Best B2B Content

With 2019 upon us, many of us are making plans for marketing in the new year. That process often begins with a look back at what worked (and what didn’t) from the year before. As a B2B business, we were especially curious about the highs and lows in our sector for 2018. So, we decided to dig a little deeper into the previous year’s best B2B content. And, we’ve developed some tips to help all of us create the best possible B2B content in the year ahead.

For this deep dive into B2B content, we developed a list of common B2B topics, then analyzed the 52,892 articles with the highest social engagement for those topic areas. We then limited the results to content published at known B2B websites.

Below you’ll find the highlights of our data and some hand-picked insights that can help you create better content in the year to come. Here’s to a great 2019!

Benchmarks for the Best B2B Content

Evergreen Score of 1.6 or higher

In addition to looking at these blog posts, articles and videos through the lens of social shares, we also evaluated the lasting impact of the content, using BuzzSumo’s Evergreen Content Score.

What is an Evergreen Score? It’s relatively straightforward; an Evergreen Score is a value we determine based on:

  1. Timing – the article must be at least one month old
  2. Social Engagement – total recorded social interactions
  3. Backlinks – how many other web pages are linking back to the article

The content in our study had an average Evergreen Score of 2.9, and a median evergreen score of 1.6. This is high compared to averages from across the web. A summary of evergreen scores for different industries, including B2B and B2C content is below.

Since many publishers monitor social share counts and backlinks, we thought it would be valuable to break out the averages and median for these two metrics as well.

Social Engagement of 415 Interactions or Higher

The average number of social interactions for these high performing B2B articles was 1,029.

The median number of social interactions was 415.

These numbers are incredibly high, given that the median number of social shares for all content (not just B2B) is four.

Looking forward to 2019, you probably want to aim for 689 social shares if you want your content to be among the best of the best. This is no simple task, but there are a handful of ways to make your content more shareable. For example:

  1. Higher Quality Content: Our Content Trends Report showed that content quality has a significant effect on the number of shares. Create better content, and you should see an increase in shares. Basing some of your content on original research is one way to increase quality. And, keep SEO in mind as you create, as well.
  2. Don’t Neglect LinkedIn Sharing: Also discovered in our Trends Report, LinkedIn sharing was on the rise while other networks were declining. Make sure you have LinkedIn as one of your social share buttons. At BuzzSumo, we use the Social Warfare plugin and limit our sharing options to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
  3. Authoritative & Evergreen: Timeless content that is authoritative will continually attract organic traffic and social shares. Create more Evergreen content and you will continue to see shares increase on that content.
  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Newsjack: Tapping into trending news is still one of the most effective ways to drive shares. Relevancy is a key factor in whether or not someone decides to share your content.

There are more ways to create highly shareable content, so, by all means, don’t stop here.

The median number of backlinks to articles on our list was 5. This is also much higher than the median for all content, which had a median of zero.

A consistent, concerted effort to acquire backlinks should be on your content marketing to-do list for 2019.  Brian Dean’s link-building strategy is a great place to start.

Top B2B Headline Phrases

Since headlines are one of the most critical parts of your content, we wanted to know which headline phrases performed the best for B2B content in 2018?  We focused our search on content with Evergreen Scores higher than 1.7 and found the following phrases performed well:

  • “The Future of” – 156 times
  • “How to use” – 132 times
  • “Need to” (without “Know”) – 92 times
  • “How to Create” – 73 times
  • “Here’s How” – 67 times
  • “You Need to Know” – 52 times

 

best b2b content phrases chart

So how might you use this information to your advantage in 2019? Start brainstorming ideas with these phrases in mind. Think, “what does my audience need to know?” or “what is the future of my industry and how does it affect my audience?”

You might consider looking at some of your older or under-performing content to see if any of it can be reframed with one of these headline phrases.

For example, we have an article about audio content on our site that was published in July. It has lower engagement than some of our other pieces. We might want to consider re-publishing it with a headline like this: “The Future of Podcasting” or “Why You Need to Add Audio Content to Your 2019 Plan.”

Article Length of Best B2B Content

Our sample included content of various different lengths.

Of the 52,000+ posts, you can see the number of posts of each length below:

  • Short (less than 1,000 words) – 39,136
  • Medium (between 1,000-2,000 words) – 10,688
  • Long (between 2,000-3,000 words) – 1,868
  • Extra Long (more than 3,000 words) – 1,202

The number of short articles appearing on the list was significantly higher than all other article lengths. So it would seem that most B2B publishers are still publishing articles less than 1,000 words, despite data showing that longer-form content performs better.

However, our study showed that of these top performing pieces, articles with 1000-3000 words had an advantage in producing higher evergreen scores, social engagements, and backlinks.

Fewer people in the B2B space are writing medium and long content, but those that do are at an advantage for content performance.

Testing this length with your audience would be a great way to start 2019.

Best B2B Article Types

Not all content types are created equal. So we broke down the content in our B2B sample and categorized them under the following types:

  • “Success” in title
  • How-to
  • “Guide” in title
  • Infographic
  • Video

So how did each of these types perform compared to one another?

Video and Infographic content were more evergreen — with higher backlinks and social shares over time than all the other content types.

best b2b content category by evergreen score chart

 

The best content type by the number of shares is the “Success” articles, beating out the other content types by nearly double the number of shares.

best b2b content category by shares chart

The best content type by number of backlinks are those with “Guide” in the title, gaining an average of 10% more links per article.

best b2b content category by backlinks chart

Best B2B Articles in Each Category

More than just a bunch of fun stats, we wanted to give you some tangible examples of the best-in-class content in each category. Below we’ve highlighted three of the top articles in each category.

How-to Content

One of the most popular content types, historically, “how-to content” is aimed at teaching readers to do something. Whether that is something like How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Funnel or How to Get Around Google’s Latest Algorithm Change.

How-to articles are popular because they are utilitarian. They give the reader something tangible–something that solves a problem they have.

Some of the most popular examples from this past year were:

  1. Microsoft Windows on AWS: How to Bring Microsoft Apps to AWS – Shared 25,502 times
  2. How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences – Shared 12,089 times
  3. How to Become a Sales Networking Superhero – Shared 3,520 times

Make sure that you add “how-to” articles to your content calendar for next year–you may find yourself mentioned on this list!

Infographic Content

Everyone loves a good infographic. They take lots of information and arrange it in a way that’s easy to digest visually. Although they can be resource-intensive to create, they can pay off big time.

Some of this year’s most popular examples are as follows:

See the full infographic from Marketing Profs here, which managed to gain 968 shares.

See the full version of the above infographic on Entrepreneur, where it accumulated 902 social shares.

The above infographic was also published on Entrepreneur and managed to get shared a total of 795 times across social media.

One of the great things about Infographic content for B2B, often you can have them produced through a partnership with another brand. This lowers the initial investment in creating the resource and can even gain more exposure with partner cross-promotion.

Video Content

It’s no surprise that video content is incredibly popular. Moreover, with our recent Facebook engagement findings, we know that it’s popularity in the world of social media is only growing.

Although video can be the most resource-intensive type of content, studies show that it often has the best ROI.

Here are the top 3 pieces of video content from B2B publishers this year:

  1. Why Every Organization Needs an AR Strategy (via Harvard Business Review)
  2. Try This Simple Technique to Always Remember the Names of People You Meet (via Entrepreneur)
  3. 6 Simple Strategies to Drive More Traffic to Your Content (also via Entrepreneur)

At this point, you may be realizing that Entrepreneur has been mentioned quite a few times throughout this list. If you’re looking at B2B companies to study, it would seem they are a great place to start.

List Content

Although “Listicles” have had a bit of a bad wrap for being cliche or overdone, the simple fact is people still read them like crazy. So no matter how you feel about this content type, it may be a compelling format to add to your content strategy.

Below are some of the top B2B list articles from this year:

  1. 5 Clever Interview Questions to Uncover Candidates’ Hidden Strengths – Shared 12,599 times
  2. 10 Key Findings From the Ponemon Institute Value of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity Study – Shared 3,205 times
  3. 5 Brands Doing Great Long-Form Social Videos – Shared 2,660 times

As a bonus, we also determined the most popular numbers appearing in list articles.

common list article numbers for B2B content

The most popular number in list articles is five by quite some margin. For B2B content, shorter lists perform better than longer.

Best B2B Content Publishers 2018

Now we come to the part of this article where we crown the champions of 2018 B2B content. The following publishers crushed it this year, and deserve recognition for their accomplishment.

To choose the Best of the Best in B2B content, we looked only at the top 25% of articles for both evergreen score and total engagements.

1. Techcrunch

Techcrunch is an online publisher focusing on the Technology industry. It covers the business of tech, technology news, emerging trends in tech, and new tech businesses and products.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their best content from the past year:

best content from techcrunch

Content Stats:

  • 2,498 of the articles in our top 25% came from Techcrunch!
  • Sum Total Shares: 6,355,329
  • Sum Total Evergreen Score: 16,144.6

2. Entrepreneur

Having been mentioned several times throughout this article so far, you knew Entrepreneur made the list.

As a publisher, Entrepreneur focuses on stories and news in the entrepreneurship and business realm.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their best content from the past year:

best content from Entrepreneur

Content Stats:

  • Number of Articles in Top 25%: 748
  • Sum Total Shares: 1,179,041
  • Sum Total Evergreen Score: 5616.16

3. Coindesk

With the massive amount of interest around cryptocurrencies, it’s no surprise that Coindesk is making an appearance on our list.

Coindesk is an online publisher focusing on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency news.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their best content from the past year:

best content from Coindesk

Content Stats:

  • Number of Articles in Top 25%: 749
  • Sum Total Shares: 1,082,205
  • Sum Total Evergreen Score: 4458.53

4. BusinessInsider

Business Insider is an online publisher focused on American Financial and Business news. They also have international editions in various countries.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their best content from the past year:

Best content from Business Insider

Content Stats:

  • Number of Articles in Top 25%: 635
  • Sum Total Shares: 3,513,163
  • Sum Total Evergreen Score: 4389.17

5. Harvard Business Review

The Harvard Business Review is a subsidiary of Harvard University and publishes a subscription-only online magazine focused around general management and business topics.

Here’s a snapshot of some of their best content from the past year:

best content from Harvard Business Review

Content Stats:

  • Number of Articles in Top 25%: 434
  • Sum Total Shares: 1,531,374
  • Sum Total Evergreen Score: 4143.56

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found some great value from our analysis of the best B2B content of 2018. Understanding what content is performing as well as the people producing it can help your business reach new heights with your content.

Performing this type of research and data analysis for your industry is as easy as signing up for a free trial of BuzzSumo. With our Content Analysis tool, you can search for the top performing content around keywords or from specific domains.

What stood out most to you in our list of best B2B content this year? Let us know in the comments.

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