Lee Odden

B2B Online Marketing Trifecta: Content, Social Media & SEO

social seo content marketingB2B Marketing offers a variety of choices for reaching customers wherever they are in the buying cycle.  Make no mistake, buyer behaviors towards information discovery, consumption and sharing online have been significantly affected by changes in social technology.

At a conference I recently spoke at, an attendee made a statement that social media only works for consumer marketing. The reality many marketers forget, is that B2B buyers are people too.  They have the same social needs and influences as anyone else. Social media, in my opinion and experience, is a great fit for business to business marketing.

Marketing with content has been a core part of B2B marketing for years and as long as there are long sales cycles with the need for education, there will be a need for content.  Content that attracts readers through search engine optimization and social media channels can do its job of educating, persuading and guiding B2B buyers along the sales funnel.  That’s why, when it comes to online marketing, the combination of Content, Social Media and SEO provide serious competitive advantage.

Content – Pretty much all B2B marketing starts with content.  White papers, newsletters, blogs, video, presentations and any other text or media content types published online.   Without content, search engines wouldn’t exist. What is it that social communities share with each other? Content!  B2B marketers often find difficulty with continuously generating new blog content ideas, so generating more traffic and social interaction to existing content is essential for inspiring conversations and new topics to write about.

SEO – Any digital content that can be crawled, indexed and ranked by a search engine is an opportunity for optimization with keywords that customers use when searching for new vendors, partners and solutions.  Each unique content object with it’s own URL or web address, creates a destination for other websites to link to and an entry point for search engines and searchers.  A quantity of quality content that is easily and often shared socially creates a rich set of signals for search engines and B2B buyers. B2B SEO mistakes are pretty common, but can be overcome by expertise and experimentation. Based on a firm foundation, SEO can provide substantial lift on its own, but especially in combination with great content and social networking.

Social Media – Growing social networks, connecting with others through interactions and information sharing creates an audience that can support content promotion which might drive traffic and attract inbound links from other topically relevant websites. Links from other websites and blogs can serve as a signal for search engines to decide how to rank your content in the search results. Links from within social networks or media sharing sites can send B2B buyers directly to specific resource, product or services pages. Not every B2B company is ready for social media, but it’s likely that their customers and competitors are already there.

There’s a lot of common sense to the experienced marketer in this blog post, but after a very long time in the consulting business, I’ve found common sense to be the least common thing in most online marketing strategies.  It’s easy to be aware of how individual tactics work best for a company, but it’s useful to take a step back and observe how highly effective marketing, like content marketing, search engine optimization and social media, can best work together.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re working with B2B companies ranging from McKesson to Marketo and recently, MarketTools and StrongMail, to develop coordinated online marketing programs that emphasize efficient combinations of SEO, Social and Content that can prove themselves within existing marketing strategy. As part of our own Content Marketing, we share exclusive case studies, tips and best practices through a client newsletter and pull selected resources for sharing in our Tips from the Top Marketing Newsletter which you might find useful.

If you’re a B2B marketer, are you using content, SEO and social media in a coordinated online marketing effort?  As a buyer of business services, have you been influenced by content discovered by both searching and through social channels?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Daniel Wambugu says

    Great run down of how any online business can maximize it’s online presence through leveraging all these elements of marketing. Plus it’s important as a B2B owner to understand that social media marketing offers more contextual compared to search engines. Thus helping make your business more visible online.

    Since not many people really understand that social media marketing makes your business more visible online.

  2. Lee,

    I really liked reading this article as each segment is something I am currently juggling in my position at http://www.Pricefalls.com. We are a newer online marketplace and we are currently building up our brand as to be able to have a voice in the Auction community. All of the bricks and mortar are there but the online marketing needs to match our goals. My question is how and where do we begin. It can seem somewhat overwhelming to build a brand with so many resources and so many channels. How do we stay away for diluting the message? Is it better to hit a number of channels with our message or a few very strongly? I really appreciate any response and I hope to hear from you soon.


    • Josh, content is essential for search and it’s what social networks with share, so start with that. Then customize according to the communities you engage and promote to – that will avoid dilution.

  3. Hey Lee!

    It’s been a while since I’ve been here to your blog, but I agree with you 100%. The 3 (content, SEO, and social media) have to be addressed to build a business (and brand). Most small businesses and people skip 1 or 2 if not all 3, then wonder why their business is not doing well. I hope more people continue to read your information, as it is very helpful.


    P.S. Follow me on Twitter if you’d like. That’d be cool: @mikepedersen

  4. I wasn’t aware that some people think social media only works with consumers. After all, it seems like there are many well respected professionals that have gained influence and respect through their online content and insights(Brian Solis, Seth Godin to name a couple).

    However, the tactics of B2B social media marketing are a little different than B2C. For instance, I think they rely more heavily on communities than consumers. The “scorch the earth” blasting of messages does not seem to work as well with them. The message has to be more personal and tailored.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Elise, personalization is a great idea for both B2B and B2C social media marketing. Execution might be different, especially over a longer sales cycle for B2B, but essentially, the means for providing value and engagement are not that different.

  5. Great write up, The three thing, SEO, Content, and Social media are the way to attain our success goal in short period.

  6. Excellent and relevant post. Social media, content and SEO are definitely three big hitters in an online marketing strategy and go hand in hand.

  7. While I agree that all 3 (social media, content, and SEO) are important and work hand in hand, I think B2B needs to shore up their content and SEO strategies before diving into social media. Having appropriate, educational, and interesting content will lead to (in conjunction with other tactics) an effective SEO presence. Once these two marketing “houses” are in order, social media can be used to supplement the on-site efforts.

    Many marketers think of their website/blog as the “hub” of their social media efforts–get the content creation working effectively, and social media becomes that much easier.

  8. Although the focus is correct it’s too broad for most businesses. Small businesses do not have the means to excel in all 3 methods. We have decided to focus on http://www.tomedes.com on one method we believe is the most efficient for us

  9. Great post, Lee. To some it may seem oversimplified, but it’s really not. The trio make for a great foundation.

  10. Please, can you tell me an example on what social and other digital media can we use in order to have a campaing that reaches most of the people GLOBALY?

  11. Avatar Robseymour101 says

    This is all great stuff and as you say, common sense to an experienced marketer. Problem is that as consultants a lot of our day to day business is most definitely NOT with experienced marketers. It’s still a hard sale to convince clients of the value of Content Development and Social Media (SEO by and large they get), I guess the key take away from this is that they are increasingly dependent on one another – that is, you can’t have properly effective SEO without a Content and SM strategy.