There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all content strategy. In the quest for the ultimate B2B content marketing strategy, brands often make the big mistake of thinking that B2C and non-profit strategies will work for them.
In 99% of cases, they won’t. The trouble is, B2B brands don’t find this out until after they’ve invested in them.
The truth is, you are going to have to test lots of different formats of content to create a B2B content recipe that works for your brand. It is going to take time and it is probably going to cost a lot of money.
But that’s the fun of it, isn’t it? Content marketing is an adventure. For most B2B brands it is a step into the unknown. If your brand has the passion, and your team has the vision, you can create a strategy that will print money for your business – it just takes a little bit of dedication, an ounce or so of risk, and some fantastic advice.
You have the dedication. Your strategy will have the risk. So here’s some fantastic advice for writing powerful B2B content for your brand.
1. Write within your Expertise
From my experience, the biggest mistake B2B brands make with their content is not focusing on their expertise. Of course, brands know what they are good at and the level of service they offer, but when it comes to crafting content, it can be all too easy for a brand to stray off topic and enter into areas where they appear as a lightweight.
An example – The Content Marketing Institute are thought-leaders with regard to all types of content marketing. If they suddenly claimed to be relationship marketing experts, they wouldn’t have anywhere near the same level of credibility. Followers of the CMI would immediately begin to question their authority.
Doug Kessler (a charming, misplaced Yank who we interviewed recently) wrote an excellent piece on Econsultancy with regard to finding your sweet spot – your area of expertise, as it were. A fantastic point Doug made was “Do you have to confine every single piece of content to your sweet spot? No, but it’s important to know when you’re straying away from it so that you can build bridges back”.
A strong brand is all about identity. You cannot write or produce good B2B content without focusing on your area of expertise.
2. Don’t Try to Please Everybody
Good B2B content writing involves creating content that is highly targeted for your audience. To build on tip number 1, writing within your area of expertise and not straying off topic can lead to an issue that all B2B brands will face at some point – not producing enough content.
Often, brands can exhaust topics and run out of ideas. This can result in ‘content subject dilution’, whereby your brand begins to produce content that is not targeted to your potential customers. In the end this might result in more web traffic, but not the quality web traffic you need to generate leads or sales.
One of the most powerful tips I often give B2B brands is don’t try to please everybody. By diluting your content and attempting to appeal to a wide audience, you run the risk of dumbing down the quality content you’ve worked so hard to produce.
You need to understand that you aren’t going to hit the nail on the head all of the time with your writing. Some articles, e-books and whitepapers will flop. Regardless, try to keep your writing as targeted as possible so that wherever your potential customer enters your website, they land on a page that engages them.
3. Focus on Writing Long-Form Content
The art of storytelling is lost with many brands. Who can be surprised, really, when brands can connect with potential customers with only 140 characters on Twitter, 10 – 20 second videos on YouTube, and simple meme updates on Tumblr.
It’s fair to say that brands can now connect with thousands of potential customers with very little effort.
By contrast, crafting long-form content isn’t as quick or easy.
In my opinion, long-form is the single most powerful type of content any B2B brand can publish. Why? Because the driving force behind a successful B2B brand is thought leadership. Long-form content, and in-depth articles, establish this.
The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that ‘people like yourself,’ ‘subject matter experts,’ and ’employees of a company’ always rank highly with regard to customers seeking information about a brand – therefore, it makes sense to put effort into creating content that’s in-depth and worthy of their attention.
It isn’t just the immediate engagement with your potential customers that’s great about long-form content, though. Long-form B2B content can also benefit your search strategy. Google, Bing and Yahoo are ranking higher quality content in their top 10 results than ever before. In an article on his blog, Neil Patel noted that “The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.”
What does this mean?
Simply, that long-form content ranks better than short-form content. Further, Axon Garside predicts that storytelling and long-form content will boom in 2014.
It does have to be noted, however, that short-form content has a justified place in any content marketing strategy. It is possible to establish thought leadership with a 140 character limit. However, long-form content, whether it be articles, e-books, whitepapers, or tutorials, are a more powerful means of establishing thought leadership in the long-term.
4. Understand what types of Content Work for you
The key to writing powerful B2B content is understanding what type of content will work for you in the first place.
Without measuring the effect your content has on your brand, you risk wasting time and money on marketing activities that do not give you a return on investment.
The best way for brands to measure the success of content published on their website is through tracking website visitors. Analytics software will help you to determine your stickiest pages, conversion rates, time on page, what types of content attract the most views, and perhaps most importantly of all, analytics can tell you how or why a lead or sale was generated.
Wherever you publish your writing, you MUST measure its effectiveness. If you do not have a form of analytics software on your website right now, I want you to stop reading and get some installed.
Google Analytics is the most popular free tool in the world, and for good reason – it has everything B2B brands and marketers need to get started with measuring their content, and the tool is always being updated with new features. I recently read a fantastic article on Marketing Land about using Google Analytics to measure content marketing.
If you’re already using Google Analytics but want more, KISSmetrics analytics and Ruler Analytics are both exceptional additional tools for your consideration. These offer extra insight into web visitors and track behaviour in more depth than GA.
Are you currently struggling to write powerful content for your B2B brand? Perhaps you’re a marketer with a few tips of your own? Either way, be sure to share your thoughts with me by commenting below or on Twitter @content_hero.