In our previous blogs we’ve looked at the lead gen strategies used by FTSE 250 companies as well as some of the common pitfalls to avoid in B2B marketing. This time we are taking a much deeper look at one of the most effective, but also misunderstood, B2B marketing strategies: Content Marketing.

If you’re unsure about the value of content marketing, it’s worth pointing out that Xerox recently generated a sales pipeline worth over $1.2 billion from leads acquired via a microsite aimed at helping small businesses. But you don’t have to be a company the size of Xerox to benefit from content marketing. There’s loads of evidence out there that businesses using content marketing generate more leads than the competition. But to be effective you have to do it well, and that means planning and execution with laser-like focus.

So let’s look at our top 5 favourite ingredients for cooking up a tasty content marketing campaign

1: Create a Content Marketing strategy

Studies show that companies that take time to create a proper strategy document are up to six times more effective with their content marketing than those that do not.
Build out your strategy by thinking about five things that you want your businesses to be well known for, then look at each of these five factors individually and make a list of all the benefits, examples and evidence you have to support them.

The aim is to produce a large range of topic ideas – or headlines – that show (rather than tell) people how your business meets their needs. This will enable you to produce content on a consistent basis as you’ll always have a range of subject areas to refer to. This is much more effective than sitting down each week and trying to come up with fresh ideas. It also ensures that everything you publish stays ‘on message’.

2: Define your target audience

Understanding who your content is for is crucial and there are a number of short exercises you can work through to make sure you are covering all the bases. Out of this exercise you should come away with 3-6 buyer personas, depending on your type of business.

Start by identifying the needs that all your customers have, then move on to those that might be different or are completely unique.
At this stage you also need to identify your ‘ideal’ customer type. Make a list of the distinct problems they have – identify the pain points – and understand how to quickly and easily identify who they are.

Every piece of content you produce from now on should be created for them. If it doesn’t resonate with these buyer personas, start again.

3: Define the purpose of the content

Ok, so we’ve created our buyer personas and we now understand who our target audience is. Progress! Now it’s time to focus on what we want our content to achieve.
This will help you to build a much better content experience for our target audience and help to create specific content marketing goals, which could be to increase one of the following:

  • New sign-ups
  • Customer engagement
  • Repeat business
  • Client satisfaction
  • Chances of your content spreading further via social media
  • Referrals

Having just one general objective like ‘generate more leads’ is better than none, but your results are going to be far more effective if each piece of content you produce is aligned with specific goals like the ones above.

4: Decide on the type of content

Now it’s time to stand back and think about what type of content is going to resonate with your target audience and help you achieve your marketing goals.

Here are some of the many different content types to choose from.

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • White Papers and Guides
  • Case Studies
  • Video & Film
  • Live Events
  • SlideShare
  • Podcasts

Which of these will work best with your target audience? Do you have the budgets and expertise in place to do them well? Try looking at what’s already been done successfully in your sector and think about how you can build on that and make it better. But remember that quality is far more important than quantity and the value is in the content rather than the production value.

Quite often a simple blog offering genuine guidance and expertise on a certain topic area can be far more effective than an expensively produced video.
A blog by one of our clients offering PPM advice has been very successful because it speaks directly to a very niche audience within the NHS. The fact that it doesn’t have expensive production value is irrelevant. It is popular because it offers useful information that helps people to do their jobs better.

5: Track, measure, learn and repeat

This is the final piece of the jigsaw and the one that will really help you and your business grow. Whether you use free software like Google Analytics or SaaS click tracking software, make sure you have a system in place to work out what the conversion rate is from each piece of content you produce.

Conversion rate is calculated by measuring the total number of actions you want to achieve, which could be a newsletter sign-up or a click to a free demo offer, or a form completion. You then divide that number by the total number of clicks your piece of content receives. For example, if you had 50 newsletter signups from 1000 visits then your conversion rate would be a healthy 5%.

Summary

Running an effective content marketing campaign is time consuming and requires a lot of in-house talent and expertise. Most SME marketing departments are not set up to do this effectively and, as a result, produce haphazard, inconsistent campaigns with no discernible ROI. For content marketing to succeed it must be approached in a structured, measurable and methodical way. But with the right processes and team in place it is one of the most effective forms of B2B marketing out there.

If you would like to find out more about content marketing and how it can be used to drive your business performance, contact us today and we will be more than happy to review what you have been doing so far and look for new ways to improve performance. Call us today on 020 8360 8244 or email info@blazegroup.co.uk