Has your team been using content marketing for B2B lead generation? If not, it could take weeks or even months for B2B buyers to move from the brand awareness stage of your customer journey to converting.
While digital marketing works best for closing immediate B2C sales, content marketing is especially useful for B2B buyers. In fact, did you know that 92% of B2B marketers say their content is their most valuable marketing asset?
Let’s explore more reasons why content marketing is so important for B2B lead generation and the best ways to use it in your business strategies.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves creating and distributing engaging, relevant content to reach a defined target audience. This strategy attracts cold prospects and nurtures warm leads for your sales team. Content marketing is on the rise, a recent Demand Metric data report reveals that:
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful.
- Content marketing costs 62% less money than traditional marketing but generates three times as many leads(!).
- 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing.
- 60% of leads consider buying a product after reading content about it.
And according to Hubspot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report, 82% of companies are actively using content marketing, up from 70% last year. With 28% of the respondents planning on newly investing this year, the word’s out that using custom, multichannel content is key to marketing success.
By understanding your audience and what you are trying to achieve, a well-crafted B2B content marketing strategy can ignite the spark of interest and fan the flames along the way.
What Types of B2B Content Should Your Company Use?
Types of B2B content include everything from social media posts and infographics to podcasts, email newsletters, and blog posts. Each piece of content aims to educate and engage. So what’s the best medium for your company?
All of them!
For example, someone in the awareness stage may not even realize your product exists until they come across one of your social media posts. However, someone on the verge of converting may need a case study to share with their boss before making a purchase decision.
Consider using these content types in your B2B marketing:
1. Optimized landing pages
Landing pages are often the first touchpoint B2B buyers have with your brand. Most visitors arrive at one when they click a paid ad or discover your company via organic search results.
How you engage with visitors here makes all the difference in whether they poke around the rest of your website or bounce. So your goal is to provide useful information that helps define your brand.
Optimized landing pages usually contain:
- Relevant content full of targeted, SEO-friendly keywords
- Internal links to keep visitors on your site longer
- Irresistible calls to action (CTAs) that encourage visitors to take the next step
- A contact form to sign up for newsletters and gated content
Beef up your landing pages to spark curiosity and connect with visitors. Then you’ll start warming up these cold prospects as they make their way down your marketing funnel.
2. Email newsletters
A whopping 77% of B2B companies describe their email newsletters as a “major” part of their content marketing plan.
When people sign up for your email newsletters, your marketing and sales departments get to establish a direct line of communication. You can use this channel to promote new blog posts, product launches, free webinars, and more.
This keeps your business top of mind and allows consumers to become familiar with your brand. Receiving an email from your company will be like hearing from a friend who always offers helpful advice or shares articles they know you’ll dig.
3. Blog posts
Blog posts are one of the best places to include targeted keywords that boost your search engine rankings. Each blog post should aim to educate or help readers solve a specific problem or pain point.
Content marketing stats show that:
- 59% of B2B marketers say blogs are their most valuable content channel.
- B2B companies that consistently blog earn 67% more leads every month than those that don’t regularly blog.
- On average, it takes just three to five blogs to get 40% of B2B buyers to reach out to a sales rep.
Create rotating categories for your blog posts that cover topics your buyer personas will be interested in. Then consistently post on schedule to give readers something to look forward to and come back for.
4. Social media posts
So if you create something valuable, your followers may share this content with their network and expand your reach. This should draw more people to your account and website, boosting lead generation in a snap.
5. Case studies
Did you know that 84% of B2B buyers typically begin their research with a referral?
Case studies describe how your company’s clients found success using your product/service in the real world. Each one spotlights the issues your customer was facing and explains how they overcame them with your help.
In this way, case studies serve as social proof. Just like a review or testimonial, case studies prove your company delivers the goods it promises.
This should reel in people new to your brand. And it allows other B2B buyers to picture themselves in the same situation (and ultimately choose your brand for similar results).
6. Downloadable assets and gated content
When an industry topic is too in-depth for a blog post to cover, your team can create whitepapers, e-books, webinars, tutorials, and more.
These explain complex issues in easily digestible bites for your target audience. Your company gets to show off its expertise while empowering your leads with the same knowledge.
Because these require a bit more time, effort, and research to create, they’re usually gated content. This means a visitor must exchange their email address to download your free resource.
If someone’s interested enough to hand over their email address and read this type of long-form content, you can consider them a warm lead. And that makes your future email marketing a heck of a lot easier.
While these may be the most popular types of B2B content, they’re not the only ones. You can and should experiment with podcasts, live Q&A sessions, email courses, etc., to discover what resonates best with your target audience.
5 Ways to Use Content Marketing for B2B Lead Generation
Why spend the time creating all those different types of content? Because when it comes to B2B lead generation, you can use content marketing in these ways:
1. Boost brand awareness.
The traffic on your website is directly related to your search engine rankings. The higher your company is on search engine results pages (SERPs), the more visible you’ll be to your target audience.
When you optimize your landing pages, blog posts, and social media content with targeted keywords, higher search engine rankings are sure to follow. Then more B2B buyers will become familiar with your brand and products/service, so you’ll be able to fill your sales pipeline much faster.
2. Educate your target audience.
According to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, your search engine rankings are based on EAT:
Providing educational content raises your real estate on SERPs and lures in people new to your brand.
Teach them something useful and valuable when they visit your website, and you’ll cement your company as a leader in your space. Your audience will then start to trust your expert advice. And they’ll become smarter, which takes product education off your sales team’s plate.
Even if they’re not ready to buy yet, nurturing leads with content marketing like this will show them why your company’s the right choice when they are.
Consider ways to personalize your content for each buyer persona. Really think about what someone in every stage needs to learn most. Then teach them in an engaging way.
3. Build trust in your company and products/service.
Consumers like supporting businesses that provide actionable, beneficial content for free. This gives them the feeling that you actually care about your audience and want them to succeed.
But your case studies, blog posts, and downloadable assets must resonate with your target audience to do this. And that takes a deep understanding of your customer’s pain points and goals.
If a B2B buyer stumbles across your content, you want them to feel as if your company knows exactly what they’re going through. Further, you want them to trust that your company can help them out of a sticky situation.
Building this type of relationship with your leads breeds loyalty and may boost your conversion rates.
4. Drive engagement and conversions.
Every piece of content should contain a CTA that encourages sales, shares information, or simply directs readers to more information about the topic. Any time a visitor follows through on your CTA, you’ll have a conversion.
To boost engagement (and conversions), consider creating quizzes, tools, and surveys for lead magnets like this. Because they’re fun, engaging, and highly shareable, you’ll easily generate leads for your email marketing.
Plus, your team will snag valuable, actionable information from your visitors’ answers to use during sales pitches.
5. Deliver more qualified leads to your sales team.
Prospects are considered qualified leads when they sign up for your email newsletter or exchange their email address for a lead magnet or content upgrade.
These leads are essentially telling your sales team that they find your content interesting. But they also show your company is trustworthy and worth paying attention to.
Since your content did most of the heavy lifting to qualify leads, all your sales team has to do is close the deal. They’ll have a captive audience eager to see how your product/service can help their B2B business improve.
Make Content Marketing Your Most Valuable Asset
Now that you get why content marketing is important for B2B lead generation, it’s time to create your content strategy. Whether you take on this task in-house or experiment with outsourcing B2B content marketing, the juice is worth the squeeze.
Your educational, helpful pieces of content will attract leads from your target audience. And you’ll be able to nurture them with valuable intel until they’re ready to make a purchase.
The best part? Your content works for your sales and marketing teams 24/7, 365 days a year, and never asks for a raise or time off. Is it the most valuable asset to your company? We think it’s definitely somewhere near the top of the list.