Are you unsure whether content marketing is appropriate for your B2B company? Content marketing is consistently associated with ‘cool’ B2C brands like Coca Cola and Red Bull but there is so much more to content marketing than meets the eye. It is a fantastic approach highly suitable for B2B industries, you may even be using it already without knowing. Below I have put together 10 of the best B2B examples of content marketing and how you could use them to your advantage too.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing became a buzzword in digital marketing a few years back and to some it has remained as much. You can see the effect of this using Google Trends to analyse the search trends in the UK, as you can see below. The use of the phrase “content marketing” has risen dramatically in the last few years. By comparing it to the phrase “link building” you can put into context the way the industry is changing.
Content marketing is a huge, umbrella term encompassing all types of content with all types of aims and purposes. Too often individuals think of content marketing purely as the dunk in the dark Superbowl Facebook post of Oreo or Felix Baumgartner jumping from the edge of space with the help of Redbull. Do not get me wrong, this is content marketing and they are fantastic examples but these examples are alienating to B2B marketers as they only show exciting B2C examples. This has led many B2B companies to believe the content marketing must be cool. This is not the case and with the 10 following examples I will show you some fantastic examples of B2B content marketing and why content marketing is not just reserved for the ‘cool’ and ‘fashionable’.
B2B Content Marketing – 10 Fantastic Examples
As we have discussed, content marketing is an extremely broad area. The graphic below, for example is a fantastic method of presenting different types of content available to you and the purpose of each type of content and what audience you are aiming for.
Below I will explore some of the best examples of B2B content marketing which is achievable for you and your business.
Guides can be a fantastic way to appeal to your audience and bring them to your door. Use and build your personas to write guides for your target audience. They may not convert straight away, but there is more to it than that. You want to assert yourselves as experts in your field, build up your brand awareness and bring people to your website where they can sign up for your newsletter, engage with you, enquire about your products or services and then eventually become your clients or recommend you to their business associates. Content marketing is part of the long game, it is not a quick fix and should be part of a far-reaching strategy.
Simply Business: Google+ Guide for Small Businesses
Simply Business offers business insurance. They have made a wide range of guides for small businesses to help them learn about digital marketing from social media to Google Analytics that are nothing to do with business insurance. Why?
Simply Business have developed a number of guides targeted to their prospective clients. Their guides to Google+, WordPress, Google Analytics and Youtube are all targeting small businesses for a reason. They know that small businesses will find this content useful and the simple interface they present the information in is appropriate for someone at a small business who is having a juggle a number of responsibilities, someone who needs a helping hand without necessarily needing to go into too much technical detail. Simply Business have targeted small businesses perfectly and created content tailored to their exact needs because they want to be on their radar for when they need Business Insurance. They may want them to sign up to a newsletter, they may want them to move around their website or they may just want them to recognise their name and associate it with knowledge, expertise and most importantly, trust.
WordStream offer software to help the effective management of PPC campaigns. Unlike Simply Business, they offer advice directly related to what they offer.
The reason for this is that they have a completely different clientele. They are targeting the digital marketing managers, executives and even PPC specialists found in larger companies and agencies whereas Simply Business are targeting the small business generalists. WordStream’s white papers include:
- Complete Guide to Geotargetting & Local PPC
- The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Ad Extensions
- The PPC Guide for B2B Professionals
These are targeted to those already using AdWords and have an already established knowledge of the subject area and this is exactly the type of people they are targeting with their product. In order to download these white papers, an interesting party must give their email address, phone number, business type and even the monthly PPC spend of the business. And there you have it, a qualified list of new prospects.
Videos are often thought of a flashy and fun. When someone refers to video in the same sentence as content marketing you will usually expect a reference to a Coca Cola, TNT’s add drama video or Dove’s Real Beauty viral video campaigns. These are great achievements and are entertaining but these are B2C businesses. The world of B2B can be very different, virality is not necessarily what you want or need. The following three examples show three very different approaches by three very different B2B businesses.
Moz: Whiteboard Friday
Moz is a company that offers a range of digital marketing tools, most specific to the SEO industry. They run a sustained video campaign called Whiteboard Friday. Every Friday they release a video of one of their employees, associates or a respected figure in digital marketing teaching in front of a whiteboard for around 10 minutes. Recent topics have included:
- How to Acquire Anchor Text-Rich Links without Resorting to Spam or Manipulation
- How to Covert a Client’s Goals into Reportable Metrics
- How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers
These are very specialist subjects, targeted at the knowledgeable digital marketing executives, consultants and managers in an agency or company. It is no co-incidence that these are the exact people that will be using their product, buying their product and nudging their senior figures to purchase the products for their use. A sustained campaign like this allows the audience to stay interacted and engaged with the content for weeks, months and even years. There is no need to attempt to sell a product in these videos. Moz have successfully established themselves as industry experts, so when you are on the lookout for specialist tools in that industry they are always going to be top of the list.
F-Secure: Brain Documentary
F-Secure is an anti-virus, cloud content and computer security company based in Finland. Offering services for businesses they are wanting to appeal to the IT professional and the small business director. Not only do they want to get themselves on their radar, but they want to assure the IT professional that they are as knowledgeable and interested as they are as well as showing the managing director that they are to be trusted as a respected source of expertise.
What’s the best way to show people you are knowledgeable, respectable and enthusiastic about your industry?
Make a documentary about one of the turning points in your industry, of course!
The Chief Research Officer for F-Secure made a short documentary about when he tracked down the two brothers who created the first ever computer virus and asked them some questions about their creation of the virus named “Brain”. The documentary is short (10 minutes), interesting to anyone with any sort of tech-y interests and does well to allow viewers to warm to a company in, what can appear to be, quite an alienating industry to those that do not have an in-depth technical knowledge.
Guttridge: Product Videos
The two video examples we’ve taken a look at so far are probably still edging on the ‘cool’ category and as I’ve said the myth that content must be cool to be effective does not hold. Let’s take Guttridge as a prime example.
Guttridge is a bulk materials handling equipment manufacturer. They have been using videos to demonstrate the function of their products. This may not be entertaining or catchy but it certainly serves an extremely important purpose; demonstrating their product and how it works to those who are interested in purchasing it. This content is close to the conversion side of the scale and does the extremely important job of informing, qualifying and potentially even converting prospects. This content may not be “cool” but why should all content entertain when it can convert too?
Demonstration videos can be extremely effective in manufacturing-type industries where trips to suppliers and the chance to try out a machine can be rare and expensive. This is a fantastic example of appropriate and effective content marketing in the B2B sector.
What has become apparent is that focusing on conversion and content to support conversion can be very effective for the B2B marketer. Case studies are a fantastic example of this, you are able to not only show off the high profile companies you have worked for and demonstrate what you do, but also share your most impressive results.
Petrofac: Case Studies
Petrofac is an oilfield service company. Traditionally these very niche industries can be difficult to understand and hard to get information out of. Petrofac, however, breaks the mould in this respect. Their case studies are a prime example of this.
The ability to choose a case study based on service and type of project not only allows a prospective client to find what they are looking for, but also understand the distinct services the Petrofac offer.
With almost 20 different case studies available, Petrofac offer their prospective clients every opportunity to find out about what they are able to offer, their credentials and their successes. Case studies are more than just showing off about, they serve multiple purposes. Case studies allow you to educate and convert potential clients simultaneously. The element of education in a case study is even more important when it comes to complex niche industries where transparency and trust are key.
We all use tools on a day to day basis. I could easily reel off a long list of online tools, bookmarklets and extensions that I use on a daily bases and I am sure most professionals could. We all need tools to streamline our working, so what better way of gaining the visibility of your prospective clients?
IMPACT: Blog Title Generator
IMPACT are a branding and design agency. IMPACT’s main clients are likely to be marketing managers and business owners or directors. The vast majority of these professionals will recognise the importance of creating engaging content online through their blog or website and offline by contributing to magazines and publications. The majority of businesses who would be interested in involving themselves with a branding and creative agency are likely to be digitally minded. These digitally minding companies are also likely to have a blog where they create engaging content.
What is of the biggest challenging in writing a blog?
Thinking of ideas.
And there we have it. IMPACT have created a blog idea generator to try to gain the attention of these marketers and business owners who are most likely to buy into their services. Another example of great, targeted content marketing.
Imagery might sound like an odd one but you’ll know exactly what I mean when I begin. Imagery is just a still image whether it is a photograph, graphic or infographic you can use imagery as a type of content to appeal to your target B2B market in a number of ways.
Maersk, the Danish transport company has had unprecedented success by using photography as their main driver behind their approach to social media. By using grand and beautiful photographs taken of and from the largest ships in the world in action they have managed to garner over 2 million Facebook Likes with a high level engagement with their posts on Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. This is unprecedented in the B2B industry.
Maersk have played to their strengths here. They do extraordinary work and travel extraordinarily far which makes for extraordinary images, so why not promote that. If people associate Maersk with exotic, grand and images where they are shown to be transporting goods then that is their mission accomplished.
Smart Insight: Content Marketing Matric Infographic
Infographic is another of those words that you may be tired of hearing. The purpose of an infographic is to display information in a useful way and the Content Marketing Matrix does just that.
Smart Insights offer a library of marketing advice and support to their members. Focused on digital marketing, they will be looking for the marketing managers, digital marketing managers and executives to become their valued members. What better why to appeal to digital marketers looking for marketing advice and resources by providing one?
The Content Marketing Matrix, used at the beginning of this post is a fantastic example of an infographic being used to target a specific audience. A graphic visually showing different types of content and the purpose of each of these types in context of the audience and buying cycle is the perfect opportunity to appeal to exactly the type of people Smart Insights want to take advantage of their pool of resources.
Data or information presented in a useful way such as this can be a fantastic opportunity to assert your expertise as well as get on the radar of your target market.
Quizzes and Tests
I challenge you to find anyone who doesn’t like a good quiz. Quizzes may seem more of a B2C approach, especially if you have a ‘Which shoe are you?’ style quiz in mind but quizzes and test can offer a great level of exposure in your B2B industry.
Econsultancy: Digital Skills Index
The Econsultancy Digital Skills Index is a test over a range of different digital marketing skills. Five questions on each subject will help identify where you may need improvement. Targeted at the digital marketing professional this quiz succeeded for a number of reasons but one in particular come to mind; people like to show off.
I found out about this quiz by seeing those I follow on Twitter Tweeting their scores. I took the test, found out my score and my colleagues all did the same. Truly, it’s less about people liking to show off and more about benchmarking yourself against your peers. Everyone is desperate to know where they stand, you just need a few people who like to show off to get the ball rolling. Knowing that the digital industry are notorious Tweeters and Sharers, Econsultancy made this test and used it to their advantage.
Again, requiring a sign up to begin the quiz will quickly allow you to find new potential prospects in your industry. Be sure to create a test or quiz targeted at your prospective clients and plan for how the word is going to be spread.
Content marketing may strike fear into the hearts of some B2B marketers and business owners but it is important to remember that content doesn’t always have to be cool, it has to be effective. Case studies, product demonstration videos and simple guides can be some of the most effective content forms out there for the B2B industry. Take advantage of this and always keep your audience in mind, you are creating content for your prospective clients – not yourself.