The Best B2B Content Marketing Strategy for 2020
According to a study1https://www.edelman.com/research/2019-b2b-thought-leadership-impact-study?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=linkedin_promotion&utm_content=micrositeon the impact of B2B thought leadership, 55% of decision makers (CXOs, VPs, directors, and managers) use thought leadership content to vet companies they’re considering for partnership. In addition, 58% of decision makers spend between 1 and 4 hours consuming thought leadership articles on a weekly basis. Put simply, great content converts new customers.
This corroborates what we’ve observed through years of publishing content for First Page Sage clients: A thought leadership campaign is the center of every great B2B content marketing strategy. It’s the most effective way to significantly grow organic traffic, increase time on page, and ultimately, generate leads.
Putting Together the Thought Leadership Puzzle
There’s no one formula for creating a successful B2B thought leadership campaign; however, the best campaigns are all assembled from the same set of puzzle pieces. As marketers, it’s our job to put the pieces together in novel ways until we find a strategy that fits the individual client. The best B2B content marketing strategy, therefore, looks a lot like this:
The Cornerstones of Thought Leadership
When I sit down to solve a 1,000-piece puzzle, I always sort out the four corner pieces first—without them, the edges of the puzzle will be nearly impossible to put together. Similarly, the success of a thought leadership campaign rests on consistent publication of blog posts, branded landing pages, super landing pages, and special content over the course of several years. Without content, there is no campaign. And without consistently published content, even the strongest campaign will not reach the level of industry dominance.
The best B2B content marketing strategy suggests publishing high-quality content in the following categories:
- 1,000+ word blog posts published twice weekly that answer the questions and address the pain points of your most valuable target customers.
- Conversion-oriented landing pages (including a homepage) that clearly display your products or services with branded language and clear CTAs.
- Colossal super landing pages (1,500-2,500 word posts, with dedicated landing pages) that target your most valuable keywords and address a searcher’s query comprehensively.
- Uniquely-positioned special content pieces (case studies, white papers, and proprietary research) that can be leveraged for increased engagement.
These are the most crucial pieces in the content marketing puzzle. All of the remaining factors support, inform, and depend on these cornerstones of content in order to create a campaign that produces results.
Projecting Your Unique Value Proposition
Branding and competitive analysis are two elements of thought leadership strategy that help your company stake a unique claim on the online market.
Thought leadership content, by definition, is not heavily branded. The best thought leadership, however, is subtly infused with brand identity. The tone of your writing, the vocabulary you choose, the angle from which you approach each pain point, and the unique insights you offer all contribute to the branding of your content. You should be able to take one blog post from your company and one from your closest competitor, and determine who wrote which post by reading the body text in isolation.
Competitive analysis is the shadow twin of branding. By going through your competitors’ websites with a fine-toothed comb, you’ll discover where your company has a competitive advantage. The best campaigns highlight those details on the home page, branded landing pages, and blog posts.
Taking Care of SEO Strategy Basics
Optimizing your website for SEO success and writing content with Google in mind will go a long way toward solidifying your company’s presence on the first page. Each of these SEO basics deserves to be discussed individually:
As a thought leadership marketing company, we spend a great deal of time and effort on keyword research for each of our clients. What’s interesting to me is that while most companies recognize the importance of keywords in a content campaign, very few implement keywords effectively.
Meta title tags, blog post titles, and meta descriptions should all include a targeted longtail keyword in order for a piece to rank. Going into 2020, the best content marketing firms are taking keyword strategy to the next level by crafting “pillar pages” for major container keywords and creating webs of content around those pages that target a host of longtail variants.
The most high-caliber thought leadership campaigns tend to have one thing in common: They’re published on websites that pass all of the technical (non-content) SEO requirements. Site speed, navigability, mobile-first design, site security, and sophisticated UI are fundamental priorities for every SEO campaign. Think of technical SEO as under-the-hood maintenance for a Ferrari or a Tesla firmware update. The car itself may be the best in sight, but it’ll only reach its peak performance with the proper adjustments.
Publishing high-quality content and prioritizing technical SEO will go a long way toward pleasing Google, but SEO remains a constantly-changing landscape. For example, inbound links used to be the most important factor for SEO success according to the Google algorithm. Today, both content quality and keyword usage have surpassed inbound links in importance as far as the algorithm is concerned. The best B2B content marketing strategy takes algorithm updates into account and pivots where necessary in order to develop even greater Google trust.
Capitalize on the Best B2B Content Marketing Strategy
The challenge of B2B content marketing is clear. You have to convince high-level decision makers that your content is worth reading and that your service can solve their problems. Today’s decision makers do their own research. They’re spending more time consuming content every single week. Thought leadership marketing is the best way to ensure your target customers will spend that time on your blog and not your competitor’s.
With high-quality content, unique brand positioning, and strong SEO strategy, most companies will get pretty far in the SEO game. The best B2B content marketing strategy for your company might also include other tactics like email marketing or content syndication, to ensure you get the most value out of your thought leadership content investment.