We've all been there, the pain and struggle of coming up with content ideas suitable for a B2B digital campaign. Whether you’re creating niche content for your blog or looking for something relevant to share on social media, how can you really be sure that you’re creating content that your B2B audience actually wants to read?
Creating one great B2B content marketing campaign can be difficult enough, let alone coming up with a steady stream of new ideas. Creating great content is crucial to your digital strategy which is why the practical techniques you use to discover content ideas that are relevant to your niche target market are so important.
In this blog post, I will share with you four tools you can use to research ideas for your B2B content marketing, give you pointers for uncovering which content formats will drive success, and some handy tips to help you get started.
Where to find inspiration for your B2B content creation
There is a wealth of information on the internet that can help with B2B content creation but it can be difficult to navigate through the noise. Here at Hallam, we don’t over complicate things, our approach is simple. All you have to do is strive to answer the sort of questions people might be asking about your topic, while monitoring the sort of content that has performed well before.
And luckily for you, there are a wealth of tools out there that can help you to uncover these insights. Here are a few tools we use to help with content inspiration.
Reddit can look a little daunting to a first-time visitor, or perhaps totally irrelevant but stick with it. Did you know there are over 330 million Reddit users and well over 1 million subreddits? So whatever topic you are researching, there’s likely to be a subreddit related to your industry.
So, the first thing you need to do is look for subreddits related to your industry or niche. In the subreddits you can tap into your audience and see what they are talking about, the questions they’re asking and the type of content that gets the most comments.
Although compiled in 2014, this useful list of popular subreddits, categorised by industry might come in handy. It includes business, industrial, computer and electronics subreddits and the number of subscribers per subreddit. The subreddits are still very much alive today. Or if you’re looking for marketing information, this list compiled by Contently is a great starter for ten. My favourite has to be r/dataisbeautiful/. It really helps with creative inspiration for presenting data.
Let’s say we want to find a content idea for an architect firm, then the first thing I’d do is type ‘architecture’ into the search box on Reddit’s homepage. This is going to bring back a list of related subreddits.
Now I can start to explore the content in the architecture subreddit. There’s a mix of questions, images and links to interesting articles and lots of inspiration for some creative content:
Then it’s a case of delving in and looking at the topical chatter from the community. Just from looking through this, I’ve come up with the following content ideas:
- A blog post or image gallery on styles of architecture through the years
- How would Nottingham look if we designed the city in a Baroque architectural style
- A series of in-depth articles based on famous buildings in the UK, for example, who they were built by, what style of architecture they were etc
- An infographic outlining interesting facts about famous buildings
- A review of the top floor plan programs used by architects
- Leading architects’ top tips for starting a new design
- A blog post reviewing awkward public building designs
And all this took me less than 15 minutes!
AnswerThePublic is “that free visual keyword research & content ideas tool.”
This tool essentially presents you with a number of real questions people have searched for answers to.
You can view these questions in a number of ways – alphabetically, by a preposition, and as a handy visualisation. Here’s a visualisation for questions relating to ‘architecture’.
Again, at a single glance, you can come up with a number of B2B content ideas that answer real questions. By no means will all of these searches be relevant, but it is definitely worth making a note of the ones that are.
Note: A subscription is required to make full use of the Ahrefs service. But you can still get some good results from paying $7 for a 7-day trial.
Reddit and AnswerThePublic provide insights into the sort of questions people are asking about your particular topic. Ahrefs’ Content Explorer can give you an idea of the sort of content that has previously proven successful. Enter your chosen topic and you’ll see an up-to-date list of the most popular content that has ever been written on this subject.
Let’s take a quick look at the initial results we get for architecture.
As you can see, Ahrefs measures success by a number of metrics, including the:
- total number of social media shares
- amount of organic traffic the post received
- number of referring domains (that is, links)
- domain rating of the site in question
You can sort the results by any one of these metrics, as well as by publication date, language, or the specific referring domain.
You can even drill down to see who specifically tweeted about each of these posts.
In short, the Ahrefs Content Explorer can provide some essential insights into the sort of titles that encourage clicks and the sort of influential sites that might be willing to feature your content. From these results, I can immediately see that list-based articles perform very well as does DIY content.
Similar to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, BuzzSumo is a search engine that tells you how many shares a piece of content has received on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
You can sign up for a ‘free trial’ to get insights into what works, what’s topical, and what content is most successful in the industry you are interested in.
It also tells you who shared the content and who linked to it. So, it’s a great research tool for all things related to B2B outreach content. Just put in your search, and BuzzSumo will compare the shares articles on that topic got, based on social media network, content type, date published, content length, and related topics (among other filters). This along with the search results can really get you going in the right direction. You can even just filter and tick ‘Only B2B Publishers’.
BuzzSumo also allows you to learn more about your own content by putting in your specific URLs to get the same information. It helps guide me when I’m trying to stay on track with my editorial and SEO strategy by suggesting B2B content that has proven to be successful and engage readers.
A recent improvement to the BuzzSumo tool is that they’ve created a topic explorer.
It allows you to search for specific topics and presents you with more topics relating to your search and then lists popular content and questions. For example, I searched ‘architecture’, and the topic explorer presented me with the following relevant topics:
- Architecture design
- System architecture
- Computer architecture
- Data architecture
- Technical architecture
- Design patterns
- Landscape architecture
It also gave me popular content and questions relating to these new topics.
It’s in BuzzSumo’s interest to innovate and improve the platform for content creators and I for one am excited to use these improved features.
Types of B2B content that drive success
Content marketing is sometimes seen as the preserve of B2C brands, especially those with large budgets available to produce flashy pieces of content that go viral.
But you don’t have to pull off a stunt like Red Bull, or even create an entire movie like Lego, to reap the rewards of content marketing.
Instead, your B2B content marketing can focus on precisely targeting your audience, so you can drive action from the right people at the right time.
There are lots of content formats you can use to present your B2B content, from podcasts, white papers and guides to case studies, videos, thought leadership articles and more. Be sure to take a look at our post that showcases 10 content formats and examples for B2B content marketing.
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 forms of content for the B2B industry. Take advantage of this and always keep your audience in mind and your content marketing will be well worth the investment.
B2B content marketing tips you need to know
Finally, I’ve asked the wider team here at Hallam for some B2B content marketing tips, and this what they said:
Know your audience
There are a few steps to follow to find and understand your audience. It all starts with marketing research and making sure your identified demographics are the right ones for your brand or product. Then, look at your competitors and evaluate their brand and the marketing strategies and messaging they use. Once you’ve got a nice grasp on your audience, you should create a customer persona. I suggest you download a copy of our free customer persona template. It usually takes the form of a fictional character that is shaped by certain characteristics. Sometimes there’s no substitute for knowing and speaking directly to your clients.
Keep it simple
Don’t overcomplicate things or reinvent the wheel. Get the basics right. Use the correct messaging, pick the right product/service, and target the right audience. Marketing, to an extent, is about giving people and customers what they want, and successful content marketing does that without creating barriers. We can all think big, and that’s important, but don’t run before you can walk.
Ensure you’re consistent
Work to a strategy that you can deliver. If you have too much to do you won’t do it, make sure you can consistently deliver your B2B strategy, and then start adding to it. Similar to the previous point, ensure the content campaign is manageable and you deliver consistency. You may lose credibility if you run a huge campaign that dies, and then you don’t run any more content campaigns. Start small, be consistent and then build on this.
Ensure the content is sharable
This is an easy one. All you need to do is add sharing options to every piece of content you produce, and make it as easy as possible for your audience to share. This will differ on each platform, and B2B content usually performs better on LinkedIn. But you’ll soon get insights into what’s working.
Make sure it’s not overly promotional
If your B2B content campaign is too product or service focused you are likely to lose the interest of your audience. You will struggle to get it featured as editorial because it will be seen as advertising. It’s a fine line and often difficult to get the ratio right. I like to place my content ideas in the following circle.
At the core are the topics which relate specifically to your brand and are most closely aligned with your expertise. But you should also consider content that sits on the secondary level, such as the things you know about, but are less closely tied to your specific business offering or products. Then the tertiary level includes the things which are least closely related to your brand knowledge but are still relevant.
One way I find to ensure it’s worth proceeding is to ask myself, does it engage, advise, entertain, or add value? Red Bull have taken this to the extreme, and their marketing doesn’t even talk about caffeinated drinks.
Try and vary your content formats
As discussed in a previous point, there are lots of types of content formats. Each serves a slightly different purpose, and some are harder to produce than others. Guides, blogs and written content are arguably the easiest and quickest content to produce that’s still effective. See the image below for a guide to different types of content.
Promote your content through your channels
Don’t just click publish and think that’s job done, push it harder through all available channels from an email newsletter to social media. You can’t hope that your content will just get found. It’s a content minefield out there and it’s highly unlikely you’ll stand out. So use your channels effectively and serve your audience with the right B2B content.
Track your analytics and learn from it
Use your insights to tweak and improve your content as you go. Look at your Google Analytics data, what’s driving traffic, what’s getting shared and if you are getting any conversions? After a while, you’ll be in a position to take stock of this information, and focus on the content and formats that drive traffic, gain engagement, and ultimately contribute to conversions.
For more articles on all things B2B content marketing, I’d advise having a look at B2B Marketing’s content section. Lots of actionable advice and tips.
Any other standout B2B content marketing tips to include?