How to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy in 8 Hours or Less
So, you’ve been asked to deliver your content marketing strategy, problem is you’re just like many other B2B marketers that use content marketing — you don’t have it documented and are now scrambling for how to create a B2B content marketing strategy in 8 hours or less. Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered!
One thing we’ve learned in the 10 years we’ve been helping technology companies drive their B2B content marketing efforts, is that there are the best intentions of “doing content marketing right” and then the reality of “just getting it done”. As marketers we face time, resource, budget and perception challenges. We never have enough team members, we need to do more with less, we never have enough money, and frankly, sales is getting the big commissions while we’re dealing with 80-90% of the sale—without what we need to accomplish the goal.
To that end, we’ve worked with a number of VPs and Directors of Marketing to drive rapid and positive change in their marketing organizations—often making strategic changes that not only improve the effectiveness of their marketing programs, but also driving real change in the business. For example, we helped one SaaS company completely overhaul its positioning and messaging, leading the company to further develop its already amazing product to better meet the market’s needs.
The challenge is finding the time to create an effective marketing strategy. After years of experience, we’ve distilled the process down and created quick tips so that it can be scaled by agile and resource-constrained marketing teams in 8 hours or less. Interested? Read on to learn about the process and the tips we recommend if you are short on time.
Content Marketing Success Factor – Documentation
Before we reveal the components and quick tips to create the 8 hour B2B content marketing strategy, let’s review one of the most important steps you’ll take in this marketing endeavor—documenting your strategy. Several sources online report companies that have a documented content marketing strategy are more successful than companies that don’t.
In addition to organizing your plan, a documented B2B content marketing strategy will help improve your efforts to unify team members, and convince decision-making executives of the value and strength content marketing has in 2016. Getting content buy-in is critical to the success of your strategy. You’ll need the support of more than just your marketing team to achieve the results you want — the more communication between departments within your organization and team members, the better.
Why does content marketing matter to the sales team, the SEO gurus, public relations, and recruiting? The simple answer: it is all interrelated. Let’s break down how content marketing actually affects various organizational goals within an organization.
First, content has become the primary source of lead generation and conversions. Per dollar, content marketing yields more than three times the number of leads than paid searches, and website conversion rates are nearly six times more effective when companies use content marketing. Other departments are counting on your content to be effective: lead generation (85 percent) and sales (84 percent) are two areas most important goals for content marketers in 2016.
Second, users spend the majority of their time online interacting with content. Ipso facto, content marketing can be a huge advantage to your SEO team when these professionals work with you to optimize the distribution of content.
Unlike traditional print, radio, or television advertising, content marketing is distinctly alive — a fluid conversation intended to go back and forth between the company and the consumers. It’s because of this relationship that organizations can achieve greater control over their messaging — by pivoting quicker and more effectively, as new behavior trends emerge and new techniques are developed. Nearly 47 percent of B2B marketers now have a dedicated team working specifically to this end; learning and developing as they grow a community; building systems, standards and process that improve over time. Ultimately, these steps help the company grow.
Your documented plan should articulate this interplay between organizational goals among different departments and show how they align with the strategy outlined in your plan to get everyone working on the same page. Here’s a great checklist to help you start the conversation.
So, now let’s get to the components of your B2B Content Marketing Strategy and our tips for creating a strategy in 8 hours.
1. Content Marketing Mission Statement
Getting everyone in a company on the same content marketing page is no small feat, but developing a marketing mission statement is one way you can get everyone pointed in the right direction.
A content marketing mission statement, sometimes called an editorial mission statement, is a simplified expression of your company, who you would like to reach, how you intend to reach them, and what you hope to accomplish once contact is established. In some ways, this is as much an exercise in determining what your company would like to avoid as it is determining what it would like to accomplish.
These statements are reminiscent of the way we go about achieving our personal goals, like when we write a journal or create a vision board to remind ourselves of the things we would most like to accomplish. A mission statement is there to guide everyone, not just the content marketers, as they create, distribute, analyze, and sell throughout the buyer’s journey.
It’s also invaluable to have a mission statement for the particular benefit of the people writing and producing on the content. Creative people have a tendency to diverge, especially when they’re being asked to think outside the box. A mission statement ensures creativity as well as conformity to a cohesive mission statement.
Here’s a list of effective mission statements from well-known brands in various industries. Once you get a feel for the tone and style of a mission statement, ask yourself these questions:
- Who am I trying to reach?
- What problems can I solve?
- What do I hope my audience learns or gains?
Take your time with these questions, and consider bringing in people from various departments to help. Don’t get tied down with corporate jargon, political correctness, or fluffing the details. Aim for a statement that sounds natural, “inspirational and aspirational.” Use language that’s direct and to the point.
Now, try taking a stab at your own mission statement.
Once created, make sure everyone in your company knows the mission statement from memory. They should be able to say it forwards and backwards with no trouble at all. This statement should also become recognizable to your audience — include it in your newsletters and on your website, blog, and social media channels.
Once everyone knows who you are, what you’re trying to do, and why you’re trying to do it, you can start building a relationship with your audience. They have to know who your company is and what it’s all about before they even consider looking at your content.
In summary, your mission statement is fundamental to your B2B content marketing strategy. It helps multi-department endeavors stay on course, guides internal creative processes, and reveals transparency between the company and the consumer on a basic, but fundamental level.
Quick tip on creating a content marketing mission statement in less than an hour…
By now you should have your company’s ultimate purpose defined (if not, stop what you are doing and talk to your leadership team and stakeholders) and are ready to educate and engage your audience through purpose-driven marketing content. By following this basic format –– goal(s), target, value, approach and outcome –– you can create your content marketing mission statement in about 35 minutes. Expedite the process by leveraging this template from Content Marketing Institute.
2. Adaptive Buyer Personas
The next step to developing your B2B content marketing strategy is defining a buyer persona(s). Traditionally, these fictional characters are defined by data points collected from several departments and mashed together to describe the typical buyer: how much money they make, where they live, and so on. Typically, personas are treated as unchanging, a fact that contradicts the very nature of a living, breathing person.
Today, the best way to develop a buyer persona is to think of them like actual people who live, breathe, learn and change. An adaptive buyer persona is the best way to accomplish this goal.
Adaptive buyer personas contribute to strategies throughout an organization. Once identified, personas help guide the sales team, qualify potential leads, deliver better ROI, and provide deeper insight into the world of your B2B audience.
Compared to B2C marketers, B2B content marketers have the more challenging task of developing personas that are highly influenced by time, industry experts, and the basic bureaucracy that comes with getting anything approved in a large business or corporation. There’s more at stake for these consumers, and they’re more scrupulous than the average buyer.
Developing adaptive buyer personas—and actively leveraging them—makes marketing and sales more effective. They allow team members to understand more about where their products are failing, what content to produce, when to produce it, which distribution channels are working best, what keywords to use, and more. You’ll notice this information is far more helpful than data points describing the sex, age, and location of buyers. The answers to these questions aren’t constant, which means buyer personas must be monitored and change as required.
Creating Buyer Personas
You will likely create more than one buyer persona for your B2B content marketing strategy. Typically, you’ll want to create one for each segment of your target market.
When you’re creating personas, avoid language that describes only demographics—age, job title, and income. What things should you focus on? According to Ardath Albee, you should focus on roles and responsibilities as well as company objectives, orientation, and obstacles. She also suggests looking at the way companies use (or doesn’t use) social media. Is it effective? If not, why?
If you’re just starting out, gathering detailed analytics about your audience will be challenging. But this Beginner’s Guide is a great resource for building basic information about your audience, and organizing it into working personas.
Research and insight are paramount to creating effective personas. Seventy-seven percent of effective personas are based on new external insight and big data tools. To help kick-start your research, you’ll want to look outside your organization for answers and conduct interviews with former, current, and potential clients. Here’s a helpful list of 15 questions to add to your interview. Or, check out this graphic article on different personality types.
Once you’ve done all your research, according to Albee, the next step involves switching places with your persona, and asking the questions that inevitably arise as you do the research. This dynamic between question and answer is what opens the dialogue between the company and the consumer. Ablee concludes the interview by saying, “…all the answers that you are going to come up with to these questions, are going to become the premise or premises for your content development.”
Remember, adaptive buyer personas by definition are constantly changing. Don’t carve yourself into a corner. Be flexible, open, and responsive to changes that SHOULD occur if your entire audience suddenly decides to buy your product. As your company grows and changes because of improved sales, so too should your audience and its respective needs.
Quick tip on developing a buyer persona in less than an hour…
Doing all the work to develop a proper persona can take days, and sometimes weeks for each persona. While this is the right way to do it, you can’t always do everything the right way—you sometimes just have a starting point. To get a persona done—that will actually help you develop a positioning statement and other aspects of your B2B content marketing strategy, start with job postings on sites like Monster and LinkedIn. By looking at the requirements pulled together by senior leadership, HR and peers, you can get a sense of the professional responsibilities and demands of a position. Couple this quick research (can be done in as quick as 15 minutes), with easy to access general generational data (taken with a grain of salt) and how age of the worker drives motivation. You can use a buyer persona template like this to get started.
3. Competitive Analysis and Industry Trends
Looking at the competition is a great way to learn more about what is and what isn’t working in your market. Competitive analysis is just a fancy way of spying on the competition, and learning what you can from their successes, as well as their shortcomings.
Competitive analysis can be as comprehensive or as simple as you think it should be. For example, a highly saturated market may require more reconnaissance to ensure your content can be heard over the crowd. On the other hand, a new technology promoted within an untapped market may require very little competitive analysis. Either way, it’s an important step to building a successful B2B content marketing strategy, and there are lots of great tools to help you do it.
For keyword analysis, which is extremely important for content marketers working in collaboration with an SEO team, SpyFu is an easy way to learn what keywords and organic search keywords competitors are targeting.
To gain intelligence about your competitors and learn how you stack up, check out Owler, a free tool that provides instant insights on your competitors’ leadership, revenue, press mentions, web and social statistics, and more. Use it to guide how, where, and when you deliver content.
Maybe you’ve already got the content ball rolling, but you’re not getting the kind of traffic you want. QuickSprout is a tool that gives you insight into the competition’s content—estimated traffic score, SEO score, and social share. Once you know what the competition is doing, you’ll be able to counter with improved tactics.
Alexa is an extremely powerful analytical tool designed for digital marketers and content strategists to gauge performance against the competition. In fact, Alexa is great for helping to develop buyer personas because it provides useful feedback about your market, including demographic information, user behavior data, trends, and more.
What you do with your research depends on what you discover along the way. The more you analyze and extract detail, insight, and perspective, the more capable you’ll be at driving your content in the right direction. What’s more, regularly monitoring the competition and industry trends will give you the foresight you need to beat the competition to new areas of opportunity as they become available through innovation, legislation, or shifting social norms.
Quick tip on how to conduct your competitive analysis in under an hour…
Conducting comprehensive competitive research can be a time consuming process that could take weeks, and even months depending on your market — don’t fret, it is possible to identify and analyze your competition in just under an hour with the help of some online tools to automate the process. Our favorite competitor analysis tools are QuickSprout and Owler. Both provide instant intelligence that you can leverage in your analysis report including: top competitors, company profile, web traffic, social media and keyword data.
4. Developing a Positioning Statement
Unlike a mission statement, positioning statements are used internally to guide product and marketing decisions. Positioning statements require time and resources to be effective; the more focused and specific your statement, the easier it will be to make decisions regarding strategy and tactics. But that’s not all.
How is your product unique? Effective positioning statements are focused on describing your target market, differentiating your brand and product from the competition, and effectively communicating benefits to consumers and delivering on those results. Positioning statements can also look to the future; for example, sometimes it might be necessary to describe the evolutionary process of a product or service, in terms consumers will understand and get excited about.
There aren’t many hard or fast rules to writing a positioning statement; suffice it to say, they should include a few important points of information. Identify your target market and your brand name; describe how you are different or better than the competition; and give the audience a reference point, as well as a credible reason why consumers should buy your product.
Here’s a helpful template to get your started. Your positioning statement should look something like this:
For [insert Target Market], the [insert Brand] is the [insert Point of Differentiation] among all [insert Frame of Reference] because [insert Reason to Believe].
So, how do you fill in all these blanks? If you’ve got your buyer personas, the target audience can be expounded from one, or a few of those — the more specific the better.
Point of differentiation is the crux of your statement; it’s the reason people should buy your product instead of the competition’s. Avoid ambiguous language like best, biggest, fastest, always, and never. Theses superlatives are vague and don’t offer a credible reason for consumers to take action. Focus on benefits, not features, in this section. How does your product solve a particular problem? How does it solve it better than the competition?
A reference point just means describing the broad category in which your product or service competes. Don’t overthink this. From your point of view, your product might not relate to anything on the market, but consumers won’t feel that way. If you’re selling a hot new mobile game, call it an app. If you’re selling luxury denims, call them jeans.
Finally, why should consumers buy this product? Why should they believe in you and not the other guy? Again, reference your buyer personas for clues. What specific problems do your personas have? What keeps them up at night? What would drive them to action if given the opportunity to solve this problem? If you can articulate an understanding of this problem, consumers are more likely to listen to you. Conversely, you will also be better equipped to solve the problem.
We recommend working with other key players from within your organization to determine how to differentiate your product from the competition. Your sales team will keep your marketers grounded in the consumer’s reality, whereas someone from product development might be best able to describe the product’s benefits. When creating your B2B content marketing strategy collaboration is key, and will be of great benefit to this process.
Unique Selling Proposition and Insight
There are few cases of a product or service being so different that it doesn’t need a unique selling proposition (USP). Most of the time, products are competing in a market because they’re so similar to one another; they have to rely on marketing strategies and tactics to distinguish their value. The more compelling your USP, the more likely that consumers will gravitate to your offer. You’ve got to dig deep, put your psychoanalytical hat on, and get creative.
Target audience and competition greatly influence your unique selling proposition. The former is important because, while your product might fit into several markets, your specific target market will interact and benefit from the product uniquely. The more you know about your target market, the easier it will be to create a USP for that particular audience.
By analyzing the competition, you might be able to fill a gap not currently being filled. In order to do this, analyze the advertising, marketing, and social media of your competitors, and analyze what unique offer they’re making.
Just because someone’s already secured a position in one market doesn’t mean he or she will always be able to hold it. If your company can solve a buyer’s problem better, that’s a good reason to pursue a USP in that market.
Here’s a great template to help you determine your product’s unique selling point. Be sure to leverage this information when you create your positioning statement.
Quick tip on how to create your positioning statement in under an hour…
If you’ve already completed the Buyer Persona, Competitive Analysis and Industry Trends (which you should have already done), then putting together your positioning statement is a snap. Take your target market, the problem you solve for them, and how you solve it uniquely. The keys are target, solve, and unique. Then hop over to eCornell’s Positioning Statement Generator…and plug in your information. They say you can do it in as little as 30 seconds.
5. Map Your Buyer’s Journey
In addition to understanding how workflow and channel distribution affect the content you create, your buyer’s journey will also influence the kind of content created, as well as when and where it’s distributed.
Depending on the business, a buyer’s journey can be as simple or as complex as it needs to be to hit three specific points along the way: awareness, consideration, and purchase. These points are fairly straightforward.
During awareness, your customer is just getting started; maybe they read some of your content on social media, or click on a paid advertisement. Typically, the buyer is not ready to make a purchase, and instead will profit from learning more about your offerings, usually by discovering other relevant content about your brand.
Consideration is any amount of time between a new buyer learning about your product or service, and that buyer actually making a purchase. This is the longest part of the journey; for some B2B endeavors, it can take as long as 18 months for a buyer to move through this phase.
This is the time when you should be lead nurturing, or building rapport with your buyers through communications on channels you’ve outlined in your channel plan. To do this, you’ve got to be able to get a little information from your buyer, typically an email address. Your goal is to establish and maintain contact with the buyer during the consideration phase, and provide him with content that ultimately pushes him forward to the point of purchase.
The best way to do this is to review your buyer personas. Which persona is the most valuable? Which one do you want to push along the fastest in the buyer’s journey? This is a good place to start. As you develop your content, it should appeal to this persona.
Another consideration as you decide on your content is the source of the lead. Different stages of the buyer’s journey can be predicted depending on how they first come into contact with your brand. For example, someone doing a direct search on Google is probably more motivated to buy than someone who casually encounters your content on social media. If you can segment the in-bound traffic from these different points of entry, you’ll stand a better chance of delivering the content needed to move quickly through the buyer’s journey.
Once you know who (persona) and where (channel), your next goal is to understand what motivates that buyer to act. What triggers push them to make the purchase? Some examples might include sudden growth in the company, industry news, or failed security.
Reference your channel plan to determine where to distribute this content for the specific persona — the places this group would mostly likely see your trigger-influenced content. Create content for multiple channels; the content should be similar but uniquely tailored to work best on each specific channel.
For more information about the buyer’s journey, check out this video by Hubspot.
Content mapping works in collaboration with your buyer’s journey; content mapping attempts to deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right people.
For instance, once you’ve defined your buyer’s journey, content mapping will help you distribute the right content at the different stages (awareness, consideration, decision/purchase) and on channels most effective for specific buyer personas. But what kind of content works best during awareness, and what works best during consideration? This is what content mapping is all about.
We noted in the last section that awareness buyers are typically not ready to make a purchase—they’re browsing, likely on social media, and they don’t know enough about you or your product to make a decision. This is the top of your sales funnel, it’s the biggest, it’s the broadest, and it’s designed to cast a wide net. What kind of content makes sense for these buyers? What do they need at this point to move forward?
If you said information, then you’re on the right track. This is a great place to introduce useful tools and resources to a buyer: things like how-to videos, comparative reports, fun facts, FAQs, and infographics to name but a few. How can you educate potential buyers at this point to move them further down the funnel? Examples include differentiating your brand from the competition, offering a list of clear benefits, or providing a special offer.
Once a buyer becomes aware of your brand, you can start building rapport with him or her during the consideration stage, or the middle point in your sales funnel. Now you can be a little more direct, a little bolder, and more creative with your content. Backing up content ideas with data is always a good idea. Check out this multichannel content marketing planner template that helps you do just this. This would be the best place to personalize your content if you’re able to track information about the buyer.
Content examples during consideration might include email marketing, newsletters, product demos, webinars, ROI calculators, data sheets, case studies, and testimonials from previous buyers.
Finally, at the bottom of your sales funnel, during the purchase point of your buyer’s journey, content should aim to overcome any final obstacle or apprehension the buyer might have about making a purchase. Remember, B2B buyers have more at stake when they make a purchase, compared to the daily purchases made by most consumers. This is a good place to dig deep into your buyer persona and ask the tough questions they need to have answered to feel confident about buying your product.
At this point, content might include a free trial, free consultation, coupons and special offers, gated content, or a money-back guarantees. Your job is to eliminate any doubt the buyer has, and replace that with a sense of urgency.
Longtail Keywords for SEO
In the past, Google would match exact words and phrases to a query — that’s how marketers learned to title their content, filling it up with relevant keywords to a point of annoying excess. But that’s not how Google works anymore. Google has learned to read your content.
For starters, content relevancy, or the topic of your content, has high value in search results. The subtext of your content can be just as valuable, if not more so, in a Google search than the keywords themselves. In fact, synonyms of keywords may influence up to 70 percent of search results. Today’s Google search is less about matching keywords, and more about what those keywords mean in the context of the content.
The other difference: Google is now looking at user behavior to deliver personalized search results. Your content needs to address this personalization. To do this, you’ve got to get specific — use your buyer personas to determine how that particular persona may search for content. What words or phrases would they search for?
Longtail keywords are more important than ever. They make up 70 percent of the searches on the Web, in hundreds of millions of unique searches performed every single day. While it’s going to be almost impossible to rank for single keywords like “software”, “fertilizer,” or “dog food”, longtail keywords afford more opportunity because they drive more specific results.
For example, someone searching for “Windows 7 home computer security software” offers more diversity in research results because it’s more specific than “security software.” Your content should attempt to be just as specific, keeping longtail keywords in mind.
Knowing which longtail keyword to focus on is the foundation of your SEO strategy. There are several free tools available to help you analyze the competition of specific longtail keywords, like KWFinder and Übersuggest, as well as tracking tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool and Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand.
Quick tip on how to map your buyer’s journey in under an hour…
If you’ve gone through the process of defining your buyer persona’s challenges, needs, motivations, and content preferences you are now ready to map your content types to each of the buying stages — awareness, consideration, decision. You can achieve this in 30 minutes or less by leveraging a buyer’s journey template that maps User Behavior (blog, keywords), Content Offer (how-to-guide, infographic), and Action Keywords to your persona’s buying stage.
6. Content Marketing Workflow
Now it’s time to look at how you create content (workflow), and how you distribute it (channel planning), to achieve the best results for your effort.
Whether you’re new to content marketing, or you’ve been in the business for many years, chances are good that the amount of time and resources it takes to go from concept to publishing are more taxing than you’d like. That’s because content gets circulated through dozens of hands before it gets the green light. Understanding how to streamline your workflow will save you hours in the long game, and likely improve the attitudes of those involved in the process.
To start, document the process involved for content to go from concept to distribution. Use bullet points or a flowchart. Now it’s time to audit that process. Where can you cut the fat? Where is most of the congestion, and how can you alleviate the pressure?
Some solutions to your problems might include using project management software like Basecamp, where team members can communicate, share files and more, documenting progress every step of the way. Switching to a cloud-based system like Dropbox or Google Drive might help you keep track of content as it moves between various editors. The same goes for your editorial calendar (here’s a helpful template), which can be very useful for other team members to see what’s going on in other departments and channels.
Speaking of channels, creating a content marketing channel plan is a great way to organize distribution. Once you have the content, how do you know where to publish it? That’s essentially what a channel plan attempts to answer.
To do this, you should first audit current distribution channels, and determine what you have that’s working and what you need to change or acquire to improve. At this point, consider things like human resources and budget to prioritize your channels.
Next, outline channel objectives. This is where you break down what it is exactly that each channel does. Be as specific as possible. Examples might include, driving traffic to the website, increasing social shares, and converting sales.
Use your buyer personas to help tighten your channels even further. Which buyer is interacting with which channel? How might this affect the content you share on this channel?
Once channel objectives are established, it’s time to draft for each channel. Now that you know what you want to accomplish, the plan should define how you are going to do it. What tactics you are going to use? This is where you might employ paid advertising, email marketing, social media contests, how-to videos, and so on.
You will need to set up some analytical tracking tools so you can determine the performance of each of the channels and track how well your objectives perform within each, respectively.
By trimming the fat from your content marketing workflow, and outlining a channel plan, you’ll be working smarter, not harder, as you get closer to distribution.
Once your channel plan is ready, the rest of the distribution is really about timing — publishing your content to maximize the potential reach. There’s a multitude of data available to help with this consideration. For example, Facebook posts distributed on Thursday and Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. are best to improve engagement. And if you think about it, that makes sense; people are happy to see the weekend, and more likely to respond positively to your content.
There are too many channels to cover every unique time slot in which you should be distributing your content; just know that the information is available with a quick Google search. Use that data to your advantage when it makes sense.
Finally, be open to new channels. Buyers and decision-makers don’t ascribe to a single selection of social media channels (think beyond Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and that means thinking outside the box and getting into channels you might not be familiar with, but your market is. A channel-neutral approach means reaching out across multiple channels to maximize your content’s reach. And this works best when you’re open to new channels as they become relevant to your market.
Quick tip on how to define your content marketing workflow in under an hour…
Once you have done your audience and competitor research creating the content marketing workflow should be a pretty quick and painless process. First, take 10 minutes and document your task-based content marketing workflow by identifying team members and assigning each their specific task in the content marketing process — strategist, researcher, writer, editor, designer, QCer, promoter. Then, use an editorial template like this to help in the content workflow and creation process to show who’s responsible for content, on what date, and for which channel.
7. Content Distribution
Distribution will be easy for you to accomplish once you have a detailed channel plan and a content mapping strategy. However, there are a few tricks to distribution worth noting here that will help extend the life of your content, as well as improve its reach with a little extra effort.
First, you’ve got to get organized. Each channel you distribute content on will likely have its own set of guidelines and special features that must be met in order for the content to be successful. It would be hard to remember all of this in your head, so use a template to organize this information so you don’t have to.
Make the most of your content by practicing a few repurposing and recycling rules to stretch its life. For example, if you’ve developed a fantastic how-to video for YouTube, you could dictate that video and post it as an article on the company’s blog. Share you blog post on Facebook and Twitter.
Once content is written or produced, you can modify the angle to meet the needs of the persona on the channel these individuals are likely to visit.
Other distribution options might include paid content distribution, guest posting, and reposting the same content multiple times to the same channel — if it’s good content, why not?
Distribution is truly an exercise in creativity. Once you’ve nailed down your personas and channel plan, distribution will flow pretty naturally. Be creative, but be sure your distribution plan aligns with the buyer’s journey and your content map.
Inbound PPC Keyword Strategy (PPC)
In the last section, we mentioned paid content distribution; now let’s take a look at another area in which you might find yourself spending money: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Whether you’ve run an AdWords campaign or not, you’re more familiar with how it works than you realize.
When someone searches on Google, a list of results appears; the tops spots have a yellow square next to the URL, identifying them as advertisements, also known as PPC. When you build a PPC campaign, you’re going to focus on the keywords (longtail included) that you researched in your comparative analysis and your SEO strategy. Keywords are what drive your PPC campaign. The more successful you are at picking the keywords, the more successful your campaign will be.
But first, you’ve got to be able to define the goals of your campaign, using key performance indicators (KPI) that matter most to your business. Some examples might include hitting a target cost-per-acquisition or specific value added to your pipeline. Micro conversions are also important — things like getting your content viewed or adding subscribers to a newsletter. Whatever it is, it must be measurable for your campaign to succeed.
You will evaluate the success of your campaign primarily based on conversions, or the actions people take once they engage with your advertisement. You will use conversions to make decisions about how you allocate your money, and how to improve the reach of working keywords and underperforming keywords alike.
A Pipeline to Spend Ratio is another way to guide your decision-making process for all PPC advertising. That equation looks something like this:
Pipeline to Spend Ratio = Opportunity Pipeline / Investment in PPC
Sometimes it’s helpful to work this equation backwards. Figure out what you aim to achieve in your opportunity pipeline first, and that will give you an idea of how much PPC investment you’re going to need to achieve this goal.
One of the KPIs you’ll want to master first is Quality Score (QS) — a tool AdWords uses to measure your success as an advertiser. It’s important that your keywords all have a good score.
PPC is a channel that affords measurement opportunities and requires constant optimization and analysis. Just like your personas, the effectiveness of PPC will change over time. Use tools that align with your company’s KPI to measure how they perform and make adjustments accordingly. Check out this customizable analytics template that can help you track key metrics.
Quick tip on how to plan your channel distribution in under an hour…
If you’ve completed your buyer’s journey and content marketing workflow then planning your channel distribution is a snap. Within about 30 minutes you can create an actionable plan that defines what mix of content to publish, on what channel to publish to, hashtags and links to use, and the best time to share.
8. Roles and Responsibilities
Now that you know how to create your content, and where and when to distribute it, you might be wondering who is responsible for each step of the process. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; the size and scope of your company’s resources will greatly affect the roles and responsibilities of content creation, to one degree or another. However, moving forward, it’s good to at least understand the flow of these roles and responsibilities, so that as things change and hopefully grow, you’re prepared to distribute the work appropriately.
Visualize a pyramid. At the very top of the pyramid is the content strategist: the person responsible for asking the big-picture questions like, “Who are we trying to reach, where can we reach them, and what do we want to say to them?” This may very well be you, or it may be you sometime in the near future. This person lays the groundwork for the entire B2B content marketing strategy, and ensures continuity among participating departments.
Next, editorial directors are the like-minded enforcers of the content strategist’s master plan. They manage, hire and/or outsource content marketing creation to the writers and producers who produce the work. They also perform a lot of the organizational functions we discussed like managing a content map, channel plan, and editorial calendar.
Executing on the content strategy are the content creators. These are the writers, designers, artists, animators (and sometimes—gasp—even developers), who create and make the content come to life. Leveraging the strategy (personas, platforms, processes and technology), the creators are responsible for making the content plan a reality.
Content syndicators help distribute your content across various channels, understand the intricacies of each, and know how to use analytical tools associated with each channel to improve effectiveness. Similarly, a content analytics expert is exactly what it sounds like: a person who specializes in interpreting data to adjust tactics to meet content objectives.
Your content team doesn’t work in a vacuum; getting other departments involved in your work, and listening to their suggestions and input, is an invaluable resource in your content marketing endeavors.
Quick tip on how to define roles and responsibilities in under an hour…
Having the roles and responsibilities of your team defined is key to the success of your content marketing. First, begin with identifying each contributor, which might include Tim from IT, Suzy from Sales, your marketing department, or eager to write content CEO. Next, map responsibilities to each team member (researcher, interviewer, writer, designer, editor, publisher, analyzer…), followed by how often they contribute (could be daily, weekly, or monthly), and the channel(s) they own. Your first pass at creating roles and responsibilities can be done in 45 minutes or less.
No doubt you are thinking that creating a B2B content marketing strategy is a lot of work. And it is! But with the tools, software, and processes we outlined in our quick tips as well as commitment on your end, you should be able to hammer out a useable documented B2B content marketing strategy in as little as 8 hours. This strategic document can be the basis of a more comprehensive strategy that can be developed over time.
We challenge you to try the 8 hour process and share your ideas, challenges and results with our community here!