7 steps to plan a B2B content marketing strategy
It is essential to approach content marketing as a strategy rather than a tactic. If you have not started content marketing or are still testing the waters, these seven steps will help you plan your B2B content marketing strategy.
Traditional media advertising – from newspaper and radio to TV and internet ads, has always been about interruption marketing. B2B marketers are moving toward publishing solutions to customer pain points and positioning themselves as trusted advisors rather than approaching their audience with a sales pitch.
This puts content at the heart of marketing. According to the 2016 Content Preferences Survey by DemandGen, 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.
Let’s get started.
Why do I want a content marketing strategy?
Since content marketing can be used to solve several business challenges, it is important to identify its core purpose. Create a mission statement that identifies the function of content marketing and answers the question “what is the purpose of content marketing?”
Whether it is generating and nurturing leads, or building brand awareness and engagement, a content marketing mission statement will help you set actionable KPIs and get buy-in from all stakeholders. Without it, your content marketing will lack direction resulting in limited success.
Who is my target audience?
Knowing your audience can help create content that your buyers can relate to. Use audience persona to identify your ideal audience. Besides behavioral and geographical data, firmography (industry, revenue size, etc.) is one of the unique features of B2B audience persona.
With the audience persona created and prioritized, the next step is to identify your audience’s watering holes – where do they get together and share ideas? It could be on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter) or on community forums. This will also help recognize their media consumption patterns – like whether they prefer case studies, videos, blogs or illustrated guides.
Which platform is optimal for me?
An often overlooked aspect of content marketing is the publication platform. The rule of thumb is to not build your content house on rented land. This means hosting your content on web property that belongs to you so that you own your audience data and have greater control over conversations and conversions.
Taking a sustainable approach by using a hub and spoke model will ensure the long term success of your content marketing efforts. In this case, your organization’s blog should be the hub and appropriate social channels (the spokes) could be used to engage with your audience effectively.
According to the 2016 North American B2B content marketing trends report by content marketing Institute, the most efficient spokes to publish your B2B content are LinkedIn, Slideshare and Twitter while YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram work very well to connect with a consumer audience.
What should my content convey?
Your content’s focus should be the confluence of what your audience wants to hear, what you want to say, and what’s unique about your story. Use keyword research tools from Google and Buzzsumo and community engagement platforms such as Quora to identify the topics that your content should address. For instance, there are several questions on Quora related to cloud computing. By answering them, you can position your organization as an expert in the field and lead the users to your website.
By being a part of your audience’s watering holes, you will be able to identify their interests, pain points and solution requirements. Finally, ask your prospects what they want to know more about during face to face interactions and meetings.
Where are the content gaps?
It is possible to build a content pipeline by creating, curating and repurposing content. Create an editorial calendar to ensure that your content is consistent and accurate. A content audit can map your existing content to your customer’s medium, persona, and buying stage such as top, middle and bottom of the funnel to identify and address content gaps.
This will also help deliver the right content to the right audience via the appropriate channel and at the right time.
How can I distribute content?
The visibility of content pieces on the internet is crucial. Without proper distribution or syndication, your content will not reach the target audience, hence reducing the benefits of your content marketing strategy. Syndication can either be paid (Google Adwords, Outbrain, etc.) or organic – through optimizing your content for search engines.
Many content marketers find Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to be very effective, while promoted posts such as promoted tweets and LinkedIn’s sponsored updates also play a major role in helping your content gain visibility.
How do I know I’m effective?
This is where we come full circle. The best way to monitor your content performance is to check against your content marketing mission statement and KPIs defined originally. Did your content generate enough leads or helped your organization’s brand get better exposure? Is your content showing up on the first page of search results for keywords which were initially identified? These are some of the metrics that can be used to measure your content performance.
Your audience are consumers of content. Creating content – videos, blog posts and case studies – can be fun as you get to explore your creative side. However, you need to consistently deliver compelling content that will engage your customers and keep them coming back for more. To engage, educate and inform your target audience should be your ultimate goal. Leads and conversions will follow.