You keep pouring money into B2B content marketing. Still, it feels like you’re churning out content for no reason.
Instead of attracting new clients, you feel like you aren’t getting any sales.
It’s frustrating and unrewarding.
After spending so much time, money, and effort on your content, you expect to see results.
Well, there is:
An optimized content marketing strategy.
You may think your business already has one in place…
But the data shows that 58% of B2B content marketers say their content marketing is only “moderately successful.”
Are you in this group?
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Most businesses seem to have trouble creating a successful B2B content marketing strategy.
The good news? You don’t have to stay there. Instead, you can be one of the top 5% of businesses who say their B2B content marketing is “extremely successful.”
This article will teach you how.
You’ll learn the steps you need to take to create a content marketing strategy that’ll grow your business and automate sales.
By mastering these steps, your content will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. That means you can just sit back, put your feet up, and watch your revenue grow all on its own.
It may come as a surprise, but your content strategy is more important than the actual content you create.
Of course, every business wants to generate more sales now. But it’s not as simple as blasting your audience with links to a flashy sales page.
You shouldn’t use content to just attract your audience and expect them to buy right away. That’s unrealistic. Especially since businesses take a long time to decide over their purchases.
Instead, you should nurture your prospects first. But before that, you need to generate new leads. And before that, you need to create awareness about your product, service, or brand.
Oh, and are you sure you know exactly who your target audience is?
You see, there are a lot of steps to consider even before you can start thinking about creating content.
If you sporadically release random pieces of content, you may get some immediate attention and interest. And you may even see some short bursts of revenue.
But it pales in comparison to the long-term gains of an optimized content marketing strategy, such as attracting the right customers, acquiring more qualified leads, and keeping loyal, repeat customers.
In an optimized content marketing strategy, each piece of content works together in a cohesive effort to drive customers from awareness to sales. With minimum direct effort on your end.
It will also help you streamline your business’ content creation, distribution, and promotion process.
It may take months, even years before your strategy builds momentum. But now that you’re in it for the long haul, here are the steps you need to take to fix your content marketing strategy and start automating your sales.
The first thing you should do when creating your content marketing strategy is to determine your goals.
For example, do you want to grow your brand awareness, build engagement, generate leads, increase sales, improve customer retention rates?
Your targets matter because they give you direction. You’ll have a clearer idea of what you need to do in order to reach your goals. And it’ll be more clear if your strategy is working or not.
In short, your goals determine the kinds of content you need to create.
For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, email marketing isn’t going to work.
That’s because your content should align with your consumer’s journey: awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase.
A well-functioning content marketing strategy provides your audience with the right content at the right time depending on where they are in your sales funnel. It not only helps you build trust with your customers, it also leads them further down your sales funnel.
So rather than using email marketing to increase your brand’s awareness, you’re better off creating blog posts that address the problems your audience may be having, why they need to fix it, and how your business can help.
You’ll see more examples of the best kinds of content to use at each stage of your funnel, and why, later in this post.
But first, set your company’s priorities. Then you can start planning the kinds of content you need to create to hit your targets.
The next important thing is to figure out who your target audience is.
It’s not enough to say “a business decision-maker.” That's too general. Instead, try to be as specific as possible.
To help, use Google analytics, Twitter analytics, and email analytics to get an idea of what your current visitors, leads, and customers look like. You can also assess who your customers are in person if you have a traditional brick-and-mortar shop.
It’s important to understand who your past and current customers are because you’ll have a clearer idea of how your business resonates with them. And you’ll know what to replicate to increase conversions from future customers.
It will also help you to get feedback from your current customers...
Email them surveys, and ask about: their demographic, how they feel about your product or service, what you can improve on, and what their most immediate needs are.
Surveys will give you great input at providing a more positive experience for your customer. It’ll also help you validate your future decisions to sustain and grow your business.
With all of this information, you’ll understand what your audience cares about and what they want to see from you.
Plus, you’ll be able to create a buyer’s persona for your ideal customer. Make sure you understand their:
Ultimately, your content needs to be useful for your customer. It needs to help them reach their business goals. So get specific on how your business can uniquely help theirs.
For example, will your business help them reduce their costs, increase their revenue, generate more sales, get more leads, improve their reputation, or influence?
To get started, try filling out the blanks: My business helps [who] with [what content] to achieve [what business goals].
Remember, you’re in it for the long haul. So your content should focus on building a valuable and long-lasting relationship with your customer.
Here's how you can increase conversions through proper audience research.
Like I said above, the type of content you should create depends on where your customer is in their purchasing journey.
That’s why different kinds of content are more effective at different stages of your sales funnel.
Here’s a general breakdown of each stages’ goals:
Overall, keeping these objectives in mind can help you figure out which types of content you need to use at each stage, and why.
For the top of your funnel, your goal is to spread awareness about the problems your target audience may be having in their company. Examples of the kinds of content to create for this stage are:
In the middle of your funnel, your goal is to build your audience’s interest in your business as a potential solution to their problem. Examples of the kinds of content to create for this stage are:
For the bottom of your funnel, your goal is to turn your qualified leads into paying customers who are happy with their purchases. Examples of the kinds of content to create for this stage are:
Again, these are just examples of content you can create. But understanding the purpose of each stage within your content funnel will help you know the best kinds of content to use to seamlessly drive consumers from awareness to sales.
Learn how to improve your sales funnel conversions here.
It may feel a bit daunting to create or revamp an entire content marketing strategy yourself. But the good news is, you don’t have to re-create all of your content from scratch. You can actually reuse some of the content you previously created.
But that doesn’t mean just slapping on the current year’s date on a blog post from two years ago, and calling it a day. Instead, go through a detailed content audit.
First, log all of the content you have already created. And for each piece of content, determine:
If you answered no to both questions, then discard it. Content that doesn’t help you reach your audience or your goals is unnecessary.
But if you see potential in some of your old pieces, repurpose them. Now that you understand your content needs to be educational and informative, you can update your content with more relevant information to your target audience.
In fact, a successful content marketing strategy reuses old content all of the time. As long as your content is helpful and timely for your audience, it’ll never be irrelevant. It can be used again and again to either attract new audiences and push them further down your sales funnel.
And now that you know which kinds of content are most effective at different stages of your sales funnel, you can republish your old content at the right places.
Another benefit of listing out your old content is it helps you figure out what content gaps you have.
Again, your content should be a cohesive effort. Not random gimmicks thrown out here or there to grab your audience’s attention.
You won’t just have to keep relying on your old content, or guessing at what your audience will be interested in next. Your new content will be able to fit together with the ones you’ve already released.
Now that you’ve done all of your background research and planning for your content marketing strategy, you’re finally ready for the creation and distribution stage.
But before you start streamlining your content creation and distribution process, there are still a few things you need to consider first
Will it be you? An in-house team? A marketing consultant?
Regardless, make sure your content uses the right tone and voice to convey your brand’s personality. And be consistent with it.
For example, let’s say your business supplies bananas to other businesses’ snack rooms and kitchens. If you originally shaped your brand with positive messages and healthy eating tips, it would be a major put-off if your next newsletter suddenly included disturbing images of your brain without bananas. So keep your tone consistent.
What will your publishing schedule look like? How often will you post new content?
For example, do you want to publish one blog post a week? A podcast episode a month? A new report every quarter?
Once you answer these questions, set a content calendar and publishing schedule. Clearly state which content you want to have written, edited, and published by what date, and by whom.
Be careful not to post too frequently, though. Rather than stuffing your audience with new pieces of content, focus on creating good quality content that leaves them wanting more.
As mentioned before, the “right” kinds of content depend on where your customer is in their purchasing journey.
But if you want more specific examples about the kinds of content to provide and when research what’s already out there.
For example, try checking what your competition is doing. Which kinds of content get the most comments, engagement, and shares? Which kinds of content seem to be the most effective at drawing, converting, and keeping their audience?
Now, this doesn’t mean you should just copy everything your competitors do. You want to be able to differentiate your brand from theirs. But it will give you a good idea of the kinds of content your target audience resonates with.
Will you use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Facebook, or Instagram to promote your content?
Each platform is best for different things. And based on your research about your competitors, you'll know where your target audience is most active, and which kinds of content best attract their attention on each platform.
For example, LinkedIn is better at showcasing your business’ expertise. For Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, it’s better at building your audience’s awareness and attracting new customers.
Other means of promotion is email marketing. This is best used to communicate with your existing leads. You can use an email marketing strategy to keep leading your customer further down your sales funnel.
Choosing the right channels means your content will be seen by the right people. And you will also see what types of content work best on your audience depending on the platform.
Choosing the right KPI for your content marketing strategy will help you monitor your progress and see if you’re hitting your targets.
Some examples of KPIs include:
Just like the right kinds of content depend on where your audience is in the sales funnel, the right KPIs depend on the results you’re measuring at each stage of the sales funnel.
Here are some specific examples of KPIs per funnel stages. You can find out more information in this blog post:
Even though revenue increase is the main goal, isn’t the only sign that your content marketing strategy is working.
Remember, you’re in it for the long haul. So you have to wait for your customers to go through the sales funnel before you can see any ROI.
But, having these KPIs in place will help you know where to tweak your strategy as needed.
So experiment to see what works.
Learn the steps on how to design an effective b2b content strategy here.
Now you’ve learned the steps to create an optimized B2B content marketing strategy.
You can use the points above to not only create a brand new strategy for your business. They’ll also help you fix the gaps in the one you already have.
That translates to a content marketing strategy that actually works.
Remember, you don’t have to rebuild everything from the ground up. As long as your content helps your audience reach its business goals, you can reuse pre-existing content.
That’s how you can automate your sales.
Your content can keep generating new customers organically without having to lift a finger yourself.
No more worrying about whether new customers will come. No more chasing them down.
Instead, you can be confident that your business will succeed in the long term.
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