The B2B marketing world appears to be obsessed with content. 99% of marketers say B2B content marketing is important, and it’s predicted that by 2016, half of marketers’ time will be spent on content alone.
With this in mind, you’d think the majority of B2B organisations would have a solid grasp of their content strategy, and how they’d like to grow and develop it over the coming year.
Apparently not. According to the 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarking Report, 53% of respondents in the report say they’re ‘weak’ or ‘okay’ when it comes to content strategy.
So how do you put together a cohesive, focused content strategy that will generate leads, sales and ROI?
Let’s go back to basics. When considering B2B content for a new audience, the first step is getting to know your prospects. By creating a profile of each of your decision-makers and influencers (a persona document) you’ll gain an understanding of their pain-points and needs. This research will then help you select the types of content that appeal to them and the topics they want to read about. You see, due to the vast amounts of content now being churned out by B2B marketing companies, the pieces you write need to be as innovative and engaging as possible to set you apart from the competition.
You then need to consider the sales funnel: a visual representation of the journey prospects will take to become customers. Different forms of content are often used to meet different goals, so it’s important to identify which types will suit the three stages of the buying cycle - awareness, consideration and decision.
Typically, the content at the top of the funnel (the awareness stage) will be short, punchy and eye-catching, with the aim of conveying a message in the most impactful way. Infographics and blogs are fantastic examples of easily digestible content that will grab your prospects’ attention and introduce them to your brand.
The content in the middle of the funnel, the consideration stage, allows you to expand on your existing offerings and really demonstrate your understanding of your prospects’ pain-points. Longer pieces such as ebooks and tip sheets are perfect for this stage, as they’ll show thought leadership and discuss solutions to their issues, in exchange for their valuable contact data.
The last stage of the funnel is ‘decision’ and vendor evaluation. Your prospect has identified the solution they want, and are looking for a supplier to provide it. At this point, engaging and informative case studies via video or written content will show how you’ve helped other companies in the past, and demonstrate how you can do the same for them.
Once you’ve decided on the types of content you’ll produce, and the subject matter for each, look at the best distribution channels. During your persona research you’ll have identified the different channels your prospects will be using in both their business and personal life, so make use of this knowledge and focus your attention here to generate the best ROI.
The key is to keep your prospects engaged. When they first download a piece of content, they may not necessarily be sales-ready. But, this is your opportunity to nurture them and start to build a relationship, to show them that you’ve got the solution to their problems. By feeding them more and more engaging content, you’ll keep your brand at the forefront of their mind, and drive them towards a sale.
Essentially, content strategy is about more than simply knowing which types of content to produce, and what to write about. It’s about putting it in the places your prospects will find it, and then once you’ve obtained their data, nurturing them to the point of being sales-ready.
For a more in-depth guide to creating innovative, engaging B2B content that will capture the attention of your audience…