b2B content marketing

Ok, we are calling it early but here are our views on some of the best B2B content of 2015. We collaborated with our frends at Uberflip to review and highlight the top B2B content that has inspired us this year. We have included 20 examples from eBooks and research reports through to “how to” posts and product launches.

Hopefully these examples will be an inspiration for your content strategy in 2016. What did we miss? Share the B2B content that inspired you this year and which should be included in our hall of fame.

Identifying the top or best content is clearly a subjective task. Also what is meant by “best content”? Was it the content that drove the most awareness, the most engagement or the most traffic? Or the content that generated the best leads and most conversions? In reality different content has different objectives and typically a piece of content will support one or two parts of the sales funnel as we can see below.


We have looked across the sales funnel and identified examples of inspiring highly shared content from some of the leading B2B companies. Our examples include:

  • Research Content
  • eBooks and Guides
  • Updated Reference Content
  • Trending & Hashtag/News Jacking Content
  • ‘How to’ and Practical Content
  • Provocative Content
  • Curated and list content
  • Quizzes
  • Product Launch Content
  • Tools
  • Infographics
  • Case Studies

Research Content

Most B2B audiences are interested in findings from new research and how it may affect what they do. It’s a great way to provide insights and value without coming across like you’re pushing your product too hard. Research white papers have long been a staple of B2B marketing content. The team at Buffer do a fantastic job on their blog and this year their most shared post was a research survey.




Research surveys conducted regularly can become very powerful pieces of content. A great example of a regular research report is Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report. This report covers a wide range of research on trends from mobile access to local services. The research has become established almost as part of the annual calendar. This year Mary’s slides had over 13,000 shares and more importantly over 2.7m views at the time of writing. The slides make it easy to scan the key findings – how it’s presented is a key driver of the high shares.




Another good example is the Content Marketing Institute, who are carving out a niche with their regular content marketing research including their latest on Effective B2B Content Marketing.

You can also comment and share third party research. For example, Business Insider shared and commented on a slide deck about the future of tech and media from a former Yahoo Board Exec which was presented at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live Conference. This was popular with LinkedIn members and shared over 3,500 times on LinkedIn. We have generally found that research and trends content works well on LinkedIn.


Reflection: What research do you have access to or can you undertake that would be of value to your audience in 2016?

Regularly Updated Reference Content

In our view every site needs cornerstone content, something that distinguishes your site, which is comprehensive and authoritative. Something that people know you for, link to and return to read again and again. Mary Meeker’s annual report is a great example. However, there are other forms of reference content that can work equally as well as research surveys. These include comprehensive guides or reviews.

One of the best examples of this in our view is Moz’s ‘Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet‘. Started back in 2008 it has become a core piece of reference content. This year’s latest update was the most shared content on the Moz site by some margin as we can see below.



Another good example is Top Rank’s Social Media Marketing Management Tools List. This content is effectively evergreen because it is updated and refreshed. This content outperfoms other content on the Top Rank blog by a significant margin. Another good example is Ian Cleary’s Social Media Monitoring Tools Reference Guide.



Reflection: What reference content do you or can you provide on an annual basis which would be of value to your audience – a tools list, cheat sheet, round up of best practices? It takes time to build an annual cycle but the rewards are significant as they also build over time. Why not start in 2016?

eBooks and Guides

Long form Guides and eBooks are another staple of B2B marketing. This year we were taken by Intercom’s open approach to sharing what they have learnt in a number of eBooks. Two of Intercom’s top 5 most shared posts this year were their eBooks. The top one which we read avidly was on Customer Engagement.



We also really enjoyed LinkedIn’s ‘Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn‘. As well as having a great visual design, the guide incorporated the views of leading marketing experts, building in a degree of influencer amplification from the start.



Reflection: What have you learnt and what unique expertise do you have that can be turned into a helpful guide or ebook? Can you combine several posts into a longer-form piece?

Trending Content and News Jacking

At the opposite end of the spectrum from reference and evergreen content is trending content. This is content that is designed to take advantage of a specific trending topic or issue. The long term impact and life of this content may not be as great as evergreen reference content but it can help position your brand as being on top of trends and drive significant traffic. There were a number of examples this year which caught our eye.

The first was Deloitte, not a company you might immediately think of in terms of news jacking. However, in June it published an article in support of marriage equality when the issue was at its height in the news and the company also used a trending hashtag #marriageequality in its promotion. This article is currently the most shared on the Deloitte site this year as we can see below.



Another example of this is Intel, which engaged in a hashtag campaign #ILookLikeAnEngineer. They published a post on 8 Intel Engineers Breaking the Mold and this became the most shared piece of content on their site this year.



The BuzzSumo count in the image is from our new Chrome extension which allows you to continue to see Twitter shares now that the share count button has been deprecated. You can download it from the Chrome store.

Reflection: Are you monitoring trending issues and are you able to engage quickly? Internet trends can be very short lived and you can look out of touch if you engage late in the trend. Thus there are dangers but also upside, as we can see from the most shared posts on Intel and Deloitte this year.

‘How To’ Content

Most people want to do their job better and faster. Thus I think there is a unique place for ‘how to’ content in B2B marketing. This content can be helpful and have real value such as tips or guides. The best ‘how to’ posts are well structured, almost educational, with clear steps and images. See our previous article on the perfect ‘how to’ post.

Here are two great examples from Buffer, which were their fourth and fifth most shared posts this year.


Both posts are really well structured and practical. They also address issues which the audience is struggling with. Good ‘how to’ posts have a series of clear steps, with clarifying images and links to further reading. Below is an excerpt from Peg Fitzpatrick’s post on How to Scale Your Social Media Strategies for Growth. This is simply a great example of how to do a “how to” post.


QuickSprout and Neil Patel have built an audience based on providing practical advice and tips which are helpful to their audience. Here are their top posts this year. Note their top post on the best times to post on Social Media is very similar to the top post on Buffer this year.


Reflection: What questions are your audience asking, what issues are they struggling with? Can you develop a practical ‘how to’ post using your unique knowledge and skills? How can you “Be the best answer” to a burning question?

Curated Content and Lists

We are reluctant sometimes to highlight how well list posts work, as we’re all drowning in them, but there is little question they work well whether in B2B or B2C marketing. They work particuarly well as a format for curated content. The late Cindy King of Social Media Examiner was simply the very best at creating curated list posts. Her post on 44 Social Media Tools Recommended By The Pros is currently the most shared on the Social Media Examiner site this year.



Michael Brenner also creates curated posts that provide value to his audience and saves them time by doing research on their behalf. Michael’s top two posts this year are curated posts. His top post, which is worth reading if you haven’t already, is on the Top 20 Content Marketing Blogs.


Reflection: Where can you help your audience and save them time by curating content into a list post?

Provocative Content

You know the headline works. Headlines are more important than ever to attract attention and pull you in. The Next Web do a great job with their headlines, making them provocative and interesting. Their most shared post this year was on the death of Flash.




Their third most shared post was also provocative on the correlation between gamers and the use of Porn sites “Pornhub saw a 10% drop in traffic when Fallout was released.”

Being provocative by challenging an established orthodoxy can also gain attention. Intercom’s most shared post this year challenged the notion of “mobile first”.



Reflection: Can you challenge an existing orthodoxy or come up with a provocative viewpoint? There are risks so you need to be careful, but controversy attracts attention.

Product Launch

Of course there comes a time in B2B marketing where you need to talk about your own stuff. How do you do this without reverting to old style interruption marketing or brochure-speak? We were impressed with the launch of IBM’s Watson Analytics product, technically the beta was launched in late 2014. It is difficult to know how much paid promotion was put behind the launch but the product content and the free version generated a lot of coverage. The product leveraged an existing trend and interest in Big Data. The launch was also accompanied by an influencer strategy. Various people were approached to try the tool via social networks. This created interest, discussion and social sharing, I came across the tool this way. The product launch page was by far the most shared content on the IBM site this year.



Timing is often everything. Taking advantage or leveraging trends can work very well. On a much smaller scale we started developing our Chrome Extension to show Twitter shares as soon as we heard Twitter were retiring their share count. We were then able to launch the toolbar last week so that is was available when people started looking for a solution to see Twitter shares.

Reflection: Are you launching a key product in 2016? How can sharing across on social networks help you to spread the word?


Who can resist a quizz? Quizzes can be a great way to drive awareness and create a lighter form of content. Sites like BuzzFeed, PlayBuzz and Disney have driven millions of shares of quizzes such as ‘Which Disney Princess Are You?’ In the B2B world we have few princesses (maybe a few divas) but people still enjoy a quiz, and particularly love quizzes about themselves. As the Qzzr guys say, it’s like walking past a mirror, you can’t resist. One of the quizzes that caught our eye this year was one from InfusionSoft on What Kind of Entreprenuer Are You?


Reflection: What quizzes might interest your audience? You can build them simply and quickly with tools such as Qzzr.


Tools can be great at driving traffic and awareness, and in some ways can work a little like quizzes or assessments. Hubspot have done very well with their Website Grader and this year LinkedIn excelled with their Social Selling Index. This tool calculates your social selling skills and scores you on a number of indices. The tool was one of the most shared pieces of content on the LinkedIn business site this year.





Infographics continue to get highly shared when used in the right context. There were many good examples this year. I thought Canva’s Complete Social Media Image Size Guide: With Awesome Design Tips was a great example of using an infographic as a reference guide. It became one of their most shared posts this year.


Other good examples included Larry Kim’s 24 Daily Habits To Boost Your Intelligence and Entrpreneur’s 15 Ways to Get Stuff Done. (The latter was technically December 2014). Both of these were simple ways to quickly review your own practices against some recommended best practices.




Case Studies

This was an area which disappointed this year. Case studies offer a great opportunity to tell stories that are unique and to show how you company is adding value to customers. Despite this we found few companies doing case studies well and feel this is an opportunity for B2B companies.

The {Grow} blog did recognise the power of case studies and published a well curated set of 33 B2B digital marketing case studies this year. This article was the most shared post on the {Grow} blog this year.



I personally like what Hubspot do with their customer case study videos, for example this Shopify Case Study published in September 2015. The format works really well in my view. For example, having a real customer tell the story, good use of overlay graphics and high quality production values. That said, these case studies get relatively low shares and views. Why is this? Is it because case studies are niche, because people are less keen on B2B video? I think there is a lot more we can learn about case studies as I remain convinced this is an area of opportunity for B2B companies.

What Did we Miss?

Ok, we must have missed a lot of great B2B content this year. Let us know what content you would add to our list.

Be Inspired

  • http://www.toprankmarketing.com/ Lee Odden

    Really impressive work here Steve, thank you for putting together such a useful collection of examples!

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, please feel free to add examples we missed.

  • Carlos Abler

    This is great. Sharing all over.

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, as I mentioned to Lee please feel free to share any examples of good B2B content that we missed.

  • http://www.stickyeyes.com Lisa Wisniowski

    Always great to see updated examples so thanks for pulling this together. However, looking through the list the majority of these brands are already extremely well known in their respective sectors. Whilst that won’t necessarily always equate to high levels of social shares and engagement it would be interesting to see examples from lesser well-known brands that are seeing similar success (relatively speaking).

    • Steve Rayson

      Hi Lisa, good point be great to see content from other lesser known brands and I am hoping people will share some examples. Whilst these are well known B2B brands I have tried to pull out their best content this year ie the content that has outperformed.

  • https://moneytis.com Christophe Lassuyt

    Excellent. The Adobe dying part is awesome. I love that kind of humour but still have the feeling that it shows a kind of naughtiness of the one doing the campaign..

  • http://www.radicallyambitious.com/ brettburky

    Well done on this post I have multiple notes and a lot of follow reading – perfect to dive deeper in the holiday season. :) Also great post Lee Odden I’m looking over your post currently.

  • http://www.seraphscience.com/ Tom Whatley

    Wowzers – great article Steve. Totally injected some inspiration into my strategy for the next year. I’m surprised to see newsjacking on your list, as I’ve noticed many marketers (myself included) have focused mainly on evergreen content. Something to bear in mind!

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, I was surprised to see for a number of large B2B brands how their top content this year leveraged trending stories rather than evergreen content, so I thought worth including.

  • Adrienne Smith

    I absolutely love Canva’s infographic on go-to social media image sizes. I think it’s a strong reminder that at their core, infographics need to be helpful, constructive, and easy to reference.

    • Steve Rayson

      Yep, I had to include it as really strong, practical example I refer to frequently.

  • Vinay Kumar Chand

    Great article Steve. I think that tools such as quizzes are not very interactive and there are other tools such as brackets that are more engaging, entertaining and allows two-way communication. Companies are looking for these kind of tools. Please share your views on it. Also I think you might like this article as well: http://blog.bracketeers.com/content-marketing-trends-in-2015/.

    • Steve Rayson

      Hi Vinay, thanks. I think you are right that we will see more interactive forms of content beyond quizzes. Brackets are similar in some ways to the Who Said This: Donald Trump or Darth Vader style quizzes and do engage people as do flipcards. My instinct is these forms of content are currently more used in B2C than B2B. Shachar wrote about some of the innovative interactive format here http://buzzsumo.com/blog/5-publishers-driving-social-lift-with-experimental-storytelling-formats/

  • http://www.socialdave.ca/ SocialDave

    BAMM!!! …I’m simply left speechless after reading this wonderful behemoth of an article! Love the Content Funnel table! Thanks for taking what-must-have-been-a-great-length-of-time to put this together Steve!

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks for the feedback, really hope it it is helpful. Please feel free to share any good B2B content examples you come across.

  • Pieter van Diggele

    Great post Steve. Will definitely curate this one for my B2B Content Marketing Update and use it to show our editorial teams some best practices.

    Nb. You might wanna check the first paragraph of the Howto section. Some serious typos there :)

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, cant believe how many times I reead and reread and still miss typos :-)

  • http://nexwebsites.com NexWebSites.com

    Excellent article Steve. This one should make the best content list somewhere.

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, really helpful. Will have to get a spell checker on our WordPress.

  • Abdelwahed Zaidi

    Superb source which inspires, with these wonderful of data contained, which are fully positive.

    • Steve Rayson

      Thanks, yes, it is good to have some inspiring examples. We all need inspiring sometimes :-)

      • Abdelwahed Zaidi

        thank you, with great ambitions and love I want to be all day, with you, with the sublime inspirations.

  • Nicholas Bodell

    Great read…thx!

    • Steve Rayson


  • http://www.educationfrog.com/ Mike

    The article is really impressive. I like the way you collect information about B2B content.

  • Andrea Zedda

    This is a great example of curated and list content and product launch together (a little bit). Very impressive. Thank you very much.

  • http://CraigDesmarais.com Craig Desmarais

    Great article. Cornerstone content and tool guides work best for me as well.

    Anything offer relevant resources will be easily consumed.

    Pro Tip: Build content around the top resources you recommend and point them back to these cornerstone pieces. 😉

  • Abdelwahed Zaidi

    Thank you and Big Love For You .*.I wish you Happy Holidays

  • mimranyameen

    Very good post. Recommended.

  • Shruti

    Bookmarked! I am sure I will be reading it over and again. Thanks Steve, it is going to be my guide this year :)