B2B customers are famously hard sells.
Since they are business people themselves, marketing to B2B customers can’t be done through traditional sales gimmicks often seen used for consumer marketing.
Instead, when B2B customers are in need of a business service, they engage with online content that provides solutions to their problems or issues.
To engage B2B customers, then, you need to produce content that interests, speaks to their concerns, and convinces them to further research your company, and ultimately purchase your products.
Use the following 3 steps to produce content that engages B2B customers and convinces them to consider your company.
- Study B2B customer behaviors
- Design content marketing strategy to engage them at each stage of the sales funnel
- Invest in SEO to ensure they encounter your content
1. Study B2B Customer Behaviors
To encourage your target B2B customers to engage with your content, it’s imperative that you understand the B2B audiences purchasing process, and how content marketing fits in.
Investing in a business service is typically much more expensive than a consumer purchase and can potentially impact your company in the long-term. As a result, the sales process for B2B customers is approximately twice the length of a consumer sales process and involves more people.
As part of their extended consideration period, B2B customers conduct extensive research: on the type of service(s) they need, its benefits and drawbacks, the providers of that service, and its cost.
In response to each of these areas of customer research and consideration, your business has an opportunity to produce content to engage and create a positive impression among your customers about your company.
2. Design Content Marketing Strategy to Engage B2B Customers Throughout the Sales Funnel
Each stage of consideration B2B customers go through aligns with their level of purchasing intent, or the level of interest they have in purchasing a product.
The different levels of intent align with the stages of the customer sales conversion funnel, which breaks down into 4 categories: “awareness,” “interest,” “decision,” and “action.”
Thus, to engage a broad range of B2B customers, you need to design your content marketing to engage audiences at each of the different stages of consumer intent.
i) Top of the Sales Funnel: “Awareness” stage:
For example, 42% of business consumers consume business content online to stay informed about industry trends.
Given their broad imperative, your business should produce content that speaks broadly about industry trends using various forms of content that serve to inform audiences. Examples of this sort of content include:
- Infographics: Infographics allow you to present analysis, data, or expert insight in a visually compelling, easy-to-consume, and easily-shareable manner infographic.
- Explainer videos: Explainer videos are another visually compelling way to communicate industry knowledge to potential customers and capitalize on the rapid shift toward online video content.
- “State of the Industry” Reports: State of the industry reports demonstrate your expertise based on your in-depth analysis of your industry. While these tend to be produced using text and copy rather than video, they serve as a comprehensive resource for customers interested in learning more about an industry.
This sort of content allows you to present information in easily consumable or compelling ways, which makes it simple for audiences and accomplish their intent to learn more.
If you can create high-quality content through these informational content formats, it will produce positive brand impressions among online audiences, who will be more inclined to further research your company.
ii) Middle of the Sales Funnel: “Interest” Stage:
Customers who advance through to the “interest” stage of the funnel have decided that they are interested in the type of products or services your company offers.
In response, you need to create content that informs audiences more about your products and introduce how your company is unique in your space.
- Product descriptions: Create pages on your company website dedicated to informing your customers of the sort of experiences they will have as a consumer of your products or services.
- How-to guides: This provides customers with direction and guidance in how to navigate issues and concerns, ideally those that your company’s products or services can help solve.
Content designed for interested B2B customers should provide instruction and direction to procure and use the products or services you offer by demonstrating the value your company can provide to your customers through those services.
iii) Bottom of the Sales Funnel: “Decision” and “Action” Stages:
This is the time when customers make the decision about which company they want to partner with for their desired product or service. For these customers, you want to feature or produce content that convinces them that your company is the best option for them.
The type of content that best addresses customers at this stage include;
- Reviews: This is actually not content that you produce, but content that you encourage clients to produce. Reviews influence purchasing decisions, so it is in your best interest to claim and populate a company profile on directories and reviews site. These sites allow potential customers can research the experiences of past clients.
- Product comparisons: Everyone has competitors. Consider licensing a third-party to create a product comparison between you and your competition. While this seems risky, it allows you to present information that customers would typically refer to other services to find.
This content is absolutely crucial for closing the deal with B2B customers.
Taking ownership of company profiles, allowing former clients and business partners to review your company, and objectively comparing your company to competitors creates a transparent research process for your customers.
B2B customers are known for due diligence, so if they cannot find your company listed on any common industry review platforms or reviews services or have to go out of their way to compare similar products, they may be skeptical that you have something to hide.
iv) Demonstrate Industry Expertise and Be Original
Regardless of the stage of the sales funnel you target, your company’s content needs to be original and informative.
Hone in on topics that you can address with authority and display your expertise in your space.
The concept behind this approach is simple: play to your strengths. If your company is has particular abilities providing local SEO services, for example, produce content that discusses that topic.
This sort of content gives you an opportunity to articulate your strengths as a company and demonstrate the value you bring to clients.
Many times, companies fall in the trap of creating content just for the sake of it. Content marketing is an effective strategy only if your target audiences engage with it.
For example, rehashing tried-and-true subjects or outdated business concepts, such as “Why digital marketing is beneficial,” wastes your customers’ time, since it doesn’t address a question or issue they often experience.
Recommended: 7 Not-To-Miss Digital Marketing Trends For B2B
As a result, they won’t engage with it, which also means this effort wastes your time, since you produce content that will have no impact on your target customers impressions toward your business or their likelihood to purchase from you.
In a content-saturated world, quality content that provides value for its audience resonates with customers.
So, if you can provide real value through discussing a particular topic, do so. If it’s a topic you are unfamiliar with, there is no need to try to fake expertise.
Instead, play to your strengths and produce content about topics you can discuss with authority.
3. Invest in SEO to ensure B2B customers encounter your content
Creating content is also a fruitless endeavor if customers are unable to discover your site or its content.
B2B customers start their buying journey using search engines, meaning they refer to search engines to find and engage with content that provides solutions to their problems and concerns.
Audiences, however, over half of search audiences only engage with the top 3 search results.
So, to capture B2B customers attention, you need to invest in SEO services to achieve top search results.
There are literally hundreds of factors that impact your site’s search ranking. In terms of your content specifically, consider the following SEO services to help your content rank:
- Directly answer customer issues and concerns: Customers use search engines to find solutions for their business issues. If you can create content that directly addresses those issues, Google will recognize and display your content prominently in the search results to those questions.
- Optimize content for target terms: Conduct keyword research to study the sort of terms that are popular among your target audience. This practice will inform you of which terms you should target through your content. For example, to engage customers searching for “best SEO companies in New York,” create content that naturally discusses and includes that term terms.
- Promote Your Content: Conduct outreach and share your content via your social channels to expand its exposure. High-quality content will drive traffic and earn backlinks for your content, both of which boost your SEO.
By optimizing your content for SEO, you improve your content’s visibility through search. This, in turn, improves the chances that customers encounter your content when they use search engines to search for solutions to their business issues.
i) Position Your Company to Engage B2B Customers Through Content:
B2B customers use online content to inform and guide their purchasing decisions.
If your company can create content that engages them throughout the various stages of their buying journey, you have the opportunity to create a positive brand impression and ultimately convince them that your company is the best fit for their needs.
To ensure that your content effectively engages customers, choose topics that you can discuss with authority and invest in SEO services to improve the chances that customers encounter your content through search.
Grayson Kemper is a Senior Content Developer for a Clutch and a Senior Writer for The Manifest. He focuses primarily on SEO services and Emerging Tech topics.