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5 Types of B2B Content to Include in Your Content Strategy

 

5 Types of B2B Content for Your Marketing Mix

You might assume all content marketing belongs in the same bucket, but different types of content are better suited to certain goals. Here, we’re covering the five basic types of B2B content, along with our tips to help you use each type to your advantage.

1) Brand Content

What it is: Content about your company (not your product): who you are, your Brand Heart (purpose, vision, mission, values), or brand messaging (tagline, value prop, messaging pillars). Some of this content may be internal-facing only; some may be external. This is valuable content that helps people feel connected to you, aligned with your values, and part of your community.

How to incorporate it into your content mix:

  • Showcase your values. People want to know who you are and what you care about. Translate your Brand Heart into content by showcasing the causes you care about, the way you work, etc. (If you haven’t articulated your Brand Heart, start with our free workbook.) For example, Be Good to Each Other is one of our core values. To share this value with our clients, we created a unique holiday gift: a fine art print based on Benjamin’s Franklin’s pay-it-forward philosophy. It was a piece of content that allowed us to share a piece of our brand story with our clients in an unexpected (but much appreciated) way. To see how other brands turn their values into content, check out these inspiring examples.
  • Brainstorm ideas around key brand story pillars. If you have your brand messaging framework (tagline, value prop, and key story pillars/selling points), you have great fodder to come up with brand-centric ideas. For example, a series about your manufacturing processes or the ways you bring your mission to life in everyday ways can be great ways to connect with people. If you need brainstorming prompts, here are 7 ways to tell your brand story.

For more inspiration, find out how to tell your brand story through different types of content.

2) Talent Content

What it is: Content about your employer brand, culture, etc. It is geared toward prospective employees, as well as current employees. It’s basically everything people would want to know about what it’s like to work for your company, what your culture is like, who works for you, what life is like behind the scenes, etc. It’s also a way to celebrate and acknowledge those who do work for you.

How to incorporate it into your content mix:

  • Showcase your culture. People want to work for brands they respect and align with (especially in the wake of the Pandemic). Your culture is a huge part of an employee’s experience, so creating culture-based content is an important way to communicate what life is like inside your company. (Note: While this is relevant to prospective employees, your customers are also interested in who you are and how you treat people behind closed doors. Being transparent and giving people a peek behind the curtain only cultivates more trust with those consumers.) To do this in unique and creative ways, see our guide to create culture marketing.
  • Tell your employer brand story throughout the hiring process. Employer brand content isn’t just a job description and an employee handbook. Find out how to communicate who you are throughout the journey from prospect to new hire, and see how other brands tell their employer brand story through content.
  • Turn fellow employees into content creators. This is one of the best ways to give a face and voice to the people behind your brand. Here are 5 ways they can help you generate quality content.

(BTW, if you’re not sure how to tell your employer brand story because, well, there isn’t much to tell, see our guide to build an employer brand you’re proud to share.)

3) Editorial Content

What it is: Content meant to educate, entertain, inspire, or demonstrate your brand expertise or thought leadership to build brand awareness. This can include all types of content, such as articles, guest posts, infographics, podcasts, video, etc. When you think of traditional B2B content marketing, it is usually this type of editorial content.

How to incorporate it into your content mix:

Note: When we do our own content strategy planning, we like to take a look at the content we (as well as our competitors) are producing. This gives us insight into how we might improve our own mix, fill in the gaps, and outshine our competition. To do this yourself, follow our guide to audit your content.

4) Product Content

What it is: Naturally, there is a difference between sales and marketing contentThis pillar is for deeper-funnel content, particularly informational content related to your products or services. This includes content about what you do, such as sales materials, demos, explainer videos, informational content, or educational content.

How to incorporate it into your content mix:

  • Talk to your sales team. Good content can help your sales team in significant ways, particularly in the time and energy it takes to communicate certain information to prospective (and even current) customers. Find out if there are certain assets that would make the selling process easier or help them enhance the experience for prospective customers. For more tips on this, find out how to create content that empowers your sales team.
  • Make it more creative. Contrary to popular belief, not all product content has to be a dull brochure. There are so many ways to share this info in a fun and engaging way, whether it’s through video, infographics, interactives, etc. Look for ways to makeover your existing collateral to make it more effective. For example, a lengthy brochure might become a simple infographic. An onboarding email could become a fun interactive slideshow. If you’re short on inspiration, these examples prove you can be creative no matter how boring your product is

For more tips to move people along the buyer journey, find out how to bridge marketing and sales in the buyer journey

5) Performance Content

What it is: Tactical content used to drive a specific KPI, such as landing pages, CTAs, PPC, etc. It’s often supplementary content for campaigns related to other pillars.

How to incorporate it into your content mix:

  • Plan early. Sometimes you spend all your time creating a new lead-generating ebook and then quickly slap together a landing page to promote it. But these promotional pieces of content are just as important as their parent piece (e.g., an ebook), so they need just as much attention and, frankly, sometimes even more. Whereas your newest thought leadership article might be 2,000 words, your social ads may boil down to eight perfect words. Treat this content with the same level of investment.
  • Refine your messaging. Does your performance content reflect your current voice, branding, and key messaging? Are there areas to improve or opportunities to experiment with different formats, messaging, etc.? Look for ways to test strategically. Start with our tips to write compelling copy, which are especially helpful when you’re a/b testing performance content.

Note: No matter what type of content you create, presenting a cohesive brand identity is crucial to help you stand out. Use our free brand toolkit to design your own identity, and find out how to make sure every piece of content is on-brand

How to Bring Your B2B Content Strategy to Life

Now that we’ve covered the type of content you can create, you need to decide how to turn your ideas into a successful strategy.

  • Revisit buyer’s journey. Identify what people need to hear at each stage to move them along the path to purchase. This will help you identify what messages you’re missing and how you can use a variety of content to deliver them. Use our free template to map your journey (if you haven’t already).
  • Curate the right mix. You want to deliver a healthy variety of content to keep people engaged. Find out how to curate the mix and craft a perfectly balanced editorial calendar. 
  • Optimize your processes. No matter how many good ideas you have, you need the skills and infrastructure to create the actual content. Find out how to improve your own content creation process.

And if you don’t have the bandwidth to do it all yourself, or you need help creating content in one particular pillar, turn to the experts who know how to make this type of content work for you. Follow our tips to find a B2B agency with your expertise, or find out what it’s like to work with us on a content strategy. We’d love to help turn your ideas into A+ content.

How to Find Your Target Audience (5 Simple Hacks for B2B) 

How well do you know your target audience? Do you know what drives them? What pains them? How your brand can help them? Most importantly, do you know how to reach them? No matter how good your product or service is, if you can’t find your audience and connect with them through their preferred channels, you can’t succeed as a marketer. So when you’re planning your content strategy, one of the most important questions to answer is simple: Where does your audience spend their time? 

If you’re not sure, don’t stress. Today, we’re sharing simple tips and tricks to find your audience, prioritize your best channels, and craft a strategy that will help you convert your audience from casual acquaintance to lifelong customer. 

Why Does Finding Your Target Audience Matter?

You can come up with the best marketing ideas, and you can create the best content of all time, but if nobody sees it, it isn’t effective. Successful marketing is all about meeting your potential customer where they are. When you know what platforms your audience uses and what type of content they like to consume, you can…

  • Target the best platforms. No one likes to waste time or money. Building a distribution strategy around your audience’s most popular platforms ensures you’re putting your energy in the right places, which ultimately improves your ROI. 
  • Tailor content to those platforms. We wish content marketing was a one-size-fits-all approach, but it’s not. The better you can tailor your content—both in subject matter and format–the easier it will be to grab and keep people’s attention. 
  • Increase engagement. When you know what platforms your audience prefers, you can tell a consistent story across those platforms to build a stronger relationship and (hopefully) convert people more easily. 

In short, knowing where your target audience “lives” ensures the marketing work you do will actually pay off.

How to Find Your Target Audience

So how do you actually figure out where your prospective customers are? Use these five simple tactics to find your target audience, understand who they are, and serve up the best content for them. 

1) Talk to your customers.

Yep, you gotta go old-school for this one. And, no, you don’t have to launch a full-scale study. Just a quick email or phone chat can suffice. Use these prompt questions to gain insights into how you might best connect with them:

  • Where do you spend most of your time online?
  • What publications do you read?
  • Where do you get your news/info about [your industry]?

You can ask these questions casually, and the answers will be invaluable. 

2) Dig into your data. 

This is one of the best ways to understand your audience’s behavior. You already have access to a ton of great data via your site and social platforms, so dig in to see what insights may be helpful. 

  • Google Analytics: Where does the majority of your traffic come from? What social platforms drive the most traffic to your site? Where does your referral traffic come from? What content is most popular? This is crucial information to inform your distribution strategy.
  • Social Analytics (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.): Every social platform gives you insights into your following, including who they are and how they behave. Which of your platforms has the most followers? Which platforms have the best engagement? Which platforms have the highest conversions? This information is super valuable. For example, you might have a larger Twitter following but a more engaged LinkedIn audience. That means you would probably be better off investing in paid media on LinkedIn than Twitter.  

Note: These insights can inform your brainstorms too. Understanding your audience demographics, or seeing what content historically performs the best, can help you come up with great ideas that really resonate with the people you’re trying to reach. 

For more, see our tips to determine the best channel for your content.

3) Research social platforms.

Although you can dig into your own social, it’s important to know where people are having the most interesting, relevant conversations related to your brand. From Twitter and Reddit to TikTok and Facebook, there are so many social platforms, but you don’t have to tackle each one. (In fact, it’s better to focus your efforts on a specific platform and grow from there.) That said, there may be platforms that are very popular with your audience but you’ve neglected or overlooked them entirely.

77% of marketers use social media advertising/promoted posts to connect with audiences. 

Content Marketing Institute’s 2022 B2B Content Marketing Report

Thus, doing your research on each platform is a great way to find the communities and conversations you want to be a part of. You can search:

  • Hashtags
  • Mentions
  • Keywords
  • Etc.

If you want some great pro tips, marketing expert Amanda Natividad published a fantastic Twitter thread on how to do a deep dive into every platform, including Twitter, Reddit, and more.B2B Social Media Platforms target audience

4) Look at the influencers in your space.

Think about the big players in your space—the thought leaders, tastemakers, etc. (Heck, where are the micro-influencers with devoted followings?) Where are they most active? Is it YouTube? Instagram? A podcast? Furthermore, what channels do they use to connect with their audiences? For example, a popular influencer might host a podcast that also has a very active subreddit.

Not only are these influencers potential partners for your brand but their platforms can be great places to connect with your community.

Only 22% of b2b marketers use Influencer partnerships. This is a huge opportunity.

Content Marketing Institute’s 2022 B2B Content Marketing Report

5) Creep on your competitors. 

Similar to influencers, your competitors can become your biggest source of inspiration or, rather, a great source of information to clue you into where your audience is, what content resonates with them, etc. 

Tools like Buzzsumo are a great way to search specific competitors or industry keywords. (Their tool allows you to see what type of content is most popular, what platforms your competitors are on, and which platforms get the most engagement.)

Once you’ve identified where your competitors have the biggest audiences, do a full competitor content audit to see what types of content they’re creating, what they’re missing, and how you can fill the gap. 

How to Connect With Your Audience

Once you’ve found where your audience lives, you need to engage them with a steady stream of quality content marketing. (You also need to build the infrastructure to create that content.) To do that…

  • Create marketing personas. Use our free template to create unique marketing personas that detail your audience segments, as well as their wants/needs. These personas are a great tool to help you brainstorm and (most importantly) vet the ideas you come up with.
  • Create valuable content. If your content isn’t working, it’s probably because people aren’t connecting to it. Whether you’re solving a problem, educating, or entertaining, your content needs to serve some specific purpose. If you’re not sure what that looks like, follow these tips to create content people actually wantYou can also use tools like Answer the Public to find out what questions people are asking about specific topics. 
  • Say the right thing at the right time. You ultimately want to build a community of lifelong fans. To do that, you need to tell the right stories that will move them along the path to purchase. Use our free template to map your buyer journeycraft strong brand messaging that emphasizes your value, and learn how to write compelling copy that converts. 
  • Craft a strong distribution strategy. With the insights you’ve gained about your audience, you need to have a proper distribution plan to make sure your content gets the right eyes on it. Start with our simple guide to build a distribution strategy that works. 

And if you need more help than you have in-house, bring in an expert partner. Use our tips to find an agency with the right expertise, or find out what it’s like to work with us on a content strategy. Most importantly, remember that your audience may evolve over time. Continue to listen to them, interact, and solicit their feedback to shape your content strategy and generate great content that really moves the needle. 

How to Write a Content Plan in 5 Steps

To generate high-quality content consistently, you need a steady stream of content ideas, a solid workflow, and—most importantly—a well-crafted content plan. With a solid plan, you can stay organized, execute your content strategy successfully, and ensure you’re creating content that will actually connect with the right people and convert them into lifelong fans. If you’ve never created a plan before (or aren’t sure you’re doing it the right way), you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll walk you through the content plan process—and help you avoid common mistakes along the way. 

But first, let’s go back to basics. 

What Is a Content Plan?

In short, a content plan is a way to document the content marketing you want to create—and ensure everyone on your team stays on the same page. 

Why Do You Need a Content Plan?

Good content marketing is strategic and intentional. It also involves many moving parts, from copywriting to design. The better you can plan, the easier it is to… 

  • Publish consistently. This is one of the most common mistakes in marketing. If you don’t have a reliable content infrastructure (aka the knowledge and resources to create content), it is very difficult to produce and publish high-quality content consistently. A content plan helps keep everyone on the same page to ensure you hit your deadlines and publish the right thing at the right time. 
  • Tell your brand’s best stories. We like to think of content marketing as a unique ecosystem, where every piece of content helps reinforce your brand story. If you’re making content piecemeal, or on the fly, it’s harder to control the quality and message that you’re sending. But with a solid content plan, you can ensure that you’re creating the right mix of content for your audience. 
  • Maximize resources. When you know what content you plan to create, you can identify and allocate resources more effectively. In fact, the more you plan, the more mileage you can get from your content. (Find out more about how a divisible content strategy can help you work more effectively.)

Note: What’s most important is actually documenting your plan. That can help you keep track of your content, spot additional content opportunities, and more.

How to Create a Content Plan

Creating a content plan is simple and straightforward (if you know what you’re doing). Follow these five steps to set yourself up for success.  

1) Complete your content strategy.

Successful content marketing doesn’t start with content—it starts with strategy. Before you make your content plan, you need to know what your goals are, who your audience is, how your content will support those goals, how you plan to measure success, etc. If you haven’t established this foundation, your content won’t be very effective. (In fact, you’re almost guaranteed to waste valuable time and resources for little reward.)

This is why it’s important to start with the basics. Use our content strategy guide and toolkit to ensure you have the information you need to build a content plan that is aligned to your goals.

2) Build your content pipeline.

Good content rarely happens when you’re scrambling to create something last minute. Thus, your content plan needs to account for any significant events or dates that you will create content for.

This may include all sorts of notable events, such as:

  • Holidays
  • Seasonal events (e.g., annual tradeshow)
  • Company milestones
  • Launches

To make sure these events are on your radar from the start, we suggest building a content pipeline, wherein you document important events for each quarter. (Download our free content pipeline template to do it.) Although you may not be focusing on those events yet, it’s important to have them in the pipeline so you can brainstorm and prepare far ahead of time. 

3) Decide on your cadence. 

How often do you plan to publish? What is a steady, reasonable cadence? This will rely on your team’s knowledge, skills, and ability to create various pieces of content. You may publish daily, weekly, or monthly—it all depends on your brand. What matters most is that you choose a reasonable cadence that you can realistically maintain.

Tip: If you don’t have the ability to create something in-house, outside support can help. See our tips to figure out if you should turn to a freelancer or a content agency.

4) Brainstorm ideas by month.

Every brand’s content needs will be different, but if you’re building your content operation from scratch, it helps to break content plans down by quarter (via your content pipeline), and then by month.

We find it especially helpful to choose a specific topic, set of keywords, or seasonal theme to brainstorm around each month.

Note:  While you can loosely plot these themes out, they shouldn’t be written in stone. Things can (and often do) change. If you’re brainstorming too far ahead, and something unexpected happens, it’ll throw your whole calendar off. Instead, plan 1-3 months at a time.

When it comes time to brainstorm specific content ideas, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Include stakeholders. Don’t leave anyone important out of these meetings. More minds make better ideas. Plus, you don’t want to go back to square one if a stakeholder doesn’t approve of the idea.
  • Vet your ideas. Don’t go with your first ideas. Instead, use your marketing personas to vet and prioritize the ideas that will resonate with your audience most.
  • Consider the platform. Where does your audience live online, and what type of content do they like to consume on these platforms? This may influence the types of ideas you brainstorm.

Once you have your list of ideas, think about what order you will want to publish them in. For example, if you’re just starting to publish content, you will want to publish your larger, more broad pieces first. 

5) Build out your editorial calendar. 

Now you can use our editorial calendar template to schedule your content. (You may also use a calendar tool like CoSchedule.)

This is where you get into the nitty-gritty content-planning details. Build and schedule a calendar that keeps everyone on track, including all the relevant details like topic, keyword, author, etc. Again, you want to schedule things out far enough in advance that no one is unprepared or blindsided by a deadline. However, this is marketing, and things change (hi, pandemic!). You may need to be flexible and move some content up, or push other content back. 

For more on this, find out how to build a proper editorial calendar.

How to Execute Your Content Plan

As you begin to document your plan (and measure the results as you go), we have a few final tips to make sure your content-planning work pays off.

  • Choose the right mix of content. Think of your content as nutrition—your audience needs a well-balanced meal to stay interested (and satisfied). Find out how to serve the right type of content that will keep people engaged. 
  • Have a distribution strategy. No matter how good your content is, if people aren’t seeing it, it isn’t doing its job. See our guide to build a distribution strategy that gets the right eyes on your content. 
  • Test and tweak. Good metrics are the key to content marketing success because they tell you whether or not your content actually works. Measure your efforts, and use the insights to improve your content going forward.
  • Don’t be precious with your content. If it isn’t working and you’re supposed to create the same content next month, mix it up.

Of course, if you need a partner to guide your strategy and content, we’re always here. See our content strategy FAQ, or hit us up directly. We’d love to help you create a content plan that resonates with the people you’re trying to reach.