Content marketing, especially for B2B companies, can help to attract the attention of the target group and to differentiate itself from the competition. In the following blog article, different types of content are presented, which have proven themselves in the business-to-business market and are very well suited for lead generation.
Special features of a B2B target group
Before you start researching topics relevant to target groups, you should first think about the unique features of the B2B market. In the business-to-business market, as the name suggests, the products or services offered are aimed at other companies. Defining your corporate target group and later addressing them precisely and with relevant content is no easy task. Traditional market segmentation according to, for example, socio-demographic data or interests only makes work in content marketing practice more accessible. Therefore, it has proven itself in the B2B market, personas for the different decision-makers within the purchase decision process. The thematic orientation and format selection of the future content should be based on these sample persons and their points of view within the customer journey.
As a rule, the need for information and advice in the business-to-business market is much higher than in the B2C market. This reduces the spontaneity when making a decision, and the emotions that lead to the purchase are sometimes different. Building trust with potential customers, therefore, plays a critical strategic role.
- Attention -> supplying potential customers with useful information, for example on the USP of the product or service
- Building trust -> Building and strengthening the relationship of trust with potential customers, for example through information on problem-solving
- Customer loyalty -> Sufficient advice from customers on common questions, e.g. on the application, installation, etc.
Rand Fishkin published an exciting video on a “Whiteboard Friday“, in which he mainly focuses on the differences between B2B and B2C content marketing target groups.
Content marketing within the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework
Content marketing is a part of inbound marketing and is, therefore, part of SEO. Content marketing primarily serves informal search queries and offers help on specific topics or problems.
Content marketing measures are usually one of the first points of contact for users and help answer informal search queries. At the same time, it offers the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in certain specialist areas and thus gradually build up authority and a relationship of trust.
Below you will find various types of content for the B2B market that have proven themselves online, especially in connection with marketing automation in lead generation. It should be noted in advance that the basis of content marketing activities should always be a well-founded target group analysis and a well-thought-out content marketing strategy.
Overview of the possibilities
- Video tutorials
- Case studies
- White papers / eBooks
- Social media
- Workshops & seminars, lectures
- Events (conferences)
- Free trials
- Guest contributions (print and online
A webinar is the same as a classic seminar – but takes place online. A significant advantage of the webinar is that the participants are not tied to a specific location and can, therefore, participate easily. Communication takes place interactively, and the participants have the opportunity, mostly via chat functions, to ask specific questions about problems. In particular, intensive advice in the B2B market can be implemented online.
Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of participants, and there are no space or space problems. Registration usually takes place by email, and a company has the opportunity to generate new advertising contacts using an opt-in procedure. There are various software providers, such as Web-Ex or Go To Meeting, which facilitates the implementation and administration of webinars. It often makes sense to record the webinars and offer them online for long-term access. In this way, sustainable visitors, for example, via the SEO channel, can be attracted to the company side, for further information.
Let’s stay with the audiovisual media. It is often much more comfortable to explain matters in video format than in text form. For example, if you want to learn something about the exact use of individual machines or tools, nobody wants to torture themselves through long operating instructions in text form. A video tutorial is a more efficient and uncomplicated solution. Useful videos can also quickly give you a competitive advantage.
If you manage to differentiate yourself through practical and innovative content formats, you can quickly secure a portion of the information-based search engine traffic. YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world. Video marketing in connection with YouTube SEO, for example, offers a lot of potential for attracting attention and for building trust among future customers in the B2B market.
In addition to webinars and video tutorials, lectures also offer an excellent opportunity to present your know-how or to present new knowledge on specific subject areas.
For example, lectures have established themselves as a tried and tested means for our MeetUps, as they offer a reasonable basis for open discussions. Furthermore, this format can be combined with almost all of the content formats listed here.
For example, the lectures can be streamed using Facebook Live Videos (or Instagram Live) and thus made available to an even broader target group. So you have recorded the video directly and can spread it on YouTube or Facebook. Of course, care should be taken to ensure that the quality is correspondingly good and that the image is not blurred (it is best to work with a tripod).
The lectures or presentations can also be uploaded to file hosting platforms such as Slideshare so that users can call them up again and again.
Case studies usually deal with a real situation, for example, a specific project, which is implemented clearly and understandably. At the end of each case study, there is an evaluation and assessment. Case studies are particularly interesting for the B2B area, as this gives the customer a comprehensive impression of the product or service. Case studies usually also create identification, and potential customers can often be found in the described situation. Ideally, case studies are published in cooperation with satisfied customers. This transparency creates a high level of trust, and the company has the opportunity to expand its expert status. Case studies are, therefore, a powerful tool in reference marketing.
It can be useful to research frequently asked questions from customers online and to treat them in the form of a suitable case study. The document can then be offered for download on an optimized landing page. This allows potential customers who are still in the information phase of the purchase decision process to be addressed while researching at Google. Here, case studies offer great potential for generating leads. This can be used even better in connection with marketing automation.
White papers deal with common problems and show appropriate solutions. It should be noted here that the advertising character moves firmly into the background and the focus is on the consulting service. A white paper contains advice and recommendations and should consist of at least two pages. As a rule, white papers are more extensive than case studies and are written in an academic style. White papers are also used in the area of PR and are used for corporate communication. Here the customer is not so much in focus, but rather the product or service.
In the case of white papers, the approach is theoretical and deals with a fictional issue. The white paper should help the customer solve a problem, understand a matter, or get a basis for a decision. A white paper, therefore, starts earlier in the purchase decision process than a case study. As a rule, white papers should already be used in the problem-solving phase. Relevant data of potential customers can be obtained on a landing page with a download function optimized for the topic. Integrated marketing automation can help accompany the customer’s decision-making process and ideally guide the right content through to conversion.
Not to forget the blog, of course, with all the formats. Anyone who has been following our blog for a long time will have noticed that it has grown over several years and is now one of our most valuable traffic sources.
Blog articles offer a perfect way to address users and potential customers and to provide new information.
Here, the services or the product should not be advertised too much, since a blog should satisfy the informal search intention of the user. Therefore, extensive information should be provided to help the user.
With the help of marketing automation (e.g. Hubspot), workflows can also be created to provide the user with further information from a specific point in time. In this way, the user can automatically receive a white paper by email (provided that the email address and consent are available – #DSGVO) if he has viewed at least three pages on the topic of SEO. The user is helped and at the same time, reaches the next phase in the customer lifecycle.
The motto is “Everything can, nothing must” (Copyright MB ). Exchange is the main focus here.
Instead of classic frontal lectures, the focus is on interaction. After 2-3 talks on the subject, everyone can exchange ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. The primary purpose of this format is to get to know new people from the industry and to exchange ideas about specific problems and to help each other. Of course, you shouldn’t fall directly into the house here and turn everyone instantly on their product or service.
At MeetUps, you can share your knowledge with others and learn something yourself. As a company, it is valuable to host a MeetUp without always giving lectures yourself, because the reputation automatically passes to the organizer. Meetups are also a useful channel for employer branding and recruiting.
For a long time, social networks were considered pure B2C platforms and were avoided by B2B companies. However, the latest statistics show that B2B companies are increasingly represented on social networks.
LinkedIn has established itself in the area of B2B networks in recent years. Even if the number of users between LinkedIn and XING is almost the same, LinkedIn offers the advantage of international orientation.
However, LinkedIn offers more than a social network to keep its customers and partners up to date. Thanks to the specific targeting options, LinkedIn also offers the opportunity to address the target group very precisely and thus reduce wastage as much as possible. LinkedIn also provides retargeting. This means that different phases of the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework can be mapped via a network.
As a counterpart to the paid ads, LinkedIn offers the file hosting service Slideshare.
Here you can upload presentations, lectures, white papers or other documents to make them available to other people – #knowledge transfer.
This service can be used, for example, to store the above formats and thus make them available to customers or potentially interested parties. For example, white papers or webinars on specific topics can be uploaded here so that they are open to a broad target group. This can also support reputation and lead generation.
For a long time, Facebook was considered a pure B2C network and companies avoided it. But these times are a thing of the past.
Today, more than every second B2B company is represented on Facebook – and the trend is rising.
The reason for this is that Facebook is still the largest social network and therefore offers the most significant potential reach. At the same time, Facebook offers a variety of functions to provide new or existing customers with fresh content regularly. For example, Facebook Live Videos have established themselves as the most proven medium when it comes to reporting on events live.
Also, Facebook offers distinctive targeting options in the area of paid ads, so that B2B companies can reach their potential target group without large wastage. Again, the network can be combined with various other measures, for example:
- Create and promote events (MeetUps)
- Apply for white paper / eBook download
- Share blog articles / share videos / anteater
eBooks are another content format that has established itself in the B2B area. An eBook aims to summarize its competencies and specialist know-how on one topic and thus offer the customer significant added value.
As part of the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework, eBooks are in the THINK phase, since it can be assumed that users who are interested in an eBook have already dealt with the topic in more detail.
Furthermore, eBooks can also be perfectly combined with marketing automation tools. For example, the link to the eBook can be automatically sent to users who have read two blog articles on SEO in advance and have also visited the “Inbound Marketing” service page at least twice.
Infographics help to present longer content or processes in a simplified manner and have become established in many industries. The spread of infographics also has the advantage that they can be found in the best case via Google Image Search.
This leads to users finding content based on the image search. An excellent example of this is, for example, infographics on the most critical image sizes in social networks. Here all content is presented compactly on a large picture without talking too much about it. At the same time, such infographics or the page on which they are integrated offer the option of generating links, which in turn can lead to more (referral) traffic.
Workshops & seminars
Another format that belongs to content marketing in a broader sense is workshops and seminars. These form a perfect opportunity to position yourself as an expert in a specific area. At the same time, it offers the chance to pass on your knowledge to others.
Workshops, particularly in the B2B environment, can help to train potential customers or existing customers. Here, too, it is essential not to put your products or services in the foreground, but rather to impart the knowledge to your (potential) customers in a neutral manner. The aim is to offer the customer added value and at the same time to support them in improving their know-how.
Because: The more your customer understands your products or services, the easier it will be to work together. At the same time, you signal to your customers that your knowledge is not protected and ensure transparency.
In addition to workshops or seminars, any form of the event offers the opportunity to interact and therefore supports lead generation. It is not necessarily about large conferences. You must attend an event that best suits your needs, your target group and your business goals. A look at the list and any recaps from previous years will help you to get a first overview of the event. At conferences, the exchange with speakers or spectators is mostly automatic over coffee & cake or the subsequent after-show party. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal so that even the junior consultant can talk to the CEO of an international company.
Important: Take enough business cards with you to exchange contact details so that you can connect again later.
Almost everyone knows free trials and has probably already tried a trial version. These are particularly popular for services (e.g. Amazon Prime), because the customer does not buy “the pig in a poke” directly, but can first test whether the desired product or service suits them
But that’s not all: To enable potential users to take out a test subscription, you generally need personal data such as your email address and first and last name and permission to send newsletters. Ideally, you can convince your customers during the free trial so that your customer decides on a (paid) version. Even if this is not the case, you can use the data to win him as a customer with further offers by email.
However, caution is also required here: If the potential customer receives too many newsletters, he or she will unsubscribe from your newsletter sooner or later. A marketing automation tool can also help here. This allows you to track what the customer is doing with the emails. If you find, for example, that he has opened a newsletter for a new product or a planned event, you can send him a follow-up email with further information on the topic (e.g. 10% discount when registering for the event). The possibilities of Marketing Automation Tools are so versatile that a blog article would be worth it.
Even if many newsletters consider an obsolete model, this type of content marketing still works very well. Newsletters are now offered on almost every page on which there are products or services to buy.
The various application options become clearer using an example:
A new user has signed up for your newsletter. The user looked at the category pages and references in advance. So you can send him a case study and a company presentation (as a PDF) to get you started (SEE / THINK).
You can see that the user has opened the mail and the attachments and then on the more extended product page A has stopped. Then after 4-5 days, you can send him a newsletter with further information on product page A (THINK / DO). If the user also opens this content, you can now go into the DO phase, for example, with a newsletter with a direct address and the offer of a phone call. Alternatively, you can offer your potential customer to contact you using the contact form if further advice is required or if there are any questions (DO).
If you work with a marketing automation tool, it is possible to send all of these newsletters automatically in different scenarios.
Guest contributions (online & print)
Another form of content marketing is guest posts, both in print magazines and in (renowned) online portals. Guest contributions are based on the give and take principle.
The operator of a website or publisher of a magazine asks whether there is interest in writing a guest post. The very fact that you are asked for it shows that you are perceived as an expert.
But how can a guest contribution support lead generation?
By publishing a guest post on another platform (or magazine), you will most likely reach a new target group that does not yet know you.
With the help of the guest contribution, you generate attention, which can serve as the starting signal for a successful customer journey.
Content marketing can also help to win new customers in the B2B market. It is essential to know which problem solutions and information the target group is looking for. The Internet offers many opportunities to provide potential customers with information relevant to purchasing decisions. However, there are also various formats available offline to boost lead generation. Especially in connection with marketing automation, content marketing is a useful tool for generating leads.