If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Likewise, a well-crafted Business to Business (B2B) blog or website with great content is futile if you do not get any visitors.
But how can you do so if you’re not in a hip and happening niche like fashion, food, fitness, travel or photography?
What if you are selling industrial machinery or providing legal or accounting advice?
Hear it from this B2B Blogger
Like many of you, I’m acutely aware of the challenges of attracting and sustaining visitor traffic to a B2B website or a blog. After all, I’ve been blogging in this space for well over 10 years, sharing my insights on topics like content marketing, social media marketing, PR, and branding.
Initially, I adopted a fairly serendipitous strategy. I veered from topic to topic. I wrote about whatever I was inspired to write.
Over time, I learned about the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO). I also learned that I need to stick to a more consistent topic in order to attract a regular audience. And to write longer and more useful pieces.
While I may not draw the same volume of traffic as most B2C websites or blogs, I have written enough content for B2B and professional clients to know a thing or two about this space. Plus, I am drawing in enough clients for my content marketing agency to keep my team pretty busy.
So what can you do to build a consistent stream of visitors to your B2B blog?
#1 Identify Your Niche then Zoom Out a Little
First , you’ll need to identify where your content niche lies.
As a B2B business, you are gunning to serve “long-tail” clients. In other words, your potential clients are likely to be seeking highly specialised products or services (eg conveyancing for a legal firm, or wafer fab manufacturing for a chip maker).
Once you’ve identified your industry, you should then explore how you can “zoom out” to include other affiliated services or products that your customer would be interested in. From there, you can then craft your blog pieces.
A good example here is Intel. Although the company produces chips and other highly technical products, they have written about broader topics (like photography) which addresses the broader contexts of their customers.
Courtesy of Intel Blog
#2 Address Your Customer’s Specific Pain Points
As a content strategist for a B2B business, you’ll need to focus a lot more specifically on your customer pain points.
These would be the typical questions and challenges that your customers would face, either in your specific domain (eg tax accounting) or a broader context (eg reducing business costs).
A good example here is FreshBooks – provider of cloud accounting software for small businesses. I love how their blog addresses issues that their small business clients face, covering topics like growth, financial management, taxes, marketing and other areas.
Courtesy of FreshBooks blog
#3 Write Longer and More Valuable Pieces
In case you don’t already know, the world of B2B blogging revolves around long content.
Here, I’m talking about blog posts which are minimally 1,000 words in length. Or even better, at least 1,500 to 2,000 words.
Now before you think that I’m nuts for suggesting that you burn your entire day writing an article, have a look at these statistics on the length of articles versus social shares. These are backed by studies from Moz, Serp IQ and Medium.
Courtesy of snap agency
#4 Use SEO Techniques to Gain Traffic
This brings us to our next point: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Even though I’m a social media marketer by trade, the bulk of my web traffic comes from search engines. As I slowly identify and fix some of my SEO issues, I’m confident that my traffic will only improve in the months to come.
Here are some quick ways to write content that are SEO-friendly (there are tonnes more):
- Use a keyword research tool like SEMRush, Google Trends, or Keyword.io to identify suitable keywords and phrases for your trade.
- Pay attention to your meta-tags and meta-descriptions, as well as your headers, sub-headers and image names.
- Ensure that the technical SEO issues for your website or blog is fixed. Here’s a good list from Search Engine Land to start from.
- Find ways to build good backlinks from high authority websites. I offer some strategies in my blog post here.
#5 Craft Compelling Human Stories
We all love a good story – even when we are in a professional line of work.
It is the reason why my most well-read story on LinkedIn (at 40,836 views in all) was modelled after my own story as a former public officer who pivoted to become a modestly successful content marketing consultant.
Here are some strategies you can adopt to craft a compelling B2B brand story (adapted from my blog post here):
- Weave in your brand values as part of the “moral of the story”
- Introduce some elements of conflict
- Identify a plot and key characters for your story (eg hero, benefactor, villain, etc)
- Introduce universally accepted archetypes and themes (eg David vs Goliath, Ugly Duckling)
One of the best examples of a B2B business story was NPR Planet Money’s Story of the T-shirt. It traced the fascinating economic and physical journey of a humble T-shirt, and how it arrived at the desk of the radio station.
Courtesy of NPR Blog
#6 Use Newsjacking to Gain Short-Term Traffic
As a B2B content strategist, you’ll need to be opportunistic. After all, your audiences are likely to be fairly small relative to lifestyle and B2C blogs.
“..the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”
One of the most oft-used strategies in content and social media marketing, newsjacking allows you to achieve a phenomenally quick growth in web visitorship and views riding on a hot news item.
Here’s an example from RiseSmart (a Randstadt company specialising in HR solutions) predicting which team would win the SuperBowl using unemployment rates as a predictor! Check out their infographic below.
Courtesy of RiseSmart blog
#7 Create Visual Content
Beyond being timely and opportunistic, the example by RiseSmart above also shows how important visual content is for B2B businesses.
Other than infographics, you may also wish to develop slideshare decks, eBooks, short “how to” videos and other longer form content.
These longer form pieces of visual content can be embedded on your blog, and help to attract greater interest in your community. They may include any of the following:
- Useful industry statistics and research (eg, this Salary Guide for HR Professionals)
- A step-to-step guide to fixing something
- Templates and cheat sheets
- Ways to optimize the performance of your machines (like this cool video from ThioJoe below.)
#8 Share Your Posts on Social Media
Now this seems like almost a no-brainer. However, you’ll be surprised to know that there are B2B marketers who feel that nobody would be interested in their highly-niche industry-specific content.
Many of the social networks are heavily skewed towards B2B content:
- LinkedIn (the world’s largest professional social networks) works well for professional content in the areas of HR, finance, business strategy, marketing, IT and related topics.
- Google Plus has many topic specific communities that specialise in aggregating content around B2B topics like entrepreneurship, digital marketing, green/environmental management, business, and technology.
- Pinterest is great for pinning your infographics and getting them widely pinned.
- Twitter works well for broadcasting your latest blog posts, and to ride on popular trending topics (see newsjacking above).
Even Instagram can work well for B2B businesses if you use it well. Look at how tech and consulting powerhouse IBM is rocking their Instagram account with their focus on customer and staff stories, told in amazing technicolour.
Courtesy of IBM Instagram
#9 Write Guest Blog Posts
A good way to generate web traffic and establish your authority as an industry thought leader is to write guest blog posts.
Getting regular guest articles published on highly influential and authoritative websites can do several things:
- Help to build backlinks to your website and social media profiles
- Improve your personal reputation and trust as an influencer
- Reach out to new business and industrial communities.
Personally, I’ve started writing guest blog posts in several relevant business websites like Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing, Tech In Asia, e27, Startup Nation, Spin Sucks, Equinet Academy and more.
#10 Build Your Online Communities
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to focus on building your online communities.
This needs to go beyond your website or blog to include your social media channels and email lists. They may include your followers on Twitter, fans on your Facebook page, or subscribers on your YouTube channel.
To build a thriving online community, you’ll need to identify your community’s interests, create content which meets their needs (think ‘solutions’ rather than ‘products’), and be consistent in publishing content and responding to feedback. You can read more about building online communities here.
A good example of a B2B brand doing this is Eye for Travel – an online community serving the travel industry in areas like technology, marketing, retail and other trends. By identifying specific topics that are of interest to their community, they could generate a consistent and loyal base of content readers and customers.
Courtesy of Eye for Travel
Now that you’ve read about the 9 different strategies, I’d love to read your thoughts. Are there other ways for B2B content marketers to drive traffic to their blogs?