B2B marketers are under constant pressure to create a steady stream of valuable and relevant content. The widely touted benefits are attractive to anyone who’s eager to grow their business. But seeing the ROI from content marketing takes time and consistency, and anyone hoping to double their revenue overnight will be disappointed.
This post aims to give some insight into the critical components for successful content marketing. It is by no means an exhaustive guide, rather more of a starting point for B2B marketers. This is based on both my own personal experiences and learnings. I’ve included some awesome resources from some of the best content creators and authorities.
Determine your overall goals
One of the first steps in the content creation process is to decide what your goal is for your content – this is also often referred to as your ‘Editorial Mission’.
It can be as high level as you want.
One of the first steps in the content creation process is to decide what your goal is for your content. Click To Tweet
Define your customer
It’s important to gain an understanding of your buyer personas.
- What are some key characteristics of your target audience?
- Who are the key decision makers?
Identify your strengths
What sets your company and its offerings apart from competitors?
Knowing your strengths can help you identify key messages around which to base content, and helps with consistency.
Remember, your pricing does not have to necessarily be the lowest to differentiate yourself. Think about the service or experience you provide customers.
Before you dive into content creation, it’s important to have an understanding of the formats available. Some content will be better suited to your content strategy than others.
These are some of the most common types of content:
The best blogs answer common questions its audience has. If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target market, it’ll help establish you as an authority.
Blog posts can also fuel your social media marketing, nurture campaigns, and help with SEO. Of course, the effectiveness of your content has a direct correlation to its quality. If you’re pumping out shite, expect shite results.
One of the best things about blogging is that it’s cheap (it’s mainly just an investment of your time), and you can publish new stuff quickly and easily.If you're consistently creating content that's helpful for your target market, it'll help establish you as an authority. Click To Tweet
A blogging platform is simple to set up. I’m partial to the self-hosted WordPress option (where a third-party service does the hosting). I personally use GoDaddy, which costs just a few bucks a month for sites like this one. You can scale up as needed.
Visual content can be photos, videos, infographics, slide decks and GIFs, among other things. Visual content is popular because it’s easy for people to consume and doesn’t a huge time commitment. It’s a powerful way to tell stories if done well, and can notch up a decent amount of shares on social channels.
Podcasts have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. A podcast is kinda like your own radio station. People can subscribe and listen to episodes wherever they are, whenever they please, on just about any device. Like visual content, podcasts are easy to consume, especially if you’re on the move. You can listen to them while driving, on your commute, at your desk or anywhere else.
While podcasts are great, it’s worth noting that they require an ongoing commitment. Most professionals produce one new episode each week, running anywhere from 15-60 minutes. This might sound easy, but it’s a lot of time to fill if you want to perpetually deliver quality content to your listeners.
Check out Pat Flynn’s fantastic step-by-step guide on starting a podcast.
Webinars provide an interactive way to reach customers and prospects, share insights, and potentially grow your business. They typically work well for specific formats, including:
- Detailed examinations of niche topics
- Panel discussions of timely, news-based issues in your industry
- Thorough, example-driven how-to tutorials
- Adaptations of presentations from conference speaking engagements
Interviews with industry thought leaders
The greatest challenge in content marketing is making sure that the right person receives the right content at the right time.
Understanding your audience means you can craft the content they crave, and share it in the places and spaces where they are likely to see it.
This Buyer Personas template from Hubspot is a great resource to help you get to know your target audience.Understanding your audience means you can craft the content they crave, and share it in the places and spaces where they are likely to see it. Click To Tweet
To plan, organise and track your content marketing, you want to have a structured approach.
Editorial calendars vary, and content creators have different preferences based on what works best for them. Some prefer the spreadsheet format, but if you’re more of a visual person (like me), you may opt for a tool like Trello.
Trello is intuitive and easy to use. It’s free tier is more than sufficient for most, especially if you’re in the early stages of your content marketing. If you’re a bit further along, you can unlock more features and functions with the paid plans.
A few things to consider when filling out your editorial calendar:
Even if your themes are broad, they will still help keep you focused and your content on track. Themes are also a great way to keep track of how much content you have produced in specific areas.
Assign due dates
Putting dates on things keeps you accountable for delivering them. Be realistic and factor in a bit of a buffer for those unforeseen circumstances.
People need to know what they have to deliver and by when. Make sure people know what they are responsible for.
Your blood, sweat and tears from hours, days and weeks of creating stellar content doesn’t have to fizzle out. You can reap the rewards over and over again by repurposing content in different formats. Everyone does it, and it’s not cheating or being lazy.
A couple of essentials
Include a CTA
Always include a strong call to action (CTA). This is basically the instruction for what you want your audience to do next.
Here are some examples:
- Subscribe now
- Download your guide to XYZ
- Register for ABC
- Share this on XXX
- Visit (insert URL)
Craft a compelling headline
According to Copyblogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. Click To Tweet
Measure, measure, measure
Dive right into the gold mine of data provided (for free) from Google Analytics. These insights will help you paint a picture of your audience, as well as which bits of content are getting results.
Go beyond the vanity metrics like number of users and page views. Explore things like time on page, traffic sources, bounce rate, and exit pages.
Use data to drive your decisions wherever you can. How do you think Google, Facebook and Amazon are so successful?
Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.