It’s not enough to just have a content strategy and hope it pays off. You need to identify clear goals that content marketing can help you achieve. Then you can research and create content specifically catered to that purpose.
Here are the most common content marketing goals for B2B content marketers over the next 12 months:
1. Organizational Goals
What you choose will depend on your unique business needs. If you’re a brand new start up, you probably want to get your name out there with some brand awareness. If you have a lot of site traffic but not a lot of conversions, then lead nurturing may be most important.
Once you’ve identified your goals, you need to figure out how you’re going to measure your success at achieving them. This is called a key performance indicator (KPI).
You should have several metrics per goal, such as:
- Brand awareness: Unique page visits, inbound links, shares;
- Engagement: Time on page, shares, comments and interactions;
- Lead nurturing: Content downloads, e-mail click-through rate;
- Sales: Cost per lead (CPL), total revenue.
You can usually measure these with tools like Google Analytics, social media automation platforms, or a marketing automation tool. If you already use one of these, I recommend seeing what metrics they can already measure to help you identify your KPIs.
2. Customer and Strategy Research
Content marketers today use a wide variety of techniques to learn about their audiences:
Your customer and strategy research will help you brainstorm content and optimize it to meet your goals.
At a minimum, you should focus on:
Building buyer personas
A buyer persona is a profile of your target audience or audiences. You need to discover the kind of people that have a problem that your product or service can solve. Social listening and current customer feedback can help with this.
Here’s a great resource from Sujan Patel that can point you in the right direction: 150 Buyer Persona Questions You Must Ask.
Once you’ve created personas for your target audience, they can help you brainstorm content.
Answer the Public is a great content brainstorming tool. Just type in a base keyword related to your niche:
And it will return a list of common questions people ask related to it:
Identifying potential influencers
Who can help you promote your content when it does get published? You’ll need to nurture these influencers in advance.
Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find popular social media personalities that regularly share content related to your niche. Get to know these influencers so you can ask them to share your content in the future.
3. Content Planning and Management
Once you have a long list of content ideas from your research, it’s time to start planning. Put together a schedule of how much content and what types you’ll create.
Also, who will be in charge of managing it all? Here is how B2B marketers manage their content marketing today:
If you have a team, make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. If you’re a team of one, map out how you will manage all the content.
4. Quality Content
Next comes the most important part: creating quality content.
Content Marketing Institute asked B2B marketers what contributed to their strategy success, and 85 percent said higher quality content.
Quality means comprehensive, well-researched, easy-to-read writing with helpful visual assets.
Here are some common quality content pitfalls thanks to an Express Writers infographic:
You should have a nice variety of in-depth content pieces and regular blog posts.
I also recommend checking out Google’s Search Quality Guidelines to see how they define “quality content.” This can help your SEO (discussed next).
5. SEO Optimization
Hopefully you targeted a keyword in the writing process, but that’s not the end of your SEO efforts.
Optimize all of your on-page elements by including your keyword in your:
- Meta description
- Body text
- Alt tags
- Anchor text
Use a plugin like SEO by Yoast to make sure you’ve covered all your bases:
You should also create an SEO-friendly site structure that makes it easy for users to navigate and find things on your site.
Create a Basecamp
Create a page on your site that helps people navigate to other useful content around your site. You can call it a “Start Here” page, like mine:
Spin Your Web
Then, think of your content like a spider’s web, with your basecamp in the center. Create relevant connections to your different content by linking them back to each other, and prioritize your link building efforts around these in-depth content pieces.
It looks a little something like this:
Read more about this SEO content strategy here.
6. Conversion Optimization
Include elements on your site that encourage people to subscribe to your blog or sign up for your email list. Use popups and a sidebar call-to-actions to make it easy.
You should also create targeted landing pages as part of your conversion optimization efforts. Attract people to these pages and help them convert with a great lead magnet.
A lead magnet is just another type of content that offers value, such as a free report, eBook, checklist, or tool. The only difference is it comes at a price: your prospect’s email address.
Here’s an example of a lead magnet I promote for Blogger Sidekick:
This post will help you get some ideas: 40 Lead Magnet Ideas to Rapidly Grow Your E-mail List.
Once you gather some e-mails with your lead magnets, you can communicate to these people in the future via newsletters, broadcasts and e-mail automation.
7. A Promotion Strategy
Content is only as good as the promotion strategy that goes with it. Develop and standardize your strategy to get the most out of every post:
Where to promote?
What social platforms does your audience frequent? (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.). I suggest taking a look at each platform’s demographics to help decide:
Will you promote to online content communities like Reddit or Stumbleupon? What about Q&A sites?
This Daily Social Media Plan from Bluewire Media will help you make some smart decisions about sharing your content on every social network.
How will you reach out to potential influencers for each post? For example, you can send them an email asking them to share, or @mention them on Twitter.
Once you’ve got all the reach you can out of your content, how will you reinvent and remarket it?
Old blog posts often make great slide decks, special guides, infographics, or video slideshows. Or you can republish it on another platform like LinkedIn or Medium
8. Funnels & Lead Nurturing
Align your content marketing strategy with your customer journey, then you’ll maximize the benefit for your bottom line. According to Campaign Monitor, for every $1 content marketers spend on email marketing, they get $38 in ROI.
Doing this can be tricky, because your content isn’t sales material. It’s about answering questions, attracting interest to a topic related to your product, and addressing common pain points.
Hopefully, your prospects love your content. But how do you get them to move down the sales funnel and convert?
E-mail marketing will help you nurture your leads even further by providing them with targeted content fit for their place in the sales funnel. Use an email automation tool to set up trigger campaigns based on audience behavior.
Next comes your tripwire offer. This is a special deal or discount that prospects can’t resist, such as a low-priced trial, or limited offer package. Choose the right tripwire offer to drive your prospects to convert.
9. Options to Scale
Once you’ve standardized all the other elements of your content strategy, there’s nothing left to do but scale. There are two main ways you can do this:
Hire some help
Year in and year out, content marketers plan to create more content:
So if you want to stay on top of your game and scale, you’re going to need help. You can start by hiring some freelancers or an agency to fill in the gaps of what you can’t keep up with yourself. Or if the budget’s available, you can hire an internal team to help with your content marketing.
The next option to scale is with paid ads. These will broaden your reach and attract more traffic to your site.
First, you can promote your posts on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others all have paid options to help your content get reach. There’s also native advertising options with a tools like Outbrain.
Then you can remarket to your previous site visitors using display ads. The Google Display Network and Facebook ads support this feature.
Content marketing is a non-traditional option that can drive a lot of revenue if you do it right. Remember these nine elements to build a strategy where the value of your content has a major impact on your bottom line.