B2B Content Marketing Agency
Engaging with a content marketing agency may seem like an extravagance when you’re a B2B tech startup. Content is both something you can do yourself and a low priority. It’s a low priority because you’re too busy trying to perfect your product and get customers.
It’s also a low priority because it’s hard and deep down you don’t like doing it. This isn’t surprising because if you did you would have your own B2B content marketing agency.
The fact is that since 2018, Google has been gradually reworking its algorithm to heavily weigh its search results towards well optimised, useful content.
So the days of throwing up a news article every six weeks and expecting a deluge of traffic a long gone.
To make a dent in the Google rankings in today’s digital landscape you need to produce 12 pieces of content a month at a minimum.
But content is more than just a new blog post three times a week with no plan backing it up. That’s a great way for your content marketing – and your organic traffic – to fall flat.
Content marketing isn’t something you can do half-heartedly. In reality, it forms an essential element to all of your marketing activities and should be forming the core of your marketing strategy. A good content marketing agency should help you with this strategy.
B2B Content Marketing Strategies that Work
A good B2B content marketing strategy is like any other kind of strategy. It takes careful planning and iterative adjustments once everything is in motion.
This last point is particularly important to remember. A good strategy can quickly turn bad if those delivering it fail to learn from what does and does not work.
The willingness to learn, adapt and improve is critical to any successful marketing strategy.
However, other key components make up a B2B content marketing strategy for startups.
Define your Market
Before you can start selling, you need to know who you’re selling to. As a start-up you have limited spend so you need to keep your target market as focussed as possible. You can broaden your markets later on but for the time being, your objective is winning your first ten big customers.
Identify what industry you want to target and be laser-focused in how you deliver your marketing. Depending on your location a national campaign will succeed in doing little more than burning money. The competition is too great and your budgets are too small.
Look at a geographical area that you can realistically service. Whether that’s travelling for onsite development or timezones to make communication easier. It’s also worth considering the size of the businesses you want to work with and the markets they serve.
This level of specificity helps you to refine the content you should create and spend your marketing budget efficiently and effectively.
If you’re struggling to answer these questions it may be worth seeking outside insight. After all, you’re a tech start-up, not a B2B content marketing agency.
Either way, try to get some ideas down. Starting with a client you loved working with – or your ideal client – is a good idea. From there you can build small marketing campaigns to test whether or not your assumptions are correct.
Define your Target Buyer
Once you have a firm idea of who are your ideal clients are, you need to dig deeper and define who the buyer personas are.
A buyer persona is a characterisation of the people you want to make contact with. It’s almost like you’re creating a character for a book. The more detail you can go into the easier you will find it in the long run.
Building your Target Buyer Personas
Whether it’s the CEO, CTO or head of function, creating personas help you to understand their challenges. And how you can help address them.
It can be a difficult step for a business. Unless you’re a big fan of roleplay games, creating a character out of thin air isn’t something that comes naturally in most tech companies.
The fact is it’s an essential step towards understanding where your customers are hiding and the kind of content they’ll respond to. It isn’t Field of Dreams; if you write it, they won’t come unless it’s relevant to them. You need to attract the right customer personas with the right pieces of content.
Creating a highly detailed – research-based – persona helps you to define your messaging and your content strategy. It’s not enough to say you want to target health tech. That won’t help your prospecting and build a sales pipeline.
Start with an affirmative statement that demonstrates you understand your buyer and shows intent:
We target CTOs of US digital health companies who struggle to find the skill sets and industry knowledge needed to deliver compliant health tech solutions on time and within budget to the healthcare industry.
This serves as a base link from which you can build the persona of your target audiences in greater detail. Rather than trying to attract the attention of the entire digital health industry, for example.
Bring it back to who is your ideal customer. This may be tricky if you’re not sure, so use your product and service offerings as a guide. Identify the organisations you could help the most based on the solution you provide.
Testing your Target Buyer Persona
Testing should be built into every step of your content marketing strategy. Testing and iterating allow you to create a strategy that delivers the results you need to succeed.
There are a couple of ways you can test your personas that won’t require a significant investment in time or money.
The first is to get a third party to survey some of your clients using your buyer pesona/s. This allows you to see objectively whether or not you are hitting the right mark.
It’s important not to survey all your clients as you’re trying to hone in on your ideal customer. So avoid sampling those who are frustrating or challenging to work with.
Alternatively, you can build small campaigns using a dedicated landing page and paid ads. You can test whether or not your messaging resonates with your target buyer.
LinkedIn advertising works well as can Google AdWords providing you have a strong enough driver to get them to click.
What Pain Point are you trying to Solve?
Having built your ideal customer persona/s you now need to work their pain points. Specifically, the problems that your product, solution or service can address. You’re still working from a hypothesis at this point so you need to be prepared to test and adjust as you learn more about your future customers.
This requires some research and analysis. A first step could be a post mortem on your current clients to determine how well your offering matched their needs. Again, a survey conducted by a third party could help here.
Industry websites and publications can also yield insights that would otherwise go unnoticed. Following this up with keyword research can also uncover the kinds of questions your target buyers are asking.
Once you understand where those pain points lie, you are in a much better position to start working on a content strategy they will respond to. This will make it easier for your prospects to cross the anonymity threshold as they will feel confident you understand their problems.
Download the Guide: How to Market B2B SaaS Startups
All Roads lead to Content
Any good content marketer will tell you that content should be at the heart of everything you do to market your business.
Setting aside Google’s expectations, your potential customers expect it to. This is because of the simple fact that they want to make sure you can deliver on your promises.
The way we do business has changed. Our first instinct isn’t to get a referral or pick up the phone and make an inquiry. We visit the website and consume content to make sure any potential supplier knows what they’re talking about.
Fundamentally, what our prospects want, before a phone call is made or a meeting arranged, is to trust us.
Where a B2B content marketing agency can help you is devising your content strategy and creating the content you need to build those relationships.
The Content Hub
The majority of marketers see content marketing as inbound. That is to say, content is designed to drive organic traffic to your site. This is absolutely what content is for, but it’s not all it’s for.
Content can and should be used in almost every facet of your marketing. It’s just a question of knowing how to make the most of the resources you have at your disposal.
Think of content marketing like a cartwheel.
The content you create is the hub of the wheel, whether it’s a blog, whitepaper, video or podcast. From there that content can be utilised in several ways to drive sales or get users to cross the anonymity threshold.
Each different approach effectively forms a spoke coming from the central hub of content.
This is when a user completes a contact form or download form in exchange for a piece of content. It’s the point in the relationship where they are at their most receptive to what you have to say.
This is the most common form of content marketing. And the one the average B2B content marketing agency will be most familiar with.
With good reason – blogs are essential to driving organic traffic to your website.
Blogging, done correctly, forms the foundation upon which your marketing rests. This is because even the most well-optimised blogs can take up to six months to gain traction. However, ensuring your content is evergreen will drive traffic to your website for years.
An effective inbound marketing strategy is built on three things.
- Understanding your audience
- Understanding their pain points
- In-depth keyword research
- A robust and varied content plan
- Well optimised content
By this point, you should already know who you want to talk to and where their frustrations lie. The keyword research you conduct, coupled with tools like SEMRush can uncover the questions users are asking about the challenges you offer to solve.
When framed through the eyes of your buyer personas – and the different stages of the buying cycle they are in – you can start to identify the content titles that will be of the most use to your audiences. From there the content can be created with those buyer personas in mind.
The content creators found within B2B content marketing agencies are specialists in their field and will optimise any content they write as they go.
This affords you a significant advantage as your content will perform better, faster and for longer than your competitors.
Other types of Inbound Content
While blogs are the most common form of content marketing, they’re not the only way to attract your audience organically.
Cornerstone pages or pillar pages, provide your users with a considerable amount of free information about a specific topic. It gives them a comprehensive understanding of a method, product, service etc. They can then access blogs to learn more about specific areas raised on the cornerstone page.
Although whitepapers are often gated to capture user data, they serve as a useful traffic driver. Whitepapers are thought leadership pieces that are designed to establish credibility and add value within your sector.
Whitepapers require a significant amount of research and time to produce. But they can serve both to raise your profile and capture leads as well. This is because most users are willing to provide their contact information in exchange for that valuable information and insight.
Infographics are useful for communicating a lot of information very quickly and in a highly engaging way. Content like this performs well on platforms like LinkedIn because it’s easy to consume, valuable and shareable.
Video content is becoming increasingly popular every day. Its decreasing cost of production and platforms like YouTube to share and advertise make it a viable marketing approach.
Depending on what you want your video to do will determine where you share it. Just be mindful of the fact that video can impact the performance of your website. Slow to load websites are penalised by Google, making them and their content harder to find.
Another thing to remember is that Google can’t crawl videos, just the subtitles. So make sure that any video you create has accurate subtitles in the appropriate language/s.
A healthy mix of content maximises your organic marketing efforts and drives relevant traffic to your website. But remember, it can take months for any of your content efforts to bear fruit.
One way of speeding this up is to produce a lot of content very quickly. A blog a day for the first three months, for example. This will prompt Google to crawl the site sooner as the algorithm tends to notice a lot of new content going up all at once. Back this up with an updated site map and things may move faster.
For a lot of B2B content marketing agencies writing the content is where the work would stop. Mainly because larger organisations are in a position to adopt a ‘sit back and let it snowball’ mindset.
But if you want to win customers and scale your business fast, you need to be more aggressive. You need to put your content in front of the people you want to see it.
Paid advertising platforms like Google Ads, YouTube and LinkedIn are ideal for targeting your ideal customers with your content.
However, before you start building your first campaign you need to establish what you want them to see. You also need to be confident that any content you put money behind is going to add value.
Whitepapers, videos and long-form blog content are all ideal types of content to add the required level of value.
You also need to be able to measure the performance of your campaigns end-to-end. Your advertising platform of choice will provide you with all the metrics you need for the campaign. Beyond that, it’s digging into Google Analytics.
Tools like Hubspot and dedicated landing page platforms like Instapage provide detailed information about how many people have visited your content and/or the signup form it directs them to.
This level is insight is essential to the ‘test and tweak’ mindset you need to make your marketing successful. Especially if you’re working with a limited budget.
Being able to see how a campaign is performing at every stage helps you to make better decisions faster. This will improve the overall performance of your paid campaign.
Outbound marketing has traditionally been the antithesis of content marketing. It requires a sales representative to call, email or InMail prospects in an attempt to get them to engage.
Interactions within an outbound campaign can sometimes be a little forced. You email or call a prospect and ask for a meeting. That person doesn’t know you or your company but you want to meet with the express purpose of selling them something.
No wonder so many people hang up.
It’s the sales equivalent of taking someone out for a date then proposing at the end of the night.
The overwhelming majority of people would say no. The ones who say yes probably have bigger problems.
Adding content marketing to the process changes the tone entirely.
Start by sending your prospects a useful piece of content with the suggestion it might be of interest. You can then follow this up by asking them what they thought about it. If they read it then you’re more likely to engage them in a conversation and they are now far more likely to agree to meet.
You can also add your prospects to a long term nurture sequence so they receive an email once a week (or however often you choose) with a piece of content.
This frequent but gentle reminder that you’re thinking of ways to make their business better builds trust. They also start to get to know you as a professional and the business too.
By the time you do speak in person, your prospect will already feel like they know you.
It’s worth noting that long term nurture sequences also work very well for customers who have bought before but could buy again.
Test, Measure, Adjust
Pushing content or setting campaigns live isn’t the end of the process rather the end of the beginning.
You’ve built personas and you’re written content, built ads and created campaigns around them. Now you need to start the learning process.
It may take time for your content to start ranking so it may not be immediately obvious how well they’re performing.
With paid campaigns, landing pages and email sequences the insight will come much quicker. Take the time to analyse the numbers so you can determine how you can adjust your campaigns to make them more effective.
This will be the big test of the assumptions you’ve made around your personas. A high open rate but no conversions suggests that you’re piquing their interest but the offer isn’t right.
No opens at all means something has gone wrong. But that’s okay! In the early stages of your marketing campaigns mistakes give you the opportunity to learn and improve.
If you’re still seeing poor results a few months in then you need to go back to the beginning and re-examine your personas.
Marketing is not a fire and forget business function. You should always be reviewing your messaging and your activity to make sure it’s resonating with your audience.
Sitting back and just letting prospects contact you seems like the holy grail for any business. This is especially true for B2B lead generation, as
Content creation services are big business because content marketing is taking root across the spectrum from B2C to B2B companies. However, it’s B2B companies, especially