It’s a great time to be a B2B content marketer. The appetite for content marketing within B2B audiences is high, and content marketers say it remains by far the best tactic in terms of ROI.
But as content marketers we have to tread carefully: to paraphrase the old proverb, an opportunity is just a crisis waiting to happen. We need to make sure we are giving our readers what they want, because if we don’t, they’ll look elsewhere — and they might not come back.
And we don’t have to look far to know we can’t take our audiences for granted. The wild and frankly erratic moment happening in the world of social media has seen participation and engagement on social channels drop significantly. All except for TikTok, that is.
Lucky for us, we have a bit of insight into what B2B audiences want in their content marketing in 2023. Let’s take a look at the top three demands for content marketing in 2023.
1 — Empathetic, human content
The persistent success of TikTok holds a lesson for content marketers: it’s raw, funny, relatable… in a word, human. B2B content marketing, on the other hand, has a different reputation: boring. In fact, on this blog alone there are over 430 instances of us assuring you that B2B content doesn’t have to be boring.
B2B content marketing consumers’ taste is starting to catch up with us. Writing empathetic, human content is a surefire way to engage your audience, because it feels relatable and validating.
But you don’t have to go with your gut on writing empathetic content. In fact, writing content based on your audience’s experience is best done with plenty of data. By learning what motivates your audience through research, you can more effectively speak empathetically about the topic at hand. They are then more likely to recognize themselves and their own problems in the content, and are therefore more likely to trust you as a source.“By learning what motivates your audience through research, you can more effectively speak empathetically about the topic at hand.” — Art Allen @Punsultant Click To Tweet
2 — High quality thought leadership
This remains an open secret that I am eager for more of you to take advantage of: there is huge demand for high quality thought leadership. And yet, in 2023, there is still not a lot of it to be found.
Why am I making such a big deal about this? It’s not just a hunch: a recent study conducted by LinkedIn* and Edelman found that thought leadership is the most effective type of content marketing a B2B organization can produce.
And this isn’t just in good times. Most of the decision makers surveyed said good thought leadership content can persuade them to buy non-essential products and services even in an economic downturn.
So what makes good thought leadership content? According to that LinkedIn-Edelman report, it’s content that gets right to the point: how I can help your business succeed and outperform your competitors. If you can demonstrate your value, you’re in.“There is huge demand for high quality thought leadership. And yet, in 2023, there is still not a lot of it to be found.” — Art Allen @Punsultant Click To Tweet
3 — Content that matches intent
The days of capitalizing on search volume by optimizing your content based on a list of keywords are long gone. In 2023, your content needs to match search intent if it’s going to be valuable to the reader.
For instance, if the search term you chose for your B2B brand is also related to a popular basketball team, you need to figure out how to tweak that search term to capture the B2B audience and avoid the basketball fans.
But search intent is more than just matching the semantic intent of search terms. You also have to match the user’s intent in terms of the type of information they’re looking for. Are they trying to learn the basics about a topic, research the best option for their specific use case, or are they ready to buy?
These different search intents map quite neatly onto the marketing funnel, and you should consider where your user is in that journey and match the content and CTA accordingly. No one wants the hard sell when they’re just browsing.
For more empathetic, high quality thought leadership from the humans you love, follow the TopRank Marketing blog.
Learn more about crafting great B2B content experiences with our new free guide, Marketing with Intent: The Future of SEO & B2B Search Traffic.
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.