Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Six Steps For Marketers to Follow In Making this Concept a Reality
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OK, so content marketing isn’t new concept and digital marketers know that it can add value when it comes to establishing audience trust and pushing brand awareness and interest. Funnily enough, I still constantly see articles that describe this concept as a “trend”. This term is starting to sound trivial to me because in today’s user-centric world, content is fundamental to a successful customer acquisition strategy.
Content marketing is such a broad term that encompasses everything from SEO optimized site content to print collateral. It is easy to get lost in all the different areas that one can tackle in launching a content marketing strategy. Today, I’m going to outline a six-step approach for B2B marketers that will generate the best return.
This is a lot of ground to cover and can require significant resources; so how do you know where to start and what areas will provide the best traction?
Tip: Start small and try working with the digital assets that you already have. As you learn more about what engages your audience it will become easier to map out a relevant content framework that encompasses multiple channels and influences multiple touch points within the buying decision cycle.
This is key to content marketing: relevant content that engages your audience enough to establish trust and keep the conversation alive until they are ready to buy.
Step 1: Identify the main characteristics of your audience segments and use the information to determine what types of content they typically consume to gauge where to get started.
- Where is your audience primarily located?
- What is the job title and industry?
- How do they prefer to be communicated to?
- What products/services interest your existing clients?
- What are their pain points?
Ideally a B2B company should have some information on their target audience via sales CRM tool like Salesforce where the history of a lead is tracked and measured.
Step 2: Outside of having a well-optimized website, create a few relevant digital assets that will educate and build trust in your business as being a leader in specific areas of expertise. Often times you can easily develop something based on client meetings or product support feedback.
- Start with assets that are easy to quickly scan and absorb: i.e. Blog articles, FAQs, Quick Tips.
- Move on to larger digital assets once you have a feel for the subjects/areas that are of most popular with your audience: i.e. Webinars or Whitepapers.
Step 3: You now have a few key pieces of content that are ready to be pushed to the market. How do you plan to promote this content? What channels will be most cost-effective to distribute and engage your audience?
Tip: Build on the sources or channels have you acquired your client contacts from in the past.
There are two areas that will influence content promotion:
- Engaging the people whose contact information you have already acquired – the people who know your business.
- Driving more demand into your marketing funnel by promoting your content to the people who don’t know you yet – the lead prospects.
Email marketing is still one of the most successful and easiest channels to communicate your content to known leads. Again, start small – create a recurring newsletter item that goes directly into their inbox. Social media, search engine optimization, and paid media campaigns are great ways to create demand and promote your digital assets to acquire new prospects. Start with the channels that will generate quick results that help prove the value prop story.
Step 4: Your content marketing strategy needs to be measureable. Brand lift metrics are important to track as part of the equation, but I’m going to focus on Direct Response. There are a few Key Performance Indicators within the marketing funnel that must be tracked to know if your strategy is working in terms of generating sales pipeline activity. Bottom line is the content you are producing should be leading to direct engagement with products and/or services.
Consider the following:
- New lead contact acquisitions
- Email open rates and click thru rates
- Total content downloads
- Frequency of content engagement
- Total Marketing Qualified Leads
- Total Sales Qualified leads
- Original referring content/source
- Content influenced sales acquired
The more these people are clicking and engaging with your content the more likely they are to respond to a product or sales discussion. And this is the ultimate goal: booking more sales using content to influence purchase decision.
Step 5: Test! Once baseline metrics identify your audience engagement at key stages in your marketing funnel, test your content message, layout, format, frequency of communication and subject matter to ensure you are always providing useful and insightful information to your audience that leads to sales discovery.
Tip: Identify the gaps within your content performance and set up a testing framework to zero in on the priorities for improvement.
Step 6: Create a content development calendar to expand digital assets that speak to prospects and leads at all stages of their purchase decision. Once you have an idea of how long it takes to turnaround delivery of content development, it is easy to map out a calendar that will help manage on-going priorities and accountability.
Tip: Start collaborating with other industry experts to broaden your reach and expand resource capabilities.
This is a long-term approach that will generate more sales activity and provide more insight into your prospects that will help with future campaign planning and will influence all marketing channels. Your sales cycle can dictate how long it will take to see bottom line sales results. What you should see in the first few months is the engagement levels start to increase and the new prospect opportunities increasing. This type of content marketing approach requires integration with lead management strategy and it will require a tight connection with your sales team to ensure the pre-sales information you collect is being captured as part of the sales discovery process.
By the way, it doesn’t take a large team to pull this off. Speaking from experience, my team consisted of 3 people including myself when we first went down this path. We now have a digital marketing resource library that consists of more than 350 digital assets that have been integrated as part of an extensive lead management strategy, which drives not only new customer acquisitions, but also influences client upsell and referral growth.
Consider content marketing to be not just a trend, but a core component of digital strategy that can grow your business.