What is B2B Content Marketing?
There are plenty of places you can go to get a definition of B2B content marketing. For example, here is a pretty straightforward one: “Content marketing is defined as a type of marketing that leverages content as the core tactic to engage with prospects and customers.”
If you’re looking for something a little more detailed, there’s this one: “B2B content marketing is the art of using content to expand your business’s audience, strengthen and develop brand affinity, and ultimately drive leads and sales by appealing to other businesses.”
If neither of those pleases you, here is a place to find six other definitions.
But like most anything, content marketing can’t be fully explained in a simple definition. And, if you want to use content marketing to help your business, you’ll certainly need at least an elementary knowledge of it. One blog post won’t make you an expert, but consider this a primer to some basic elements of B2B content marketing that you’ll want to understand before your business incorporates it into the marketing plan.
The Evolution of Content Marketing
At its core, content marketing is leveraging various types of content to engage with customers and prospects. It isn’t necessarily about branding or selling, though you hope those two things are among the ultimate outcomes. The foremost objective of content marketing is to establish credibility and provide prospects with knowledge and helpful information.
Given the rather loose parameters of “content,” you could argue that content marketing in some form has been around for centuries. A popular example for academic reference is John Deere’s agricultural magazine “The Furrow,” which was first published in 1895. A branded magazine with helpful insight for farmers, “The Furrow” also included advertorials. Within a few decades, “The Furrow” had several million readers – and still exists today!
These are, of course, examples from consumer brands. It was the emergence of the digital age that really opened the gateway to B2B content marketing. Around the turn of the century, consumers gained the ability to shop online, with loads of information and reviews readily accessible.
This change in buying behavior filtered into business purchasing, creating a need to educate decision makers outside the traditional sales call. In fact, recent research from Forrester found that six in 10 B2B buyers don’t want to interact with a sales rep at all, and 62% said they can finalize their purchase selection criteria based on digital content alone, thus illustrating the power content can have on buying decisions.
Businesses have a variety of content formats to utilize, such as blogs, articles, videos, white papers and ebooks. Different goals and intentions will drive which vehicles are best served for certain content, but B2B content marketing of any kind requires two principle actions: creation and distribution.
Obviously, in order to have content marketing, it must be created. But there’s a difference in content and effective content. The aim of content marketing shouldn’t be just to create content for the sake of having it. The internet is already full of useless content. Good B2B content marketing is engaging, compelling, and most of all, informative.
B2B content marketing should not be overtly promotional and salesy. That’s what your collateral is for. B2B content for marketing should be something that provides value to the reader or viewer. Ideally, you should have content that provides a prospect important information along any portion of his/her buying process.
Typically, B2B content can fall under one of two categories: evergreen or topical. Evergreen content is that which is always pertinent – the information rarely becomes outdated or irrelevant. This type of content is good for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes and can build a foundation of readily available information on your website. Examples of evergreen content include instructional tips, tutorials and reviews.
As the phrase implies, topical content, which can also be referred to as timely or trending, might have a limited life cycle. While perhaps not as foundationally informative as evergreen content, topical content offers you the opportunity to really strike those engaging and compelling chords. Whether it’s a blog post or news article, or maybe even social media commentary, timely content keeps your outflow fresh and relevant to trends in the industry, news or even pop culture.
Though not a physical asset, distribution is a necessary part of B2B content marketing. You can have content, but without places to house and promote it, the content is all but useless. Therefore, it’s impossible to fully define content marketing without discussing where and how it lives. Most B2B content marketing can be broken down into one of three distribution models:
Owned media is housing and distribution of your own content, also sometimes referred to as organic promotion. This means the content is on your website, your blog, your YouTube page or LinkedIn page – places that you control.
Earned media is when others share your content without you paying them for doing so. Whether a link to your blog is tweeted out by someone, or your article is referenced in a blog, or your research is quoted in a news article, these are examples of earned media. The more compelling and useful your content, the greater the possibility for earned media, which spreads the reach and effectiveness of your content at the best possible price – free.
Paid media is exactly as it sounds – you pay an outlet to feature your content. While you’d like to be able to maximize reach without writing checks, paid media can sometimes be a worthy investment, not unlike paid advertising.
There’s far more to know about B2B content marketing than can be discussed in one post or article. Fortunately, the web is full of content marketing about content marketing. Hopefully, this served as an introductory explanation that entices you to learn more about B2B content marketing, which you can also do through this ebook. Or, if you would like to speak to one of the content marketing experts at MultiView, give us a call at (972) 402-7070.