4 Secrets for an Exceptional B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Everyone knows that content marketing is getting a lot of traction in the B2B sector. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Marketing Benchmarks Study, 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing now. Out of the 9% non-users, more than half are planning to launch a content marketing effort within 12 months.
On the other hand, less than one in ten of B2B marketers who use content marketing describe their maturity level as sophisticated. In short, even if B2B organizations have a content marketing strategy in place, very few know how to accurately measure their and scale them across the organization.
Probably, the reason why very few B2B companies are able to eke out a tangible advantage from consistent content marketing is that most of them rely on just pushing out information or fall back on plain advertising. If you are one of those organizations or have just started with content marketing, the following tips will come in handy.
Invest in Evergreen Content
In an attempt to stay relevant, most B2B companies tend to capitalize on breaking news and trends to craft timely content. While this strategy works well, it is not enough to generate a lasting impact on your target audience. Plus, it requires your content creation team to create unique and relevant content almost 24/7, which you must admit, is quite stressful.
Evergreen content is probably the best way to overcome this problem. It is the content that remains meaningful for years and is at the core of your business offerings. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t need to update part of your content every now and then. You do need to review it from time to time to keep it relevant and current.
I work in the SEO industry, where there are umpteen such instances of B2B businesses targeting customers with timely and always-updated content. Brian Dean’s “SEO Tools: The Complete List” is a great example of how to gain an audience by answering a pressing topic and reaping steady organic traffic. The post lists nearly 200 free and paid tools personally (and periodically) tested and reviewed by Brian. It is no surprise that the guide has more than 19K shares and is ranking right up there on Google!
Educate with Snappy Tutorials
Engagement is also a crucial part of your content marketing strategy. One of the easiest ways to engage with your target audience is to provide them with actionable and educational content. That’s where tutorials come in.
Moz Co-Founder Rand Fishkin has created and published short ten-minute videos called Whiteboard Friday for over eight years. These videos consistently aim to teach something new and useful to the company’s audience (and you thought what could be new every week!) An edited and formatted transcription of the audio is also published along with the video, for readers who learn better from text and images.
If you don’t have the resources (or the confidence) to create polished and high-quality videos, you can still make your tutorials “snappy” with just routine posts. Avoid presenting a wall of words, though and try including screenshots, images, and gifs within your blog post.
Here, the tech blogging industry has some remarkable examples. iGeeksBlog has a post on how to record an iPhone screen, which while being a great guide on how B2B product companies can do tutorials with step-by-step instructions and relevant screenshots with nothing more than an iPhone, is also an example of how to substitute the video itself with a series of stitched images or gifs.
When you’re creating content in the form of tutorials, you should have a clear-cut idea of the priorities of your audience and where exactly they are along the buyer’s funnel. Avoid going too broad with the topic or targeting people at different stages of the funnel, because it will only make the reader less satisfied or convinced. Also, make sure your customers can quickly access these tutorials anytime they want by sharing them on your website and all relevant social media platforms.
Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
To maximize the potential of your content marketing strategy, you will need to keep an eye on your competitors’ online marketing strategies. By following them around on different platforms and understanding their engagement and conversion metrics, you can learn which tactics are the most effective and the ones that are more likely to boomerang. Specifically,
- See what external platforms they’re more active on. Facebook? Yelp? Are those relevant to you?
- Determine which of their content is performing best, in terms of traffic and engagement.
- Check who’s sharing their content. Approach and develop relationships with these people.
- Check which sites are linking to them. You know what to do next.
- Get the keywords they’re ranking for in organic search as well as the ones they’re bidding on in Google AdWords.
- Determine the ratio of traffic they get from referrals, direct visits, search engines, email and social.
- Subscribe to their email newsletters to get an idea of their brand messaging and special offers.
While there are a host of online tools that let you glean various bits and pieces of information about your competitors, my favorite is SEMrush, which has 360-degree competitive intelligence features (read, it can do most of the above) on digital channels.
Of course, while tools can give you the data and provide real-time and actionable insights, it’s up to you to tweak your strategy accordingly and create content in the right formats, which will help you connect to your audience.
Keep Measuring ROI
The CMI study we referred to earlier revealed that B2B companies spend around 26% of their total marketing budget on content marketing on average. However, this number goes up to 40% in case of the most successful ones. Why do they spend more than a third of their marketing budget on content marketing? Because they know how much return they are getting on their money and time spent on the content.
Analyzing the return on investment (ROI) of content marketing can be tricky. There are three main components to it:
- Cost – How much did it cost to produce and distribute a given piece of content?
- Usage – How much of the content was actually published or distributed?
- Performance – How much engagement or conversions did it get you?
There are two places where you measure the metrics that help you determine cost, usage, and performance. The first is your website. Tools like Google Analytics show data related to your website traffic such as
- Page views
- Time spent on page
- Bounce rate
These are the fundamental metrics. In addition to Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Woopra, and Clicky can give you more in-depth data on content.
The second place is external platforms: social media and other sites where you place your content or brand messaging. Tools such as Buffer or platform-specific analytics (like Facebook Insights) can help you monitor the mentions and engagement of your campaigns on these platforms. The metrics of significance here are
- brand sentiment
Building a model that suits your business best will help you understand how successful your content marketing endeavors really are. However, make sure to keep measuring the ROI regularly.
Over to You
Setting up a successful content strategy may seem to be a downright gamble. But, it doesn’t have to be. If your content marketing strategy has the right mix of these four activities, you’re sure to improve your returns incrementally. Keep experimenting though, as these tactics and best practices will also evolve with time. And don’t forget to discuss what’s working for you (and what’s not) with us in the comments!
You may also want to read: B2B Content Marketing Mastery: Optimize Creativity & Conversion Rate
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