How to Put Together a Content Marketing Strategy
Learn how to put together a winning content marketing strategy with our expert tips and insights. Boost your ROI and engage your audience effectively.
Published: 03 Jul 2015
5 minutes read
Have you been creating and publishing content without a defined content marketing strategy? Struggling to achieve results? You aren’t alone – in fact, 56% of B2B marketers don’t have a documented strategy, says KissMetrics. While yes, it is time consuming to create a B2B content marketing strategy, the saying ‘you can’t run, before you can walk’ rings true in the world of digital marketing.
Unsure why you need one? Try to answer these questions:
- Who are your target personas and how does your content solve their problems?
- How many leads do you generate each month from content marketing?
- What content types suits the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey?
- What lead nurturing tactics do you have in place?
- What is your unique selling point?
If you’re struggling to answer the above questions, chances are, your current content marketing efforts aren’t delivering the results you need. Which is precisely why you need a content marketing strategy. When you have a clear strategy in place, your marketing efforts will be more disciplined, targeted, consistent and relevant to your intended audience. Keep on reading and learn how to put a strategy together that brings in a heap of qualified leads.
Understanding your audience
To create a truly successful B2B content marketing strategy, you need to identify the ‘who’ before the ‘what’; after all, you can’t create compelling content if you don’t know who you are aiming to reach! When researching your audience, it’s best practice to create buyer personas. A ‘persona’ in layman's terms is a semi-fictional representation of a typical customer or client for your organisation. A persona will encompass their goals, needs, desires and problems.
When bringing together your personas, think about your typical customers in relation to these questions and queries:
- Where do they work?
- Their level of seniority
- Their challenges in the workplace
- Their goals and aspirations
- Their age, hobbies, interests
Through research, customer surveys and feedback from your sales team, patterns among your audience will begin to emerge. While your business could have two personas or even 20, as recommended by HubSpot, businesses who are starting out should aim to keep this figure small, to keep content focused and targeted. On this note, remember that personas aren’t merely a box-ticking exercise – they should be at the foundation of every marketing activity you perform.
Understand your goals and unique selling point
In the digital age, your prospects have instant access to thousands of companies who offer seemingly identical products or services to your company. Therefore, you need to offer something which is unique to your business and truly benefits the end user – i.e. your unique selling point. This could be anything from your exceptional customer service, experience with innovative software and so on. Your unique selling point needs to be strongly linked to your audience pain-points. For example, at Axon Garside, our prospects' main pain is their frustration with outbound marketing tactics, which fail to bring in quality leads. To solve our audience’s pains, we offer an inbound marketing strategy approach to marketing – creating qualified and nurtured leads for our clients that are 61% cheaper than leads sourced through outbound tactics.
Aligning keywords with topics
Constantly coming up with compelling and relevant content ideas is hard work, even for the most seasoned content marketer. Forward planning is therefore key. Creating a content plan which covers a month, or even a year of content, ensures you are never stuck with writer’s block when deadlines are looming.
A simple approach to generating ideas is to go to back to basics. What sort of questions do your customers commonly ask? What problems do they face in their job role? How can your service solve these problems? With this mentality, creating focal points for your content becomes a lot more straightforward. For example, our audience commonly struggle with initiating and implementing a content marketing strategy. Therefore, we created a number of blogs about this topic (including this one), helping our audience create and optimise a B2B content marketing strategy, as well as highlighting common pitfalls to avoid.
Once you have a sufficient number of topic points, your next point of call is to think about the types of queries and solutions your audience will be searching for and how to use these to form keywords. Keywords help search engines and prospects to find your content and ensures that your content is visible in relevant search results.
When selecting your keywords, always use a long-tail keyword, which is a niche, more specific version of a short-tail. However, it is important to approach long-tail keywords from a human angle, thinking about the types of language your prospects are likely to use, while keeping the keyword relevant to the topic of the blog. For example, a prospect for us may be experiencing a problem with marketing and so may search ‘how to create a content marketing strategy’. Therefore, in this example, we would use the long-tail ‘content marketing strategy’, to attempt to rank in this prospect’s search result.
While being relevant to prospects’ problems and queries, long-tail are also less competitive from a search engine aspect, making it easier for you to rank. For example, in this blog post, the short-tail keyword would be ‘content marketing’, however this receives 4,400 monthly searches, making it very difficult to rank for. Content marketing strategy however, has 320 monthly searches, making a keyword ranking much more achievable.
Map content to stages in the buyer’s journey
Once you have the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ in place, your next point of call is to think about the ‘how’. From blogs and white papers, to guides and e-books, the content formats at your disposal are numerous.
However, content types need to be relevant to your personas and specifically, their stage in the buyer’s journey. Before a prospect becomes a customer, they will go through the following stages: awareness, consideration and decision. Each one of these stages requires specific content to ensure progression down the sales funnel.
Awareness stage – prospects know they have a problem, but haven’t identified the specifics. Use social media and educational blog posts to help prospects identify their problem and progress to the point where they are looking for a defined solution.
Consideration stage – prospects have clearly identified their problem and are now searching for a solution. Use downloadable step by step guides and more nurturing blog content which presents a solution and effectively solves prospect pains.
Decision stage – prospects have chosen their preferred solution and are comparing service providers. As your prospects are close to buying, now is the time to offer free trials and consultations, showcasing your company’s expertise and suitability as a service provider.
Report and analyse
It is unlikely that your B2B content marketing strategy will be perfect from the word go. An effective strategy requires time to refine and optimise, making a competent reporting and analysing system critical to success.
Using a content marketing management system such as HubSpot enables your business to report against key metrics like website visits, conversions and sources. With this information, weak links in your content strategy will come to light, enabling you to tweak and change ineffective marketing elements. By having a complete insight into every aspect of your marketing activity, you can operate closed loop marketing. Closed loop means you are able to assign leads won to specific marketing activity, helping to prove the ROI and worth of digital marketing to sales teams and senior colleagues.
At the foundation of every successful content marketing strategy, is a thorough understanding of your buyer personas. To help you get started, we've created a step-by-step guide, which you can access by clicking the banner below.