Content marketing is a type of digital marketing that involves creating interesting and helpful content (like blog posts, videos and podcasts) that attract clients to your business, gains you more website traffic and helps build a good foundation for a future relationship. B2B content marketing is exactly the same – except that your focus isn’t always to attract the end ‘consumer’, but rather, whoever is making the decisions on employing your services or products within a company.
There are some HUGE pitfalls I see companys fall into all the time – rendering their content marketing efforts completely useless.
Because I really want to stop cringing at the worst offenders, in this article I’ve highlighted the top mistakes AND the best ways to get it right.
Basic B2B Content Marketing Mistakes
Not selling to people
I’ve seen this time and time again and I can’t tell you how badly it holds businesses back. Yes, if you’re selling B2B, it can be seriously different to B2C. BUT – basic marketing principles don’t get thrown out of the window!
I’ve frequently seen content full of generic, beige material, that doesn’t target any individuals needs, and looks much like it was written to be just dull enough to be signed off by a committee of nervous-to-get-it-wrong people.
By not targetting a particular person, and speaking directly to them, you end up targetting nobody.
And yes, this results in content that will produce exactly ZERO results.
At the end of the day, it will be real human beings deciding on whether to buy from your business – not a robot or one imaginary generic person.
Think about those decision makers that you’re selling to; what do they most want? A promotion? Bigger profits? Maybe they just want a professional to take it off their to do list?
Whatever it is, focus on the benefits that those real human beings want.
You can even be as direct as you like and use phrases like “Want to really impress your CEO at the next board meeting? Show him these stats”, or if you’re targetting further up possibly, “Want to bump your next quarter up by 30%? Here’s how.”.
Focus on what your target customer really wants from your company – what is that end goal they are looking for? What pain point are you addressing?
Tactics such as running deals with limited time availability, using messages that provoke an emotional response and tailoring messaging to suit your target market are all great ways to promote your business – and these don’t get thrown out simply because you’re B2B.
Using too many industry terms to try to sound smart
Eurgh. I hate this one.
We’re all guilty of it though – sometimes we get too wrapped up in the latest and greatest research in our industry and feel the need to share it with all of our clients. Or we simply use jargon forgetting that new leads will have no idea what we’re talking about, or worse, we think that it will make us sound more convincing – and smarter – than our competitors.
The truth is – that’s nonsense.
When you’re using B2B content marketing to promote your business, you should be trying your hardest to help your potential customers. And it doesn’t help to be bombarded with terms you don’t understand – in fact, it just confuses/bores people, making it more likely for a potential customer to go to another website that they CAN understand.
Afterall, are you really going to buy something that you have no understanding of? It’s unlikely.
Your job is to try and educate your clients with content marketing; not confuse them. Clients who feel informed will be able to make educated decisions and feel more reassured when working with you too.
Don’t confuse people with fancy terminology; impress them with helpful content and gain trust by being transparent about what you do. People buy from businesses they trust after all.
Not providing enough real information
Have you ever come across articles that claim to answer a question but when you read them – they don’t?
I have – and they’re a huge disappointment.
It’s not a great move if you’re hoping to gain clients from your content marketing efforts to write exciting headlines but not follow through.
And guess what?
Your article won’t appear on Google either.
Google favours useful information, using signals like the average time a person spent on your website as well as judging the overall content and links pointing to that page. If your content isn’t useful, it won’t gain links (because – who wants to point to a rubbish article?) and no one will spend much time reading it.
Moral of the story? Don’t waste your time writing rubbish articles.
Avoiding giving away your secrets
Content marketing is ultimately about helping your leads before they become customers. Part of helping those people, can be giving away some of your trade secrets.
Scary, I know.
It might seem counterintuitive to tell people how you do things – but honestly – if someone wants to do something themselves for free, they’ll find the information online somewhere whether you publish it or not.
However, for those who are looking to see if they can do it themselves – but then realise once reading about it that it’s rather more complex than they first thought – those are people you want on your website. Those are the people you can easily convince to become your next customer.
Not promoting your content
Great content on its own doesn’t often get picked up by Google and instantly placed in the top spot; yet there seems to be plenty of businesses out there who will simply post an article – and not do much else.
This is a HUGE waste of your time and effort.
It takes a lot of work to promote that content, get it in front of the right people and gain an initial reputation online. Writing and posting a high-quality article gets you about 20% of the way there – the next 80% of your effort should be in the promotion.
Whether you’re reaching out on email, promoting through social channels or posting on forums – promotion is one of the biggest things left out of day to day B2B content marketing that will let you down.
How to do B2B Content Marketing Well
Focus on pleasing your target market – no one else
As opposed to trying to please everyone with your content, which usually results in it being so neutral and boring that no one can face reading it, focus on talking directly to your target market. After all, if someone that isn’t from your target market is on your website, they’re not looking to buy from you anyway; so there’s no point in trying to please them.
A great way to speak well through your content to your target market is to imagine real-life conversations you’ve had with new leads and customers; what did they ask? What reassured them most? What really made their ears prick up? Being conversational and focussing on what those real-life customers liked is a powerful tool when it comes to writing your content.
If you have a sales department – this is the perfect time to call them in and find out exactly what their leads loved to hear (and what they hated too!).
Answer common client queries
Search engines are all about answering questions. So the best way to attract new leads?
Answer your leads’ most frequently asked questions.
Stop focussing on what you want them to know about your company and instead focus on simply answering the questions that they want to know about any company in your field (after all, they’re likely comparing your website to many competing companies!). It’s a great reason to be bold and do things like show your pricing, case studies and of course, use your blog to help answer questions that your leads struggle with.
Not only will that encourage leads to trust you and enquire on your website, but if you’ve written a well-constructed answer, it should encourage more leads to come to your website too.
Perform basic on-site SEO
Getting back to basics may seem boring, but without the foundations of good SEO, advanced tactics aren’t going to get you anywhere fast.
First thing’s first – if you take nothing else away from this article, take this away – edit your articles for SEO.
You can do this really easily by installing the Yoast plugin for free if you have a WordPress website; or you can sign up to the POP Content email list and get a completely free guide to help you if you don’t.
The important thing is to write your articles focussing them completely on helping your lead and answering their questions, followed by editing for a search engine, rather than writing for search engines to begin with.
Write for people. Edit for Google.
Do your research
Good B2B content marketing begins with a good plan.
Before you start writing up blog posts, it’s a good idea to research whether or not people will actually want to read them. Topic research is a hugely important factor here; and you can use more than Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find out what your target market really want to know about.
Apart from researching online forums, drawing on previous sales meetings and the other free strategies you can use here, you can also use handy quick tools such as ‘Answer The Public‘. It’s an incredibly easy to use tool that works like a search engine to give you questions people commonly ask around the topic you enter in. Give it a go – it’s completely free so you’ve nothing to lose!
Last, but certainly not least, is to follow up your content by keeping up to date with what’s going on. If people leave a comment or ask a question – answer it. Treat it like answering an enquiry – the faster you reply, the more likely you are to get the job.
Being reactive as well as proactive on your own blog, as well as social media, encourages people to interact with your brand and build a real relationship with it; which is incredibly important if you want to make more sales. Too many B2B companies forget this; but being personal and replying to emails, replying to comments and reacting is vital for your content marketing and your online brand in general.
Businesses want to work with providers who answer queries quickly and clearly; not silent providers who never respond to emails or calls. Your online reputation in comments and on social media is important, and people are watching!
Looking for more help with your B2B content marketing?
I’m Amy and I’m a content marketing consultant, well versed in SEO, blogging and website conversion. If you think you’d like some help with your B2B content marketing, simply get in touch and fire away with your questions. I’ll help in any way I can (no question is too small, so don’t be afraid to ask – I’m surprisingly approachable).
If you know of any other B2B content marketing tips, tricks (or mistakes) that you want to add, please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about it!