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Content marketing should be the cornerstone for your B2B marketing strategy

As reported by B2B Marketing on Wednesday, the B2B sector has witnessed an increase of 25% in the uptake of content marketing, and this is set to grow a further 10% in 2012. B2B companies appear to be keenly embracing content marketing. One explanation given for this is its suitability for conveying the often complex messages that B2B requires. We would agree with that and add something that we have gleaned from experience: that when content marketing is paired with social media the potential for relationship building is surely another reason for its success.

It's not just the overlap with social media that we have noticed; it also has a bearing on SEO, on communications, on online PR, and on channel marketing to name a few. Given its relevance in all our key areas, we believe that content marketing should form the basis of all marketing activities.  Here we explain how content marketing principles can enhance each of these areas of marketing, and why it should be a cornerstone of your company’s marketing plan.

1.   Content marketing and social media: don’t even think about launching a social media strategy before you have a content marketing plan

Without content you have nothing to share or talk about on social media. Despite appearances, the best social media engagement is not spontaneous; it is planned months in advance, with content schedules firmly in place to ensure there is always something to broadcast and generate conversations. Too often, companies launch into social media with nothing more than bags of enthusiasm, only for that eagerness to wane after a few weeks with sporadic updates indicating a lack of planning. To create a clear content marketing plan you must think about your business audience; what are their pain points; what content you could create to make a difference to them (and what content you already have that you can utilise) - then, and only then, you should choose which social media sites or utilities are most suitable for delivering the content to your audience. We blogged recently about how to create a social media strategy by putting a content strategy in place first, have a look!

2.   Content marketing and communications: hold your audience’s attention via a glossy digital magazine which makes the most of your content

By creating a regular digital magazine that speaks to your target audience about the issues that affect them, you are giving them something useful for free. When they read the article they are made aware of your expertise and your brand, and are therefore more likely to buy from you. It is more difficult than ever before to make your content stand out and to get through to your target audience but by investing time and effort into creating a great piece of content that is presented well as well as offering something useful, you are half way to capturing their attention. There are many tools that allow you to create an online magazine. Bright Digital’s VMO digital magazine platform enables a glossy magazine to be created, mixing video, text and images, plus it features in-built social media sharing facilities. 

3.   Content marketing and online PR: build relationships via social media with influencers and submit releases in more than one format

There are several ways to bring in content marketing principles when working on your online PR to enhance effectiveness. Social media is very good for building relationships, so utilise it to make connections with individuals who will help get your content seen by the target audience. Once you have made a connection with an individual or publisher on social media, remember to keep contact with them as these are the relationships that will help your PR efforts. In some ways, content marketing is replacing online PR, insomuch as the press release has been somewhat usurped by the blog that is shared in a more informal way, yet there is still room for traditional PR when you want to send out press releases to the big publishers. The crossover between content marketing and online PR is really about utilising the more open channels that social media has enabled to get new and more impactful contacts which you can use for online PR and content marketing. You should also view your content marketing avenues (social media channels, magazine articles etc) as additions to your press release submissions, so when a piece of content is created, consider all the forms it might take to get maximum value from it.

4.   Content marketing and SEO: create blog content to cover relevant search phrases

Creating blogs is a type of content marketing (as well as it being a form of social media engagement) and is a good example of this type of promotion in its most simple and effective form. When you write a blog you are creating a piece of content; when you Tweet or include the blog in an RSS feed you are sending it out there into the world so that your target audience sees it, and becomes aware of your business. Blogs are a wonderful way of communicating your expertise as well as conveying a sense of your brand to your target audience. But blogs also offer an opportunity to generate more traffic to your website. By creating lots of relevant, quality content on the subject area that you specialise in, you are showing Google that you are a resource on that subject. The more content you add, the more Google values you as a resource on the subject. You need to ensure you consider the type of key phrases that people will type in to look for information on the subject, and then make sure that the titles of the blogs reflects these key phrases. Also enter the blog title into the meta title tag and meta description field. Ensure that all your subheaders include variants on the key phrase, and that it features in the article body copy itself, but make sure you don’t stuff your key phrase into your blog article so that it reads badly. Include links to other pages internally to help Google index your website easily. Finally, don’t worry about asking sites to link to you as was once the trend; if your content is great that will happen naturally. Once your blog is optimised and you have created a bank of blogs that are all about your subject, your website is much more likely to appear in the Google results prominently, i.e. on the first page.

5.   Content marketing and channel marketing: leveraging content for your network to share

Some of our technology clients operate via a channel of resellers, for them it’s important to support the resellers in their marketing efforts. One way for vendors to provide support and encourage promotion of products is to supply content that the resellers can share amongst end customers. By creating blogs, white papers, videos, webinars, podcasts and other content for the resellers to share you are half way there. By supplying a promotional plan alongside the content, with email and social media templates to edit as they wish, you are giving them everything they need to market your content successfully. Bright Digital offer a product called Skipstone which is an asset management system that enables content to be uploaded by the vendor, then edited and shared by resellers amongst the end customers. Get in touch if you want to find out more about Skipstone.

Summary:

-      Create a content marketing plan (think about what your customers’ paint points are, and what content you can create to help them in these areas);

-      Consider a quarterly magazine to tell your audience what you are up to and show off your expertise, and choose a platform that allows easy sharing;

-      Use Twitter to build PR contacts, and recreate press releases in other formats like blogs etc to maximise ROI and coverage;

-      Research key phrases that people are searching for on Google that relate to yoru business and think of helpful blogs that you could write which target these key phrases;

-      Provide content for your channel to share with end customers as well as promotional plans to support the content marketing activities.

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