Alright B2B marketers, let’s get real. Every day we wake up, drive (or dial-in) to work, and spend our time creating marketing content for our business. But if our efforts aren’t driving business leads, then what’s really the point? We’re just going through the motions with no purpose and no ROI to back it up.
We need to generate leads for our business. That’s our job. So all the content we create should be driven by this goal. Yet, so many marketers struggle with this. They understand the power of content marketing, but they don’t know how to properly use it for B2B lead generation.
The goal for B2B marketers is to lead their prospects through the buyer’s journey with high-quality content that educates, nurtures, and eventually converts. So let’s talk strategy. Here are 8 smart ways to use content for B2B lead generation.
1. Know Your Buyer Personas
Like most inbound marketing strategies, content marketing for lead generation starts with having a solid understanding of who your audience is. How can you write content that converts leads if you have no idea what makes these users convert?
Companies that use buyer personas in their content strategy, see more growth. A recent survey found that 71 percent of companies that exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas. And high-performing companies are 2.3 times more likely than their competitors to research the motivations behind their target customers.
If you haven’t made a buyer persona yet, it’s time to create one. And if you have, but it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your personas, this could be why your content isn’t generating leads. Sitting down and taking a hard look at who your ideal customers are, what pain points are driving them towards your products or services, and understanding what questions or solutions are leading them through the funnel, can significantly improve the chances that your content will convert leads.
It takes some time and an analytical mind to map out who your target customer is and the personality that drives their purchase. Here’s a list of questions that can help get you started:
- Who are they? Make a list of their demographics, including age, gender, and education.
- What is their industry/job title? Factor in their seniority level.
- What are they dealing with day-to-day? Consider what their day-to-day tasks are and the problems they might deal with each day.
- What are their pain points? Make a list of the primary challenges they are trying to overcome. Describe how your products or services can help provide solutions to these challenges.
- Where do they go for their information? Make a list of resources and platforms your ideal buyer accesses. This can help you determine where to share relevant content or what resources to cite as authoritative sources.
- What are some common obstacles or objections they might have? Determine what might stand in the way from them purchasing your services, and come up with solutions around these obstacles.
You might have multiple buyer personas, but we’d recommend limiting it to about three when you first start. As you refine your personas, you can generate new ones as needed.
Access this free buyer persona resource for a step-by-step guide on how to create your ideal customer profile.
2. Prioritize B2B Topics
One of the biggest mistakes B2B content marketers make is not writing useful and educational content. So many businesses fill their blogs with articles and posts about themselves. From featured awards to company news, B2B blogs are commonly inward-focused. A big mistake.
When writing content for B2B lead generation, you should focus first on your buyer’s persona and produce content that helps educate the buyer through the purchase process. Think about topics that outline strategies, trends or offer some sort of social proof. Typically helpful B2B content comes in the following forms:
- Budget & Cost FAQ’s
- Case Studies
Don’t lose sight of your buyer’s pain points. One of the most effective ways to generate high-quality B2B leads through content is by providing content that solves a problem.
3. Use Gated Content to Your Advantage
Do you take advantage of lead magnets in your content strategy? If not, you’re giving away valuable content for free. Lead magnets are an easy way to generate high-quality leads in exchange for an especially valuable piece of content. Determine which resources are your top-performing, and gate it with a simple contact form.
When utilizing gated content, it’s important you develop a strategic workflow around each form request. This should include a thank you email to the subscriber, and relevant helpful emails as your buyer progresses through the funnel.
Eventually, you’ll want to think about creating pieces of content, specifically as lead magnets. These types of resources should be filled with extensive educational content, and be an attractive offer. If you don’t have something truly of value, then your content won’t convert. So be intentional, and make your gated content as relevant as possible to the buyer’s journey.
4. Consider User Intent when Incorporating Keywords
If you’re a content marketer, you likely know the importance of strategic keywords for SEO. But keywords are also essential for attracting the right type of traffic. If you’re trying to write content for B2B lead generation, you need to understand user intent and what stage of the buyer’s journey each keyword attracts. Let’s take a look at three different types of keywords.
Start your content strategy by targeting informational keywords. The content surrounding these topics will provide helpful and useful information for your buyer personas in the beginning phase of discovering they have a problem and looking for solutions to this pain. Typically, a user searching with informational keywords is looking for guides, tutorials, tips, and other types of educational resources.
Further down the funnel, when a user is ready to make a purchase, the keywords they search for change. They are no longer searching for “tips,” “pros,” or “cons,” but instead, they might search for “prices,” “cheapest,” “best,” or “affordable.”
Be careful when targeting these keywords, though. Oftentimes B2B content marketers get tied up with transactional keywords and begin to dip into the B2C space. Stay in your lane by creating content like comparisons or listicles. This will help you target those further down the funnel that have more knowledge about your services but keep the B2C traffic away.
What about branded keywords? Where do they fit into the funnel? Typically, these are known as navigational keywords, as someone searching for these words are looking to navigate to your website. Oftentimes, B2B businesses will use navigational keywords in PPC campaigns. Usually, you’re targeting users that already have some idea about your business. A smart B2B marketer might use branded keywords in their retargeting strategy.
5. Write Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
Rewind back to inbound marketing 101 for a second. The inbound marketing funnel consists of three stages.
- Top of the funnel
- Middle of the funnel
- Bottom of the funnel
If you’re writing content for B2B lead generation, you need to create content that targets each of these three stages. So what type of content is best for each phase? Let’s take a look:
Top of funnel - Blog posts, videos, social media posts. Top of the funnel content should be written in a snackable and easy-to-digest format. Think of readers that are skimming for information. Don’t get carried away with in-depth resources at this stage of the journey.
Middle of the funnel - Case studies, testimonials, webinars. Middle of the funnel content should be more persuasive and targeted. Your targeting users who already know the basics about your business. Now they’re trying to decide why they should choose you.
Bottom of the funnel - Long-form content, ebooks, white pages, gated offers. Once your buyer has reached the bottom of the funnel, you want to convert your lead. Typically, they’ve already done a lot of research and they’re ready for something a bit more in-depth. Content at this stage of the journey should be highly specific and offer some sort of actionable next step that nudges them closer to a decision.
6. Use Case Studies to Build Trust
Content marketing is all about building trust. And what better way to do it than by telling prospects a success story about another customer you’ve helped. Case studies are especially helpful in the B2B space, where 92 percent of B2B consumers base their purchasing decisions on an online review.
How do you write an effective B2B case study? The key is to use a data-driven approach. A case study needs to have tangible proof that shows how your product or service helped and solved your customer’s needs or problems. B2B buyers typically think logically, making business decisions backed by research and data.
When formatting your case study, it’s often helpful to follow the following template.
- Overview - Include a brief introduction of the client you helped, and the problem you helped them solve. Here is a great place to include a client quote. If possible chose a quote that includes data-driven evidence. For example, “This company helped us close 45 percent more sales.”
- The Challenge - Briefly outline what was challenging the customer you helped. Here try not to be too negative, but focus on language illustrating how your client recognized a need for a solution, and why they decided now was the time to find it.
- The Solution - Briefly discuss an overview of the solution your company brought to this client. Describe how this solution was implemented, and how it solved the problem of your client.
- Results - This is the good stuff. Here is where you should include as many data-driven metrics as possible. Also, consider using graphics that clearly illustrate the data and success you had with the client. If you’re having trouble coming up with this type of evidence, perhaps you are choosing the wrong client to write a case study about. Not every customer will have a case study-worthy story.
Every business, and buyer, is different, so you’ll want to adopt this strategy to fit your own unique business needs, but the above template can help get you started. For some more inspiration head over to our case studies page.
7. Start Using Video
One of the biggest mistakes a B2B content marketer can make is focusing only on written content. If you're looking to generate B2B leads with your content, you have to start using video. According to the Aberdeen Group, marketers who take advantage of this strategy earn an average of 66 more leads per year. That’s a lot of leads you're missing out on if you ignore video.
Video doesn’t have to be super complicated either. Consider the following ideas:
- FAQ video session
- How-to video
- Short brand film outlining your company’s mission and values
- Unboxing videos
Remember to create video content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Shorter brand awareness videos might be more suitable for the top of the funnel while unboxing or product comparison videos might work better for later funnel stages.
8. Be a Thought Leader
Effective content marketing ultimately comes down to painting your brand as a trustworthy, authority figure in your industry. By producing educational, valuable, and helpful content, you’ll establish your brand as a thought leader no matter what space you’re in.
How do you use content to become a thought leader? Start by writing about topics beyond the bread and butter of your products or services. Keep track of what’s going on in your industry, and write insightful pieces giving your own commentary about certain topics. Give your brand a personality, and the people that work for you a relatable persona. The more human you come across, the more credible, trustworthy, and reliable your content, and thus your brand, becomes.
Generate B2B Leads with the Right Content
Content marketing is valuable. Yet so many B2B companies pass it off as irrelevant for their industry. That’s a mistake. It doesn’t matter who your customer is, or what types of products (or services) you’re selling. You can bet your prospects have questions, and if you don’t provide the answers, they will find them someplace else. Odds are it will probably be a competitor.
Generating B2B leads is all about creating the right content for your buyer personas. Think about how you can use the content you create to make their lives easier, and their purchasing decisions simpler. Put your audience and their needs first, and you’ll begin to see your content convert more and more B2B leads.