Content marketing has come a long way in the last five years. In fact, it is the hot ticket. The accepted stat is that more than 90% of B2B marketers are now engaged in content marketing. Budgets for content marketing are also on the rise (stats). Yet while the overall investment in content marketing has grown, many companies still have no content marketing strategy. The latest study from the Content Marketing Institute indicates that the majority of B2B marketers do not have a documented content strategy. This is a missed opportunity.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are the key steps necessary to create a content marketing strategy:
Define Your Objectives: A good strategy always begins with determining what you’re trying to achieve and identifying your top priorities. Are you looking to build awareness for your brand? Generate new leads? Convert leads to solid prospects? Or help close deals? The objective will dictate the type of content you develop.
Learn about the buyer: Who are the key buyers and influencers for the purchase of your products and services? This goes beyond demographics, company size and position. It also includes drilling down to needs, wants and perspectives. Combined, all of this information makes up a ‘buyer persona’ – a true reflection of the individual that includes:
- what they are interested in
- their motivations
- their hot buttons
- what keeps them up at night
- how they like to communicate
Understand the buyer’s journey: How do buyers go from feeling a particular pain point to choosing a solution? For B2B companies the buying process is typically long and complex; it is also remarkably consistent. It goes something like this:
- someone experiences a pain point or a need
- they investigate the possible solutions available
- they identify the vendors offering those solutions
- they select one of the vendors to work with
For content marketing success, you need to know the details of this process. It will impact the type of content you produce, when you produce it and how you convey that content to the prospect.
Map your content: For each persona, identify the key questions they face as they travel along the buyer’s journey and the type of content that you can produce that will help them answer those questions. By nature, much of the content you need for the early stages of the buyer’s journey will be more general with very little focus on your particular product or service. As a buyer moves along in their journey you can introduce more product specific information and share your key differentiators.
Develop content: Developing great content takes time and effort. That said, the key is to build your content in batches or stages. Don’t limit yourself to written content. Content can take many forms and might include webinars, videos, infographics and more.
Promote your content: Having great content on your website is a good start but inbound marketing isn’t everything. Consider leveraging some outbound tools to push your content out to people with an interest. Marketing automation tools such as Hubspot can be a tremendous help in communicating your content in a strategic and timely manner without getting overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of trying to connect with many people simultaneously.
Measure your results: It’s critical to measure your success, not only to spread the word of your great marketing but more importantly so that you can continuously improve your efforts. Set key goals for each stage of the buying journey and measure your performance. How many people hit your site? Of those, how many downloaded something? Of those, how many contacted your company? Of those, how many became customers? Analysing these types of stats will go a long way to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your sales funnel and areas of focus for your content marketing efforts.