Do you feel that your content marketing strategy isn’t providing the results you are hoping for? 51% of marketers tell Forrester Research that their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective and an astounding 87% of B2B marketers admit that they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.
This means that only 13% of B2B marketers are successfully executing content marketing. Here’s how to start creating a content marketing strategy that you can begin using today to get the best results from your content marketing!
The One Tactic You Need to Know to be Successful
While there are a variety of ways to start creating a content marketing strategy that achieves success, there is one thing successful content marketers have in common. They are intentional with each step they complete while executing their content strategy. What does being intentional mean?
Being intentional means that you’re fully aware of your:
- Strategic Goal
- Content Goal
- Problem Scenario
- Core Messaging
Let’s take a look at this example–a company that sells call center software clearly outlines its intention for an upcoming eBook:
Real World Example:
- Strategic Goal – Grow sales accepted leads (SALs) 50% this year
- Content Goal – Get 600 prospects to download the call to action (CTA) tool,
resulting in 6 sales accepted leads in March
- Target – Operations executive
- Problem Scenario – Operations executives need to improve cost, and disengaged
call center agents are a huge cost
- Core Messaging – Subtly connect product to improving agent engagement
- Location – Web page in resources
- Promotion – Email, SEO, social, and paid
Stop Wasting Time and Start Focusing on the Best Projects
Transform an ordinary piece of content into an extraordinary pillar of your marketing plan by simply aligning to a strategic goal. Your strategic goal should be one or more of your top marketing goals that your content is supporting.
Aligning to a strategic goal ensures that you and your team understand the business purpose of creating the content. In our example above, the creation of the eBook supports the strategic goal to grow sales accepted leads by 50% this year.
Why is it so important to identify and specify the top marketing goals that your content is supporting? While it may seem that individuals would naturally focus on and work on tasks of the highest priority first, marketing teams can often get distracted by a number of factors, including pressure from sales, a neat idea, a hot trend, or an executive’s pet project. When creating a content marketing strategy be sure it includes specifying your top marketing/strategic goals in relation to your content ensures that your efforts are aligned to your business goals.
Start Improving Every Quarter, Month, Week…
You can keep cranking out all the content you want, but until you start precisely outlining the content’s goal, all of that content will keep underperforming. Your content goal details the expected outcome from your content. Specifying the expected outcome – your content goal – enables you to further prioritize what content you should work on first by providing you with visibility into which piece is predicted to have the highest impact on your top marketing/strategic goal.
In the example above, we are creating an eBook that will become an ungated, standalone web page. The end of the guide will feature a call to action (CTA) to download a tool. For example, there may be a CTA to download a spreadsheet with an agent disengagement calculator.
We determined that our content goal is to have 600 prospects download the tool. Keep in mind that your goal should be realistic in order to help you properly identify which content projects your team should work on first. In our example, the content goal of 600 downloads and 6 sales accepted leads was chosen because it is 100 downloads and 1 sales accepted lead more than we got with the previous month’s guide. When creating a content marketing strategy be sure it covers choosing a goal that is realistic and attainable.
Here’s How To Start Reaching the Right Audience
Prepare your team for success by clearly stating who the content is meant for. Your target is simply the audience that you want to specifically target for the piece of content. If you currently do not have enough content, your first target should be the person who has the most influence on purchasing your product.
Marketing teams will often go through persona workshops and training when they are trying to improve their content marketing. If your challenge is that you’re not creating enough content, then focusing on personas this early on could only complicate your strategy. Don’t take this tip the wrong way; identifying and targeting personas is valuable and is the correct solution for a number of problems, however, this will not solve the problem of creating enough content.
If you’re not creating enough content and you are focused on creating more, then your content should target the type of individual that most likely to purchase your product. When you have enough content that targets that audience, only then should you move on to targeting the person who has the second most influence, and so on. In our example above, our target is operations executives, since they are the most likely audience to purchase from us.
You do not need the complexity of building up full personas in order to successfully target one audience and to get started creating content consistently. You just need to know who is most likely to purchase your product or service, what benefits they most often look for, and the problems that they aim to solve by buying from you. When creating a content marketing strategy be sure it is focused on targeting the right audience.
Start Giving Your Content the Value that Your Prospects Crave
Stop creating crappy content–for good–with killer problem scenarios. The best problem scenario to utilize in your content is the top challenge plaguing your ideal target audience. If your content successfully explains how to solve your perfect target’s top challenge, you have created a piece of valuable content.
We had determined ahead of time, in the example above, that one of our ideal prospect’s top challenges is improving cost, and specifically, that one of the biggest areas of potential improvement is disengaged agents. In creating content, we know to focus on providing viable solutions to these challenges. When creating a content marketing strategy be sure it takes in to account your prospect’s problem scenario.
Here’s How You Can Start Attracting More Qualified Leads
Start attracting the right type of audience by ensuring that your content is aligned with your product’s benefits. The content you produce should be aligned with the core benefits that compel customers to purchase your product.
Take the example above – we had determined beforehand that one of the top reasons customers buy our product is to improve agent engagement in order to reduce operations cost. While our top-of-funnel content piece on improving agent engagement will not discuss the product, it will attract an audience that is hoping to reduce operations costs by improving agent engagement.
Utilizing product benefits in your content doesn’t mean that you should be stuffing self-promotion into every piece of content. However, creating valuable marketing content doesn’t require that the content is completely unrelated to your product either. When creating a content marketing strategy, focus on creating quality content that your audience will value with mentions of your product’s benefits as they relate to solving the problem.
Stop Time Draining Review Cycles
The location of your content simply refers to where the content will live. Defining the location of your content helps you to keep in mind what the tone and structure should be and can also to reduce review cycles down the road. In our example, the location will be an eBook, so the ideal tone will be somewhat formal and direct.
Start Building Promotability into Your Content
Similar to location, promotion reminds us how we will attract visitors. Defining the promotion channels helps to ensure that your content will help you reach your goals.
Take the example of the eBook above. Initially, we were offering the eBooks as downloadable PDFs that were gated with a form that prospects would fill out. However, we soon noticed that the majority of the traffic coming to the guides came via email. Since the individuals downloading our eBooks were already in our database, there was no point in collecting the email information for approximately 90% of the people downloading the guide.
Armed with this information, we began to offer our eBooks on ungated web pages. The result? This change led to an even greater number of people from our database viewing the guide and the ungated eBook provided a good amount of new SEO traffic.
How to Get More Sales Accepted Leads By Being Intentional
How can simply being intentional transform a below-average marketing program into a supercharged lead machine? If your goal is to grow sales accepted leads (SALs) by 50%, it would benefit you to ensure that your content is optimized to attract the most qualified leads. This should inspire you to think about the next step that you want your audience to take and how that aligns with your chosen problem scenario.
After determining the best problem scenario, you are better equipped to build a higher converting call to action (CTA). By defining your CTA upfront, you can design your content to lead qualified prospects to converting on that CTA.
Let’s say you are planning to host a webinar, publish a guide, and publish eight blog posts next month. If webinars are your highest converting campaign, you could add a CTA for the webinar to view the blogs and guide that will be published prior to the webinar. The guides and blogs should be aligned to the same customer problem scenario as the webinar.
Ideally you could reuse a lot of material from the guide to build your webinar and use sections of the guide to create the blog posts. This way you can create much more content with less resources simply because you took the time to be intentional with your efforts.
What’s the number one goal of your content?
Whether you are producing a blog post or drafting a white paper, your end goal should be to attract people who are trying to solve a problem that your product addresses.
You may have other supporting goals like getting on the first page of a keyword or improving social engagement, but ultimately those goals should lead to attracting more people that are trying to solve a problem that your product solves. Here’s the 5 steps we did to transform a simple blog post into a qualified lead magnet.
How to Start Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
A company recently needed new content in order to promote a new feature of their product. They sell a SAAS project management tool and had created a feature that allowed users to run a Monte Carlo Simulation that provides the probabilities for when a project will be completed.
The initial request was to write an article about the new feature. I suggested that we instead write an article about the problem that the feature addresses and then offer a call to action (CTA) to learn about software that provides the capability discussed in the post.
At first it seemed difficult to imagine how you could write a post about such a technical feature without addressing the product. To uncover the customer-centric topic we took the following 5 steps:
1) First, we reviewed our strategic goal, i.e. to double the annual number of enterprise leads.
2) Next, we determined the content goals. Our content goal was to obtain the following:
- 1,500 unique visitors to the article
- 5% of the unique visitors to convert on our CTA at the bottom of the article
- 10% of the converted visitors to sign up for a trial
3) Then we determined who our target audience is: IT executives who were managing large programs.
4) After that, we defined what the benefit of the feature was. We first explored what the feature does: runs a Monte Carlo Simulation to provide the probabilities for when a project would be completed.
We then explored why this would be of value; it allows executives to better predict the risk of missing their deadlines and to act earlier in order to avoid that risk.
5) Finally, we defined the problem scenario. We determined that the problem was that IT executives were managing too much risk. They didn’t have accurate insight into the status of their projects although they did have to make commitments to their superiors.
This insight led to the creation of an article about how to reduce IT project risk. The article described how the traditional method of estimating project deadlines was flawed and how running Monte Carlo Simulations provided executives with more safety in their estimations. Keep in mind that the product feature wasn’t running Monte Carlo Simulations but having the capability to run them; we were therefore able to keep the article problem-centric and it ended up being very popular.
The article never mentioned our product or its feature, but we provided people with a solution to their problem with a call to action to learn about how they can start running their own Monte Carlo Simulations. This provided our audience a path to learn about how our software solves their specific problem and provided sales with a signal of which qualified prospects were interested in this particular solution.
While it may seem obvious that you should be intentional and understand the goal, audience, and problem scenario before creating a content marketing strategy, many B2B marketing teams often create content based on an idea that an internal expert thought was clever. Marketing teams should evaluate whether that clever idea is really a top concern to the target audience, and if not, they should focus on how their products and services can help the target prospect solve a problem.
This article has covered one of the eight steps for creating a content marketing strategy to enable you to do more with less. Check out the full guide below to learn about the other steps and start getting the best results from your content marketing.