Content marketing offers great potential for your B2B business model. With engaging content, you can not only do a lot to increase brand awareness and generate leads in an efficient way, but also offer your customers more value along the entire customer journey convincing them of your product and brand. However, this takes a thorough planning of your content marketing strategy. Learn more about the essential phases and steps towards your smooth-running B2B Content Marketing strategy in this article.
- The main goals of Content Marketing
- Developing your B2B Content Strategy
- 8 Scaling your Content Strategy
The main goals of Content Marketing
Before we dive into the strategic part, we would like to start by briefly outlining what we consider to be some of the most important goals of content marketing. And in our opinion, it doesn’t really matter whether you are working in the B2B sector or in the B2C sector. The main targets are quite similar, with a subtle tactical difference that can be observed: The focus in the B2C area is often more on creating entertaining content, whereas in the B2B environment the educational component is particularly important. Also, when it comes to your overall strategic positioning, the specific choice of measures and tactics can certainly differ depending on the industry, the environment, or even the complexity of your products, Content Marketing might offer different opportunities in different sectors. Nevertheless, there are several goals we can identify as fundamental:
- The long-term increase of brand awareness
- Lead generation and nurturing
- A strengthening of your position vis-à-vis the competitive landscape
- Increasing organic visibility and website traffic
- Gaining a deeper understanding of your target customers
If you are still at the early stages of weighing up whether you want to invest in content marketing, then our introductory overview on B2B content marketing should provide you with a good impression. Here we looked at the relevance of content marketing in the context of today’s marketing activities, its modes of action and goals in more detail.
Developing your B2B Content Strategy
Now that we have an idea of the potential of content marketing, it’s time to get going. Without a strategic foundation, content activities quickly fizzle out and fail to achieve the desired success. But before you even embark on the actual process of production, you need to answer a number of key questions. Establish a precise idea of what qualities make your company stand out from the crowd. What distinguishes your company from others? How would you like to be perceived? Where are your strengths and weaknesses versus competitors? Answers to questions like these must be found within the framework of strategic alignment.
1 Know who you are talking to – Buyer Personas
Who are you producing content for? With your target group in mind, you must carefully consider their needs in the various stages of the customer journey, which topics are most relevant, and why and in which phase, as well as what specific content to offer them. Likewise, consider the form, channel, and frequency of publishing content, along with determining who can create it.
Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and create buyer personas. What might their “journey” look like and where can you tie in with value-adding pieces of content? Depending on the product, various personas may be interested in them, and you can address key pain points and provide answers to specific business challenges. Buyer personas will help develop a more accurate idea of the targeted customers and their issues, allowing for better quality content designed to serve with good advice in the right place. To start generating ideas right away, simply download our B2B Buyer Persona Template.
2 Where are you talking to them? – Marketing Channels
The question of how content is consumed also plays an important role; the best YouTube videos can be completely off target if your target audience doesn’t usually look for solutions on YouTube. Figuring out where your intended readership resides will help determine whether you might achieve more from an article on a popular industry platform than from regular postings on Linkedin or a white paper published on a micro-site.
While nearly all organizations use some form of social media as part of their content strategy, the decision to do so must be carefully considered. The channels differ considerably in terms of audiences and suitable objectives and applications. One channel may be promising, primarily to raise brand awareness, while others may be better suited for lead generation.
Although there may be great value in social media for your strategy, for instance LinkedIn is considered the most important channel in the B2B sector, a strategy should not blindly follow general tendencies, but rather be geared to the specific case. Perhaps, in a given scenario, case studies or whitepapers on the company website or with external publishers are much better suited for your purposes.
Looking at what the competition does and where they are positioned is also extremely helpful. Not only can it indicate promising channels, it also points towards loopholes and niches that are still unoccupied.
3 How are you talking? – Tone of Voice
Pay special attention to the tone of voice you choose. In the B2B sphere in particular, it can be critical, so be aware of parlance in your particular field, make comparisons with successful competitors in your industry, who can serve as benchmarks and provide orientation as to what style of communication tends to work well.
At the same time, care should always be taken to develop your own style that meets industry norms but also emphasizes your individual brand qualities. Companies that convey personality will be more easily recognized in the minds of the target audience and are thus less likely to be replaced.
4 Know where you stand – Competitor Analysis, SEO Audit
A content audit of your own website serves to check how well you are positioned on core topics along the entire customer journey. Find out how well your content works and identify any gaps. Looking at the entire funnel in particular, a balanced amount of material is essential. In B2B in particular, providing appropriate content not only to raise awareness, but to offer suitable information at further stages of the journey is critical to be considered a relevant option.
A SEO analysis of competitors reveals the topics they rank for, their positioning, keywords of importance within the field, etc. All of these elements need to be incorporated in the content development process.
Once the strategic basis is established, it is imperative to translate it into continuous and monitorable processes. While few B2B marketers question the fundamental value of content marketing (4 out of 5 B2B companies rely on content as part of their marketing strategy), many still fail to efficiently execute and evaluate it. As a result, the contribution of content marketing becomes opaque and its actual impact difficult to assess.
In fact, many marketers complain about not being able to properly measure the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts. One in three companies that engage in content marketing still does so today without a properly documented strategy, and one in four would consider their own strategy to be off-target, according to this Statista Study.
These findings not only underline a challenge that content marketing is apparently facing, but it shows the need for strategic competencies within a company as well.
As long as many businesses do not yet have a mature strategic basis, there is potential to outperform competitors, who may still be in their early stages, by means of implementing sophisticated processes.
5 Know your data to define your goals
It is essential to learn how to use and interpret your data and to transform it into actionable insights, otherwise content marketing is an overly costly and time-consuming process. Define clear KPIs to measure performance to measure the ROI of your content activities and set those in relation to your other marketing spends. This not only serves to internally strengthen content marketing acceptance and to justify a budget, but more importantly to support sustainable development and optimization.
Well thought-out planning and tracking of your activities is therefore indispensable. Ensure you have a proper set of tools to monitor activities and performance. Set clear objectives and metrics to evaluate activities, and be sure of appropriate reporting. Goals should be SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Appropriate KPIs are diverse and should be aligned with individual goals. For example, if your primary goal is to develop brand awareness, different marketing KPIs are appropriate than if your goal is to improve the MQL to SQL leads ratio. The choice of content format must be based on the defined goals as well.
6 Focus on what matters the most
Identify core topics for which to develop content and develop a structured editorial execution roadmap. At the very start you should focus on the most relevant topics rather than tackling hundreds of subjects simultaneously. This will help you build authority in individual fields step by step.
Establish clear responsibilities, whether internally or through external support, but be sure to have a clear process in place for day-to-day operations: many companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, rely on an in-house expert or small teams, but others still prefer not to invest in a full-time in-house content position. In this case, however, you need to find an external partner to manage all aspects of the production process. Unless a structured workflow is in place from the beginning, sustainable growth will be very difficult to achieve.
In addition, set up a roadmap in order to maintain editorial integrity regarding published content. Doing so will help to ensure brand alignment.
7 Be ready to readjust
To evaluate the success of your strategy, you need to have a detailed understanding of what is working well, what is driving traffic, which content is converting traffic, and the ratio of production efforts, costs, and benefits. The more content you create, the more data you generate in order to readjust and fine-tune your content strategy.
8 Scaling your Content Strategy
You know your competitors inside out, you have an in-depth understanding of your core audience and their needs, you have invested significant time and effort in creating a sophisticated strategy, and your editorial team is continuously delivering content you believe in. But the desired effect has not yet materialized: for the most efficient utilization of content, scaling is required to boost reach.
In addition to the ongoing provision of high-quality content, key factors include search engine-optimized formatting. For this reason, you need to review the setup for search engines to make sure that your quality content can be found in order to drive awareness and traffic to your website. Therefore, make sure to optimize your website for search engines constantly.
Another way for scaling up your content marketing efforts is to leverage paid advertising. In particular, if you have not yet established authority for a topic – most likely due to the fact that you have not yet created a sufficient amount of content or have not yet optimized it for search engines – consider a further push via paid distribution. If you have invested time and effort in the creation of promising pieces of content, targeted support via paid marketing campaigns can be highly effective. Consider which channels to use for distribution, whether you want to highlight your article in Google search, or perhaps draw attention to a case study on Linkedin to encourage potential leads to download it.
Whether it’s search engine marketing, social media advertising, or maybe native articles on other platforms to generate awareness, there’s no one golden rule, so try and see what works best in your industry and for your unique content.
As we note that Content Marketing is in fact much more than just writing interesting stories on a topic you are comfortable with ( not that this was an easy thing to do), it takes a lot more: a great deal of thought, a lot of preparatory work, and last but not least, a lot of ongoing review and fine-tuning. Or else the results will fail to come, and this likely comes with a big investment of time and money. However, smart strategic content planning can contribute significantly to enhancing the customer journey, especially in the often rather complex B2B business. Moreover, it can have a lasting impact on the development of loyal customers. In case you need any assistance concerning your content roadmap, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy to help you with all strategic and operational issues.