Content marketing has become ubiquitous in today’s marketing landscape. Once the savvy marketer’s secret weapon, content marketing is now considered a tried and true best practice. What caused this shift? Marketers realized that customers care about their own problems far more than they care about a company’s products, and targeted content helped to bridge that gap. But good content isn’t enough anymore… you need knock your socks off content that is consistent, strategic, and on-target if you really want to generate more conversions and strengthen your brand.
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Currently, the biggest challenges to effective content marketing are:
- Creating engaging content
- Consistently creating content
- Measuring content effectiveness
The best way to overcome these challenges is to craft a finely-tuned strategy for your B2B content marketing. According to a recent report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, “B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America,” only 35 percent of content marketers actually have a documented content marketing strategy. Want a leg up on your competitors? Follow the steps below to define a bullet-proof content marketing plan for your company.
1) Empower a Content Marketing Manager
Appoint an individual or team (if your budget allows for it) to manage your content marketing. With a dedicated focus on your company’s content marketing program, this person or team can concentrate solely on the program, which will strengthen your program and enhance your chances for success.
2) Invest in Strategy
Allot a designated percentage of your budget to a content marketing strategy. Whether that means hiring a content marketing manager to be accountable for your company’s program or purchasing new technology and tools, investing in your content marketing will help to ensure that your tactics and tools stay up to date and running smoothly and efficiently.
3) Find Your Customers
Develop and refine your buyer personas. This process will help you better understand who your audience is and where they are, which in turn will help you to generate content that speaks to their needs. Developing clear buyer personas is important for B2B products because generally multiple decision-makers are involved in the buying process and review a wide range of content before purchasing.
4) Research Your Target Audience
In all marketing, but particularly in B2B content marketing, it’s vital to have a comprehensive understanding of the issues your potential buyers’ face, trends that affect them, and where they are expending their resources. Use the information you’ve gathered to position your products as solutions for issues faced by decision-makers in your audience pool.
5) Determine Your Value
Begin by checking out your competitors’ content. Research how they are positioning their products by examining their content marketing efforts. Then, find value that your company excels at and use this information to determine how you will communicate your company’s value to your audience.
6) Define Your Targets
Define your targets and stay focused. It’s impossible to market to everyone at the same time. Instead, it may be better to segment your efforts to one target audience at a time and concentrate your efforts where you think you can make the most impact.
7) Generate a Variety of Content
Incorporate in your overall content marketing strategy a content distribution plan that uses an array of tactics and platforms to help you reach and engage your key audiences. It is also critical to establish how you are going to initiate conversations with your target audiences through these channels. According to Ann Handley in an article for Entrepreneuer.com, “the most effective [marketers] use an average of 14 tactics and seven social media platforms.” Popular and effective B2B marketing platforms include in-person events, webinars, case studies and white papers, infographics, e-books, blogs, e-newsletters, and microsites, as well as social media channels such as LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
8) Schedule Your Content
Create a content calendar planning out your content for at least three months. “Great content marketers publish regularly. The most effective content marketers publish new content daily, or at least several times per week,” says Handley. Generating enough content to fill this calendar can be a challenge so be sure to establish content development tactics that work best for your shop. These tactics include:
- Breaking up longer content such as white papers into several shorter content items, like blog posts and articles
- Combining short content pieces with similar themes into larger resources
- Recycling evergreen content
9) Clarify and Expand Your Goals
It can be hugely beneficial to lead prospects to smaller goals on their way to conversion. These smaller goals serve as benchmarks that can help you measure your content’s performance. For instance, top of the funnel goals may be getting prospects to open an email or visit your website, while later goals may be to get prospects to download a resource or enroll in a free trial.
10) Establish a Strategic Framework
The next step in developing your content marketing strategy is to figure out how to align your understanding of your buyers with the creation of your content, how you plan to deliver that content, and your overall conversion goals. You can do this by creating a matrix to outline and track of all the moving parts of your content marketing strategy. This matrix will serve as the foundation for executing successful marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve determined your content marketing strategy, you’ll be ready to document it and execute it. But don’t let your new strategy go stale… refer back to it frequently and update it if necessary.
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