6 Simple Steps to Get Started With B2B Content Marketing
The way people buy products and services has fundamentally changed! Previously when a buyer would conduct research before making a purchase, their information sources were limited. Early in their research process, a buyer had to contact the seller to get information about the product. Once that contact was made, the seller could exert some influence and control over that buyer.
Now, however, with the amazing power the internet has given us all — buyers can conduct extensive purchase research on the Internet before having any contact with the seller.
In fact, SiriusDecisions research has revealed that “more than 66% of the buying process happens before sales is even contacted.”
The buyer is now less dependent on the seller for product information. And, because of technology, buyers can more easily filter out marketing messages they don’t want to receive.
With the buyer now more in control than ever before, companies are beginning to realize the best way they can influence the sale is to be helpful to the buyer. And the way they are doing that is with content marketing.
It seems like every B2B marketer is talking about it but as with any trend, the issue of “getting started” has been a huge stumbling block for many companies.
When you begin your journey into content marketing, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself :
- How do we produce content?
- What is the best type of content for our business and industry? (text, video, audio, etc.)
- How often should we post new content?
- How much will social media play a role in our content marketing efforts?
- What will enable us to consistently produce content going forward so it has a lasting impact?
Below are a few steps to help you answer some of these questions above and get you started on your content marketing journey!
Get your team on board
In its simplest form, content marketing is straightforward. You create content of value to attract customers towards your product or service, aiming to build enough recognition and trust so they will want to buy from you.
You may already know this. But chances are that your manager, CEO or business partner doesn’t. They may have heard about it but are not sold on the idea yet.
Your first task then is to convince them of the importance of content marketing and a need to invest in it. Fair chance is that without their approval, your campaign will never get off the ground.
Content Marketing Institute, is an amazing resource on the topic. They offer great tips on achieving this here.
Define Your Goals
Content marketing can help you achieve many business goals but it’s important to understand why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it.
Before you even think of creating any type of content, you need to define what you want to achieve with your efforts.
Typical goals used by companies engaging in content marketing include:
- Increasing brand awareness. When publishing content your hope is that upon finishing consuming it a reader is going to ask: Who wrote this? This was helpful! How can I learn more?
- Developing brand loyalty. Once your prospects start finding themselves coming across and reading your content whenever they search for specific solutions, they start to see your brand in a new light — as a credible but also valuable resource.
- Customer education. Content is also a powerful vehicle for answering your customer’s most common questions and problems.
The purpose of these goals is to help you to quantify your results but also justify your budget and investment.
Pick Your Metrics
Now that you’ve defined your goals the next step is to decide how you are going to track and measure the campaign performance. Even though every goal will have different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) there will be few common ones across your campaign :
- Traffic from content
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Conversions from readers to leads
Also, since this might be the first such campaign in your organisation, you should develop a reporting system that’s easy to follow for everyone involved.
Create Reader Personas
To develop a successful campaign you need to understand who your audience is. You need to know what their pain points are and what type of content they prefer to consume. Such knowledge will help you develop content personas — a representation of your ideal reader, someone you will be creating content for.
Having content personas means that you can better model your users buying behavior and target specific content at their different stages of the buying cycle. Once again CMI offers great insight into developing content personas here.
Brainstorm Content Ideas and Create!
For many content marketers, generating ideas is by far the most paralyzing aspect of the process. After all, there is a high demand for unique and valuable content that will stand out from the so many “me too” posts. Luckily, there are certain techniques you can use to come up with ideas :
- Be inspired by other content creators. Join the discussion but have a unique twist on the topic.
- Ask your customers and your social media following what they are struggling with / what they want to hear.
- Use tools like Buzzsumo to gather data on what topics are popular.
Once you have decided on a topic to write about… it’s time for the fun part! Roll your sleeves up and start creating the content.
Just remember these two points :
- Spend a considerable amount of time creating a great headline (as it will play a big role in dictating the success of your campaign)
- Align the content you create with the larger marketing strategy. In other words, your content shouldn’t contradict your overarching brand voice.
Choose Distribution Channels
In content marketing, distribution is everything. The main work on your campaign begins when you hit “publish”. Yet, getting content in front of the right target audience is still one of the biggest challenges encountered by content marketers today.
Before you launch your campaign you should come up with ideas and a clear path for reaching your target audience. Consider your internal resources — social media, press connections, newsletter subscribers and existing visitors. Decide if there are any industry leaders who would agree to help.
Bonus : Have Fun
Content marketing is all about educating your customers on their problems and providing value. The best content is always made with passion and love, so don’t forget to have fun!
“Content that builds trust is human, personal, relevant, it isn’t greedy, and it doesn’t trick people. If the recipient knew what the sender knows, would she still be happy? If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely it’s going to build trust.”