Creating great content simply isn’t enough anymore. Your B2B content marketing needs to live on a polished, professional platform in order to attract and engage your target audience. Most corporate blogs don’t effectively support marketing and business objectives.
Most corporate blogs don’t effectively support marketing and business objectives.
Invest in your own content hub. A quality platform will help your business be more findable (attract organic search traffic), captivate your readers (keep them engaged) and get them to take action (conversion/lead-gen). Your content hub must fundamentally support these objectives in order to drive — and — prove bottom-line results.
At Stern Strategy Group, we recently redesigned our blog experience and centralized all our thought leadership content within a new platform, the “Stern Strategy Insights” hub. Using our own platform as an example, I’ll walk through how to construct a blog experience that attracts, engages and converts.
Putting Users First in B2B Content Marketing
Without a doubt, user experience is the most important consideration in the process; it’s also one that’s too often glossed over or not implemented correctly. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your target buyer. Break out those buyer personas. What matters most to them? Consider their biggest pain points, and how your B2B content marketing can address their concerns and help them sleep better at night. Then, as you begin to capture your ideas and translate them into feature requirements, wireframes and designs, your experience will be uniquely tailored to the needs of those you’re working to attract.
In our case, it made sense to create a platform separate from (but connected to) our corporate website. This allowed us to design an experience optimized for blog content and completely customized to our audience. Remember, your blog isn’t the place to make a sales pitch about your latest product or service — it’s a thought leadership destination. For us, that meant making a few key UX decisions:
Migrating the blog to a new subdomain
This allowed us to create a connected yet distinct experience for our users. It also gives us more flexibility in terms of optimization and measurement. Every site is unique, so this approach may be slightly different depending on your infrastructure. Typically, something like blog.company.com or company.com/blog is the preferred approach.
Rethinking our navigation
Our navigation is category-driven to provide insights about the topics marcom professionals care about most. This allowed us to remove the “distractions” of our corporate website and let our core themes shine through. At the same time, we needed to make it easy to navigate between the blog and our corporate website. To accomplish this, we added global navigation (above the main navigation) that’s consistent across all our corporate sites and provides an easy way to jump between our properties.
Creating space for featured content
Our previous blog was structured in a way that only allowed us to show users our most recent posts in a scrolling timeline-type feed. That wasn’t a great way to keep people coming back or to showcase all the great content we’re creating. When we redesigned the blog landing page, we made sure to create a space to feature our most popular content.
Building-out category landing pages
Once we aligned on key topics/themes, it was important to create category landing pages that were equally as compelling as the blog landing page. If someone is only interested in a certain category, we wanted to effectively position all our content on that topic in a single place.
Prioritizing the mobile experience
It can be tempting to design for desktop and make mobile a secondary consideration, but that can lead to a sloppy mobile experience. Today, many designers begin by designing for mobile and then expand their designs to desktop versions afterward.
We made our mobile experience a focus throughout the design process, helping ensure our content translates seamlessly to smartphones and tablets, while still giving users the same functionality they’d have on a computer.
Inserting engagement points throughout the content
Your blog should be doing more than just drawing in the right audiences. It should include what we call “conversion points” throughout that will help lead your audience to action. Depending on your audience and your goals, those actions might be a newsletter subscription, social media share/follow or another type of lead capture. In our case, all articles are optimized with social media sharing widgets (on desktop and mobile) and feature easily tweetable quote blocks to further encourage engagement. Articles also include dynamic “slide-in” widgets prompting newsletter sign-ups and calls-to-action (CTAs) for more in-depth content related to the topic of the article. Additionally, we decided to include a widget within each article that features related content in order to keep our readers engaged.
Putting specific features and functionality aside, and getting back to my earlier point, creating a great B2B content marketing hub means listening to your audience and giving them more of what brought them to you in the first place. Put the users’ needs and experience above all else and you’re sure to make a big impact.
Originally published at insights.sternstrategy.com on November 16, 2017.