Today, virtually every founder knows that having a strong content marketing strategy is important. Even more important is having the right B2B content marketing strategy goals. Otherwise, you’ll end up running a strategy that takes you the wrong direction.

For years, articles have been quoting the famous “Content is King” mantra. Prominent influencers like Neil Patel have made content marketing a cornerstone of their careers. And, in the B2B startup and tech space, we see every leading player investing ample resources into their content marketing efforts.

This trend isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Nearly half of B2B marketers expect their content marketing budget will increase in 2020. Given these trends, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that content marketing is a must-have for B2B companies.

But it’s essential to know why you’re doing it. Not all goals are created equal and not every B2B content marketing strategy is appropriate for each company.

“Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the question(s) must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place…” – Simon Sinek

A high-performing content marketing strategy starts with a clear definition of your objectives. If you’re creating content simply because you’re supposed to or because everyone else is doing it, those lackluster reasons will translate into an unfocused strategy with limited results.

In this article, we’ll be honing in on the foundation of a great content strategy: your goals. Then we’ll walk you through which content strategies are ideal for those goals.

But before any plans/tactics are implemented, founders and marketing leaders first need to ask, “Why are we doing content marketing? What exactly do we want to achieve?

The answers to these questions will lay the groundwork on which your entire B2B content marketing strategy can be built.

What Are the Goals of Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy?

”Goal” is a broad term. There’s a plethora of different metrics and targets you can strive for within the marketing realm.

On a more granular, day-to-day level, marketers usually think about goals in terms of page views, time on site, bounce rates, conversion rates, etc. While important, those types of KPIs are too narrow to produce an overarching strategic vision.

Instead, your content marketing strategy needs to be based on overall business goals. Does your organization need more qualified leads for the sales team? Is brand awareness a major priority? Maybe you’re striving to be an authoritative thought leader in your vertical? These are the types of goals that should form the core of your content strategy — and each one will require a different approach.


Example Core Content Marketing Goal
“To be perceived as a trusted authority in the healthcare tech space.”

NOT a Core Content Marketing Goal
“To increase total website page views by 50% next quarter.”


With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at four of the most common types of B2B content marketing strategy goals that you should be thinking about as a founder or marketing leader.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Goal #1: Inbound Lead Generation

When thinking about content marketing, lead generation is often the first thing that comes to mind. If generating a sustainable source of inbound leads is an important priority for your overall sales and growth goals, then content will play a vital role.

To keep your sales pipeline full from inbound leads, your content strategy should be focused on the following areas:

SEO Content

This will often take the form of blog posts targeting specific keywords for organic search traffic. You’ll need to be methodical in your approach, tailoring topics and keywords so that you can start to rank for high value keywords, while also providing educational value to readers.

Likewise, you’ll want to produce content for prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey, from people who are just exploring topics in your field of expertise to people who are actively searching for a solution like yours.

Suppose you’re selling sales automation software and your target customers are VPs of Sales. To attract early-stage prospects, you’ll want to produce content that addresses questions a VP of Sales might have before they begin looking for a solution. For example, you could publish blog posts related to sales strategy, automating outbound email sequences, or building pipeline.

Here’s a good piece of educational content by Salesloft is clearly designed for people in sales who are writing cold emails (their target audience). Not everyone who visits this page will be ready to talk with their sales team but that’s okay. The more people get value from their content, the more likely they will be to contact them when they are in buying mode.

salesloft cold email

At the same time, you may also want to attract prospects who are further along in the buyer’s journey (i.e. more sales qualified). Your content can still be SEO-focused, but your keyword selection should shift to product comparisons and direct search terms for your product/service. This might include keywords like, “sales tools,” “tools to automate outbound email,” and “best sales automation tools 2019.”

Searching “cold email outreach tool,” the first result is Mailshake.

mailshake cold email outreach tool

How did they get there? They have incredibly detailed content around cold email related keywords. This puts them in a position to rank for highly coveted search results that will lead to much more sales qualified lead generation opportunities. Just look at the table of contents for one section of their “Cold Email Masterclass” page.

mailshake cold email masterclass

Depending on how early stage your company is and your domain authority, you may need to focus on more specific keywords that have lower monthly traffic, but are also slightly easier to rank for.

If you can produce high quality content for keywords that your competition has overlooked, you’ll find yourself quietly generating inbound organic leads in places they never thought to look (very important if you want to win against larger, bigger budget incumbents in your space). This is exactly what we did early on at RevenueZen to rank #2 for “outsourced sales development” — right between two sites with massive domain authority (among many other keywords).

revenuezen outsourced sales development

This ranking, along with key #1 rankings for several other high value keywords, don’t just generate leads for us — they consistently generate leads that convert into customers paying us up to $15k/mo.

Lead Magnets and Calls-To-Action

In order to convert your visitors into subscribers and inbound leads, you’ll need to utilize calls-to-action (CTAs) and signup forms. For example, you can include a form field within your blog posts to capture email subscribers. This would be coupled with a CTA that highlights the value of joining your email list.

Downloadable resources (lead magnets) are a powerful content format for generating new inbound leads. By gating your e-books and whitepapers with a signup form, you can collect valuable contact info for your marketing funnel, letting you convert leads into SQLs, demos, and pipeline in the future.

If you don’t have any lead magnets, then you are relying on a strategy of hoping your site visitors just happen to be in a buying cycle when they visit your site. In the B2B world, timing is everything. Most prospects who visit your site will not be ready to talk to a sales rep. If you don’t have a way to establish some sort of ongoing relationship with those prospects, then you’re losing sales pipeline from people who visit your site once and forget about you when they start looking at solutions.

If you’re huge, you can afford to rely on your brand awareness. When you’re small, you need to take advantage of every opportunity you get. You may only get one opportunity to connect with a prospect, so you need to make it count.

Here’s a great lead magnet example from Intercom, which requires a name and business email to download.

intercom on sales

In fact, this lead magnet is so effective that I actually signed up for it when I was researching this post. THAT is the kind of content that you want. Something so hard to resist, that prospects know exactly what you’re doing (capturing their email address so you can sell/market to them) and they still want to give you their info.

A big mistake I see people make in the SaaS world is only including lead capture forms for people who are far along in their buyer’s journey. If the only place where someone can establish a relationship with your company is a demo signup form, then focus on building out content with a lower barrier to entry. This will let people connect with you long before they’re ready to buy, making it easier to stay top of mind with your prospects.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Goal #2: Increasing Sales Win Rates

Many B2B content marketing strategies make increasing win rates and supporting their sales team a core part of their content market goals. The key here is to create influential content that your sales reps can and will use to close deals more effectively.

This goal is especially applicable to teams that already have a robust lead generation process in place. If your top of the funnel is already fairly full, your content priority should shift to increasing sales win rates. A surplus of leads isn’t worth much if you aren’t converting those leads into revenue.

Examples of content to increase win rates:

  • Case studies
  • Customer highlights
  • Webinars
  • Objection-handling collateral
  • Infographics and easily shareable content

Typically, this kind of content needs to incorporate your sales team and customer voice much more than others. Have conversations with your sales reps to uncover common objections they’re hearing on the front lines. If you’re creating a case study, get the client involved to get their results and feedback.

Using Content to Nurture Leads

If you want to increase win rates, qualified leads, and generate more SQLs for your sales team, then you’ll need to shift your focus away from SEO and capturing contact info through lead magnets, instead favoring engagement and progressing leads through the buying process.

Lead nurturing, in this case, refers to using content to engage people who have already connected with your company in some way. Maybe you already have a large email list. Or, perhaps you have prospects that didn’t close, so your sales team put them back into the marketing funnel.

You can use middle and bottom-of-funnel content to engage those leads in order to move them forward in the sales process.

When creating middle and bottom-of-funnel content, you’ll want to keep both prospects and existing customers in mind. Content can be used to move prospects down the funnel, but it can also be used to cultivate stronger relationships with your current customers. This, in turn, will help increase the lifetime value of your client base.

Education

The primary goal of your middle and bottom-of-funnel content should be to inform and educate. Use your content channels to help your audience overcome pain points and discover solutions. Doing so will keep your brand in the spotlight and position you as a trusted authority. Then, when it’s time to buy, your prospects will already know you well and regard you as a leading option.

Moz’s video series, Whiteboard Friday, is a fantastic example of educational middle-of-funnel content.

moz whiteboard friday

This content does an incredible job of establishing Moz’s expertise in the world of SEO. With this kind of content, prospects will continue to engage with their company (beyond simply finding them via a Google search). If your content is so educational that your ideal prospects keep coming back to your site week after week, then you can be sure you’ll be on the shortlist of companies to buy from when the timing is right.

Objection Handling Content

Another aim for middle and bottom-of-funnel content can be to handle objections and business concerns that prospects often bring up to your sales team faces.

Talk to your sales team to determine the main objections they’re hearing from prospects. Then, create content that addresses those concerns. This will help you get in front of issues, resolving them before they even arise.

Objection-handling for our own sales process was part of the reason we created an article on the most common mistakes founders make with their B2B blog strategy. We see enough founders at startups make these common B2B content marketing mistakes, that we decided to address it in a blog post, giving us ample space to clarify the mistakes and solutions.

Your sales team only has a limited amount of time to address concerns that are brought up by prospects. In some cases, especially in more complex selling environments, your sales team may not even be around when objections are brought internally. With good content, you can fully take the time to address concerns that come up during the buying process in a format that is easily shareable and can be as long-form as you need.

This kind of content then becomes ammo that your sales team can use to increase win rates and close more deals.

Using Content to Align Sales and Marketing

To create content that matches the sales team’s challenges, you’ll need strong alignment between the sales and marketing departments.

Far too often, we see siloed marketing teams producing content based on what they think will work, without enough input from sales reps. This leads to dissonant collateral which is out of sync with the actual dialogues happening on the sales side.

The result?

Marketing teams wasting their valuable time and energy creating content that sales reps never end up using because it isn’t relevant enough to their sales process, or worse, because sales reps believe the content actually goes against the main selling points that they win deals on.

Sales/marketing alignment is rooted in communication. Fostering a collaborative culture with regular meetings will help ensure both teams are on the same page. And, when sales and marketing are aligned, the synergy will be reflected in your content.

“The new reality is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.” – Jill Rowley

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Goal #3: Building Brand Authority

Building brand authority ties into several other business goals, including lead generation and increasing win rates.

The more people know and trust your company, the more leads you’ll generate through word-of-mouth. The more that prospects and customers view your company as a trusted expert in your space, the more happy they are to dedicate their budget towards your solutions. Likewise, you’ll have knock-on effects as your overall brand reputation rises, increasing your valuation and standing with investor (if you’re going that route).

To become an authority in your vertical, you’ll need to produce thought leadership content that’s both educational and insightful. The reason this goal is separate from lead nurturing is that it’s not necessarily about moving prospects through the funnel; it’s about showing off your expertise. Being perceived as an expert facilitates trust. Building trust always helps your sales process.

HubSpot is one of the best examples of brand authority via content. You can’t look up anything related to inbound marketing without running into HubSpot. And being such a prolific source of information on the topic earns them massive credibility (alongside the benefits they get from inbound lead generation).

Startups, SMBs, and agencies in smaller niches have a similar opportunity.

If you have an innovative product or you’re doing something differently, use that to your advantage by positioning yourself as an authority on that topic/approach. Even if your strategy isn’t as SEO-focused as Hubspot, you still need to highlight your expertise in your field.

Building Trust in Your Brand Is Absolutely Critical

When you start getting into the more complex B2B solutions/services world, trust becomes absolutely key to your growth strategy. If buyers don’t trust you, your company, your brand, and your team, they won’t work with you.

Most branding experts talk about brand as if it’s some pie-in-the-sky idea that will help your company … somehow … just trust them.

The reality is, brand authority, when done right, amplifies efforts at every stage of the funnel, from lead generation to win rates.

The more people trust you, the more likely they are to refer you to a friend, champion you to internal decision-makers during the sales process, and stick with you if your team ever makes a mistake.

THAT is brand authority … when you and your team are legitimate authorities in your space and everyone know it.

Sales Hacker spent years building its reputation and authority within the sales community, leading up to their acquisition by Outreach.io. How? Premier content written by experts and practitioners in the space.

saleshacker sales strategy
Brand Authority, Referrals, and Technical Products

Are referrals an important source of new leads for your company?

If so, those referrals are going to be researching your brand. You’ll want to ensure they don’t just find a homepage explaining why they should buy from you. Instead, they should see thoughtful content that demonstrates a masterful knowledge of your industry. This will promote confidence in your product/service.

Likewise, if you sell a technical product, you should publish in-depth content written by talented engineers. Then, when a member of the prospect’s tech team checks out your company, your content will command respect. Or, even better, they might already be familiar with your brand because the tech community holds your content in high regard.

Aside from referrals and technical products, in most B2B sales processes, someone involved in the buying process will go to your website. When buyers go to research your company, what will they see?

If they find a ghost town of a website, even if it looks nice, it can be tough for them to recommend your products or services internally to their team. But if they visit your site and they see well-researched articles that clearly show that you know what you’re talking about, then you’re more likely to gain their trust, or at least get a stamp of approval.

Takeaways

We’ve now covered three of the main B2B content marketing strategy goals that you can truly build comprehensive strategies around.

If you’re thinking, “I can’t choose just one of these goals, I want to accomplish all of them!”, good. That’s what you should be thinking — but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Depending on the current state of your team and budget, you’ll probably need to prioritize these goals.

Most B2B companies will pursue all four of these objectives at some point in their development. Large corporations can often tackle everything simultaneously. But smaller, bootstrapped teams (like the ones we normally work with) typically lack the resources to effectively handle more than 1-2 goals at a time. If that’s the case, your task then becomes prioritization.

Like the old saying goes, “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

It’s important to decide which goals take precedence, given your current situation. When you know your priorities, you can then determine where to invest first. Usually, we recommend SEO content as a way of driving inbound lead generation, but not always. Once you have your priorities, then you can get started with your B2B content marketing strategy, whether by building out your own team or using a content marketing agency.

At RevenueZen, we always start by looking at a company’s larger goals and vision before we even recommend content marketing to them. Each company is different and depending on your needs, product, market, and funding your growth strategy will need to look very different from other companies. For some, some combination of B2B inbound marketing strategies may be the best course. For others, leaning on a LinkedIn selling strategy will take the highest priority, or maybe even outbound sales. Most will use some combination of all of the strategies available.

The main takeaway here is how you should think about your content marketing goals, instead of just pumping out content just for the hell of it. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and recognizing your fundamental business needs—your WHY. This type of ground-up thinking will add clarity and direction to your content strategy, ultimately establishing a framework built for success.