What’s the best content strategy for your business? Frankly, I’ve no idea. However, give me a bit of time and the right information and Word and Pixel will develop one that will have you building connections, educating your present and future customers and generating sales leads. Want to go it alone? No problem. Here’s a guide to get you started.
Why is content strategy so important for B2B?
Content marketing is just another way to communicate with your targets. In the same way that you have a traditional marketing and PR strategy, you need one for your content. Ideally, these will all integrate. So, if you are launching a new product or service, you’ll buy some ad space and put out a press release and also talk about it on your social media channels and website.
The key is to build up trust through your content. Authentic, honest content that educates without over-selling is a surefire way to drive people to your website or deeper into it.
Vital first steps
Before you create your content strategy, identify your main areas of focus:
- The people you are targeting;
- What audience questions it will answer;
- How your content will differ from the competition;
- The formats (written, video, audio) you will use;
- The channels that you will use to promote it;
- How you will measure its success.
1. Determine your target audience and the buyer’s path.
For your B2B digital marketing strategies to be successful, you need to know who you are selling to. Take the time to identify your target audience, as well as the buyer’s path—the steps that are taken to move from a potential customer to a buyer.
The audience and the buyer’s journey are the key areas in which B2B marketing differs from B2C. In B2B, you need to have a laser focus on the people who either do the buying or influence the buying. Your marketing or marcomm personas provide a good starting point but be sure to analyse data from previous customers as well.
2. Set clearly defined goals.
Another important step in creating B2B content strategies is setting goals. Create SMART goals, namely:
Specific: setting specific goals is better than vague ones. So, rather than, “we’ll do more blogs”, specify, “we’ll write two blogs a month”.
Measurable: specific goals are easier to measure.
Attainable: your goals can be ambitious, but they also need to be realistic.
Relevant: your marketing goals should be consistent with your overall business goals.
Time-based: set a time limit to achieve your goals so that your marketing doesn’t go off course.
Also determine the purpose of the content:
- Ranking in search engines and attracting organic traffic
- Earning links
- Stimulating social activity
- Raising awareness
And this means that the goals that you set for your content may include:
- The number of leads generated
- Organic traffic
- Social reach and engagement
- The number of quality links earned
- Impact on brand awareness
3. Processing of Keyword Research
Keyword research helps you understand the needs of potential customers and can help you find topics to use in content marketing. When you know what your target audience is looking for, you can deliver the relevant answers.
Invariably, when they use a search engine, customers are looking for a solution to a problem. You want to be the brand they see. When you’ve identified your keywords, make sure you’re creating content that answers your ideal customer’s questions.
4. Creating a content plan
Once you’ve generated ideas— work out how they should be organised.
- Where the content lands on the buyer’s journey
- Content format
- The buyer’s intention
Content comes at a price. Doing it all in-house might seem like the more economical option, but bear in mind that there are hidden costs because you are taking people away from their day jobs. Alternatively, you can set aside a budget for specialist help. How much will you need to spend? That depends on several factors:
- what kind of content you plan to make. (A high-quality video clip will cost much more than copy);
- who will create the content. (Prices vary considerably);
- what channels you will use to promote it.
6. Creating content
Creating content takes time and effort—so be aware of the following:
- Your content must stand out to be read, watched or listened to. Don’t underestimate the skills needed to come up with interesting ideas.
- Think outside the box but also stay relevant. Time after time we see content that is interesting as a talking point but doesn’t sell products.
- Start from customer pain points. Answer questions, solve problems.
- Demonstrate the company’s expertise. Don’t be shy in letting people know what you can do.
- Case studies or success stories are great for convincing potential customers that you are the right people to work with.
7. Define content types and formats
We’ll keep it simple here. How do your customers like to consume content? Video, podcasts or copy? There’s no point writing a white paper if you customers only want to see a two-minute video. We’ll go into this further in an upcoming article.
8. Promote your content
No matter how good your content is, it won’t get results if no one sees it. There are lots of ways to distribute your content but the best will depend on your customers. Where do they like to hang out? Do your research and target the right channels. As a general rule, the three best channels for distributing B2B content are social networks, blogs on websites and email. When it comes to social media platforms, LinkedIn is the top choice.
Twitter is great for raising brand awareness and communicating with others in your industry, but not so great for creating direct leads or advertising your content. Expect to see more quotes, statistics and infographics on Twitter.
9. Is your strategy working?
Check what is effective and tweak as you go along. Analyse the following:
- Traffic: Your content should generate traffic but that on its own doesn’t bring you revenue.
- ROI: Your content should provide a return on investment. This will take time, since B2B content marketing involves an initial investment. However, in the long run, it should more than pay for itself.
- Pipeline Impact: If you are running account-based marketing campaigns, your content will become a tool to educate and influence your target accounts. If you can show that individual content elements have had a positive impact on the accounts in your pipeline and ultimately on revenue, it’s proof that your strategy is working.
- Conversions: The final metric is conversions.If you can attribute your content to actual revenue gains, you know that your strategy is working for you.
We’ve covered the basics of how you can develop your content strategy to drive your B2B sales in this article. With so much to consider, striking out alone to create an effective content marketing plan can be a little daunting. If you need a hand, we’re more than happy to help.
Word & Pixel can help you develop a content marketing strategy that works for you and brings in sales and leads. Give us a call.