Content marketing offers great potential for your B2B business model. Engaging content helps you on many levels. It helps increasing brand awareness. It supports the generation of leads. It is a cost-effective and sustainable advertising measure. But what is most important is that it offers real value to your potential clients. A great b2b content marketing strategy serves them along their entire customer journey. It is inspiring and helps you gain trust and convince people of your product and your brand as a whole. Yet, this of course takes thorough planning. In this article, we look at the most important steps to take for your strategy.
- What are the most important goals of Content Marketing
- Developing your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
- 8 Scaling your Content Marketing Strategy
What are the most important goals of Content Marketing
Before we dive into the strategic part, we want to outline, what for us are some the most important goals of content marketing. And in our opinion, it doesn’t matter whether you are working in the B2B sector or in the B2C sector. The main targets are similar, with a subtle tactical difference. The focus in the B2C area is often more on creating entertaining content. But in an B2B environment, the educational component is particularly important. When it comes to strategic positioning, the choice of measures and tactics can differ as well. Content marketing strategies can look very different in different sectors. Always factor in the specifics of the industry, your product, and the environment. Besides, there are several general 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’re not sure whether content marketing can help you too, have a look at our introductory overview on B2B content marketing. This should provide you with a good impression. Here we discuss the importance of content marketing within the wider marketing context. Also, we take a detailed look at the effects and goals.
Developing your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Now that we have an idea of the potential of content marketing, it’s time to get going. Note that content activities can fizzle out and fail to achieve the desired success. So what it needs is a solid strategic foundation to prevent that. But before you even embark on the actual process of production, you need to answer some key questions. Establish a precise idea of what qualities make your company stand out from the crowd. What distinguishes your company from others? How do you want people to perceive you? Where are your strengths and weaknesses versus competitors? You need answers to questions like these within the framework of strategic alignment.
1 Know who you are talking to – Buyer Personas
Who are you producing content for? Try to get as accurate a picture as possible of your target group. What are their specific needs? And in what stages of the customer journey? Which topics are most relevant, and why and in which phase. Then think what potential content in each of those phases could you offer to them. Also consider the form of communication and the channels through which they communicate. Finally, keep in mind production matters. In the end, the preferences of your target audience should set the pace. All this will have significant impact on the kind of content you need to create, at what frequency, and by whom.
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, you content may be interesting for various personas. Address key pain points and provide answers to specific business challenges. Buyer personas will help you to develop a more accurate idea of the targeted customers. With a clear image of their issues, you will provide better quality content. Content designed to serve with good advice in the right place. To start generating ideas right away, you can download our B2B Buyer Persona Template.
2 Where are you talking to them? – Marketing Channels
How people consume your content also plays an important role. The best how-to videos on YouTube can be off target, if your audience does not use YouTube as a source for help. So you need to figure out where your readership resides. Maybe there is no need for daily Linkedin posts when you can instead help your audience with a single article in your blog. Or you might reach many more by publishing a whitepaper on a relevant industry platform or even a microsite. Always keep in mind that with so many options, it’s even more important to find the ones that are right for you. Time and resources will always have limits, so you should set strategic priorities.
Many organizations use some form of social media as part of their content strategy. Yet not all of them follow a thorough plan in the process. Consider that channels differ: both in terms of their audiences and appropriate targets. While one may hold promise for to increase brand awareness, 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.
Analyzing what your most important competitors do in the area also offers invaluable input. Not only as an indicator for promising channels, but also to point 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. This can especially be critical in the B2B sphere. Pay attention to the use of language in your field. How do successful competitors in your industry communicate? They can serve as benchmarks and provide orientation on what style works in your field.
At the same time, you should always aim to establish a personal style. Yes, it should still be in line with the industry norms, but it also needs to emphasize your own brand qualities. At the same time, you should always aim to establish a personal style. Yes, it should still be in line with the industry norms, but it also needs to emphasize your own brand qualities. Companies who convey their personality remain in the minds of their target group. And they are less likely to be replaced.
4 Know where you stand – Competitor Analysis, SEO Audit
A proper audit offers a suitable start to assess the status quo of your content. First, review how well you perform on core topics along the entire customer journey. You should always keep the entire funnel in mind and ensure a balanced distribution of content. Especially in the B2B sector, it is crucial not only to provide content for initial attention. Rather, it is about supporting potential customers as they continue their journey. When they are already looking for concrete solutions, you should offer the most competent advice. When they are comparing offers, your case studies must provide the final conviction. When they have difficulties using your product, your How-To articles should provide solutions.
A SEO analysis of competitors reveals the topics they rank for, their positioning, keywords of importance within the field, etc. Try to incorporate all of these elements in the content development process.
Once you established the strategic basis, you need to translate it into an ongoing and monitorable process. 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.
This makes content marketing opaque and its actual impact difficult to assess.In fact, many marketers complain that they cannot measure the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts. One in three companies using content marketing has no documented strategy. One in four would describe their own strategy as not on target, according to this Statista Study.
These findings not only underline a challenge that content marketing is apparently facing. It also 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. They may still be in their early stages 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. First, It will help build internal acceptance of content marketing and justify a budget. Above all, it is the basis for sustainable development and optimization.
Well thought-out planning and tracking of your activities is indispensable. Ensure you have a proper set of tools to track activities and performance. Set clear objectives and metrics to test activities, and be sure of appropriate reporting. Goals should be SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Appropriate KPIs are varied and tailored to individual goals. For example, if your primary goal is to develop brand awareness, different marketing KPIs are appropriate than if you want to improve the ratio of MQL to SQL leads.
6 Focus on what matters the most
Identify your core topics and develop a structured editorial execution roadmap. At the very start 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. Just 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. Others still prefer not to invest in a full-time in-house content position. In this case, 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, it will get difficult to achieve sustainable growth.
Also, set up a roadmap to maintain editorial integrity of 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 content is driving traffic? Which content is converting traffic? What is the ratio of production efforts, costs, and benefits? The more you create, the more data you generate to readjust and fine-tune your content marketing strategy.
8 Scaling your Content Marketing 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. Your editorial team is delivering content you believe in. You basically did everything, but the desired effect has not yet materialized? For the most efficient use of content, you need scaling 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 to drive awareness and traffic. So, 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 this is due to the fact that you have not yet created a sufficient amount of content or have not yet optimized it for search engines. If that is the case, consider a further push via paid distribution. If you invested time and effort in the creation of promising pieces of content, use targeted support via paid marketing campaigns. 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 even 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 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. Yet, 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 help on your content roadmap, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy to help you with all strategic and operational issues.