90% of all businesses use content marketing in some form or fashion as a marketing tool. In addition, the Content Marketing Institute shows that successful B2B marketers will spend 40% of their budget on content marketing in 2019. So, an effective B2B marketing strategy is really an effective B2B content strategy. Here at Digitent, we’ve developed a powerful B2B content development tool, Conductor, that lays out an effective content strategy for you, based on your industry and other variables.
Getting content right can help a B2B brand increase awareness, engage prospective and current customers alike, and ultimately achieve specific business goals. In order to reach those goals, brands must develop an effective content strategy. There are several key steps in building an effective content strategy, from defining ultimate goals and conducting a rigorous B2B customer journey mapping to measuring effectiveness and all the activity in between. Here are the eight steps that informs our own B2B content development tool, Conductor.
The first step for any brand looking to build a content strategy is developing, defining, and understanding the fundamental goals of that strategy. We’ve had many clients come to us after spending huge amounts of time and money trying to develop their own content strategy, but who had failed because the goals were not clearly understood and bought into by the stakeholders. Branding, Demand Gen, Lead Gen, and Retention, for example, will each have their own specific tactics, channels, user experiences, content formats, etc., so it’s important to define the goals at the outset to ensure all the variables are aligned. Only move on to the next step when everyone on the team is on the same page.
The number of individuals on Buying committees or decision-making units (DMUs) has increased from an average of 5.4 a couple of years ago to about 7. It’s important to understand not only who they are and their key responsibilities, but also what roles they’re playing in the decision process. Even more importantly, you need to know what their rational and emotional drivers are as well as what their information consumptions patterns look like. Having this deep understanding on your audience will enable you to build content that suits their exact needs.
All customers go through a journey of some sort. Some longer than others but the classic B2B customer journey is identifying a need → exploring options → evaluating options → making a decision. It is the visual, unified, narrative journey of a buying committee or DMU’s interactions with a vendor or supplier. B2B customer journey mapping is an important step as members of the buying committee or DMU will seek out different types of information at each stage of the journey. Without knowing their journey, you won’t be able to get your content in front of them and impact their decision-making. Mapping the customer journey is critical in order to develop content that aligns with those stage-specific needs.
The next key step in content strategy building is understanding what content already exists, what is ready for deployment, and what needs to be edited. At the audit stage, a brand looks at content it has already produced and analyzes it against the company goals and the needs of the buying committee or DMU at any given stage of the customer journey. By also considering the historic performance of that existing content (e.g., conversions and/or engagement), a brand can determine which content can be reused/repurposed and where the gaps need to be filled with new content.
Content management systems (CMS) are optional for brands but they can be beneficial in managing a content strategy and development program. While there are a variety of systems available, most help manage content via features such as indexing, revising, publishing, and searching content. CMS options include SaaS, open source, and proprietary systems. Before choosing a CMS, a brand should consider things such as how easy it is to use, personalization features, how many people will be using the system, security, and other support features.
There is a wide array of content format options, but the prior persona builds and B2B customer journey mapping work will make the format selection easier. Content format options include: Expert Interviews, Webinars, Case Studies, In-depth Blog Posts, White Papers, Research Findings, Videos, Reviews, Comparison Charts, Infographics, Podcasts, Tools, and eBooks just to name a few. A production framework will define the editorial timetable and guide the production team. It will also align with objectives and help determine final content formats. Creating an editorial calendar will make what seems like a tedious process that much easier. It will help to organize and prioritize content opportunities and ensure the content aligns with overall business strategy, goals, and most importantly, audience needs.
A Project Manager will need to manage the production team, contributors, and the brand’s own Subject Matter Experts to ensure the whole process runs smoothly. It is important to have a working calendar to deliver content on time and help all members know when their participation is needed and in what capacity. As content is built and approved a distribution plan can be built to determine the mix of Paid, Owned, and Earned Media. The content will also need to be optimized for SEO so that it’s findable in Search Engine Results Pages and to assist in organic rankings and traffic.
Developing a measurement strategy is often the most overlooked step. Building a content strategy and then developing the content itself is usually a major investment of capital, resources, and time. Without a measurement plan in place prior to the rollout, the brand is left guessing on the content’s performance. Brands need to understand performance so they can optimize the content and distribution channels on an ongoing basis. In addition, engagement and conversion data needs to be visible in marketing automation platforms and, ideally, CRMs so that analytics teams can measure the impact any content has had on specific accounts and on true business metrics like opportunities or closed-won deals. Ultimately, brands will need to determine the ROI of their content programs. Unless the data feeds into CRM and at the account level it will be difficult to do so.
If all this sounds like a lot to handle, that’s because it can be! But your competitors are most likely already doing it. If you’re ready to get into the content game and engage new customers like never before, start with our B2B content development tool, Conductor. It will show you the kind of content you need to connect with each of the member of the buying committee and bring your business to the next level. Digitent is here to help with your B2B content strategy, content creation, distribution, and campaign measurement.