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What's the purpose of the content you're putting out into the world?

Content is a catalyst for achieving various business objectives; but, depending on what those are, content could take wildly different shapes.

Companies are still pumping out keyword-heavy blog posts but doing little else. They're playing the SEO game, but that's only one small piece of a much bigger marketing puzzle.

SEO is, of course, valuable. After all, more than 75% of B2B traffic comes from organic and paid searches. Organic traffic also converts higher and drives the most traffic (53% of it).

But to focus on SEO is to focus on the bottom of the funnel—capturing the attention of people actively in the market. And that's just part of the picture.

Marketing's goal is to create and retain customers. Often, that means moving buyers further along the buyer journey from apathy to purchase. And, in B2B, a key weapon in our arsenal is deeply insightful and relevant content that offers customers revelatory insights about their problems (and how we can solve them).

Here are five ways to create it.

1. Focus on less content and more quality

Content strategy isn't about churning out content; it's about putting an investment in crafting fewer pieces of higher quality that speak to customers at each stage of the buyer journey. Content should cover everyone from those that don't know they even have a problem (so you can solve it) to those poised to buy (so you can make sure you're on their vendor shortlist).

A common issue is that too much content focuses on the very bottom of the sales funnel: the product or service you are selling. That content is useful for customers who are already in the market to buy and in the final stages of weighing up vendors. But it's no good for those in the dark. Why would they lay down five or six figures to solve a problem they don't know they have?

Another issue is that companies are failing to cater to today's increasingly independent and aloof "self-service" buyer. Customers today want access to more information before they make contact with vendors and sales teams. And more than half (53%) of B2B buyers would prefer to buy without any interaction with salespeople at all. What content are you creating for them, and where is it?

Content should be easily accessible in a self-serve content hub and easy to share with colleagues—especially because there are multiple decision-makers to convince.

2. Cater to those not ready to buy

Fully 95% of your customers are not in market to buy right now. That doesn't mean we should be trying to locate solely the 5% who are ready to buy. It means we need to help the 95% recognize their problems, see them as important and urgent, and assess possible solutions.

Because of the sheer number of out-of-market buyers, the bulk of your content marketing needs to be aimed squarely at the top and middle of the sales funnel—on what the customer's pain points are and how you can solve them.

So, when writing calls to action, consider the priorities and needs of that 95%. They aren't going to "book a demo" or "sign up for a free trial." Prospects won't be interested in testing anything until they're far along the buyer journey, until they've shortlisted suppliers, and until they're ready to buy. But perhaps they would like to read some commissioned research, or take part in a webinar about a key pain point of theirs.

3. Make your customer the hero

Perhaps the most common mistake in content creation is thinking that customers care about you and the product or service you offer. In fact, the only thing they care about is their own business challenges and pain points.

That means content needs to be almost entirely about them, not you. The customers and their challenges should be the heroes of the story.

You must demonstrate how deeply you understand your customers (and if you don't, make the time to get to know them). Be their champion. Show them that you see the world the way they do, and you're on their side.

That gives you more authority when persuading them that there's a different and better way to do things. That they can become unstuck from the challenging situation they're in.

If in doubt, follow the 80/20 rule: 80% about them and their problems, 20% about you.

4. Strive for hyper-relevance

Unlike content for SEO that's written for algorithms (and late-stage buyers), marketing content needs to make a memorable impact. It needs to be so thought-provoking and well-written buyers devour it from start to finish. Not an easy feat in today's distraction-filled world.

Therefore, your content must be hyper-relevant, super valuable, and incredibly human.

If you can invest time in locating the pain points, you can run a relevant and meaningful marketing campaign that also works at scale. So speak to customers. Try one-to-one conversations with current and former customers, online surveys, and focus groups run by an objective third party.

It's possible to be both punchy and passionate, informative and reliable. With so much content that's achingly bland and self-serving, you have a real opportunity to stand out.

Decisions are not rational; they're emotional—made by real people. If you can drop the jargon and talk to people the way they actually speak, it's likely to strike a deeper chord.

5. Drop the gates for better reach

When distributing top-of-the-funnel content, forget hyper-targeting. Aim to get in front of as many potential buyers as possible.

And if you still gate your content, consider dropping it: Almost half (47%) of buyers will either never give their information or input false details, research by Considered Content found.

* * *

The right content crafted in the right way for the right audience has a powerful impact. Fully 61% of decision-makers said an organization's thought leadership is more effective at showing the potential value of its products or services compared with traditional product-oriented marketing, according to the B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report.

It takes much more than hastily churned-out content to deliver results.

More Resources on B2B Content Marketing

2023 B2B Content Marketing Report: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends

How to Use Storytelling to Transform Your B2B Content Marketing: Bobby Lehew on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

A Guide for Creating and Optimizing B2B Content Marketing Funnels [Infographic]

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Stop the Churn: Why Less Is More in B2B Content Marketing

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image of Jason Ball

Jason Ball is the founder of B2B marketing agency Considered Content, a B2B marketing agency that works with tech brands, professional services firms, and manufacturers. Its B2B Effectiveness Engine—the largest database of its kind—features data insights from 1,000+ senior B2B marketers. 

LinkedIn: Jason (Jay) Ball