There is an increasing demand for content among marketers, but how can you ensure that your content marketing strategy is effective?
It’s impressive that 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing this year, but only 30% of them rate their efforts as effective.
How do you bridge such a big gap then between the planning and the implementation and what makes your content marketing successful?
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has created a six-step guide on how to develop, create, and measure a B2B content marketing strategy that actually works, in order to help marketers improve their skills.
Analysing a B2B content marketing strategy in six steps:
1) Develop your strategy
The first step to a successful content marketing plan is to develop a strategy and write down your goals even before you start creating the content.
As every stage of content marketing has different objectives, there should also be a clear distinction of the goals and the expectations.
A mission statement may help you establish your goals from the stage of awareness up to the engagement.
For example, in the stage of awareness the metrics focus on brand recall, increasing reach, visits to the site, clicks on social media and emails, while as the plan moves through the stage of engagement, the focus of the metrics moves towards sales, leads, the cost per lead, the loyalty, or the number of returning visitors.
After all, a documented content strategy serves as the go-to point when you need a reminder on what your next type of content should be, helping you keep track of the right metrics at each stage.
2) Identify your buyers
A great content marketing strategy starts by taking into consideration its audience, understanding the expectations it has to meet.
It may be a good idea to answer these questions first:
- Do you know your target audience?
- What do they expect from your content?
- How should you interact with them?
- How do they interact with each other?
- What motivates them for their buying decisions?
Moreover, it may be useful to create buyer personas, a sample of your target audience that will help you personalise your content marketing strategy.
Building personas doesn’t have to be a complicated (or time consuming) process, as you can focus on the most important traits of your typical customers, while you can also consult your sales team, your social audience, or your email subscribers to get a better understanding of the audience.
3) Identify topics
It’s not always easy to come up with a consistent flow of creative ideas, but an analysis of your target audience, the success of your existing content, or a closer look at your analytics may help for numerous content ideas.
The first tip is to think like your target audience, in order to be able to produce the right content for each stage.
- What would your audience like to read?
- What topics are useful for each stage of the purchase path?
- Does your content answer the right questions?
- Are your topics aligned with your company’s wider strategy?
You may get many useful answers by asking the right questions and both your co-workers, your audience and many online tools may be extremely helpful.
4) Create content
Once you have analysed your audience and have identified the best ideas, it’s time to proceed to the actual creation of the content.
A great content is a combination of value, relevance and visual appeal, along with proper formatting and length, depending on the stage of your content marketing strategy, your audience and the expectations.
It is also important to prepare a good mix of content, including blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, visual quotes, GIFs, white papers, podcasts, in order to ensure that your audience maintains its interest in exploring your new content.
In fact, experimentation with new content types may lead to surprisingly good results, which may even make you reconsider your content strategy, adding new creative directions that may turn out to be more effective.
As LinkedIn suggests, make sure that every piece of content serves at least one of the following functions:
- Solves a problem
- Facilitates a purchase decision
- Adds SEO value
- Offers a fresh perspective to a popular topic
5) Amplify your content
By the time you have created your content, it’s time to spread a word about it and examine all the possible ways you can amplify it.
Promotion can be both organic and paid and it may include among others:
Every type of promotion aims to help you reach a wider audience, while still maintaining the desired relevance. From basic search optimisation up to paid promotion, relevance and contextual promotion increase the chances of engagement, loyalty, purchasing and retention, helping build brand awareness and affinity in the most natural way.
6) Analyse and Optimise
A content marketing strategy should ensure that its content matures through time, always being aligned with the goals and the KPIs that are set at each stage.
Now it’s the time to measure the performance of your content marketing strategy and whether it meets the goals and the metrics that you’ve set at the first stage.
It is quite easy to forget the initial goals and the reasons you’ve set them for each stage of your strategy, but this may also be misleading for the results of your efforts.
For example, if you create an ebook to gain subscribers and generate leads, but notice that it ultimately brings a great number of social mentions, without gaining the desired leads, then your efforts cannot be considered successful, at least not in the stage that you were hoping them to be.
This may be due to:
- wrong set goals
- wrong distribution
- wrong audience
and it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy to align your expectations with the results of your content marketing efforts.
B2B content marketing is not more complicated than any other content effort, providing that it is performed by following a series of steps, in order to ensure that you follow the right path to achieve the desired results.
After all, successful content marketing is able to transform the random content creation to an effective results-driven strategy that meets your audience’s needs, leading to the desired ROI for your business.
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