B2B Content Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Tips to follow and traps to avoid for planning an effective B2B content marketing campaign.

B2B content marketing best practices 2024
The most popular kinds of Internet content being shared today are often intentionally random in their subject matter. To use Internet content for marketing purposes, such as in B2B Content Marketing, it needs to walk the fine line between arbitrary and methodical with a clear and identifiable message.

There’s no denying it. There’s no escaping it. Content dominates the Internet.

In the beginning, long before the cultural and societal impact of social media, content on the Internet consisted primarily of scientific and political research data to be disseminated through connected domestic and allied foreign networks. What began as a Western government weapon against the Soviets during the Cold War has now evolved (some may say DE-evolved) into a global deluge of random inanity focused on and with the power to shape modern pop culture–a global deluge of random inanity that also happens to be a feverishly thronging global industry worth over $4.25B USD.

Internet content is defined as any bit of information found on the Internet such as text, images, and video. Social media has made the dissemination of user-generated Internet content more efficient and more effective in delivering messages to the public. Internet content is big business, with annual earnings from the top propagators exceeding $1B USD a year. Naturally, advertisers have figured out how to incorporate user-generated content into mass marketing ventures. In recent years, both B2C and B2B Internet businesses have turned to content marketing as their primary source of advertising online but while B2C marketers attempt to engage the general consumer public, B2B marketers have a smaller pool of customers. B2B marketers need to attract the attention of other businesses and convert them into paying customers (with the ultimate goal of converting these customers into loyal, repeat customers).

An effective B2B content marketing strategy addresses the needs and goals of another business but with the very nature of user-generated content on the Internet being so varied, random, and trivial, how exactly does a content marketer come up with a strong B2B content marketing campaign that actually works? Read on to learn what to do–and what NOT to do–when it comes to B2B content marketing.

DO: Identify the Target

The challenge faced by B2B advertisers is that unlike B2C, where marketing is designed to appeal to the personal wants and wills and desires of the general consumer, marketing for B2B must stay relevant to a specific industry, field, and type of business. The target audience for B2B content marketing is businesses that might buy X-company’s products or services or, more specifically, the decision-makers behind those companies who are looking to buy X-company’s products or services.

Figuring out the appropriate target market and audience will require a deal of research on your end. Because an effective B2B marketing campaign needs to be focused and precise, it’s a good idea to break down the research into two categories: the target market and the target audience. To identify the target market, you may want to look into specific business demographics including:

  • Company level: small, medium, enterprise
  • Location: regional, national, international
  • Field/industry
  • Number of employees
  • Annual revenue

After you do that, the next step should be researching the individual person(s) with whom you’ll be in contact to do business. Here is where it gets closer to B2C marketing because you’re trying to learn about people’s demographics instead of a collective business. Take note of the following:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Completed level of education
  • Job title or position
  • Buying behaviors, habits, etc.
  • Personal behaviors, habits, etc.
  • Beliefs and ethics

You might have already made a connection by pitching the business directly but forming a relationship with the people within the business will strengthen that connection and give them additional incentive to purchase from you. This is no different than other interpersonal sales interactions, but the other thing that’s happening here is that you’re profiling your customers. The information you obtain from the customer profile will help you identify the customer’s thought processes when it comes to making purchases, any patterns in purchasing behaviors, and the marketing channels they prefer which, in turn, will help you target them more accurately.

DON’T: Ignore the Importance of Content Marketing in B2B eCommerce

When COVID forced a temporary pause on virtually all non-essential operations around the world, businesses found that they could weather the storm by going online. Those that were slow to do so in the past began to realize (or were forced to accept the fact) that they needed the Internet for survival. Those who still refused were not so lucky and paid dearly for their inaction. This extends to business practices, themselves. B2B marketing and advertising is moving away from interpersonal communication and shifting towards online-based, self-serve systems. Marketing and advertising in the B2B industry is also gravitating towards the Internet with content marketing at the forefront. There are still some out there that disregard the value and importance of content marketing; there are even some that still downplay the role the Internet plays in today’s economy, despite the abundance of evidence that proves its impact. The point is that content marketing is too big to ignore and this is one instance where it absolutely pays in following the herd mentality instead of being stubbornly reluctant. Think of those companies that didn’t survive COVID. Yes, it’s a different situation but it could very well have a similar outcome: evolve or die. Ignoring the importance of B2B content marketing has the same effect as not even advertising at all. And you can’t seriously expect a business to stay afloat for very long if they allow themselves to fade from existence.

DO: Make Content That is Relevant

The novelty (or point of derision) of Internet memes is its inherent irrelevance to anything substantial. Excluding noteworthy exceptions such as news pieces, it really is unexplainable how certain content ends up going viral and becoming a global sensation seemingly at random. This was the pitfall that caught many early content marketers. Attempting to be random completely defeats the purpose of being random to start. A line from ‘The Silence Of the Lambs’ sums this up perfectly, “Clarice, doesn’t this random scattering of sites seem desperately random – like the elaborations of a bad liar?” At worst, such methods come off as disingenuous and desperate to obtain the approval of a younger generation. For successful content marketing campaigns to work in a B2B setting, they actually have to deliver a well-defined message; something that’s going to pique your prospect’s interest. Content can’t just be any old random, unassociated, irrelevant waste of Internet space; it has a definite purpose and that purpose is to sell a product or service.

B2B content strategies should focus on creating high-quality, tailored content that meets the needs of your target audience. Think about topics that will engage your audience, such as industry trends, best practices, video tutorials, and tips, when creating an effective B2B content strategy. In a topic cluster, you organize content around a single keyword topic, and center your content around its related topics.

DON’T: Be Too Overly Promotional

I know, it’s all very confusing. DO make relative content to promote sales, DON’T be too pitch-y or sales-y. Plain and simple, it means don’t be too pushy in your content marketing so that it becomes off-putting. Imagine it’s like walking into a physical retail store and being bombarded by the sales staff the exact moment your foot steps onto the floor of the establishment. Yes, there are retail environments that are EXACTLY like this and many shoppers do find this behavior to be invasive and off-putting. That’s one of the reasons why they choose to do their shopping online. Of course, some shoppers will need assistance and a bit of a push to make a purchase but more often than not, people who show interest in a retail store are there for a purpose–and they’re not going to take well to being harassed by aggressive sales staff. An overtly pushy content marketing campaign can have this same disastrous effect. You need to find the happy medium between a piece of shareable content with the potential to go viral and a sales pitch. KEYWORD HERE: Balance. If the content shifts more towards the average user-generated type that often pollutes social media, its purpose (selling products and/or services) is nullified. If the content leans more to being an obvious commercial, then it is exactly that: a commercial–and we definitely all know that some commercials can be far more annoying than others.

DO: Use Multiple Channels for Content Distribution

In order to ensure that your content reaches a wider range of potential clients, it is imperative to use multiple communication channels and content syndication tactics when developing a B2B content strategy. As well as optimizing your content for search engine optimization, you should also use multiple social media platforms, EMail marketing campaigns, and other methods of digital marketing to make sure that your content is being seen by as many eyes as possible. Using relevant keywords in titles, subtitles, headings, and the body of your text will help you meet this objective. In addition, it is important to ensure that your content is written clearly and concisely so that it is easily understood by your target audience. The following best practices will assist you in developing an effective B2B content strategy for your company.

DON’T: Ignore the Buyer’s Journey

For this, you may want to put yourself in your prospect’s situation. You may be selling to other people and businesses but you yourself are also a consumer. Imagine what it must be like on the other side of the conversation. B2B buyers go through several stages when they’re considering buying from someone else, like research, selection, negotiation, and buying. This is the B2B Buyer’s Journey.

The B2B Buyer’s Journey consists of 4 steps: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, with the end goal being Purchase.

Awareness

This is when potential buyers discover that there’s a problem or challenge they need to address and they begin looking for possible solutions.

Interest

During the Interest stage, buyers start to narrow down their choices.

Evaluation

The buyer narrows down their options and chooses the one that fits their needs. They compare quotes from suppliers before making a decision.

Purchase

A buyer’s commitment to a particular product or service is decided at this point.

At every stage of the buyer’s journey, we need to tailor the content to the buyer’s needs. It’s hard to provide relevant, helpful content that moves buyers along their path if you don’t understand how they go from awareness to consideration to decision. Also, you need to make sure your content is localized. If you’re attempting to reach customers in a different state than where you’re located, it probably won’t do much good to center a campaign targeting them but focused on only your environment (this is actually more crucial for companies that deal internationally and must know multiple languages).

DO: Make a Flexible Game Plan when Designing Your Strategy

A strategy for making a strategy. Once you figure out how you’re going to use content marketing and who it is you’ll be attempting to market, you’ll actually need to come up with another strategy focused on how exactly you’re going to execute said-content marketing strategy. What kind of content will you be using? How often are you going to be creating and distributing this content? Where is this content going to be distributed? By formulating a strategy behind your own content marketing strategy, it helps you stay focused on your goals and on a set schedule. At the same time, allow for some flexibility in this execution strategy. Things happen, life happens. You need to be flexible so that any disturbance or potential hiccup in the sales process can be met and countered, thus reducing the likelihood that a potential sale will go bad due to factors outside of your control. You should also take note on what kind of content is more effective than others; this will help organize your efforts and optimize the ROI per marketing campaign.

DON’T: Rely on Quantity Over Quality

Unlike the average everyday meme spreader on the Internet, your content has a purpose OUTSIDE of random entertainment; it’s to engage businesses with the ultimate goal of turning them into customers. The problem that content marketers often encounter is that they get into the mindset of a regular Internet user so they aim for quantity instead of quality. When it comes to B2B content marketing, though, this will not suffice. Your potential sales contacts aren’t interested in overproduced, oversaturated, and overinflated examples of random Internet content that has little or no relevance to sales. It is what it is, a waste of time. The chances of generating leads are very slim once your content is considered useless by the visitor, so if your content is too long but doesn’t have quality, it’s as good as useless. Like people, all content gets one shot to make a first impression and according to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, that window is only open for 10 seconds. Your content needs to be relevant and contain information that piques your audience’s interest if you want to fully capture their attention. Don’t get caught up with constantly cranking out content without thinking about your target audience. Don’t publish articles, videos, or infographics that are irrelevant to your niche and of no assistance in achieving your ultimate goal, which should be converting customers. Let every piece of content you publish have a specific topic that’s relevant to the niche, let each point be related to the previous one. Also, don’t be repetitive and churn out the same type of content and message over and over and over again. This is one surefire way to turn off prospects if they can accurately predict what it is you’re going to do, say, and act.

Final Thoughts

B2B content marketing is a tightrope walk between the current societal phenomenon of making Internet memes out of everything and anything while also adhering to a specific message and purpose. You can see it in regular TV advertising as well; certain companies attempt (quite poorly, at that) to engage the youth market and in doing so, they come off as so desperate and disconnected from reality. Additionally, the rise of AI technology being implemented in creative fields such as art and writing has become a hot button issue with plenty of tales of horror as well as some very amusing instances of utter failure due to AI being AI. Content marketing is still one of those Internet-based practices that will probably always require the human factor as a computer simply cannot simulate the emotional and behavioral connections that humans share among themselves. But, much like everything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. The purpose of this article is to try and illustrate some B2B content marketing best practices as well as the follies and pitfalls of B2B content marketing. The most effective strategies are a tightrope walk and a fine line between purpose and irrelevance but it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds.

Our company Diztinct has been in eCommerce for 20 years and has designed and developed custom eCommerce websites for famous and revered brands including QVC, Clorox, Dickies, Crocs, and Dooney & Bourke. Our work has been recognized and awarded by some of the eCommerce industry’s top names and we are preferred design partners with BigCommerce and Shopify, two of the leading eCommerce platform providers in the US. We can use our eCommerce and marketing expertise to help your online business reach new customer markets, improve conversions, and optimize your ROI. Get in touch with us today and let us help you make your website work for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *