Launching a Winning B2B Content Marketing Strategy
In my fractional CMO practice, I have to recommend content marketing strategies for my B2B clients. There are times when the best strategy is to pursue an aggressive content practice (including thought leadership), and times when the best approach is to focus on other areas of the business. Following are some of the questions and considerations that help guide this decision.
1. Can we be industry thought leaders?
Anyone can produce content. However, relevant, quality content is what will deliver the benefits of a content marketing strategy. Before you leap, ask yourself: Do you have the knowledge necessary to establish yourself as a leader in your industry? Do you know enough to be the expert you claim to be? Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. Plenty of content marketers started slowly. Just be knowledgeable about your subject and open to learning and adapting your content strategy as you go.
2. What do we talk about?
The first imperative to gaining readership is to write about stuff people care about. Understand that few people are going to read what you write just because they like you or feel an obligation. The trick is to align your expertise and interest with the needs and desires of your prospects. Answer questions that relate to pain points/challenges. Select topics relevant to your brand and your product or service to further support your claims and remind your audience of your on-the-ground expertise.
At the same time, you also want to find the key differentiators that will set you apart from your competitors. Is there someone in your company with a niche skillset, or does your company have an incomparable offering in the market you can use to position yourself as an expert? Embrace these qualities and apply them liberally in your content marketing.
3. Can we create enough quality content?
This can be the toughest requirement of content marketing. How do you keep broaching the same topics over and over without being repetitive, dull, or annoying? How do you avoid being another voice shouting into the void? People naturally feel angst about creating a steady stream of fresh content. As a six-time book author and blogger for the past decade, I agree that being a content machine is not easy. You may need to opt either for a more consistent flow of okay (decent) content or go for a model where you produce fewer pieces of content of higher quality.
A good example of this is the type of evergreen content I write for CustomerThink – in-depth articles of 1000-1500 words that are meant to be “evergreen.” By this I mean the content will still be valid and useful for years to come. Unlike my blog site, I write these columns only bi-monthly, which means the focus is always on quality, not quantity.
An alternative to creating your own content is to become a content curator. Content curation is the process of discovering, compiling, and propagating (sharing) content in a particular subject area. The key is to present content that is fresh, relevant, and high quality. You can either create (or curate) the content yourself or hire consultants to do this for you — but either way, don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort required.
Once you’ve answered these questions and crafted your content strategy, you’ll begin the next phase of your content marketing strategy — converting the content you produce into measurable results.
Convert Readership into Engagement
Readers are great but opt-in contacts are much, much better. These are the individuals you have a chance to turn into customers, partners, or whatever. And if you have attracted them and educated them with your content, the next step is to drive engagement: to convert readership into engagement.
Here are a few tips to drive conversion:
- Offer convenient ways for readers to subscribe to your blog.
- Develop unique and compelling offers.
- Give away some of your good stuff with no commitment but make sure to save the highest caliber content for those who opt-in.
- Be pleasantly persistent. It usually takes multiple exposures to drive engagement. It really is a numbers game so the more often you share content, the better your chance of generating conversions.
Measure Progress and Results for Continuous Improvement
There are a number of quality tools for measuring social media/content engagement. If possible, use the same tool for creating and propagating content as you do for measurement. Following are some of the Key Performance indicators (KPIs) to measure content marketing progress.
- Impressions: The number of people who are exposed to your blog, article, or other content.
- Reach: The number of people you are reaching on a regular basis – How many followers, contacts, readers, fans, and connections do you have today vs. last month or last year, on your various social media platforms?
- Engagement: How many people are liking, favoriting, commenting, retweeting, or sharing your posts and updates, or rating your YouTube videos.
- Conversion: What content leads to filling out a lead form, registering for marketing assets like webinars or whitepapers, or even making a purchase.
- Follower vs. following: Monitor the ratio between the number of people you follow and those that follow you. Twittercounter.com does this for free.
- Organic vs. paid traffic: You want your pull marketing (organic) programs to do the heavy lifting. And if this is not possible in the short-term, it should be your go-forward strategy.
B2B Content marketing can position your company as an industry thought leader, establish credibility and trust in your products and services and create valuable relationships between you and your audience. These questions and considerations will help you determine if content marketing is the right strategy for your organization.