B2B Content Marketing Strategy in 2023
The key to a successful B2B content marketing strategy is creating unique content that can’t be found anywhere else and is personalized to your audience. However, before your team begins writing, you must be clear about your strategy. Modern content marketing strategy has gotten more complex given the abundance of good content that exists in every industry, competing with your own.
The following are the steps to developing and implementing a B2B content marketing strategy:
Below, we walk you through each of these steps in more detail.
Define Your Mission and Goals with Precision
A common pitfall B2B marketers stumble into is beginning with poorly defined goals when planning their content marketing campaign strategy. They might say their campaign goal is something like, “create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that resonates with the businesses we target.” While this isn’t a bad goal per se, it does little to help shape the direction of their campaign.
Instead, define your goals with as much detail and precision as possible. Below are some examples of well defined content marketing goals:
- Set up sustainable, long-term lead generation by lowering CACs
- Increase sales close rates with lead nurturing content
- Improve customer retention and lower churn
- Expand to a new market by generating organic interest
- Increase brand authority and establish yourself as an industry leader
- Lower customer support costs by creating a body of useful documentation
Explicitly stating your exact goals will help you define your target audience for each goal, which will in turn shape the content you create and the channels you prioritize.
Create Audience Personas
The next step in creating an effective content marketing strategy is to create personas for each of your target audiences. Doing so allows you to (a) create content that your audience will respond to, (b) understand what solutions you should present to your audience, and (c) determine the best channels on which to distribute your content.
Start by looking at your existing customer base—your prospective and current customers know more about their wants and needs than you do. Ask them:
- How did they find your firm?
- What made them choose your product or service over your competitors?
- What pain points does your company solve for them?
- What channels do they look to when searching for new products or services?
Their answers to each of these will form the basis of their persona. Next, flesh out those personas with relevant demographic information, such as their job titles, industries, and company size. All of this will help you determine the exact tone and content that will best capture their interest, and match their search intent.
Choose Topic Clusters Using the Hub & Spoke Model
Once you’ve created customer personas, you’ll know what your audience is interested in, and importantly, what problems they’re trying to solve. The next step is to translate these pain points and interests into keywords.
Keywords in content are designed to help searchers and search engines, like Google, match your content to what they’re looking for. There are three basic types of keywords:
- Short keywords that identify a broad concept or group of items, like “CRMs”
- Medium keywords, which can be 2 or 3 words that narrow down a concept, like “top CRMs”
- Long-tail keywords, which are longer, more specific phrases, like “best CRMs for small business” or “CRM for designers”
Each of these has its own search intent as well:
|Search Intent||Example||SEO Page Type||Transactionality|
|Buy||hubspot CRM||Service / Product landing page||Completely transactional|
|Commit||CRM for designers||Case study or product landing page||Highly transactional|
|Evaluate||hubspot vs salesforce||Super landing page||Mostly transactional|
|Solve||how to track sales leads||Blog post or use case landing page||Moderately transactional|
|Clarify||benefits of CRMs||Blog post||Somewhat transactional|
|Explore||why do I need a CRM?||Blog post||Slightly transactional|
|Learn||what is a CRM?||Hub Page||Not transactional|
When determining what keywords to target, remember the end game is ROI and not simple traffic volume. A longtail keyword that has a relatively low search volume but is laser targeted at your highest value customers can result in many more MQLs than a higher competition, broader keyword. As they have a much narrower focus, these keywords are also much easier to rank for, especially for new content marketing campaigns.
Choosing relevant, transactional keywords is only half of the equation, however. The other half is the Hub & Spoke model, which ensures Google sees your website as a niche expert. This leads Google to grant your pages higher SERPs than websites they see as generalists, as their algorithm is designed to connect searchers with the best content available (based on the assumption that an obsessed expert is more likely to provide engaging, detailed information than a jack-of-all trades).
Using the Hub & Spoke approach is simple: Choose 3-4 short keywords to serve as your hubs, and use them to generate your longtail, transactional spoke keywords. To use the above examples, a possible hub keyword may be “CRM” and two spokes extending from it will be “CRM for designers” and “benefits of CRMs”. This provides you with a straightforward way to generate many valuable keywords, all within the same topic cluster.
Organize Your Content Strategy with an Editorial Calendar
Next, let’s discuss a more practical element of content marketing strategy. An editorial calendar is a living document that maps out all the marketing activities across a marketing campaign. Its purpose is to keep stakeholders organized and accountable to their marketing responsibilities in the future, while documenting the details and timing of what has been accomplished in the past. Essentially, an editorial calendar is your content strategy in action. Here’s how to create one:
- Determine what fields your editorial calendar should have. Before you can start using an editorial calendar, you need to decide what makes the most sense to include. Here are some common fields:
- Content title
- Target keyword & hub
- Expected length of content
- Search intent
- Target persona
- Type of content (e.g. landing page, blog post, interview)
- Funnel stage (top, middle, or bottom)
- CTA style
- Suggested internal links
- Research links
- Distribution channels (social media, email newsletter, paid channels, etc.)
- Publication date
- List Your Channels. Make a list of every channel you use to publish content. Listing your channels helps in two main ways: first, it ensures you don’t forget to include any in your content plan. Second, it helps you better prioritize your content and recognize when you are over- or under-utilizing a particular channel.
- Develop Your Workflows. Publishing regularly is essential for improving your domain authority and SERPs, and by extension, getting your content in front of your audience. Whether you use a simple spreadsheet or an online task management platform, organize your content workflow to allow for frequent publication. Below are ways to improve your workflows:
- Keep track of what tasks need to be completed and by whom
- Ensure your team understands how their work impacts other tasks and deliverables
- Create a content buffer to account for unexpected roadblocks and challenges
- Identify any dependencies or bottlenecks that could impact your deadlines.
Below is an example of a editorial calendar we developed for our own SEO campaign:
Repurpose Your Content on Lead Nurturing Channels
An effective B2B content marketing strategy will focus on SEO when choosing topics, but the content you create isn’t limited to your company’s blog or website. Articles, white papers, infographics, and reports should all be repurposed for lead nurturing channels such as LinkedIn and email marketing. Here’s three ways to do so:
- LinkedIn. Publishing your content on LinkedIn improves its visibility, and increases your company’s profile. Your customer personas will help you determine which customers are most likely to browse LinkedIn, and therefore, which blog articles will perform best when repackaged.
- Email nurturing. Segment your customers into lists based on their industries, job titles, and interests. Send only the most relevant content to each list to keep your open rates high.
- Webinars. Your most in-depth articles and white papers, particularly those with engaging infographics, can be transformed into presentations and teaching materials for webinars. These webinars can then be promoted in the CTAs of your blog, LinkedIn, and emails.
Finally, let’s discuss the last element of B2B content marketing strategy: knowing if you’ve succeeded.
Measure Results & Iterate on Successes
Once your campaign is underway, the final step is to measure your results. Start by tracking the right metrics, and establishing benchmarks for success. Here are the 8 KPIs we recommend for B2B campaigns:
|KPI||Benchmark for Success|
|Engagement rate||63% or higher|
|Conversion rate||2–5%, depending on industry and page type|
|Time On Page||37 seconds on average. Below 20 seconds is problematic. 2-3 minutes is outstanding.|
|# of First Page Keywords||10% growth year-over-year in total first page keywords|
|# of Top 100 Keywords||3-5% increase month-over-month in keywords that rank in the top 100|
|Backlinks||2-3 backlinks each month from unaffiliated, high domain authority sites.|
|Total Monthly Page Views||5% growth month-over-month|
|Total Monthly Website Visitors||10% growth month-over-month, with at least 70% of total traffic coming from organic channels|
By tracking these KPIs, you can learn which topic clusters and types of topic perform best for your audience. You can then focus your efforts on the content that generates the most traffic, MQLs, and ROI for your business.
Getting The Most Out of Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
A successful B2B content marketing strategy involves a lot of moving parts and requires a myriad of resources. This may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Our agency specializes in working with B2B companies to build and execute comprehensive content marketing strategies. Over the past 12 years, we’ve created and managed successful content marketing campaigns with brands such as Salesforce, Logitech, and Cadence. If you’re interested in discussing a partnership, let’s connect.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.