Developing an Efficient B2B Content Marketing Strategy – 10 Steps
What successful B2C businesses know is that content marketing, when done right, gets them traffic, brand spreading, and conversions. B2B content marketing was slower to “catch on” in the B2B hemisphere, except for tech-related businesses, but it is now becoming a key part of many more business marketing campaigns. And just like with B2C businesses, if done well, it will give the same good results.
The operative phrase, here is “if done well.” Lots of businesses start out all starry-eyed and excited about content marketing. They launch a blog and start writing. When they don’t see results within a couple of months, they get discouraged, and that blog gradually fades into “content marketing heaven” with no autopsy performed. Whether your content marketing strategy is dead, on life support, or has yet to be launched, here are 10 steps that will help you get or keep the “patient” out of the hospital.
Define the Purpose
If you cannot articulate a purpose for your content marketing, then you need to stop – it will be a huge waste of time, and maybe money, if you are paying salaries to get it done. Here are some things that will help you find your purpose.
- • Figure out what content marketing “does” for a business, and what can it “do” for yours. This may take some research, and you should probably start with your competition or at least related niches. If you are marketing HR software, find out how other software marketers are using content to market.
• You need to define what you want your content marketing to achieve for your business. While you don’t have to put a specific number on anything at this point (e.g., # of new customers), think in terms of spreading your brand, getting more traffic, and interim conversions, such as click-throughs to download an e-guide or view a webinar or a sign-up for your email newsletter. All of these things allow you to start a conversation, and that’s where all sales really begin.
Define Your Audience
You are not writing content for yourself – this isn’t a “feel good” activity of you being proud of the great blog post you just published. You are writing content for current and potential customers, but first you have to identify them.
Certainly, your current customers comprise a segment of your audience, so develop a demographic, or persona of them. Here are some questions to ask:
• What size business do your current customers have?
• What is the age of the businesses that are your current customers?
• What specific needs are you meeting for your current customers?
Once you have that persona defined, look to new personas that you want to reach. If your current customer profile is a small business, 5 years or less in age, can you expand now into mid-sized businesses or small businesses that have been around longer? If so, develop that persona and identify the needs and pain points based on it.
Your current client base, plus you “new” targeted client base will drive the content you produce.
What’s the Message?
Your message is what you can do for your customers, current and future. If you cannot clearly define this, then go back to your mission statement. If you don’t have a mission statement, then you need to develop one, because it will determine your message. Let’s go back to the HR software example for a minute. What does that software do for a client?
• Handle time sheets, and process payroll based upon those time sheets?
• Screen applicants for positions and forward the most viable to a hiring manager?
• Provide templates for performance evaluations and store them as they are completed?
• Manage and schedule vacation and other leave requests?
You message is based upon the benefits that you provide to your clients. And every piece of content that you create must end with a CTA that addresses the benefits of what you offer.
You cannot begin a content marketing campaign, tire of it, slow down, and then stop – Yikes! All of that initial work for nothing. Here is how consistency of publication is developed:
• Identify all of your content marketing venues – blog, social media pages, webinars, podcasts, videos, e-guides, etc.
• Establish a publication schedule – some of these must be coordinated. If, for example, you plan to introduce a free trial at a given point, then you must schedule the publicity for it everywhere at the same time. If you publish a great post on your blog that solves a problem or answers a question for your target market, then you must make sure that the post is marketed everywhere you are and everywhere your audience is.
• Consistency also means that you publish on a regular basis. Determine a schedule for posts, for example, and do not deviate from it. Your readers expect to see something new – if they don’t find anything, they will leave, often permanently.
• Search engines will find you if you consistently publish, and that is probably the most important factor in getting new business.
If you find that you are unable to keep up a consistent schedule of content publishing, then you need to hire someone in-house or look for an outside firm to handle it. It cannot be ignored.
Don’t forget About Internal Links
If you create a piece of content that attracts traffic, you are losing a prime opportunity if you do not imbed links to other places on your site that are related and that have CTA’s that are compelling. This will also strengthen your SEO. Internal linking is easy to do and will take your reader to other content that is related to what he is now reading.
You already know this. When you read content, you are far more willing to stay with that content if there are images that break it up. And your readers will do the same. You can use stock photos, and you can cheaply get an account with Shutterstock, or use some of the free image galleries (Getty images; morguefile.com), so long as you follow the rules for giving credit. You can also use screenshots. Going back to the HR software marketing campaign, screenshots of the type of reports you produce will be really valuable to potential clients.
Use of Keywords
Don’t fall prey to the common misconceptions regarding keywords.
• Keyword stuffing will get you punished by search engines. Just don’t do it.
• If your keywords are too generic, they will be pointless.
Do your research. Find long-tail keywords that relate specifically to your product or service. For example, “Time sheet and payroll management solutions” is a long-tail keyword that will definitely improve your SERP. You can develop these types of keyword phrases for all aspects of your product or service. The more specific you can be with those long-tail phrases, the better your SEO rankings will be.
Promote Your Content Everywhere
You finish a blog post and you hit “publish.” You are far from finished, however. Now you have to publish the “teasers” to that content in as many places as possible – your LinkedIn page, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, in an email, and so on. Content marketing requires a holistic approach, and all of your marketing venues must work together to drive traffic where you want it to go.
Variety is Truly the Spice of Content Marketing
Sometimes, content marketers get into a rut. They consistently publish posts and advertise those posts all over the place. But it is just as important to think of how you can re-purpose the same content via different venues. Can you use that content to create a YouTube video? Can you create an infographic that you can publish on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter (yes, Twitter now allows images)? You never know where your potential customer may find you or what may appeal to him/her. Use it all if you want full coverage.
Tell Your Reader to Do Something
What’s the goal here? You are not spending all of this time creating great content just to pat yourself on the back. You are creating content to increase traffic, conversions and sales. So stop being timid about that.
Get those CTA buttons in your content. You don’t have to be obnoxious or “sales pitchy” about it. Offer a benefit for clicking that CTA button, whether it is to download something, register for something, or begin a free trial. Yes, you care about your potential customer and you want to answer questions and solve problems – that’s all part of establishing a relationship. But you are also in business for a reason – sales. So, establish the benefit, place the CTA button there, and tell you reader what to do.
Content marketing can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing. Or it can be a complete failure. If you follow these 10 key strategies, however, you will never have a patient that you have to nurse back to health.