Getting Past the Gatekeeper: How to Capture the B2B Buyer's Attention with Strategic Content

Getting Past the Gatekeeper: How to Capture the B2B Buyer's Attention with Strategic Content

Content marketing is a powerful way to attract and engage your potential customers, especially in the B2B space.

But how do you create and distribute content that resonates with your audience, drives traffic, generates leads, and converts sales?

Unlike traditional marketing which focuses on selling products or services, content marketing aims to provide useful information and establish the company as a trusted resource for potential customers.

The goal is to nurture prospects and generate leads by delivering consistent value.

There are several key benefits of B2B content marketing:

  • Builds brand awareness and trust: By consistently publishing high-quality content, companies can establish domain authority and industry expertise. This helps prospects view the company as a trusted partner.

  • Attracts and engages the target audience: Content tailored to address the target audience's pain points and interests keeps them engaged throughout the buyer's journey.

  • Converts prospects into leads and sales: Informative content helps convert prospects into leads by addressing their questions or concerns. Further, lead nurturing via content helps convert leads into sales.

  • Improves SEO and organic reach: Optimized, relevant and high-quality content boosts a company's search engine rankings and organic visibility.

  • Provides insights and data: Content and inbound marketing provide data on prospect behavior which can inform marketing and sales strategies.

With a strategic and holistic B2B content marketing plan focused on creating and distributing valuable content, companies can increase brand awareness, generate quality leads, and ultimately drive conversions and growth.

Understand Your Audience

Before developing content, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of your target B2B audience. Map out detailed buyer personas, and identify their key demographics, pain points, motivations, goals, and challenges.

Walk through the full buyer's journey to gain insight into what information prospects need at each stage to move through the funnel.

Conduct user research through surveys, interviews, and focus groups to uncover pain points and motivations directly from your audience. Learn more about the problems they face and the outcomes they desire at each stage.

Defining your audience’s goals and challenges will allow you to create content that speaks directly to their needs.

Develop personas for the key roles involved in the purchase process, such as technology decision-makers, procurement managers, and finance executives. Outline their objectives, obstacles, and knowledge gaps your content can help fill.

With a keen understanding of your audience, you can develop relevant content tailored to their interests. Targeting content to personas will make it more valuable in engaging your prospects.

Create Relevant and Valuable Content

Creating content that resonates with your audience should be the cornerstone of your B2B content marketing strategy.

Rather than creating content just for the sake of it, focus on topics and formats that provide real value for your target customers.

The content you create should aim to be educational, and informative and address common questions or concerns your audience may have.

For example, an eBook that provides tips on optimizing supply chain management will likely appeal to procurement managers, while a case study detailing how a competitor solved a common pain point would grab the attention of various decision-makers.

Aim to create a variety of content formats to accommodate different content consumption preferences. From long-form guides and eBooks to shorter blog posts and videos, having diverse content can help you reach a broader audience.

Always ensure your content provides actionable insights. For instance, an eBook on improving sales efficiency is far more valuable when it includes tactical tips sales directors can immediately implement compared to just discussing theoretical concepts.

Research common pain points and challenges your audience faces to identify relevant content topics. Surveys, interviews and conversations with existing customers can uncover these insights.

Outline the key takeaways you want readers to gain after consuming your content. The more closely your content aligns with the interests of your target customers, the better positioned it will be to attract and engage B2B decision-makers.

Keyword research is crucial for effective B2B content marketing. Start by identifying the main keywords and search terms your target audience uses to find solutions to their problems.

Analyze top-performing content from competitors as well as your own to uncover new opportunities.

When creating content, focus on optimizing for the keywords you want to rank for. Include the target keyword in the title, URL, meta description, content headings (such as H2s), image filenames and alt text.

Write naturally for users, while also meeting the needs of search engines.

It's also important to optimize your website and blog for SEO best practices. Ensure your site loads quickly, uses structured data markup, has a sitemap and robots.txt file, and only displays one h1 per page.

Interlink relevant content to spread authority and topical relevance.

Proper keyword targeting and on-page SEO will help your content get discovered and rank higher in search engines.

Track your keyword rankings regularly to identify opportunities and refine your targeting strategy.

Promote Your Content

Creating great content is essential, but promoting and distributing that content is equally important for reaching your target audience.

Effective promotion puts your content in front of the right people and builds brand awareness. Here are some key ways to amplify your B2B content through promotion:

Use Content Amplification Strategies

Strategic partnerships and guest posting allow you to tap into other website audiences. Identify websites that reach your ideal customers and propose content partnerships.

You can invite industry experts and thought leaders to contribute guest posts to your site as well.

This cross-promotion introduces your brand to new audiences and builds relationships.

Leverage Social Media

Share your new content across all your social media channels. But don't just post links. Create customized posts for each platform that summarizes key information from your content.

Use relevant hashtags, tag influencers, and @mention target accounts to increase visibility.

Maximize engagement by mixing promotional posts with other valuable and entertaining content.

Integrate Email Marketing

Email existing contacts whenever you publish new content. Tailor your subject lines and previews for each email list based on their interests.

Send dedicated emails that go in-depth on new content and link to the full piece. Automated email workflows can also nurture leads by sending relevant content based on their actions.

Use Paid Promotion

Paid ads on social media and search engines increase the reach of your content. You can target paid posts and ads very precisely to ensure they are seen by your ideal audience.

Retargeting ads also remind visitors to return and read your content. Consider promoting your best-performing pieces of content to maximize your ad spend.

Promoting and distributing your content to the right audiences is critical for content marketing success. A strategic, multi-channel approach amplifies your message and positions your brand as an industry thought leader.

Establish Thought Leadership

Positioning your company and employees as industry thought leaders is a powerful way to build brand awareness and trust with your target B2B audience. Sharing unique insights, perspectives, and data-backed research establishes your expertise and credibility.

Some effective tactics to establish thought leadership include:

  • Guest posting articles on reputable industry websites, publications, and blogs. This boosts visibility and provides a platform to showcase your knowledge. Make sure the content delivers value for their audience, not just promotional material.

  • Giving interviews to trade publications, podcasts, and other respected industry media outlets. Be prepared to offer insightful perspectives on trends, challenges, and developments in your field.

  • Publishing and sharing research reports, whitepapers, eBooks, and guides that provide robust data and analysis on topics important to your audience. Original research and surveys can offer tremendous value.

  • Presenting at industry conferences and events. Speaking engagements allow you to highlight research and inform attendees through educational presentations.

  • Starting a company blog covering your industry. Consistently publishing posts with stats, insider tips, and behind-the-scenes insights establishes expertise. Promote the best posts.

  • Cultivating social media influence by posting regular updates, insights, and trends and engaging with customers and prospects. Build an audience around your thought leadership.

Conveying meaningful insights, perspectives and information builds trust and credibility with B2B audiences. It fuels interest in your company's products and services.

Focus on Conversions

In B2B, converting leads into paying customers is the ultimate goal of any content marketing strategy. This requires creating content that persuades prospects to take action at each stage of the buyer's journey.

  • Calls-to-action (CTAs): Include clear calls-to-action in your content that lead prospects to the next step, whether to download an ebook, request a demo, sign up for a newsletter, or purchase a product. CTAs should be strategically placed throughout the content.

  • Lead nurturing sequences: Create a series of targeted content to nurture leads through email, social media and other channels. The goal is to build trust and provide value at each touchpoint to prime leads for conversion. Content should be personalized and increasingly promotional based on lead score.

  • Landing pages: These pages capture lead information in exchange for content offers. Optimize landing pages to match the offer, reduce friction in forms, and include clear CTAs. Confirmation pages should continue nurturing leads towards conversion with relevant content or offers.

Focusing on moving leads down the funnel with conversion-focused content will help maximize ROI from content marketing activities in B2B. Tracking conversions at each stage and optimizing content accordingly is key.

Track and Measure Results

Measuring and analyzing the performance of your content marketing is crucial to understanding what's working and what's not, so you can optimize accordingly. Here are some tips for effectively tracking and measuring your B2B content marketing efforts:

Key Metrics to Monitor

  • Traffic: Monitor overall traffic to your site as well as to specific landing pages. This gives insight into how well your content is performing.

  • Leads: Track lead generation to see which content brings in the most conversions. Also, monitor lead quality to identify your best-performing assets.

  • Sales: Ultimately B2B content marketing aims to drive revenue. Connect content performance to business outcomes by monitoring deal size, contract value, etc.

  • Engagement: Look at on-page engagement metrics like time on page, scroll depth, clicks etc to identify engaging content. Social shares and backlinks also show content quality.

Analytics and Tracking

  • Use Google Analytics and link your goals and events to get detailed insights. Track custom events for content downloads, video views, email subscriptions etc.

  • Leverage analytics tools like BuzzSumo to analyze engagement and backlinks by content piece.

  • Install tracking pixels on landing pages to monitor conversions from specific content assets.

  • Use UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) and campaign tracking to connect marketing channels to conversion paths.

Iterate and Optimize

  • Analyze performance data at regular intervals to identify high-performing content that should be repurposed and low-performing content that needs improvement.

  • Make data-driven decisions on content formats, topics, channels, promotion strategies etc.

  • Continuously refine your personas based on engagement and conversion data.

  • Use A/B testing to trial content improvements like different headlines, calls-to-action, layouts, etc.

Rigorously measuring and optimizing your content marketing boosts its effectiveness and ROI over time.

Focus on actionable metrics tailored to your goals and business needs.

Create a Content Marketing Strategy

A comprehensive content marketing strategy is crucial for effective B2B content marketing. This strategy should outline your goals, target audience, key messaging, content types, promotion channels, and processes.

Document Goals, Audience, and Messaging

  • Clearly define your goals. What business objectives are you trying to achieve through content marketing? These may include lead generation, brand awareness, thought leadership, etc.

  • Identify and understand your target B2B audience. Create buyer personas based on role, pain points, and interests.

  • Determine the key themes and messaging that will resonate with your audience and help achieve your goals.

Create a Content Calendar

A content calendar provides a roadmap for your content creation and distribution. It should outline:

  • The types of content you will create - ebooks, case studies, blog posts, infographics, etc.

  • Content topics and angles are tailored to your goals and audience.

  • Publication dates and promotion plans for each piece of content.

  • Responsibilities - who will create, approve, promote, etc?

Determine Promotion Channels

  • Email marketing to nurture leads with valuable content.

  • Social media to expand reach.

  • Paid ads to amplify content distribution.

  • SEO optimization for organic search visibility.

  • Sales team to share content with prospects.

  • Industry publications for contributor opportunities.

Define Processes and Team Roles

  • Content creation process - writing, editing, approval steps.

  • Promotion process - emails, social posts, ad campaigns.

  • Clearly define roles for the content team, sales, executives, etc.

With a documented content marketing strategy, you can create high-quality content tailored to your B2B audience while supporting your overall business goals.

Follow the strategy consistently to engage your audience and drive results.

Conclusion

B2B content marketing is an ongoing process that requires consistency and adaptability to see results.

The B2B landscape is constantly evolving.

While this guide covers proven strategies, it's important to continually test new tactics and refine your approach.

With a solid content marketing strategy anchored around your audience, you can build lasting relationships and remain the go-to authority in your niche.

Keep providing value, and your content will convert.