17 May 2017

5 Steps to Getting Started with a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

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The thought of implementing a fully-fledged B2B content marketing strategy can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned marketing professional. It’s therefore unsurprising that only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

Getting started can often be the hardest step in the process.

“How do I begin?”

“What do I create content about?” 

“Who is my target audience?”

“How frequently should I post content?”

“Which channels should I use?”

“How can I measure ROI?”

You may be thinking a content marketing strategy is time-consuming and it may not even work, so why bother? However, once a secure strategy is in place, the difference to your ROI and overall success can be substantial.

According to research conducted by Google, 71% of B2B customers begin their research online with a generic search. Therefore, if you have an effective content strategy in place, you have a much higher chance of getting your brand in front of the people you want to sell to before your competitors; and if you provide them with in-depth and quality content, this will then add value to everything else that your company does.

Curata statistics show that 74.2% of the companies using content marketing say that it has significantly increased their lead quality and quantity. So, let’s not waste more time and let’s embark upon the 5 steps that will help you create a successful B2B content marketing strategy – bringing in those all-important leads! 

STEP 1. Create Personas

Before you do anything, you need to form a clear idea of who you are writing your content for. After all, if you miss the mark with your target audience, you can pretty much wave goodbye to the possibility of lead generation.

A ‘persona’ in layman’s terms is a fictional character which represents a typical prospect or client for your organisation. A persona will encompass their goals, needs, desires and problems, based on actual research and by analysing your existing audience’s typical roles, behavioural traits and goals.

Having your content written with a specific persona in mind will increase the quality of visitors and leads you get, ensuring that the people who end up reading your blogs are actually the people you and your sales team want to be talking to.

Analysing data collection forms, interviewing current customers, organising a survey and asking your sales team for feedback will all help you gain a greater insight into who your target personas are and what information they’re actually interested in.

Keep in mind though – personas take a while to mould and will continually evolve as your business adapts and buyer habits change, which means that a constant conversation with your sales team is essential.

STEP 2. Adapt your Language

Depending on the type of persona you are crafting content for, the language and focus of the piece will be entirely different.
Take an ERP company (business management software) for example. As a business, your main goal is to sell in the idea of business management software to other businesses as a solution for poor organisation and productivity. Depending on which department of the company you’re aiming your content at, personas and the language they use will vary.

If you’re targeting members of the finance team, the use of financial and technical language with a firm focus on cost-effectiveness and data will strongly resonate.

On the other-hand, if your persona works within the marketing department, writing about how your business management software can help align sales and marketing teams would be more likely to have an impact on them.

Think about the type of language the persona you’re writing your content for would and wouldn’t use, as well as their level of understanding and the problems they will be looking to resolve. Including time for keyword research during content creation is essential not only to help you improve your SEO rankings, but also for lead generation purposes. Keyword research will give you an insight into the exact words that your prospects are using to find the products you sell.

Free guide: How to use content marketing to become a thought leader

 

 

STEP 3. Identify Pain Points and Unique Selling Propositions

Now that you speak the same language as your target audience, it’s time to think about what they are looking to get out of your company and the web.

Pain points are the problems commonly faced by your personas, which they use the web to find solutions for. They could also be questions about the solution itself. It’s your mission to use your content to solve these pain points, while at the same time presenting your company’s unique selling proposition. This could be a specialism you offer, your exceptional customer service, or even a subject viewpoint which goes against common opinion.

Integrating your USP to your persona’s pain point is the key to creating exceptional content. While answering your persona’s problem, you will be also promoting your company’s knowledge – positioning yourself as an industry thought leader, which will come in handy when your prospects are ready to buy.

It’s essential that the focus of your content is educational, not promotional. If your content is focused solely on your company and services, rather than helping and educating your audience, consider taking a step back and refocussing your piece of content.

STEP 4. Generating Ideas

For many marketers, coming up with ideas for content can be challenging, but it really doesn’t have to be. Take your personas’ pain points and problems and turn them into content pieces. One pain can easily help you produce several pieces of content.

For example, imagine you work for an engineering services company. A potential client or persona’s main pain could be “I’m looking for ways to be more compliant”.

How could you help this persona with their problem?

  • A ‘Step Guide’ on how to ensure compliance
  • An infographic highlighting the most important regulations they need to know about
  • A blog detailing the “5 signs you’re not compliant”

 STEP 5. Content Types and the Buying Cycle

Every company’s audience is unique. Therefore, it’s important to assess which types of content will resonate with your specific audience.

Are your personas super busy senior-level professionals juggling multiple responsibilities? If so, they are unlikely to read through heaps upon heaps of text. A short list-based blog or infographic is going to appeal to their hectic lifestyle more.

Perhaps you’re appealing to more junior staff? In-depth ‘how to guides’ and tutorials will help educate and fill in any knowledge gaps.

When creating content also have the buyer’s journey – the process your prospects take leading up to a purchase – in mind.

Imagine a first-time visitor coming to your blog from a social media post. Are they likely to give your company their contact details straight away? Probably not.

Likewise, prospects early on in the buyer’s journey aren’t likely to respond well to blatant promotional content, as they are unlikely to have a defined solution in their mind to their pain point. Therefore, your services aren’t going to be relevant to them at this stage.

This is where educational content comes into play, helping potential leads identify their problems and making you their first choice once they reach the decision stage in their buyer’s journey.

Points to Consider

  • A successful B2B content marketing strategy can only work if you integrate all marketing components – utilise your website, blogs, landing pages, SEO and social media

  • To keep your audience engaged and search rankings high, post content regularly and consistently

  • Don’t overcomplicate your content strategy – keep focus solely on your personas and solving their problems

  • Get everyone involved: making everyone in your company aware of content marketing campaigns currently underway opens up the opportunity for collaboration and input from other team members

  • Report and analyse: a successful strategy doesn’t happen overnight. By continually analysing your content, you can competently assess which types of content work and which pieces don’t, helping you adjust your strategy for the future

  • Keep quality high – it’s easy to get into a creative rut and publish sub-standard work. If it takes a little longer to improve content then invest in this time. It’s better to take your time to publish a superb piece of work than rush out something which could damage your company’s reputation

  • Keep your content focused. The more targeted and specific the content is, the more relevant leads you’ll drive to your blog, website, etc. and covert.

Content needs to be authentic and interesting in order to engage leads. To help stamp out the epidemic of boring B2B content, we’ve created a guide, bursting with helpful tips for injecting some much-needed excitement into your content marketing strategy. 

 

How to use content marketing to become a thought leader

 

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Topics: Content Marketing

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