We all knew it was coming, and like most B2B marketers I too was faced with a harsh reality: create content or die. The good news is that now we’re empowered with the resources to position our marketing departments as a profit generator instead of a dead, immeasurable expense. However, this does go hand-in-hand with a higher accountability. MarketingProfs recently spotlighted the 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends Survey conducted by Holger Schulze for Optify and found that 83.5% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are stepping up their content marketing production over the next 12 months. The point is, for B2B marketers, lead generation in 2013 will almost entirely be about content creation. Ouch! Is it too late to rewrite the budget? Sharpen your pencils, I’m going to share 5 things with you that I have implemented, or am in the process of implementing, to enhance your content marketing strategy.
- Rewrite your customer personas. Times have changed, your customers are different. Your customers are people and people have changed. In fact, the sooner you stop thinking of them as customers and more like people, the easier it will be to rebuild and rewrite their personas. Check out HubSpot’s free template for creating buyer personas, this is a great starting point. Try not to make assumptions when building these, get out and talk to your actual customers and get their feedback. If you have to, send an anonymous survey. Some of the data you’ll collect is invaluable to your content creation strategy, you have to know what they really want before you can start throwing together stuff you think they need.
- Adjust your keyword strategy. There’s two things you need before you can start generating leads with inbound marketing content creation. The first is your customer/buyer personas and the second is a keyword strategy to match. Since you’ve just reevaluated your customer personas, now it’s time to adjust your keyword strategy accordingly. Based on what you now know about your customers, you should have a good picture as to what they’re searching for online. Do they want to better their business in any particular way? Are they interested in improving their site’s performance? Do they want to lower operating costs? With your questions answered and with a focus on your industry, you should have what you need to begin a new strategy. Make a list of your new keywords and see how they rank in the search engines, you can do this using Google AdWords or an automation tool that has one built in. With this data you can gauge what you need to focus on. Your best bet is the low hanging fruit, tackle that first by creating related killer content optimized for your new keywords.
- Create an editorial calendar. If you map out industry events, holidays, and product updates on a calendar, you can schedule the right times to post the right content. Don’t stop there though, pay attention to the latest industry-related news so that you can write timely content – the best way to do this is by setting up a Google Alert. I recommend setting it to alert for content most related to your keyword strategy. This can also help streamline your social strategy by providing you with the information necessary to pre-schedule your tweets and Facebook posts. SocialMediaToday reviewed a recent study by Buddy Media entitled “Strategies for Effective Wall Posts: A Timeline Analysis”. They found that weekends are an excellent time to post content that gets more engagement, Wednesday’s appear to be the worst. With this in mind, I recommend scheduling a campaign (ie. whitepaper) for the weekend. Of course with anything in digital marketing, you’ll have to A/B test and see what works best for you. Follow up on your campaigns – one post sometimes won’t do it, be sure to share the campaign at least twice before archiving it.
- Get everyone involved. This is key for effective content creation, both your content and entire inbound strategy might suffer if you don’t. If you’re a one-man/woman marketing team it can be difficult and frustrating to come up with fresh content regularly. Besides, your customers and prospects want to hear from the rest of your team – they each have a unique perspective and can contribute something fresh. If your CEO isn’t blogging, they need to. They are the front-man of the business, the experts of the industry per-say. Leverage that by encouraging at least a monthly piece from the CEO. Your engineers, product team, and quality assurance people all have the potential to contribute great content – they build the product and they talk to the customers! Encourage them to take notes on what they hear and the things they see that might make a great blog post. I know this can’t always be the case and if you’re in the unfortunate position of being the solo content king, make a schedule that works but isn’t distracting or overwhelming – which brings me to my next tip…
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. Depending on your situation and the make up of your team, you may be the only contributor to your content strategy, at least in the beginning. It’s important to focus on the strategy and concentrate on the results as much as it is the content. Work on posting at least once or twice a week to your blog (daily to your social networks) and don’t be afraid to outsource the heavy lifting such as whitepapers. It’s OK to start small, concentrate on the details. This is a slow growth strategy but will snowball as you progress. If you overwhelm yourself with content you’ll falter in other areas like lead nurturing, optimization, and team building. It’s up to you to find the right balance to curate great content.
Everyone will have a different approach and you’ll tailor it to your specific needs and industry. If you follow these 5 simple steps and concentrate on delivering valuable information to your customers, the rest will take care of itself. Don’t forget that the content you create should match where your prospects are in the funnel – awareness, research, comparison, purchase. It’s all about delivering the right message at the right time.
Have fun and good luck. Have a question? Disagree? Want to exchange pleasentries? Leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @joshuahays or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org