5 Ways B2B Content Marketing is Different from B2C

May 1, 2024 | Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most effective tools for reaching a business audience, but it also requires a uniquely business approach. Our content experts offer five tips to boost your next campaign.

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It’s nearly impossible for a business to succeed by just producing an amazing product or service, but that’s exactly what many business-to-business (B2B) companies expect.

The truth is, if you want your business to grow and scale, you need a steady stream of customers—and that takes marketing. One particularly effective tool in this space is B2B content marketing. Why is that?

Unlike their consumer-facing counterparts, B2B audiences consist of decision-makers, professionals, and experts who value efficiency and credibility in their interactions. Good content marketing allows businesses to tailor their messaging and establish themselves as trusted advisors and thought leaders in their industry—a key step in moving buyers toward a sale or conversion.

B2B content marketing today can take many forms, including:

  • Whitepapers
  • Blogs and articles
  • Infographics
  • Explainer Videos
  • Podcasts

This is the same list of options available to B2C content marketers—but it’s important to note the approach is much different for a B2B audience. We asked our content experts to explain why, and got back these five ways B2B content marketing differs from efforts targeting consumers.

5 Ways B2B and B2C Content Marketing is Different

1. Goals and motivations

Marketers of all stripes work hard to connect with buyers on a personal level, but their motivations are decidedly different between B2C and B2B commerce.

B2C audiences are more motivated by emotional factors such as desire, aspiration, or social validation. Messaging to these audiences is typically more emotive and entertainment-based. It also carries an implicit promise that their personal needs and wants will be fulfilled by engaging with your brand: “Buy this pair of running shorts and you, too, will be a winner.”

B2B audiences approach your brand through a much more rational lens focused on achieving specific business objectives, such as increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or improving productivity. Think: “I need to accelerate our company’s production process by decreasing the shipping time between a parts manufacturer in Texas and the assembly plant in Iowa.”

Read: What is Content Marketing? 7 Ways to Make it Work for Your Business

The marketer for a B2B logistics company capable of solving that problem has a lot more work to do than simply telling the manufacturer, “Work with us and you’ll be a winner.” It takes trust, which is built over the long-term through valuable, positive interactions with a brand.

The logistics company CEO, for example, might host a webinar panel discussion on the impacts of inflation on the shipping industry, or the company blog could feature a post on the top 10 logistical hurdles faced by manufacturers. These types of pieces provide value and insight without having to deliver an aggressive sales pitch—indeed, the authority developed by the content is the pitch.

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2. The buyer journey and decision making process

The B2B content marketer succeeds without emphasizing the final result because they are typically meeting the customer at an earlier stage of the sales funnel.

The B2C athletic apparel company is appealing to the consumer who wants an immediate fix, and often making the decision based on impulse. One catchy ad or social media post might be all it takes to get the customer to convert.

B2B purchases, however, involve a longer and more complex decision-making process. Multiple stakeholders within a company might be involved, requiring research, comparisons, and often, approval.
Successful B2B content marketers can help those stakeholders by doing research for them. For example, a Google cloud campaign aimed at businesses included 45 pages of case studies. This was from one of the most trusted companies in the world.

Why go to all that trouble? Because the stakes of B2B purchasing are often very high. Beyond the cost a business would incur purchasing new data storage infrastructure, there is also the cost of the company undertaking a whole new series of processes and institutional changes.

Case studies are a valuable type of B2B marketing content that 73% of buyers say factor into their decision-making process. This is because B2B marketing is a long process, and it is most often targeting potential customers at the lead stage when they require information and education.

3. Content tone and style

B2C content often mirrors the buyer’s actions. It’s quick; it has some kind of emotional tug; and there’s almost instant gratification. It’s usually built for entertainment, and with the goal of “going viral” and giving it the broadest reach possible.

B2B content marketing, on the other hand, leans toward a more professional and informative tone. It should establish your brand as an industry authority by succinct, valuable insights and data-driven solutions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean B2B content should be stuffy—on the contrary, your B2B voice needs to be friendly and interesting to read. Just don’t make it too informal, or put the focus on entertainment over information.

Think about all of the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process for your B2B product. If a middle manager encounters your video or whitepaper, will they feel comfortable forwarding that piece of content to the company CEO? If the answer is “no,” then the tone should be reexamined.

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4. Content distribution channels

Your content marketing strategy must consider the channels where you are most likely to find your given audience.

For B2C content marketers, that often means publishing content through popular mainstream channels like social media and direct avenues like email. Again, the goal is the broadest reach and distribution possible, which sets up other efforts like peer-to-peer marketing.

B2B audiences, by contrast, are typically searching for high-quality content in response to their problem. That’s why most B2B efforts work first to establish SEO-optimized website and blog content, so that searching buyers can find high-quality information under your brand’s umbrella. There, they should also find in-depth content like white papers, case studies, industry reports, and webinars, and find an opportunity to sign up for value-based email.

Read: Our Best B2B Email Marketing Tips

One social platform is highly valued by B2B marketers, however: LinkedIn. This business networking social platform is now used by 94% of B2B marketers for content marketing purposes and the platform lists over 55 million companies. If you haven’t included LinkedIn as part of your B2B content distribution strategy, you are missing out on a world of opportunity.

5. Metrics and success measurement

Because of its more ephemeral nature, B2C marketing often measures success through conversion actions like sales or app downloads. B2B marketing, however, has a longer sales cycle and focuses more on metrics that nurture leads and move them through the sales funnel.

A sound marketing strategy must include clearly defined goals, as well as mechanisms to measure progress. If your B2B marketing campaign uses metrics that are appropriate for a B2C campaign, then you run the risk of abandoning your project before it can even develop, wasting time in a constant state of “starting over.”

Instead of conversions and sales, consider measuring your B2B campaign according to:

  • Returning web traffic
  • Engagement length
  • Content downloads
  • Lead generation forms completed
  • Webinar attendance

B2B marketing can be a challenge because those final conversions typically take longer. But there’s a reason they say good things come to those who wait. By providing consistent and valuable content, you can transform leads into relationships, and relationships into meaningful sales.

The digital marketing experts at Informatics can help you create content that captivates your audience. Reach out for your free consultation today!

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