If you're in B2B and you’re not focusing on content marketing, you are falling behind your competition, it's as simple as that. This is 2022, and it is all about how you can stand out as the needle in the haystack.
On the other hand, if you are producing content regularly, that’s awesome. There’s a good chance you are already ahead of your competitors who aren't doing content marketing or are investing a small amount.
If you want to become #1 in your niche, you need a sound content marketing plan.
Great content leads to more organic traffic, which ultimately leads to more leads that turn into sales.
Without a robust content marketing strategy, even if you do get traffic, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best ROI. You won't be able to determine what brought results and what didn't, which will lead to wasted resources.
The goal for me is to share ideas that will keep your content fresh and engaging and your brand recognisable, as well as help you maximise your efforts.
Let’s get into it!
1. Gated and lead magnet content
Lead magnets and gated content are a great way to draw "warmer" prospects straight into your sales funnel. The premise is simple - you create an awesome content piece (usually an ebook) that you know your target audience would love to have. However, instead of giving it to them completely free, you ask for something in return, which is usually their contact information.
Prospects still get the ebook free of charge, as they don't have to pay anything for it. But, you get their email, which will allow you to send them more content in the future, as well as direct offers (we will get to newsletters later).
While it is obvious that collecting emails puts you a step closer to closing sales, customers are getting smarter. Lead magnets do work, but customers are more educated than ever before, especially in the B2B world. It’s all about providing really great value.
Therefore, don't jump straight to sending offers as soon as your lead magnet captures their email. Instead, look at the captured lead as an opportunity for further nurturing and building trust through even more quality content. Later, once they settle and build a relationship with your brand, they will be much more willing to get in touch with your product offering and hopefully continue to work with you long-term.
A good example of a simple, gated content flow here is Zendesk.
- Firstly, I was reading a blog post about advanced funnel tracking. Then, I got prompted with this pop-up on the right hand corner.
- As you can see in the above messaging, the context makes sense as I'm looking further into funnels. I really like how they've got 2 call to actions here, with the content opt-in being the primary CTA, with "Contact Sales" as a secondary CTA.
- I was then prompted to go to this page below.
- The page overall looks good and speaks to what's in the ebook. To be honest, I think they could do a better job with the landing page.
- Then, once you click on "Download Now", you get this form modal.
- Overall, the UX is simple and I think effective, which is perfect for those browsing and limited on time.
Another company I really respect when it comes to their content game (as well as their design and UX of their blog), and resources, is Intercom. Let's look at an example of a content gated piece.
- When reading the blog, I saw on the left hand side of their menu this "ultimate guide to conversational support".
- You can visit the page to see it in action.
- Compared to the Zendesk landing page, this is certainly selling me.
- They highlight the value of understanding conversational support, with key points included in the opt-in.
- After reading further about what's inside and continue to scroll down, I come across this CTA.
- A smart thing they've done here also is include another report which may interest readers on the right-hand side.
- Overall, big fan. As a reader and user, I'm pressed. The design is slick, the content is polished and establishes instant trust that these guys know all about their subject matter.
- In addition, this is the sort of thing I feel confident sharing to team mates or clients.
2. Long-form Resource Articles & Pillar Pages
Long form content is usually different to your usual standard blog posts.
I typically refer to pages such as these as Pillar Pages.
Pillar pages are simply pages with lots of content on one topic, which then link out to relevant supporting posts. Think of it as one big overall round up of a topic and if you want to explore something more specific on that topic, it links to a relevant article.
So, what do you get from creating Pillar pages or writing long-form articles? You build trust, and you get to showcase your expertise.
Evergreen content that keeps being updated over time is one of the best forms of content that you can produce.
There are many benefits of long-form content, but let's list two primary benefits:
Improved Google Rankings (Better SEO)
Longer articles will naturally have more keywords, even if you don't heavily focus on optimisation. In-depth content provides more information to the readers, which means they are likely to read the article for longer. There’s also an increased chance they will share it with fellow peers or other people in their network.
Also, they will be more likely to come back to the article and re-read it.
Any piece of long-form content should be evergreen. Evergreen simply means it doesn’t go out of date. This will ensure the article will keep getting traffic for a very long time as it remains relevant.
Content pillar structures & SEO
A good example to see this visually is this diagram by Teerakeet.
The purpose of why SaaS companies in particular adopt this topic cluster strategy is to ultimately improve organic traffic, but also highlight that they are a subject matter on this particular subject, which helps with overall authority and page rankings.
You will see two examples below of this being applied.
Building Brand Awareness & Conversion Optimised
Long-form articles are also great for turning readers into high-quality prospects, as well as attracting new prospects that are more likely to convert.
They will read your piece of content as they stumble upon it on Google. If they really like it, they might decide to subscribe to your newsletter.
Or better yet, if you strategically place the right CTA's within your content, they most likely will sign up for a free-trial period or book a demo.
Even if they don't, your brand name will become familiar in their head. The next time they stumble upon something you created, they will remember the awesome content piece you wrote previously.
The key thing to remember is to create content that helps solve problems for people, and it needs to be of high quality. Decision makers in your industry such as CMOs, COOs, CEOs, (etc.) will stumble upon your content, and form a judgement of whether or not to engage with you.
They are time intensive and does require investment in resource, such as writers, designers and landing page developers, but the pay-off over time can be massive.
Plus, you can use for lead nurturing through paid ads & email remarketing.
Examples of long-form articles & pillar pages in action
Here are two SaaS companies who are doing an amazing job with creating epic content.
Let's start off with Hotjar. You can check out the heatmapping guide to see how it works.
- Hotjar has done an amazing job building this resource page that focuses in heatmaps, which is a core component of their product offering.
- When you scroll down the page, you can see how it differs from normal blog post content.
- They use good design practices to break up the content, which makes it really engaging.
- As we can see here in the boxes I've pointed out, the start of the guide is where the red rectangle has "Heatmaps Guide". This is the main pillar page which then links out to other chapters relevant to heatmaps.
- At the start, you're on the URL "/heatmaps/". Then, if we go visit "Heatmap Examples" next to guides, then you will land on the URL "/heatmaps/examples".
- Another UX feature I like is on the right-hand side, you will see "On This Page". Whilst above are the chapters to go into further details, this is a pop-up of what's contained on the specific page.
- This is what anchor links are. When a user clicks on one of the topics, it auto-scrolls to the appropriate section.
- Then, a final observation of why epic content pieces like this work is that it's not just purely for generating organic traffic, but is also great for converting high-intent users from the organic traffic.
- Content experiences like this usually have great conversion rates, especially if you're pushing to convert enterprise clients.
The other company that does a great job with pillar pages and long form resources is Typeform.
This is a great example on design practices using Typeform for non-designers.
- First observation here is that I absolutely love the design.
- Unlike Hotjar's guide, they don't have a menu bar of what supporting guides as part of this topic.
- As you scroll down the page, you then find other sub-topics related to the primary topic.
- The final thing I wanted to mention of what I really like about this page is the break-up of sections.
- They include this design style below to break up the content.
Key takeaways to designing and creating these resources:
- The content needs to be absolutely high-quality. Remember key decision makers will read and judge you.
- Design is paramount. It doesn't need to be over thought, but it needs to break up your content to make it more digestible.
3. Webinars & webcasts
During COVID-19, webinars, webcasts, online meetings, and remote work became normal fast. It will likely stay like this even after the pandemic is long gone, at least to some extent. For the same reason, webinars & webcasts are showing great results as part of digital marketing strategies which many of the top startups around the world use for their top of funnel and middle of funnel initiatives.
The advantages of webinars are apparent - your team members get to show potential clients what your business is all about. Even better, they do it face-to-face live and it’s scalable. Your potential B2B clients will have an opportunity to ask questions, which will create closer interpersonal relationships. Once they meet people behind your brand in person, they will be much more likely to say yes once you send them an offer.
Another good advantage is that you can record your live webinars and turn them into lead magnets or even potentially automated webinars.
However, webinars and webcasts do have a couple of disadvantages to be wary of. First, you need to prepare for them thoroughly, which takes time. I’ve seen poorly prepared live webinars. It’s not a good look.
Secondly, now everyone is doing webinars. You need to be creative and smart with the topic as well as presentation style for people to turn up in the first place and then also to recommend them to friends.
Who's a great example of a company that does webinars well?
A company that does a great job at webinars is UXPin.
- UXPin is in one of the most competitive SaaS categories - design & UX prototyping. The amount of options that exist out there is endless.
- One of their key strategies is running webinars with design and UX experts from some of the best startups.
- Here's what happens below when you click on a webinar that you want to watch.
- I really rate this landing page. They've kept it simple, including key learnings you can get from the webinar, as well as the bio of the speaker.
- Then of course, you can see they've got the opt-in. They are actually running an automated webinar strategy, which is really smart because it's an "always on" campaign. Great for remarketing via paid ads for those who may not be a current subscriber or user.
- The final note of why I like what they've done is they make sure to still communicate the USP's of their product. Even having the secondary CTA of signing up to the free newsletter also helps.
4. LinkedIn organic marketing
For B2B oriented businesses, LinkedIn is a massive opportunity. LinkedIn still has excellent organic reach, which is why posting regularly there will draw a lot of attention. Plus, even though LinkedIn has been rising in popularity for quite some time, the chances are that not all of your competitors are active on it. If that is the case, you have an opportunity to stand out from the rest just by posting regularly.
However, "posting regularly" doesn't only mean just posting on your company's LinkedIn page from time to time. LinkedIn organic marketing should be a team effort - all of your team members and employees should post through their profiles on a regular basis.
Comment on each other's posts and in relevant groups or on popular pages your clientele and competition are following. This will gradually increase your brand visibility within the LinkedIn ecosystem. Before you know it, your posts will become trending, which will mean that thousands of users will start noticing your brand.
When you write posts, include hashtags, and also put pictures and screenshots. Carousel posts work great too.
And one more tip - don't put external links into your posts. Instead, put them in the first comment. Or, publish the post without the link, and then click "edit" and add it later. I’ve often found that organic reach reduces if you include external links in the original post.
Why Gong sets the standard for Organic LinkedIn
There are a lot of great companies doing good work around LinkedIn organic, but Gong has to be top of the list for me. Just take a look at these various examples.
- Awesome branded content that stands out in the feed.
- 'Relatable' content that highlights personality and the awesome culture that Gong has. None better than to promote this other than the CEO.
- A lot of their employees share content just like this.
- They also do a great job with their company page.
- Love the branding from the first post. It certainly stands out on the feed.
- The second post really nails how Gong writes their value-drive posts. Punchy, direct and really highlights that they are an authority.
- The last post really highlights the great personality of the brand. Even the hashtag 'gongsterlife' really highlights that working for this company seems like a lot of fun.
There are many other takeaways, but these are the key things that stand out with their content strategy. I certainly recommend looking into further of what they're doing.
5. Create interactive content
Creating interactive content such as calculators, checklists, spreadsheets, templates (or similar), will show your potential clientele that you really want to provide value and genuinely want to help them.
Having these other content formats really helps accelerate your authority within your industry.
If you create a super useful spreadsheet or calculator, it's a great way to engage prospects to move them further into the funnel. If the user gets a lot of value out of what they opted-in for to use in their work or role, this goes a long way for them to build trust and a positive affiliation with your brand.
Every time they come back to your site to use the spreadsheet, they will see your logo and be reminded that you guys are the authority.
Whilst a prospect may not result in a 'hot' lead from engaging with your free asset, they are likely to recommend the interactive content to their colleagues or other businesses, which will make your site the go-to place for valuable resources that solve specific problems relating to your niche.
What is some inspiration of interactive content?
Probably one of the best companies that does interactive content well is Hubspot, such as this ROI calculator for their software. This example alone is something to be inspired by for your brand.
- It's a smart strategy here that is definitely made for prospects who are in the 'warm' or 'hot' stages of the funnel/sales pipeline.
- It's really easy to use and input numbers to see calculations.
Tools to build interactive content
There are many other examples of interactive content pieces, but let's take a look at some tools to help you develop these types of interactive experiences that drives engagement.
If you're wanting to create interactive ebooks, you need to signup and try Kotobee.
- You can create any ebook that you want in various formats.
- You can add your branding, and easily import existing content you may have.
Another good tool to create quizzes, calculators (and much more), is Outgrow.
- It's one of the leading tools on the market to create interactive experiences that drives leads.
- The UX is pretty good, which is great for marketers and non-technical people.
The final platform to check out is Campaignware.
- With this tool, you can create lots of interactive assets for lead generation including quizzes, trivia's, forms, surveys, predictors, plus much more.
6. Content retargeting through PPC & Social ads
Content marketing and paid ads don't seem like they fit together, at least at first glance. Creating content usually aims to draw in organic traffic.
On the other hand, pay-per-click ads work differently, as they target prospects directly when they are browsing the internet for other things. As for Facebook or Instagram Ads, ads are served on user feeds.
So, how does content combine with ads? Through retargeting.
This is where many businesses I find fail to do well and miss out on a big opportunity.
Creating a big piece of content is just the beginning. In fact, most of the other strategies from this article are about creating great pieces of content which we can use for retargeting - videos, articles, webinars, calculators, case studies, free ebooks.
The problem is that it takes so much time to create quality content. Then, many companies just fail to properly promote or distribute to their audiences.
Just posting on social media or sharing on the email newsletter a couple of times simply limits the investment you’ve made.
Most of the time, visitors who may intend to buy or explore more of your product offerings from you simply forget to come back to your site. Maybe they were casually browsing the web or LinkedIn whilst on their daily commute to work and saw one of your posts, which interested them. However, they forget to make a note or put a bookmark, and now the opportunity is lost.
This is where content retargeting shines.
By retargeting those same people who visited your site organically with paid ads, you have an opportunity to "remind them" about their previous intent. It’s now your opportunity to take them on a journey and help nurture them.
Paid ads will spark their interest again, making some of them come back to your site and browse for more. More visits will lead to more engagement and more brand searches, which will all lead to improved brand visibility.
Ultimately, promoting your content through creative remarketing will help increase your chances to convert more prospects into potential customers.
A great example of a company doing amazing retargeting ads is Figma. Type in "Figma" into the Facebook Ads Library tool, so you can explore the various ads they are running.
- UGC videos featuring influencers.
- 'Tip" based content
Here's some the ads inspiration I like.
7. Content partnerships with relevant brands
Content partnerships are an excellent opportunity to get your name in front of new audiences by joining ranks with like-minded brands. This can work both ways - by reaching out to other brands to post content on their websites or media profiles or by letting them post content on yours.
The idea is simple - each brand already has an established audience base. By reaching out and partnering, you join forces and start sharing audiences.
What makes content partnerships unique is their ability to bring in an audience much faster than ordinary content pieces. As an example, if you let a guest write on your website who already has an established fanbase, they will instantly bring new eyes to your brand. Once they write the post, they are likely to share it multiple times on their social media accounts. Through their self-promotion, you get to promote your brand too.
The same goes if you reach out and arrange a guest appearance on a popular podcast within your industry. You will get the chance to reach a brand new relevant audience and endorsed by the other brand.
As audiences trust the podcast brand host, you credibility is elevated. The sole fact that they invited you to the show will speak for itself to the audience, growing trust in your brand before you even show up. Especially if the podcast already has a good reputation for hosting big names from your industry, then it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
A good example of a content partnership is Clearbit, working alongside Hubspot and Highspot on the subject of "Alignment for Go-To-Market" best practices.
- They are adopting a webinar strategy to nurture readers and potential leads.
- Looking at Clearbit's ads, they have a nice branded graphic which highlights the topic area, why users should watch, as well as logos of both accompanying brands.
- Once a user clicks on this ad, then they head to the landing page below where they can exchange their details to watch.
8. Create engaging case studies
Case studies are extremely important for B2B companies as they directly illustrate to your potential clients that you have helped businesses similar to theirs and understand their problems/needs.
Case studies are fantastic as they build trust fast and help make the decision-making process easier for prospects considering to engage with your services.
The goal is to make sure they’re engaging and stand out from a design perspective. Remember, every B2B does them.
Raw stats and graphs are important as they showcase the improvements you made for your clients. To really amp up your game, you should look to create case studies that are more article-like or even work as tutorials. That kind of case study will tell the reader how to implement the solution to their own business, solving the problem the same way.
Even if your potential customer can solve their problem by following the solution from the case study, the chances are they will contact you to solve it for them anyway. That's because you will take care of the problem in far less time and with guaranteed results, since you are the expert, as the case study illustrates.
Quick inspiration: SproutSocial has done a really great job with their case studies. Let's take a quick look.
- First, the case studies page looks awesome. Love the graphics and tags which helps identify which companies they've worked with, as well as what they're about.
- What's really impressive is the amount of case studies they have.
- To help sort though which may be relevant for readers, and potential leads, they have a filtering section on the left-hand side.
- Now, let's look at their case study page, such as this one on Klarna.
- Really love the layout. What I love about it most is the key stats you see right away above the fold. One, they're great results. Two, everyone loves stats.
- Good placement of a key quote from one of the leaders at Klarna.
- It helps break up the content and reinforces legitimacy.
- Then at the end of reading the case study, you have the option to download as a PDF, or can view more case studies.
There are certainly many other great case study layouts from other companies, but I feel what Sprout Social has done is an 'easy' achievement and standard that most companies should aim for.
9. Curated newsletters
While you can send classic newsletters to your subscribers letting them know about changes within your company, products, and services - again, lots of companies do this and it gets boring.
I want to open emails that provides me value.
Use your newsletter to send curated content your prospects will love consuming. It’s about providing them with helpful resources and information.
This can be anything from older articles from your blog that are still relevant but also from other blogs within your niche. Don't just limit it to articles - links to YouTube videos and tutorials will work wonders too. It’s important to make sure you’re sharing content of high-quality that provides amazing value to your readers.
Don't be afraid to share company vision, goals, ideas, and opinions. A good idea is to interview your team members from time to time on current topics within your industry. That way, your subscribers will get to know your brand better, making you more likeable, leading to easier purchasing decisions later.
Lastly, share exclusive content only to your subscribers. This can be anything from free ebooks or tickets for webinars. These will help make sure your subscribers feel valued. When you notify them, make sure they know it’s exclusive for them. You don’t need to use this strategy often, but from time to time it does help build good rapport.
Who's done curated newsletters well?
Chartmogul does a good job with curated newsletters, which incorporates updates from their own blog, as well as 3rd party articles and publications that are relevant for their audience.
The other business that does a good job with curation is SaaStr.
10. Embrace video content marketing
You don't need to be an experienced marketer to know the benefits of video as part of your marketing strategy.
The #1 form and best forms of engagement is video. I tell that to all my B2B clients that video can seriously get cut through if done well.
The benefits of video marketing are obvious - it is much more personal, as you get a chance to stand in front of a camera. It is far more engaging and easier to consume than reading articles, and you can expect much better engagement on your videos than most other types of media.
The great thing about access to amazing platforms and software available to us today, is the creating videos has never been easier to do. Not just easier, but also more cost-effective than ever before.
While it's true that videos look awesome with better production, you don’t have to have a dedicated studio to record videos.
Sometimes, doing recordings on your desktop and phone can suffice. There’s also the advantage that it’s more authentic.
I do suggest though if you have the budget to invest in decent quality gear. For the company I head up growth for, it’s certainly been one of the best investments we’ve made.
The key thing is don't just focus on making short ad-like videos. Instead, opt for how-to videos and tutorials, and if you can, even interviews or series. If you have decent microphones, you can easily turn those into podcast episodes, which are also skyrocketing in popularity.
Who does a good job when it comes to video marketing?
There are lots of amazing SaaS startups that do an awesome job at video marketing, but I think of the best companies that do it well is Profitwell.
Video embeds in posts
- One of the things I love that Profitwell have done is include video's into their blog posts.
- What I personally think is really clever is that they use Wistia as part of their strategy for email lead gen. Read this post to see what it looks like.
- With a lot of their videos, they actually get SaaS founders and entrepreneurs to submit video questions, then get a presenter to answer them.
- It's a brilliant strategy in my opinion. Firstly, they're normally great questions from great founders. Secondly, what a smart way to engage your customer profile by actually listening to what their questions and problems they may be facing to get more clarity on. Lastly, who needs to come up with new content ideas? The audience submits them.
- More companies should be taking a leaf out of the Profitwell playbook.
- Another video strategy they do an incredible job in is their YouTube Content.
- They rank for a lot of organic searches with their YouTube channel. Just look at this snippet. The thumbnails look awesome.
- What happens when you land on their YouTube page?
- They've set a good standard here in terms of branding, how they categorise their playlists, as well as their thumbnails.
Promotion of videos
- The final piece of the puzzle then comes down to how they drive eyeballs. How do they know what topics to talk about? How do they re-engage audiences who have come across their content before?
- First, they produce videos they know gets searches from their desired audience.
- Secondly, they promote new videos via LinkedIn & organic social channels.
- Lastly, they use remarketing with Facebook Ads.
Overall, certainly a lot to learn from this company.
11. Get creative with testimonials & reviews
Testimonials are essential for social proof. Once your potential customers see that you did a great job with a current or previous client, they are more likely to engage a dialogue with you.
However, testimonials like "John Smith: They did a great job!" don’t get enough cut through. You need to do better than that. In fact, it comes across lazy. Probably best to not have it at all.
Ask your client to record a video testimonial that will explain the pain points they experienced before they engaged with you and how your has company helped.
Or, if they don't want to record a video, ask them to write a detailed testimonial. Explain to them why it matters to you and give them some directions. Of course, don't just tell them what to write - the readers will sniff out that it's fake.
Also, ask your clients if you can list their full names, positions, and even pictures and company logos. If you put testimonials with more information, you will almost instantaneously buy the trust of potential customers who won't question your credibility.
A clever way of highlighting testimonials
I really like this strategy by Seenit.
- On their homepage, you come across this section which has all the faces of people advocating the product.
- Once you click on "customer showcase", you can then see all the various videos available from real users. It really highlights the legitimacy and satisfaction of people who love usinf Seenit.
- Another thing I love is this particular landing page which is definitely CRO-optimised. Great use of "above the fold", with the CTA to 'contact sales' and logos of household brands who use the software. Simply awesome.
I hope these strategies will help you get more prospects and stand out above your competition. Of course, you don't have to implement it all at once. Kudos to you if you’ve implemented many of them already. :)
Having a creative approach and investing in quality content marketing yields big results - whether that be written content, interactive content, eBooks or even videos. It’s a big reason why many successful B2B startups (as well as my clients) use it as a key strategy to drive growth.