Expert's Guide to B2B Content Marketing [For 2020]

You’ve probably heard all the usual songs of praise for content marketing:

“In 2020, content is king.”

“Content marketing can drive tons of leads with ZERO spend.”

“Every B2B business should have a blog and do content marketing.”

But in practice, what really is content marketing?

Is it posting 24/7 on Instagram? Is it basically blogging? What about video content, where does that fit in in the grand scheme of things?

Well, in this guide, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about B2B content marketing!

Read on to find out...

  • What’s B2B content marketing (and how is it different from B2C)
  • Content marketing & SEO - what’s the difference?
  • Our very own, step-by-step content marketing process
  • Real-life examples and case studies of B2B content marketing
  • 100% real, actionable tips without any fluff

So, let’s dive right in…

How is this different from other guides?

At Apollo Digital, we live and breathe content marketing:

Everything we’re going to teach you today is not just some watered down theory - it’s a field-tested strategy that gets us amazing results!

What’s B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing is the activity of creating high-quality content based on your target audience’s needs and making sure that they see it. And in turn, by educating your audience through content, they’re more willing to buy your products or services.

Or, to put this in simpler terms, content marketing is the process of:

  1. Creating high-quality content that your target audience LOVES
  2. Promoting it online in specific communities and websites where your target audience hangs out

There are a ton of differences between B2B and B2C content marketing, but the main ones are as follows:

  1. B2C content is, for the most part, more entertainment-oriented. Think, engaging articles, beautiful pictures, memorable quotes, that kinda stuff. As a given, there are some exceptions to this, depending on your target audience.
  2. B2B content, on the other hand, is more about education. It’s about teaching your audience about a complex topic, and upselling your product/service at the end.

To help make this more digestible, let’s talk examples. The most “common” example of B2C content marketing is Gary V posting dozens of inspirational pictures on his Instagram every other day.

Whereas B2B content marketing, on the other hand, usually means publishing 1-4 well-researched blog posts, videos, or any other educational or informational material, and promoting them to specific individuals on specific channels.

Content Marketing VS SEO

A lot of people tend to think that content marketing and SEO are the same things.

While yes, SEO DOES involve content marketing, the reverse is not necessarily the case.

In this guide, we’re specifically going to be talking about B2B content marketing, and not SEO.

If you want to learn more about the latter, check out some of our other resources:

What’s Content, Really?

One of the most frequently asked question about content marketing is:

“What’s content, anyway?”

Is it just blogging? What about social media content? Or YouTube videos?

Well, content marketing is very much an umbrella term - It covers ALL types of content, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Guides
  • Training videos
  • Courses
  • Facebook posts
  • Instagram pics
  • YouTube videos
  • Infographics

And literally anything else that can be categorized as content.

But for the context of B2B content marketing, you’d usually be sticking to:

  1. Educational blog content - guides, articles, industry reports, infographics, that kinda stuff.
  2. Video content - Youtube videos, if relevant to your niche (and you have the resources to create high-quality video content).

In practice, though, most B2B companies end up going just with the first, since the 2nd can be resource-intensive.

So, for the context of this article, we’re specifically going to be talking about content marketing in terms of written blog content (but what we’re going to cover will also be semi-relevant for YouTube content).

Why B2B Content Marketing?

Still on the fence about whether content marketing is good for your business?

Here are some of the best benefits you can get:

  1. Drive traffic & leads. If you promote your content right, you’ll start seeing traffic coming to your website just to read your content (and sometimes, convert to leads).
  2. Establish yourself as a domain expert. This one’s especially relevant for service companies. Let’s say you’re a law firm, and someone reads a guide about a specific topic they have an issue with. They’re a lot more likely to come to you (the authority on the topic), than any other law firm.
  3. Building relationships. Your content allows you to get more reach and establish relationships with influencers or connections in the niche.

At Apollo Digital, we reap the benefits of all 3. Our content drives a ton of traffic, for example:

Google Analytics

This single blog post we published and promoted got us around 11k traffic and 20+ leads.

Don't think content marketing works for your niche? Check out these 11+ other B2B marketing strategies.

How to Do B2B Content Marketing

If you’ve read most guides on content marketing, you’d probably agree with us that it's way too much theory and not enough practice.

So, we’re going to do something much better. We’ll give you our own personal content marketing process that allows us to drive 5 - 100 leads per published blog post.

The process comes in 5 steps…

  1. Come up with content ideas
  2. Create a content calendar
  3. Writing!
  4. Promoting the content
  5. Keeping track of the right metrics

So, let’s cover them one by one…

Note
5 to 100 leads is quite a big gap, right? Well, here’s the thing - not everything you’ll ever publish is going to get you results. One post can get you 0 results, while another can get you over a hundred leads.

Step #1 - Come Up With Content Ideas

First things first - we’ll need to figure out what kind of content your audience would appreciate.

Think around your customer’s pain points - what problem does your product/service solve?

For example, at Apollo Digital, we help our clients with their digital marketing. As such, our target audience’s pain points are:

  • Deciding on which marketing channels to focus on
  • Getting results with a specific marketing channel

As such, we create content that teaches our audience digital marketing:

Heck, even this article is an example of our content marketing.

By teaching you how to do B2B content marketing, we position ourselves as experts on the topic, making it more likely for you to come to us if you need marketing help or advice.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that your content should NOT be all about your product/service.

Let’s say you’re selling CRM software. Your articles should NOT be about “Why you need CRM software” or “Why OUR CRM software is so amazing.”

Those are not real pain points. Instead, you should focus on teaching your readers how to sell instead, and upselling your CRM along the way.

DO:

The Champion’s Guide to Sales

X+ Best Cold Outreach Email Examples

DON’T:

Why you really need our CRM software (it’s amazing!)
Top 20 benefits of our CRM software

Now, let’s get back to the topic - how do you come up with the best content ideas?

The typical method is the following:

  1. Create a Google Sheet to keep track of content ideas
  2. Sit down with your team and think about your customer’s needs and pain points
  3. Talk to potential (or existing) customers, and get a good understanding of what kind of blog posts they write about

While this is a decent enough of a way to get started, at Apollo Digital, we do things a bit differently.

Step #2 - Create a Content Calendar

Once you have some ideas down, you need to create a content calendar and make sure that you’re publishing content on a regular basis (best practice - at least 1 article/week).

The tool you use to create the content calendar is really up to you, some of the options include:

But we personally recommend using Notion for this. If you haven’t tried Notion yet, it’s the #1 project management and note-taking software we’ve ever used.

You can use it for literally anything you want (kanban boards, to-do lists, documenting SOPs, etc.), including creating a content calendar.

Notion board

Check out the Notion template gallery to get a complete idea of what you can use the tool for.

Step #3 - Get to Writing (Or Use Freelancers)

At this stage, it’s time to get to writing (or y’know, get your freelancers to writing).

This part is kinda on you, we can’t exactly explain all the principles of content writing in a short guide.

But, we can give some of the most important best practices:

  • If you’re using freelancer writers, give them a content outline to fill in (instead of letting them write whatever). This makes sure that the writers write what you want, and don’t stray off-topic.
  • Stick to 2-4 sentences per paragraph. No one likes blocky text!
  • Use images and graphics that add value. NO random stock photos around your blog posts - no one likes those.
  • Use Grammarly to make sure your writing is on-point
  • Use Hemingway to make sure your writing is easy to read
  • Use the right tone of voice. Are your readers suit-and-tie bankers? Go formal and official. Silicon valley hipster-types? Casual and personal.

Step #4 - Promote Your Content

Published amazing content? Awesome, but your job isn’t done yet.

See, if you’re just getting started with your content marketing, you probably don’t have that much of an audience.

You'll see that if you just publish an article, no one's actually going to read it.

So, what that means is, you need to ACTIVELY promote your content.

There’s a TON that goes into the content promotion process, so we can’t cover everything in this article.

We will, however, give you a top-down view of what a good content promotion process looks like...

  1. Repost on social media - FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc...
  2. Email your subscribers list
  3. Submit to Hacker News
  4. Submit on relevant online communities (niche forums, websites, etc.)
  5. Run Quora / Facebook / Reddit / Twitter Ads
  6. Submit to QuuuPromote
  7. Promote on public Slack channels
  8. Reach out to influencers and ask for a share
  9. Mention micro-influencers in your posts. Reach out to them and ask for a share
  10. Share in relevant Facebook groups

Want to learn everything there is to know about content promotion? Check out our dedicated guide.

PRO TIP

Always keep promoting your content. Even months after your initial promotion run, you’re going to find new opportunities to get your articles out there!

Step #5 - Keep Track of the Right Metrics

Obviously, you need to keep track of your success and ensure that your content marketing efforts are bringing you results.

Here are some of the most important metrics to track:

  • Sales. At the end of the day, if your content marketing isn’t boosting your sales, what’s the point of doing it at all?
  • Leads generated
  • Traffic generated
  • New newsletter subscribers
  • ROI
  • Cost per lead acquisition
  • Social media engagement (likes, shares, & comments)
  • Average time spent on page
  • Google rankings (if you’re focusing on SEO)

B2B Content Marketing FAQ

Still have some questions that we didn’t answer within the article? Well, that’s what this section is for:

Q: Gary V said I should be posting 20 pieces of content every day/week. How accurate is that?

A: That’s specifically relevant to B2C. For B2B marketing, it's the opposite - less frequent, but higher quality posts tend to perform better.

Q: Is content marketing ONLY about blog posts?

A: For most B2B companies, yeah. Written blog content (guides, articles, that kinda stuff) is the way to go. Your audience is more about learning and education, and less about motivational posts on social media.

Youtube content can also get you some real results, but that usually takes a much bigger investment than written content, so most smaller companies tend to avoid it.

Q: Why am I not seeing results with my content marketing?

A: That’s a tough one since it’s very situation-based. Usually, though, it’s one of the following:

  1. The content you create isn’t engaging enough
  2. The content ideas you came up with don’t really resonate with the customers
  3. You’re not promoting your content well enough (or to the right audience)

Q: Is content marketing relevant for my niche?

A: In most cases, the answer is “yes.”

The only case where content marketing would NOT work, if you ask us, is if your maximum target audience is extremely small.

If you only have 5,000 potential customers worldwide, for example, you’re better of doing direct sales.

3 B2B Content Marketing Examples & Case Studies

What’s a better way to learn something than by reading real-life case studies?

Here are some of our favorite B2B content marketing examples...

#1. Apollo Digital - $25,000 Revenue with One Blog Post

Apollo Digital Google Analytics

As we’ve already mentioned a couple of times, one of our main lead generation channels is content marketing.

A while back, we launched a mega-guide to SaaS marketing that netted us:

  • 11,000+ traffic
  • 20+ leads
  • 50+ backlinks,
  • $25,000 revenue in business (and growing!) so far.

All of which came from a single blog post. And all we did was what we described in this guide - create epic content and promote it.

Want the whole story? Check out our content marketing case study.

#2. GrooveHQ - Building a 5 Million/Year Business With Content Marketing

GrooveHQ Graph

Ever heard of GrooveHQ? It’s a B2B customer service SaaS.

Today, they’re making more than 5 million USD per year, and all that is thanks to content marketing.

In short, what they did was:

  1. Created a blog to document their startup journey step-by-step
  2. Reached out to customers and asked them for their business challenges (and covered them in blog posts)
  3. Reached out to influencers and got them to share and engage with their content

Want to whole story? Check out their case study.

#3. BuzzSumo - 2.5 Million Revenue in its First Year

Buzzsumo Graph

BuzzSumo is a SaaS that allows you to look up the most trending content on the web (to fuel your own content marketing ideas).

And a big chunk of their growth was attributed to content marketing.

They published extremely high-quality content over the year, and in the end, they got their ROI:

Their blog posts were getting 30K+ views, as well as 2K+ shares.

Want to learn what’s their secret sauce? Here’s the complete case study.

Conclusion

Thanks for the read!

Hope you found the guide useful and got a better understanding of B2B content marketing as a result.

Need help implementing the content marketing strategies we just covered? We’d love to help! Contact us here.

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