B2B content marketing
A complete guide

Plan your content marketing strategy in steps, align with goals and boost growth

What is B2B content marketing?

B2B content marketing is the creation and marketing of content. It involves planning your content, creating it, delivering it through appropriate channels, and measuring its impact.

To be effective, your B2B content marketing strategy needs to bring relevance and value to your audience in alignment with your product or service. The aim is to plan content and resources that will help your audience during their journey to becoming your customers.

This type of marketing is not focused on selling your product or service, but on equipping your audience with knowledge, tools, and insights based on the challenges they face that your brand can solve. The point is to empower prospects with your expertise and helpfulness and leave them to choose whether you’re the brand they want to explore further.

Content marketing, inbound content marketing, or content-led marketing?

Content marketing drives traffic to your blog, landing page, social accounts, podcast, webinar, or website and is also called content-led or inbound content marketing. This inbound marketing technique is the opposite of outbound marketing methods which typically involve cold outreach such as blanket (non-targeted) advertising, direct mail, event sponsorship, and cold calling or emailing.

The goal of inbound content marketing is to drive brand and product awareness to a target audience and increase the quality of leads for a cleaner, faster sales cycle. Because content marketing involves distributing and amplifying content, you’ll need a digital PR strategy – and in B2B you’ll succeed faster by forming collaborative relationships with influencers and authoritative organizations.

Content marketing need-to-knows:

  • How your product or service solves people’s problems
  • Your company’s business goals or mission
  • Who your competitors are
  • Which news sites and publications cover your industry
  • Which influential figures and organizations are talking to your audience
  • What industry events are taking place
  • A content creation, distribution, and amplification plan

And you’ll need a really great team.

What’s the difference between a content strategy and a content marketing strategy?

A content strategy involves goals, governance, and operational delivery of content across departments. ‘Content’ is any type of content used internally or externally that reflects your brand. This can be content made to support departments across the company: Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, Brand & Comms, Legal, HR, or Finance.

A content marketing strategy includes the above but is concerned with moving people closer measured against goals such as brand awareness or leads gained, and revenue created.

The clue is in the name: Content marketing is content specifically associated with marketing. This means it’s a commercially driven activity measured by the success of its performance.

Ok. So what’s a B2B content marketing strategy?

A B2B content marketing strategy provides the roadmap you need to achieve your content marketing goals by organizing your content’s output, planning its distribution, mapping its ecosystem, and recording results. A strong content creation process and a clear distribution and reporting plan are vital for a successful B2B content marketing strategy.

B2B is characterized by relationship building, long sales cycles, and multiple buyers for single organizations. This means that a B2B content marketing strategy is a highly considered plan, often having a complicated network of activity built around attracting and retaining customers.

Every successful content marketing strategy – whether B2B or B2C – is built on a deep understanding of the target audience, clearly defined objectives, and an ability to pivot based on content performance and business needs – which is why a modular content strategy can be useful for marketers.

Let’s look at some common B2B content marketing goals:

  • Brand awareness
  • Industry authority
  • Loyalty and advocacy
  • Audience engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Sales and revenue

How to deliver valuable content and content marketing ROI:

  • Research your audience and their needs
  • Plan content themes that will help your audience
  • Research your competitors’ content and exceed its quality
  • Decide how and where you’ll deliver your content
  • Measure your content’s performance

Why is a B2B content marketing strategy important?

B2B sales cycles are typically long with a buying process that involves multiple stakeholders. Using a non-targeted marketing approach is a huge waste of company time and resources with comparatively little return. B2B content marketing provides a finely-tuned strategy across organic and paid media to help get the right eyes on your content. It includes relationship-building and carefully considered nurturing journeys that build awareness, trust and brand loyalty.

Lead generation and content marketing

Businesses today understand the ROI that high-quality content brings. In many lead generation strategies, content often works as a lead magnet: content valuable enough to exchange for contact details. These email addresses can be retargeted and nurtured with more content.

Typical lead magnets are:

  • Webinars
  • eBooks
  • White papers and reports
  • Podcasts
  • Polls and surveys
  • Discounts, offers and free trials
  • Templates, checklists and cheatsheets
  • Digital assets and brochures

Content drives demand. But there is a catch – average content might generate leads, but you need compelling, useful, and persuasive content to drive true demand. The most successful demand generation leaders are partnering closely with content and comms teams to shape strategy and messaging, collaborate on creation, distribution, and optimization, feedback metrics and impact, and create aligned targets to support shared revenue goals.

Chart showing a content strategy loop, where reporting informs future strategy

How to create a seamless B2B content marketing strategy

Content is your vehicle of communication – it’s used internally and externally to communicate your brand, your values, your offer and at every prospect and customer touchpoint.

For cohesive messaging from every department, we’re going to look at your core business mission, how to effectively organize workloads, and how to structure a strategy that synchronizes content for maximum efficiency and impact. Brands that coordinate their vision, goals, teams, and operations have more consistent, measurable results that pave a straighter path for content marketing-led growth.

The most effective way to achieve content marketing success is to start by understanding your audience and how your company helps them. What do your customers find interesting and useful? Other questions to ask are:

  • What’s your company’s overarching business goal?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How will you position your offer in the marketplace?
  • What are you hoping to achieve from different types of content?

When you’re confident you know your audience, and how to pitch your company in a way that resonates with them, it’s time to start thinking about content creation.
Word of warning; don’t start by churning out lots of content at lightning speed. It’s better to strike a balance between producing both fast and slow content if you want to see content marketing success.

Download these content marketing templates to start planning

Content master Google Sheets
Content master Excel

Social media calendar Google Sheets
Social media calendar Excel

Email calendar Google Sheets
Email calendar Excel

Step 1: Clarify your value proposition

Your product or service needs a value proposition as a baseline statement about your solution to use across communications. This will help you position your product or service in a crowded marketplace.

Using as few words as possible, your value proposition should explain your solution in a compelling way for immediate, clear understanding.

The aim is to create a unique identifier and differentiator among your competition. It boils down to the essentials of why and how your brand can meet a customer’s needs.

Great value propositions examples are

  • Apple iPhone – The Experience IS the Product
  • Uber – The Smartest Way to Get Around
  • Unbounce – A/B Testing Without Tech Headaches

A strong value proposition forms the basis of all external-facing communications and provides a launchpad for the direction of your overall B2B content marketing strategy.

Use this value proposition template

(Your value proposition is)...the place where your company’s product intersects with your customer’s desires. It’s the magic fit between what you make and why people buy it. Your value proposition is the crunch point between business strategy and brand strategy.

Step 2: Get aligned on company goals

At the highest level, companies that lead with an overarching company mission can encourage extreme success. Coined in the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, a BHAG (a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, pronounced bee-hag) is the biggest company goal imaginable and is a monumental mission statement that inspires a team-wide journey.  

Google’s BHAG is to ‘Organize the world’s information,’ while Microsoft’s is to make sure there’s ‘A computer on every desk and in every home.

BHAG examples for large financial firms include

To become the world's most admired bank by 2015.

To become the world's premier financial services company.

Becoming the world's largest bank by market capitalization.

BHAGs, missions, and goals, what’s the difference?

BHAGs tend to be ambitious, long-term visions that push the boundaries of what is considered achievable and inspire and guide the organization’s direction.  It’s a long-term goal with a specific timeframe.

A mission describes the company’s reason for existence and core purpose. It’s a concise statement to communicate the organization’s fundamental objectives, values, and primary focus.

Company goals are more specific, measurable targets that contribute to the overall success of the organization, aligned with the overall BHGA and mission, and in a shorter timeframe. Goals are more tactical and subject to periodic review and adjustment based on evolving circumstances and priorities.

With these high-level objectives in place, you can break goals down to help map projects at regular stages such as quarterly, half-yearly, and annually, to help you succeed.

See these mission statements from some of the largest consulting firms.

To help our clients and our people excel. We are one of the world's leading business advisory organizations. Our size, strength and resources will help us carry out our mission now and in the future.

To help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to build a great firm that attracts, develops, excites, and retains exceptional people.

To build trust in society and solve important problems.

Helping our clients create the future.

To unlock the potential of those who advance the world.

Step 3: Break goals down to OKRs and/or KPIs

Objectives and key results (OKRs) help guide team projects and tasks so that they filter directly from BHAGs and goals. This way, all work contributes towards the direction of the company, keeping everyone on track.

OKRs use specific metrics to track meeting objectives and report on results at set intervals of quarterly, half-yearly, and annually. Regular reporting means teams can review what is and isn’t working and pivot resources.

As a big-picture goal, an OKR is broken into key results – not many, usually three, four, or five.

Example OKRs
Objective: Increase web traffic to the website blog

Example key results
Key Result 1: Increase organic blog traffic by 15% in the next quarter
Key Result 2: Increase the number of social media shares for blog posts by 20%
Key Result 3: Improve the average time spent on the blog by 10%

So what are KPIs?

KPIs (key performance indicators) are single data points used to measure results, giving more specific measurements and detail of success.

Using OKRs with KPIs

Now, let’s see what KPIs look like for these OKRs:

Objective: Increase web traffic to the website blog.
Key Result 1: Increase organic blog traffic by 15% in the next quarter.

  • KPI: Number of organic blog sessions or unique visitors
  • KPI: Pageviews per blog post

Key Result 2: Increase the number of social media shares for blog posts by 20%.

  • KPI: Number of social media shares for each blog post
  • KPI: Total social media shares across all blog posts

Key Result 3: Improve the average time spent on the blog by 10%.

  • KPI: Average session duration on the blog
  • KPI: Bounce rate for blog pages.

The trick is to make sure your goals are SMART, which means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Using this framework, we know what the goal is, the metric we’re aiming for, and the timeframe in which to do it. Set the relevance and achievability goals according to past performance and the team’s experience in understanding what is realistic.


Step 4: Set tasks and processes


Use your OKRs to assign projects and tasks across your team. Using the increase in web traffic example, you can draft a plan for Q1 projects that includes a content audit (to identify the best-performing blogs, optimize legacy content, and identify content gaps), and the creation of new pillar and cluster content.

Use processes to distribute and quality check the work, and link each project to OKR reporting.  A process can help determine your capacity and make sure that you meet your OKRs while also meeting ad-hoc content requests for business-as-usual content.

You can sign up for freemium versions of online project management platforms with excellent OKR and task-tracking capabilities at ClickUp, Asana, Airtable, GoodDay, or Monday.


A process should include a template for clear content briefs, filing and file name conventions, editing and proofing stages, and regular reporting documentation. You should also make sure your team has access to style and tone-of-voice guidelines.

It’s good practice to create a template for requests and make sure that everyone in the organization understands that there’s a turnaround time for content requests. It’s ideal to allow around 20-30% of your team’s overall time for ad-hoc requests, so you can keep your content operations on track with your growth strategy.

Content request template Google Docs

Content master Google Sheets
Turtl content master Excel

Social media calendar Google Sheets
Social media calendar Excel

Email calendar Google Sheets
Email calendar Excel


Step 5: A brand guide, a style guide, and a tone of voice

A brand guide

The way you look and sound is included in a brand guide and this includes your company’s tone of voice. Think about the images you’d like to use, your brand typography (fonts), and your color palette. Branding is about how you look and sound, externally and internally. And how you sound is your tone of voice.

Check out this brand template from Hubspot

A style guide

This handbook sets your brand’s grammar and punctuation rules so that everyone across the team follows the same technical code. Things like when to use numerical copy (eg using numerals one to ten and numbers 11 onwards), the use of the em dash, the Oxford comma, or how you write citations. Consider how people scan on screen for content marketing and help make reading easier rather than copying a traditional journalistic style guide. Here are some greater resources to get you going.

Material Design’s well-known editorial style guide for web
The world-famous Chicago Manual of Style

Tone of voice

Increasingly, your content needs to build a rapport with your prospects. Your voice and tone – that is, the way your brand’s writing sounds – play a big role in differentiation, and help your reader to feel what you’re like to work with.

Your tone of voice should reflect your company values and inspire your core audience. This is the language you choose to use and the way you interact across every channel. It’s helpful to give examples of interactions inside your tone of voice guide, to help teams fully understand how to speak to anyone externally.

Try this tone of voice template by Pitch.

There are many varied and fun tone-of-voice guide examples that help brands distinguish themselves in crowded marketplaces.

Step 6: SWOT up on competitor analysis

Example of a simple SWOT exercise

Research your competitors to see how effective their content marketing is. See where they’re getting search wins to discover what your shared audience is consuming and where your content needs improving. SWOT stands for strength, weakness, opportunity and threat.

Look at your competition’s digital content like this:

  • How easy is it to navigate their website?
  • Read their web pages and articles, what is their content like? What kinds of content do they create?
  • What do their social accounts look like? How often are they posting? What are they posting?
  • Sign up for their newsletter and snoop on their emails
  • Try a Google News and general search to see if they’re mentioned

Use Similarweb, Semrush, Ahrefs or Moz to see:

  • Which keywords they’re ranking for
  • Their domain authority
  • Where their best backlinks come from

Step 7: How to measure content marketing ROI

There's no question in my mind about the ROI of content marketing. I've seen it generate millions in value for every SaaS company I've worked at.

Demonstrating marketing ROI is notoriously difficult, often because marketers use metrics that the rest of the business struggles to understand. With content marketing, it’s difficult to attribute which piece of content drew the lead, particularly with so many content touchpoints on the journey to conversion. This is why it’s important to set clear content marketing objectives and track metrics aligned with business goals.

Obsessing over vanity metrics

While it’s great to get an upsurge in visitors or social shares, stay focussed on the metrics you decided to measure in your strategy. Impressions and reach are all well and good, but you may find that your click-through rate (CTR) or a decrease in bounce are more robust metrics to measure if your goal is funnel conversion. Here are some tips for using goals followed by techniques that consider the monetary value of content.

Measure content ROI using OKRs and KPIs

By analyzing data on goal-based metrics, you can showcase the tangible business value your content delivers and provide evidence of content marketing ROI benchmarked against clear objectives.

Get the step-by-step guide to measuring content performance

Measure content ROI using business metrics

Here are some ideas that get a monetary sense of content marketing ROI and the Finance Department on your side.

  • Track lead generation. One way to measure the cash ROI of content marketing is to track the number of leads generated by your content. Use Google Analytics alongside your CRM to track how successful your content is for inbound lead generation, and how much revenue those leads are generating.
  • Track conversion rates. By tracking how many website visitors are converting into leads or customers as a result of your content, you can get a better sense of how effective your content is at driving revenue.
  • Track customer acquisition costs. Track the costs associated with acquiring new customers. This might include the costs of producing your content, as well as the costs of promoting it through paid advertising or other channels. By comparing your customer acquisition costs to the revenue generated by your content, you can get a sense of the overall cash ROI of your content marketing.
  • Measure customer lifetime value. Finally, consider the lifetime value of your customers. By tracking how much revenue your customers generate over time, you can determine how much each new customer is worth to your business. This can help you determine the content marketing ROI over the long term.

Your audience and your funnel

One thing that will never change in marketing is the connection between audience pain points and value. The more you understand your audience, the better product you can build and the better content you can use to build affinity and educate that audience.  Always start with your audience and then backtrack into keyword research. I'd suggest never doing either keyword research or content planning in isolation.

Getting ICPs/personas right

Creating ideal customer personas (ICPs) is a good way to understand how to create the right content. Customer personas are snapshots of the type of people you need to reach.

ICP template Google Sheets
ICP template PowerPoint

Begin by interviewing current customers, sending out surveys and questionnaires, or even digging for answers on Medium, Reddit, and Quora. Getting close to your Sales Team and listening to customer calls is an excellent way of understanding your target audience.

ICP Tips:

  • Close in on the language of sales. We’d recommend listening to sales calls and making a note of the language your prospects use. This can help you plan content and use words that resonate with future customers. We use Otter.ai to transcript recorded calls to highlight the language used and listen closely to our Sales and Customer Success teams to get feedback about prospect and customer language and pain points.
  • Personalized content is no longer a nice-to-have, people now expect a level of personalization, and you’ll provide a far richer experience for your readers. Use tools and platforms with content analytics to understand your audience and deliver the content they’re most interested in. This is particularly useful for B2B where sales cycles continue over long timeframes and helps shorten this by getting granular insights from prospects. Future content can pivot faster to further engage leads, warming them to your brand.
  • Interactive content reveals what your readers enjoy consuming. People prefer to interact with content, and each interactivity acts as a data point to help you understand what’s driving engagement – making it fun both for readers and insightful for you.

graphic showing which types of content are best suited to each stage of the marketing funnel

Map content to funnel stages

Build a clear picture of the content you already have by auditing it. Once you have an understanding of your legacy content, you can map out which content suits which ICP and at which stage of the funnel suits it best. This way you’ll gain a clear picture of content gaps or overflows.

You might find you have a lot of top-of-funnel content with repetitive articles that overlap. This can harm your rankings, so it would be wise to look at Google Analytics to decide which articles to keep, merge, or delete. If you see a certain topic is getting more traction, then follow the audience’s direction by providing more content in this area such as an eBook, webinar, or special report. It’s a good idea to continuously update existing content to keep it fresh, so plan for this as part of your overall strategy.

Content journeys

It’s hard to tell which stage of the funnel a web visitor is in, so when writing content, add CTAs at intervals so that users can easily navigate deeper into the funnel without having to scroll far. When you’re creating a content marketing plan, you should be thinking of different types of content for each funnel stage.

Use Google Analytics to see where people enter your pages, what the bounce rate looks like, and where people drop off. Drop-offs can reveal friction points such as gated forms with too many input fields or unclear site navigation like confusing CTAs. Use Google Tag Manager to reveal where people click through on pages with a custom event trigger, how far down a page they read, or how many times a video is played. These insights can help you understand user journeys so that you can test improvements.

You can map out customer journeys (we like Miro for this) to visualize goal and funnel conversions, and then record and refine what is and isn’t working for iteration. Our content mapping guide will help you map content to users and provide better journeys that help them down your marketing funnel.cover image of a Content Mapping Guide

Distributing and promoting your content

Social media and email newsletters are typically used to distribute new content, but there are more ways to do distribute content.


If you’d like to build your brand, create more value and extend the reach of your content, then events are ideal.

Event ideas include workshops, panel discussions, webinars, podcasts, and roundtables – giving you the opportunity to invite collaborators and inspiring industry leaders, and to create lead magnets that build your lead database.

You can identify speaking opportunities for your CEO, CMO, and other internal experts by listing upcoming industry events and gain material for reels, blogs, emails, and socials – and have your brand mentioned across the host’s content network. And, the networking involved will help to form new collaborative relationships.

Digital PR and collaboration

Asking influential people to collaborate with you when creating content works to amplify its reach. You could ask for a simple quote, a guest blog (either way), or even if they’d like to share or collaborate on content. This should be beneficial for both parties, so keep an eye out for the right people to approach. ICP and LinkedIn research will help you identify industry thought leaders and brands that your audience follows and listen to.

Content partnerships

In B2B, you can partner with businesses that share the same audience, and create lead magnets, such as white papers and webinars, as part of your lead generation strategy to double-up on resources and amplification.

Content distribution tips:

  • Add time pressure to your offers
    A sense of urgency encourages action and works for sales, discounts, offers, and free trials. Ideas could include “30% off, this week only” or “Start your 7-day free trial now.”
  • Use FOMO to pique interest
    An abandoned cart, an influential expert using your tool, a limited-time offer, a flash sale or limited stock all increase FOMO. Credited with 60% of all sales, FOMO marketing puts the onus on the prospect to act on impulse and/or emotion.With B2B content marketing, customer stories and testimonials are a great way to invite intrigue around your product or service. Anything from your most-popular tool to your thriving community can promote emotional FOMO buy-in for your business offer.
  • Create modular content to repurpose easily
    Creating content that can be used by itself or form part of a whole is an ideal way to build content for repurposing. Separate content modules can help tailor content for different uses, help personalize content to different audiences and provide standalone short-form content.

Infographic showing the content relationships of a modular content strategy


We’ve got seven examples of B2B marketing campaigns from firms that have been getting their content marketing so right, they’re monumental today.

There’s no great mystery to getting started with backlinks. First, you have to define what a good backlink looks like to your company - which sites do you want to target? Do you want to set domain rating or organic traffic limits? As with everything in content marketing, I’d always focus on quality over quantity

Help search engines and people find your content, fast

It’s worth knowing that if you always put your user first, you should meet SEO targets and create content that reads well. Every search engine’s goal is to help users find the content they need as quickly as possible and Google can predict search intent around associated language (semantic keywords) without needing exact keyword matches. Put simply, think of your user first and SEO second, because it’s much the same thing. So start with your audience in mind, what they need help with, and then think about SEO.

That said, you can bet that your competition are using paid search and optimizing content for organic SEO, making it harder for your content to get found. You’re going to need an understanding of SEO to beat them in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keyword research

List potential keywords associated with your business including industry terms and related topics. Next, find out how hard your keywords are to rank for.

Try these free keyword research tools.

Don’t be daunted by harder keyword terms, but do understand that you’ll need to research and understand what’s ranking in the SERPs and apply effort in making better-quality content. It’s a good idea to go after long-tail keywords as well. These can be easier to rank for and while it means you’re chasing lower traffic volumes, the results can be dramatic and quick.

Keywords tip: Your SWOT analysis should reveal which keywords your competitors are chasing, so include these in your B2B content marketing strategy. Using keyword research tools can help you pull out ideas for content and even help define an article’s framework. Head to Google and type in the keywords to see what Google generates as alternative suggestions, check the People Also Ask boxes and Answer The Public and see what the ranking Snippet looks like. All of these simple, free things can help you form an outline for your next blog.

Assuming you already have a library of content on your blog, there are two things you can do that'll accelerate traffic this month...

1. Update old content. Most content isn't very well optimized, and even content that was once optimized will need a refresh every year to ensure it's still competitive and adaptive to changes in search. I've seen blogs 2x in traffic without adding a single piece of new content, that's the power of updates.

2. Fill content gaps. The best blogs these days try to holistically cover a niche topic. But they miss parts of that topic. For example, if you have a cluster of content on the topic of marketing analytics that's performing well, but haven't yet covered "marketing analytics tools". Filling in those gaps on a topic are often really quick wins. You have existing topical authority and Google already recognises your expertise in that area—so you can spring to page 1 overnight.

Ben shares more wisdom in our simple guide to SEO including four pitfalls everyone should avoid

Add your target topics and keywords to legacy blogs and adjust headers and metadata as necessary. Track results to see if this improves your traffic.

When researching your article, pay attention to SERPs around your topics in the People Also Ask, More to Ask, and predictive text fields, as these could make great headers in your articles.

Screenshot of a Google search showing predictive text input fields

screenshot of the More to Ask box in SERPs

Header and subheader tags act as indicators to spiders about the content of the page, so construct headers with this, and current search results in mind.

If you’ve mapped your content to funnels and ICPs, you’ll soon see where any content gaps (and overflows) are. Focus on covering everything your audience needs around a single topic without repeating content and try to be as helpful and valuable as possible. Do this for each topic pillar, before moving to the next.

Tools to help content marketers

Content marketing tools, with freemium options

To help you write for search intent, you can use any of these free SEO research tools. to find out what people are searching for within your topic. Once you have an idea of the words and phrase people are actively using, you can start to form articles that use these terms.

For everything else, from quality control to creating images, graphics and video, check out our Top 10 content marketing tools

Bookmark these sites for content marketing reports

Trends impact your strategy and you’ll get a clear idea of B2B content marketing trends by following annual reports and news articles from reputable sources. We’d recommend you follow reports by these organizations and brands. It’s interesting to note that all of the above reports are hard gated, with the exception of the CIM’s own report, and two are in partnership.

We’d like to share our latest research about content marketing with you. Inside you’ll see what content marketers are spending, who is feeling ‘very successful’, and exactly how they’re doing it.

A "flippy" gif of the front page of a marketing research report called "Making Your Content Count"