Many B2B marketers tend to fall into a “publish and pray” strategy — publish content and pray that it actually does something.
The trouble is that this strategy doesn’t get results.
Even if, by some miracle, a blog post does convert a few customers, there’s no real way to repeat its success, because you won’t know what you did right to get those results.
The good news is that there are proven strategies out there that will get consistent (and trackable) conversions. Here are eight things you can do to make sure your content converts.
Focus Topics Around Pain Points
B2B customers buy into a product or solution for one reason: it solves a problem.
They have a pain point that can’t be solved internally, so they look for something that can help them figure it out. Most of the time, they’re willing to buy in if the “pitch” for that product seems like it will resolve their issue.
The same is true of any B2B content. Think of each blog post or article as one long pitch aimed to solve a common problem.
If your customers frequently struggle with creating marketing plans, for example, you might create something like this:
This gives them immediate, actionable advice for something they struggle with on a daily basis.
Of course, not every pain point will automatically lead to a converting piece of content. For that pain point to translate into a conversion, you need to:
- Figure out whether or not the pain point is common enough for your audience (does it affect all of your customers or only a select few?)
- Determine how big that pain point is (will anyone want to read a blog about it?)
- Find an actionable step that will lead them from the content to your product/solution (will they buy what you’re selling based on what you’ve written?)
So how do you find pain points? If you’ve already done some audience research, you may already know what they are.
If not, do some quick audience research.
Consider asking the following:
- What is your customer thinking about?
- Where does your current traffic come from?
- What conclusions do your prospects need to make before they buy?
- What are their pain points?
- What do they value?
Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to generate keywords related to your industry, product, or service. Focus on long-tail keywords or questions that can be inserted into the titles and headers of your content.
This will also help you optimize your content for SEO later on.
And you can use the autocomplete feature on any search engine to get question ideas. Just go to the search box and start typing a question:
Once you click on a result, you can also see related questions or search topics at the bottom of the page:
This list will give you some topic ideas related to specific pain points that your customers might have.
Once you have a list of keywords and/or questions, you can also take things a little further using the MECLABS conversion optimization formula for better insight:
This formula can give you a relative conversion rate for your topic ideas.
Stick to Helpful Content Formats
For a post to convert, you need prospects to stick around and read it. This means two things:
- Posts need to be skimmable (most people read only 20% of an article on average)
- They need to be practically helpful and immediately actionable.
Remember, you’re answering questions and solving pain points. While a standard text-and-image article can do that, you’re more likely to convert with a format that is designed to help solve problems.
These formats include:
- How-to posts
- Case studies
Take a look at the top search results for the question, “How to get more traffic on social media?”:
Most of them are lists (“X Ways to do XYZ”). Even typing in long-tailed keywords, like “B2B social media strategy,” pulls up guides, tipsheets, and lists in the top results:
A quick search for “How to create a B2B marketing plan” reveals an infographic in spot number two:
So how do you know which type of content to create? Look at the questions and keywords being asked.
How-to posts (“How to Create a B2B Marketing Plan in 3 Easy Steps”) are good for answering “How” questions (“How to create a marketing plan?”), for example.
List posts (“10 Tips for Better Social Media Traffic”) are great for topics that encompass multiple tips, tactics or ideas to help solve a problem. If you want social media shares, consider using infographics, which are "liked" and shared on social media three times more than other any other type of content.
If you’re still not sure how to choose the best format or conversions, you can also check your most-shared content to see which posts have succeeded in the past. Use a tool like Buzzsumo and simply type in your website to see your most shared results:
This will give you an idea of which posts work specifically for your audience. Remember that you're solving your customer’s pain points.
Create content for them, not for the generic masses.
Create Content for the Buyer’s Journey
You also want to pay special attention to where your audience might be on the buyer’s journey.
Some of your content will be designed to generate traffic to your site, whether through organic SEO, paid search or social media. That’s okay.
This type of content “converts” in the sense that you get more traffic to your site and your site ranking on search engines is improved.
But if you want to generate real leads, some of your content should be purposefully designed to move them through the funnel.
According to DemandGen, the top types of content used in B2B purchasing decisions include:
- White papers (82%)
- Webinars (78%)
- Case studies (73%)
- Ebooks (67%)
- Blog Posts (66%)
- Infographics (66%)
- Third-party/Analyst reports (62%)
- Video/Motion graphics (47%)
- Interactive presentations (36%)
This type of content should make a prospective buyer say, “Wow, tell me more."
The language you use within your content and headlines can also impact how a prospective buyer responds to it.
At the top of the funnel, for example, you might use soft sell headlines (“What to Know About B2B Marketing,” “The Beginner’s Guide to B2B Marketing Attribution,” etc.) that show you have information they might find helpful. This builds a relationship.
Toward the middle and bottom of the funnel, however, you might go for hard sell headlines (For example, “Why You Absolutely Need This B2B Marketing Tool”) and more in-depth content types.
Take a look at this post, for example:
The content clearly outlines those two things (a website that can generate leads and content that helps bring in those leads):
But the notable “selling point” is at the very end of the post:
It’s a pitch for their service, which helps generate leads from websites. This post is designed to convert at the middle or bottom of the funnel.
Another thing that “hard sell” posts do is use buyer-friendly language to get the reader to take action. This means language centered around the buyer’s needs.
This gives you the chance to show why your product or service can help solve the problem that the content presents, not just tell them why you’re so great.
While not every post you create needs to be a hard sell, having a few articles like this can help your content convert over the long haul.
Use Content Upgrades
Of course, you can pitch your services all you want, but you won’t necessarily see conversions unless you give a way for the prospective buyer to participate with your brand.
In some cases, this can be a link to a specific landing page, or even a “Contact Us” call to action.
But for most B2B marketers, the conversion process begins with a lead — an email or phone number. The best way to get an email using content is a lead magnet, sometimes known as a content upgrade.
Content upgrades are bonus pieces of information that elaborate on or complements a piece of content the reader is already interested in, like a blog post. They can appear within the content itself, or even as pop-ups on any landing page:
They work for two reasons:
- They grow your email list (which gives you an active lead)
- They provide something useful for the prospect
It’s an actionable “next step” for site visitors to engage with your brand. It’s more than just traffic numbers; you get real interaction with your leads.
They’re also incredibly effective at growing your influence.
In one experiment from Backlinko by Brian Dean, he took a blog post that was converting at 0.54 percent. He added a content upgrade (a free checklist) to the post:
As a result, he saw a 785% increase in conversions compared to the previous month.
In a similar experiment, Brian also found that adding checklists and content upgrades increased organic SEO traffic for one of his clients by 48.7%.
While these exact numbers aren’t guaranteed, content upgrades and lead magnets like this have been consistently shown to increase conversions.
When creating content upgrades or other lead magnets, keep the customer journey in mind.
Those at the middle of the funnel may be more ready to buy in with a case study or white paper as a content upgrade than a simple checklist.
If you’re not sure what to create, re-read your content and ask: “What is something that adds value to this post?”
Add Visuals Strategically
To take things a step further, consider making things as visually appealing as possible.
In Brian’s post link example above, he also created a larger image for the bottom of his posts that looks like this:
Even if someone skims over the initial link to his content upgrade, they can’t miss the image at the end.
Research also shows that articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images.
One study conducted by Chute and Digiday found that visual content was three times more effective than text content. Nearly 20% of B2B marketers found it to be four times more effective.
But it’s not just about adding random images to your content and calling it good. The type of images you use matter for conversions.
For instance, one usability study found that pictures of real people are the most engaging. A similar Nielsen study noted that users spent 10% more time looking at pictures of people on a page than they did reading the content around it.
But the Nielsen study also came with one big disclaimer: Stock pictures will be ignored.
When Marketing Experiments tested a real photo of their client against their top performing stock photo, they found that nearly 35% of visitors were more likely to sign up when they saw the real clients.
That doesn’t mean that stock photos are completely useless. High-quality stock images can improve conversions rates site-wide. But for B2B conversions, it’s best to use images that reflect the content.
This means that for data-driven posts (like case studies, white papers, etc.), using data charts and screenshots will do better for conversions than a generic stock photo.
When looking for images for your post, consider the following:
- Posts with relevant images receive 94% more views
- 80% of readers on average recall images while only 20% recall text
- Posts that include images have a 650% higher engagement rate
- Visuals that evoke emotions have a better chance of influencing a purchasing decision
- 60% of prospective customers will contact a business if their image appears in local search results
Take Advantage of Content Tools
If creating high converting content sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But the good news is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. One of the best things you can do is get the right help when creating your content by taking advantage of other tools and services out there.
Here are a few of the best tools you can use to improve your content conversion rates.
Coschedule Headline Analyzer: The headline analyzer is a free tool that gives your headlines a number grade to help you maximize conversions. Simply type your potential headline into the search bar, and you’ll receive your results as well as recommendations for improvement.
Viawriting: Good grammar is vital to converting copy. If you’re a marketer writing copy and you’re unsure of grammar or punctuation rules, double check them with this helpful website.
Grammarly: If you’re not hiring a professional copywriter to produce your content, then you want to make sure your content is properly edited. Grammarly is another free grammar checker (with a free browser plugin) to help you write. The pro version will also edit your content with more accuracy.
Google Analytics: Google analytics is not just helpful for tracking your traffic, but it can also give you customizable reports for your click-through rates and other conversion metrics. It’s a must-have for any content marketer.
Canva: Canva allows you to quickly and easily create custom images for blog posts, lead magnets, data charts and more using thousands of their free templates.
While most of these tools are free, you may find that you need more help at some point. If you do, consider using paid content marketing tools or hiring a content strategist to assist with your conversion goals.
Promote Your Content
You can create the most useful and attention-grabbing content, but if no one reads it, then how is it suppose to convert?
And if you don’t have traffic to your content, how can you optimize it based on data?
That’s why you need to put more effort into promoting your content.
Here are a few tactics you can use (even if you don’t have a big audience).
Tactic #1: Allocate a Facebook Ad budget to distribute your content in the newsfeed of your potential readers.
Tactic #2: Contact all of the companies and influencers you’ve mentioned and linked to in your post and let them know that you’ve linked to them.
Tactic #3: Syndicate your content. You can do this by contacting blogs and publications that publish content similar to your content.
Measure the Business Value of Your Content
In addition to optimizing content assets, it’s critical to measure content in terms of revenue and influence.
You can do this by drawing conclusions about content preference and content performance based on touchpoints data. You can learn a lot about your audience and the buyer journey by looking at touchpoints data. .
For instance, for the top-of-the-funnel we can count the number of first touches, lead creation touches and demo scheduling touches by content URL. This shows you what content is associated with important stages like initial brand discovery, lead conversion, and demo scheduling.
Here’s an example of content performance by top-of-funnel lead stages.
With a marketing attribution provider like Bizible, you can generate a variety of marketing metrics. For example, you can track content at every stage of the buyer journey and calculate how much pipeline and revenue each piece of content generates.
Creating content that converts doesn't have to be a shot in the dark. The important thing to keep in mind that is that your content should:
- Solve a relevant pain point for your customers
- Be helpful, both in format and in subject matter
- Be relevant to the buyer’s journey
- Be accessible and valuable (i.e., the content upgrade)
- Be visually appealing
If you’re not sure how to create content that fits all of those categories, take some time to do audience research first. Ask relevant questions such as, “What would my readers find the most useful?”
Once you understand your audience and what they really want from your content, you can then use a variety of tools to help that content truly convert.