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According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 90% of organizations use content in their marketing efforts. If you still need a content strategy for your B2B company, it's crucial to start developing one.
A content marketing strategy is researching, creating, publishing, and promoting valuable information to an audience. Neil Patel defines it as a blueprint or roadmap that gets you from point A to point B, and when you don't have it, you're more likely to lose sight of your business goals.
Furthermore, B2B content marketing, as an inbound marketing (or attraction marketing) strategy, is critical to educating and informing audiences in the different search stages. In fact, according to Google data, 89% of B2B buyers collect information about potential purchases over the Internet.
This, coupled with other favorable statistics such as that content marketing generates three times more clients than traditional marketing and costs 62% less, according to an Ahrefs publication, highlights the importance of creating a quality content strategy that attracts potential clients and converts them.
However, only 43% of marketers have a documented content strategy, according to CMI's 2021 Content Management & Strategy Survey report.
Planning and documenting these guidelines is key, as research shows they often indicate content marketing success.
Although most businesses understand the value of content, not all implement successful content marketing strategies. If you want your brand to attract the right audience, improve conversions, stand out from the competition, and position yourself as a leader in your industry, it's essential to follow these steps.
The first thing to ask yourself is why you plan to create content. In this sense, it is essential to align the results you expect to obtain from content marketing with the objectives of the overall marketing plan.
In turn, the results expected to be obtained by the different marketing team members and other departments, such as sales, if applicable, must be aligned.
Due to this need for alignment, carrying out a dynamic socialization of objectives is advisable. To do this, you can do an exercise with your team, in which —individually— each participant writes down their content marketing objectives and then socializes them with the other team members. The goals of each participant can be captured in a template such as the one presented below:
Once the objectives have been defined, the team can discuss them and choose the ones they consider most relevant.
This definition of objectives can also help determine critical aspects of the content marketing strategy, such as the type of content to be produced, the formats to be used, and the frequency of publication, among other aspects.
You need to identify the company's target audience to achieve the expected results with a content strategy.
There are two key steps to identifying your audience. The first is to create a B2B buyer persona, and to do so, you must ask yourself questions such as:
The second step is to define precisely who your audience is. That is, which companies your business targets, which people in high-responsibility jobs (positions) you want to attract, and which markets. You must also define whether there are multiple audiences you want to captivate (from different industries, for example) or just one.
However, it may be the case that you still need to be clear on what your audiences are. Whatever your case, you should know that there are methods to find and build those audiences. One of them is through intent data.
Intent data is a data set that shows which potential customers or accounts are actively researching on third-party sites. If treated correctly, it is information that can be used to predict buying interests. That is, knowing which companies may be interested in your products or services.
Once the companies that can qualify as potential clients (prospects) have been identified, one of the most important points is to recognize which job profiles are looking for your solution on the Internet. It is essential to establish who the decision-makers are in the companies you want to reach since it will be these decision-makers who will be captivated by your content.
If you consider these aspects, you will be able to identify your audience correctly. Thus, once you have created the ideal customer profile, you will be better at creating content that meets their specific demands.
You must also analyze the customer journey to create valuable content for your audience. In this way, it is possible to recognize the moments of interaction with the customer and the information points they need at each interaction.
The idea is to work with a customer journey map to detail the customer journey. This tool not only helps to visualize the fundamental interactions that the customer has with the company, but also their emotional state, motivations, and questions for each touchpoint, depending on the stage they are in (motivation, discovery, consideration, purchase, or loyalty).
To create this customer journey map, you must:
Developing a customer journey map is crucial for any digital marketing strategy. According to the CX Management Survey conducted by Gartner, 81% of brands that implement a customer journey map exceed customer expectations. In comparison, only 57% of companies that do not use it can do so.
At Castleberry Media, for example, we rely on our clients' customer journey map to understand the customer journey. Or, we simplify the customer journey map to identify relevant insights in a template like the one below:
This is one of the determining steps in building content marketing for your B2B company, as it is where the overall strategy is defined. At this stage, we recommend the following:
These can be competitors or other types of institutions working in your industry or addressing the same target audience (they could even be the media). The most important thing is to choose benchmarks that give you insights into how other relevant players in the industry are approaching your content marketing or addressing your audience.
From these references, you can analyze specific elements such as:
- Topics that they address in their value-added content.
- Formats they use (articles, videos, infographics, webinars, images, ebooks).
- Channels in which they share their value-added content (blogs, newsletters, social networks, and media, among others).
- Days on which they publish.
- Content archetype (keywords, tone, sentiment, readability level).
After identifying the audience (step 2), it is essential to analyze it. This involves determining what type of content they consume and how regularly, their digital activity, and what media they consult. Knowing what your audience reads, questions, shares, and comments will allow you to better understand their online consumption to offer them the content they want, search for, and are interested in.
The previous two points are part of the research phase of the content strategy. Once this information is collected, it is time to build the strategy. To do this, we recommend focusing on three aspects:
These are the guidelines that indicate which topics are going to be addressed in the content. The topics and subtopics the brand should focus on to create content of interest to the audience. Likewise, the recommended formats for each vertical are determined. For example, infographics, videos, carousels for social networks, blog articles, and podcasts. It all depends on where the brand's audience is located and their consumer preferences.
These action points are established based on the benchmark´s analysis. They include:
This part defines how content marketing will be managed in the short, medium, and long term. To do this, the process is divided into phases, which are associated with the following:
This analysis involves examining the company's audience regularly. That is, periodically assessing how your potential customers behave online and what interests them.
It is possible to do this digital research with tools such as BuzzSumo, Spark Toro, or LinkedIn. With these resources, you can, among other things, find out what is the most consumed and shared content on the Internet and what topics interest your audience.
It is also possible to know this information with technologies such as True Content, our internal platform that creates custom audiences for B2B brands. In this way, you can find out what your target audience is reading, what content they are most interested in, what they share, and what they are talking about online.
This way, you can create valuable content tailored to the audience's interests.
All previous research on the audience and their behavior must be considered at this stage. Once the content consumption trends are identified, i.e., the topics that most engage the audience of interest, it is recommended:
According to HubSpot, you can use tools to generate content ideas, such as BuzzSumo or Feedly.
At this point in the process, you already have all the guidelines for producing content. For the contents to be of quality, we recommend taking the following four pillars as a basis:
1. Expert advice
It is important to be guided by specialists. This ensures that the piece contains correct, consistent, relevant information for your audience.
2. Brand Alignment
You must align the content's structure with your brand's objectives and essence. For this, it is best to rely on the knowledge of those who lead the company's different processes. One way to do this is through interviews.
3. Key searches (SEO)
The content must solve the user's search intent. To do so, it is necessary to do proper keyword research, identify questions of interest to the audience and create SEO-friendly headings to segment the content well. Likewise, link building (adding backlinks) should be promoted, among other aspects relevant to SEO.
4. Journalists in your industry or similar
To ensure that the content is well-developed, it is ideal to have journalists specialized in your industry or similar in your team. This way, you can ensure proper research and structuring of the content.
In addition to focusing on these pillars, your company should follow other guidelines for the production, such as:
To succeed in your content marketing strategy, you must publish consistently. Therefore, you need a publishing schedule. With this, you can plan, produce, publish, and promote the content you create in an organized way.
To create this schedule, we recommend the following:
The best way to create an editorial calendar is to select a tool to organize it. There are plenty of resources for this; some of the most popular free options include Trello, Excel, and Google Docs.
If you want tools with more functionality, some paid ones, such as Asana, Airtable, Wrike, or Monday, are worth considering. The first two, and HubSpot, offer free content calendar templates to get you started.
An important point to consider is publishing frequency, as knowing it is key to scheduling content correctly. There is no specific formula for the frequency, as this depends on your industry and the type of strategy created. However, it is important to know what research reveals in this regard.
According to a HubSpot analysis, companies with four or more weekly blog posts received 3.5 times more traffic than companies that posted less than once a week. That said, the content must be high quality to get these results. Therefore, it is best to strike a good balance between quality and quantity.
The next step is to develop a clear and organized list of content to publish. Create a sheet in the chosen tool and add headings such as title, project status, content type, distribution channel, publication date, and assigned writer.
The idea is to schedule the contents in advance to ensure you have enough time for their production. Therefore, it is best to schedule content for the next four to six weeks, depending on the established frequency.
Be sure to add each necessary step to be completed before it is ready for publication. These include researching, writing, revising, and editing the piece. You can, for example, create a set deadline for writing the outline or drafting the content and set two days for review and editing. Once the timelines are set, a publication date can be set.
Content marketing results depend mainly on the previous steps. But how can you know if your strategy is working? The best way to find out is by tracking the results. According to the Content Marketing Institute, this is achieved through the analysis of specific indicators, a job that should ideally be done once a month.
These can be segmented by groups. Among the most important metrics for content marketing, the following stand out:
Participation in social networks
Various web analytics tools can be used to perform these measurements, such as Google Analytics, Moz, Semrush, CrazyEgg, and Hootsuite. Remember that knowing this information is key to improving the decision-making of the sales and marketing team.
However, it would be best if you kept in mind that content marketing is a strategy that works in the medium and long term. This means that its results take time. Its great advantage is that it can continue to deliver results for a long time. Content works like a snowball, so a content piece could still drive traffic three years later.
If the content is not used correctly, it can easily get lost on the Internet without fulfilling its objectives.
In this sense, it is necessary to look for alternatives so that the pieces created continue working in favor of your brand for as long as possible. There are several ways to maximize the added value provided by the content, including:
In parallel to building your content marketing, you should work on other aspects to create a successful strategy for your brand. We advise you to focus on the following:
For 65% of B2B buyers, supplier websites are one of the most influential spaces, according to data from MarketingCharts. In this sense, it is essential that your company has a well-built content blog.
To achieve this, you must consider several design and operational aspects. Therefore, we recommend making sure that your blog has the following:
On the other hand, it is important to vary content formats to capture the attention of potential buyers. Blog articles are among the most popular because they can meet all the objectives of the content marketing strategy: inform, empower, entertain, inspire, and convert.
Videos also have the quality of fulfilling a content strategy's goals. The Backlinko website points out that more than half of B2B buyers consider them the most useful form of content. As a result, 92% of marketers list video as the most important format within their marketing strategies, according to Smartsight.
In addition to blog posts and videos, other content formats that meet content marketing objectives include:
In any case, the choice of content and format depends a lot on the brand's target audience and the stage of the customer journey they are at—millennial buyers, for example, like short-format videos, while Gen Xers prefer long-form text.
On the other hand, prospects may be more interested in social media videos, blog articles, and expert interviews if they are in the discovery stage. In the consideration stage, you can leverage email marketing to send them interesting content and create webinars. And when the buying process is more advanced, it is a good idea to use success stories to increase conversions.
73% of companies that spend between 10% and 70% of their total marketing budget on content marketing have been very successful, according to data from a Semrush survey. Thus, your company should take advantage of the opportunity to develop its strategy.
Of course, it's important to align your content strategy with your brand's master marketing plan. Remember that content marketing is not a separate or isolated effort from the rest of your marketing initiatives but must be integrated into your general plan and added to other strategies such as email marketing, SEM campaigns, and social media marketing.
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