also Ask” results. Use tools like Thruuu or Answer the Public to find common search queries.

Then, create content that addresses these questions head-on. In the awareness stage, focus on educational blog posts and guides. In consideration, provide comparison guides and case studies. In decision, offer product demos and ROI calculators.

Meet your audience where they are with the right content at the right time. Answer their burning questions to build trust, establish authority, and guide them through the funnel.

Determine Your Content Value Proposition

Your content value prop is your North Star. It guides every blog post, every video, and every social update. Nail it, and you’ll cut through the clutter and connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Take Backlinko, for example. They could churn out the same old SEO advice as everyone else. Instead, they differentiate through:

  • In-depth, data-driven case studies
  • Engaging, personality-packed videos
  • Proprietary frameworks and coined terms

Here’s an example of what this looks like in action:

graph of google analytics all users

That’s their content value prop: Insider SEO secrets you won’t find anywhere else, presented in a fresh, entertaining way.

What’s yours? Maybe it’s:

  • Unfiltered, behind-the-scenes looks at your company
  • Bold, contrarian takes on industry trends
  • Stunning, scroll-stopping visual content

The key is to find your unique angle. What can you offer that no one else can? What’s your unfair advantage?

Dig deep into your brand DNA. What are your core values and differentiators? Infuse those into every piece of content.

Be Creative

Let’s talk numbers: 7.5 million blog posts are published every day. It can be challenging to differentiate yourself with so much clutter. Creativity is essential for this reason.

Just look at the data from Sprout Social: 72% of consumers expect brands to be positive contributors to society. 64% want brands to connect with them and use their power to help people. Cookie-cutter content won’t cut it.

Instead, introduce creative campaigns that break the mold. Consider Moz’s “Whiteboard Friday” video series. Instead of dry SEO lectures, they feature lively, hand-drawn explanations that make complex topics accessible.

moz whiteboard friday

It’s a prime example of how a unique format can set you apart.
The lesson? Creativity is your competitive edge. Producing content isn’t enough — you must innovate, take risks, and deliver unique experiences.

Create Evergreen Content

“Evergreen” content is always relevant and helpful, no matter when it’s published or read. Creating outstanding content requires much time and effort, so you should publish as much evergreen content as possible.

Here’s an evergreen content example from Semrush:

seo basics semrush

You want much of your content library to be evergreen so you can continue to benefit from it long after it’s published. That’s how you build content that compounds.

Evergreen content covers topics that matter months or years from now. Rather than always trying to follow the latest trend, identify key topics that will continue to be at the heart of your audience’s pain points, interests, and challenges. Then, plan content around these topics so your content library is always relevant.

Develop Content Ideas and a Content Calendar

Once you’ve developed your B2B content marketing goals and buyer personas, you need to develop content ideas. Consider these when choosing what content to prioritize:

  • Topic
  • SEO keywords
  • Author
  • Target audience segment and persona
  • Location in the customer journey
  • Content format
  • Publication and consumption channels
  • Timing (For example, content focused on “trends” performs best at the end or beginning of the year.)
  • Desired outcome and CTAs

Create content around topics relevant to your target audience in formats and locations that help you achieve your content marketing goals. Make sure your content adds value to your audience.

After developing your content ideas, map those ideas to a content calendar. You should include milestones for creating and publishing each piece of content and who’s responsible for what. This planning ensures a regular publishing schedule.

Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

High-quality content is your ticket to better B2B SEO results, such as greater organic traffic and leads. But even if your goal isn’t specifically more organic search traffic, you need to optimize a good percentage of your content for search engines.

SEO helps you align your content with your audience’s interests. Optimizing content for organic search requires:

  • Doing topic and keyword research to determine what potential customers are searching for at each stage of the customer journey
  • Creating high-value content that is optimized for primary, related, and long-tail keywords
  • Using a straightforward, easy-to-navigate website architecture so both Google and users can understand how different pages are related to each other

The more you integrate SEO into your B2B content marketing strategy, the better the results your content will achieve.

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Build Trust

Your content is your most powerful trust-building tool. Every blog post, every video, every social update is a chance to prove your credibility and expertise.

How?

  • Deliver exceptional value. Don’t just scratch the surface — dive deep into your audience’s challenges and provide actionable solutions. Show them you understand their world and are uniquely equipped to help.
  • Showcase customer success stories. Nothing builds trust like real-world results. Share detailed case studies that highlight the tangible impact of your product or service.
  • Use user-generated content. Encourage customers to share their experiences on social media platforms or in testimonials. Authentic, third-party validation carries serious weight.
  • Be transparent. Discuss your product’s limitations or your company’s missteps. Honesty and vulnerability go a long way toward building trust.

Finally, flaunt your authority. Feature logos of prominent publications you’ve been featured in, like Forbes or TechCrunch, highlighting your team’s credentials and accolades.

Make sure your content consistently shows your value, integrity, and expertise.

Content Atomization & Repurposing

Content atomization is breaking a larger piece of content into smaller, standalone chunks and repurposing those chunks across multiple channels.

Let’s say you have a meaty blog post. You could:

  • Pull out key stats and quotes for social media posts
  • Transform a section into an infographic or SlideShare deck
  • Repackage the main points into a short video or podcast episode

Sprout Social has mastered this process. When they release their annual Sprout Index, they atomize it into:

  • A series of blog posts diving deep into specific findings
  • An email drip campaign delivering the highlights to inboxes
  • Bite-sized social posts featuring compelling data points

jamie gilpin sprout social index on Linkedin post

They maximize the report’s reach and engagement across channels by breaking it into smaller pieces.

The beauty of atomization? It allows you to get way more mileage from every piece of content. You work hard to create it — might as well make sure it gets seen by as many people as possible, in whatever format they prefer.

Build a Community

Topic-based communities bring your audience together to discuss challenges, share insights, and get real-time answers to burning questions.

Take Jasper AI. They’ve built a thriving Facebook community of over 70k marketers and entrepreneurs. Members share use cases, swap tips, and even co-create content.

jasper ai copilot for marketing teams banner

The result? Unparalleled engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. Jasper’s community has become a powerful customer acquisition, retention, and growth engine.

Building your own community doesn’t have to be daunting. Start small with a focused niche. Use platforms like Slack, Discord, or Facebook Groups to host discussions.

Then, seed the conversation with valuable content. Share blog posts, whitepapers, and webinars. But also encourage members to contribute their own insights and experiences.

Over time, your community will take on a life of its own. Members will form connections, collaborations, and even friendships. They’ll become your biggest cheerleaders and champions.

Content Distribution

Your goal is to get your content in front of as many people within your target audience as possible. There are three main types of distribution channels:

  • Owned Media
    • Your website (blog, resource center, product pages)
    • Your social media profiles
    • Your email list
  • Earned Media
    • Guest posts on industry blogs
    • Media coverage and press mentions
    • Organic social shares and user-generated content
  • Paid Media
    • Sponsored content on relevant websites
    • Social media ads targeted to your ideal audience
    • Influencer partnerships and sponsorships

The key is to mix all three to maximize reach and impact.

Start with your owned channels. Optimize your website for search, making it easy for prospects to discover your content. Build your email list and nurture subscribers with valuable insights.

Then, expand to earned media. Contribute guest posts to publications your audience trusts. Encourage happy customers to share their experiences on social.

Finally, amplify with paid media. Use LinkedIn ads to target decision-makers by job title and company size — partner with influencers to reach new audiences with your content.

The most effective B2B content distribution strategies are multi-channel and targeted. They meet buyers where they are.

Types of Content for B2B Content Marketing

Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership content is expert-driven content that offers fresh perspectives, unique insights, and innovative ideas to position a brand or individual as an authority in their industry.

Thought leadership content could be a groundbreaking idea, a contrarian view, or a tried-and-true concept presented in a whole new way.

With the rise of AI, thought leadership is more important than ever. 27% of B2B marketers are doubling down on thought leadership content to differentiate themselves.

The future belongs to brands that deliver value-packed content from true experts — people with deep, firsthand knowledge of their topics.

That expertise can come from within your organization. Tap your in-house subject matter experts to share their insights or partner with external thought leaders. Collaborate on content that combines their authority with your brand’s unique perspective. Influencer marketing platform Modash regularly collaborates with contributors to beef up their content.

how to build great influencer relationships article

By sharing unique insights and fresh perspectives, you position yourself as an industry leader.

Original Research

Original research gathers new data or insights through surveys, interviews, or experiments to create unique, proprietary content.

Original research can take many forms:

  • Surveys that reveal surprising consumer preferences
  • Focus groups that uncover hidden pain points
  • Competitive analyses that identify untapped opportunities
  • Market trend reports that predict the next big thing

Fresh insights and data prove your expertise in a way generic content cannot. But the benefits don’t stop there. Original research is also a backlink magnet. When you publish new findings, others cite your work and link to your site.

Original research like Semrush’s Social Media Trends Report gives you a treasure trove of content fodder.

semrush social media trends report 2024

You can slice and dice the data into blog posts, infographics, and social snippets — the possibilities are endless.

Blog Posts

For 16% of B2B marketers, the website, blog, and SEO combo generated the highest ROI in 2023. And it’s no wonder why.

Your blog is the perfect platform to share your expertise, insights, and ideas with your target audience. It’s a way to deliver value, build trust, and generate leads consistently.

However, not all blog posts are created equally.

Forget short, fluffy posts. Your blog content should be meaty, well-researched, and packed with actionable insights. Think 1500+ words, original data, and practical tips.

Tailor your blog strategy to the funnel stage:

  • Top of Funnel: Educational posts that address common challenges
  • Middle of Funnel: How-to guides and case studies that showcase solutions
  • Bottom of Funnel: Comparison posts and product-focused content

Then, optimize your posts with targeted keywords, compelling meta descriptions, and clean site architecture. That’s how you attract organic traffic and keep the leads flowing.

Case Studies

Case studies show how your product or service has helped another company make money, be more productive, increase their customer base, etc. By sharing customer success stories, you show potential customers that your product works.

Case studies, like on the onboarding platform Dock’s website, are great toward the bottom of the funnel.

why revenue teams love dock

At this stage, potential customers are deciding between choosing you or one of your competitors.

They can help seal the deal and convince potential customers that you are the best choice for their needs.

White Papers and Ebooks

White papers and ebooks are like blog posts in some ways, but they are more technical and focus on a specific issue.

For example, texting platform Sinch’s white papers allow them to show off their expertise and industry knowledge.

content-library-whitepaper

These are helpful when it’s time to convince decision-makers to purchase from them.

White papers are great for the middle or bottom of the funnel. Use them as a lead generation tool to capture prospects who have already done some research and are trying to decide how to proceed. They can also help you close deals by convincing customers you’re the best choice.

Social Media

With billions of monthly users, social media is essential for any B2B content marketing strategy. It offers an opportunity to reach potential customers that you may not have had access to before. It also allows you to develop authentic relationships with potential prospects in ways other marketing channels don’t.

But give people a reason to follow you. Forget the bland product updates and company news. Focus on sharing valuable, informative, and entertaining content that resonates with your target audience.

Take Buffer, for example. They don’t just promote their social media management tools. They share in-depth guides, industry research, and thought-provoking opinions. As a result, they’ve built a loyal following of engaged marketers.

buffer linkedin post about the best content on each social media platform

But social media isn’t just about your brand’s official accounts. It’s also about employee advocacy.

Encourage your team to share your content and engage with your audience, like Buffer’s Head of Communications and Content, Hailley Griffis, does.

Like Hailley, they can add their unique perspectives and personalities to the mix.

Remember, social media is a two-way street. Respond to comments, join conversations, and be genuinely helpful. Show your audience that there are real people behind your brand.

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Email Marketing

Despite being around for 25+ years, email marketing is still a powerful channel. For software and technology businesses, for example, Litmus found the ROI is as high as 36:1. Your B2B content marketing strategy can take advantage of email marketing in several ways:

  • Sending automated nurture sequences to new leads
  • Sharing new content with current subscribers
  • Giving product/service updates
  • Offering discounts or promotions
  • Answering questions from potential customers

Email marketing works best with other marketing channels, such as your website. Your website is one of the primary places where you capture new leads’ email addresses, as CoSchedule does while promoting research.

email marketing statistics trend report

Then, you use email marketing to direct those new leads back to relevant pages and content on your site.

Infographics

Infographics combine data, design, and storytelling to make your message memorable.

The beauty of infographics is that they’re highly shareable. People love to post them on social media, embed them in blog posts, and even print them out for reference. That means more eyeballs on your brand, which is why they’re great for the awareness stage.

But creating a great infographic isn’t just about pretty pictures. Take Omnisend’s infographic as an example.

It starts with solid data and a clear message. The design includes bold visuals, concise text, and a logical flow, making it easy to grasp at a glance.

Podcasts

Podcasts have exploded in popularity, and for good reason. They allow you to dive deep into a topic while your audience multitasks — commuting, exercising, you name it. It’s the perfect format for the awareness stage. You can educate, entertain, and inspire potential customers before they even know they need your product.

Take Superpath. Their B2B content strategy podcast, “Content, Briefly,” has become a go-to resource for content marketers. By sharing expert insights and actionable tips, they’ve built a loyal following and established their authority.

Superpath also collaborates with reputable guests who can share unique perspectives and practical advice.

With podcasts, consistency is crucial. Commit to a regular publishing schedule — whether that’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Give your audience something to look forward to.

Podcasting is a powerful way to build relationships with your B2B audience. It’s personal, engaging, and perfect for on-the-go consumption.

Long and Short-Form Video Content

From in-depth webinars to snackable social clips, video allows you to connect with your audience in a way that text and images simply can’t.

Take webinars, for example. These long-form, interactive sessions are perfect for exploring complex topics and establishing expertise.

Look at Clearscope — their SEO webinars are a go-to resource for content marketers looking to level up their skills.

clearscope webinars

But not every video needs to be a 60-minute masterclass. Short-form content, like Instagram Reels and TikTok videos, can be as impactful. These bite-sized clips showcase your brand’s personality, share quick tips, and jump on trending topics.

Match the format to the message. Have a meaty subject that requires a lot of context? Go with a webinar or tutorial. Want to share a quick insight or behind-the-scenes moment? A short-form clip is your best bet.

No matter the length, the most effective B2B videos are engaging, informative, and authentic. They give your audience a reason to tune in — and keep coming back for more.

Online Calculators and Tools

Interactive content, such as free tools and calculators, engages your B2B audience and generates leads.

Free tools and calculators are a great way to attract new leads, demonstrate your expertise, and build backlinks.

For example, HubSpot has numerous free marketing tools, including a website grader, persona creator, and blog ideas generator.

CoSchedule also has a free headline analyzer that helps people develop better blog post headlines.

free headline analyzer

That page alone ranks for almost 900 keywords, generating over 25,000 backlinks.

Can you create (or hire someone to build) a free, valuable tool for your website? If so, use it to drive organic traffic and backlinks to your site.

Content Marketing is a Strategic Approach to Business-Building

B2B content marketing requires more than random content assets posted here and there. Your strategy should guide your approach, the types of content you create, how you distribute that content, and how you measure your content marketing efforts.

Content can target and engage audience members at any stage of the customer journey. Many marketers view content as something to read, view, or listen to, but it’s so much more.

Optimize your content for maximum impact at precise points in your audience’s journey. Build great content that will thrill your audience. Construct your content to produce real marketing ROI.

Looking to outsource? Stratabeat is the only B2B content marketing agency that examines verified ICP-content fit with IP detection software, applies behavioral intelligence for more qualified leads, and optimizes for MQL to SQL conversions just as much as for traffic.