Ah! The new year is officially upon us.
A time filled with high expectations, abundant drive, and inspiring hope. There couldn’t be a better time to build upon the Q4 momentum you gathered to take your business to the next level. But you know that. So, the question then becomes – ‘how’?
Through Content Marketing, of course!
Content Marketing is big business, especially in the B2B space. So much so that a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that as much as 91% of B2B companies use content to connect with their audience.
So, if you’re looking for a way to explode your traffic, drive quality leads, and build an engaged audience, you’re in the right place!
But I won’t lie to you, creating engaging content on a consistent basis is no easy feat. So, to get you positioned for success, let’s get right into some useful pointers to make this year your best content marketing year yet!
1. Create & refine your goals
Did you know that goal setting is one of the most important factors in attaining high levels of success?
In fact, a 2015 study revealed that people who wrote down their targets were 33% more successful than those who didn’t. Creating a solid roadmap for the things you want to achieve matters. And, this thinking applies to content marketing too.
Put it this way, creating content without proper planning is like driving to a new city without a GPS or map. Unless you like to live life on the very edge, you just wouldn’t do it.
Because you’d wind up lost and frustrated. And to add salt to your wound, would waste your precious time and money.
Whilst it can be easy to fall into a cycle of winging it, approaching content creation methodically can pay dividends like:
– Eliminating the nerve-racking instances where you have nothing to post
– Enabling you to build a healthy stockpile of content
– Scheduling content ahead of time to create consistency in your messaging and posting times
– Pre-empt the information your customers will need at a given time of year
These will all work together to enable you to provide amazing customer experience, solidify your brand, and generate a stream of leads.
So, to get things started, write down a realistic task list and completion timeline for jobs such as drafting content ideas, writing content, designing newsletters, pitching for guest posts, promoting content on social media, and seeking backlinks.
Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to scale things back even further. I’m talking dropping it waayyyy back – down to your three core content marketing tasks.
For example, instead of writing 20 guest post pitches a week to cold leads, you could write 5 highly personalised pitches to send to people in your network. Or instead of aiming for 4 blog posts a week, you could start with 2 a week.
Note, this reduced load doesn’t need to last forever but will help until your team finds their groove and gets faster at the idea generation, content creation, and pitching processes.
Content marketing takes a significant commitment of time and resources. So, adopting this approach will allow you to stay laser-focused on the tasks that’ll move the needle without getting side-tracked by shiny objects in the form of marketing tactics, strategies, and tips.
2. Hone your keywords
Slow and steady wins the race in SEO – especially when you’re just getting started in building your online presence. Yet for some, the idea of using keywords with lighter traffic and competition can bring on a serious case of FOMO.
I get it.
You have huge targets to meet and feel pressured to take big strides towards your goals. And so, you get busy chasing the big guys.
But, stop and think strategically.
Whilst you should blend a few high trafficked keywords with medium competition levels into your content, the bulk of your time should be spent targeting long-tail keywords (3+ words long) that have medium traffic volume and low competition in your niche.
This is because long-tail keywords are centred around very specific search queries that tend to convert at an exceptional rate, which is exactly what we want from our SEO efforts.
To give you some more context here is some keyword research in action using the seed keyword ‘HR’:
Don’t worry about missing out on traffic from the high-volume keywords, once you’ve built up your authority, you’ll be in a better position to go after more competitive keywords.
So, ask yourself whether the keywords you’re targeting are too difficult and adjust accordingly to give yourself a solid base to compete from.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to optimize your blog posts for SEO to ensure search engines like Google can crawl your website and rank your pages. If you’re unsure of how to go about this, check out the tutorial post I wrote on it here and download the handy checklist to make sure each post you publish is SEO ready!
3. Hold a content brainstorming session
Get together with your co-workers from a wide range of teams and positions like writers, graphic designers, video editors, sales reps, marketers, and customer support. Have each team brainstorm ideas for content based on the common queries, concerns, and feedback they receive in their department. This will allow you to develop a varied range of content ideas to choose from that serves the needs of your customers.
Quick tip: Set a time limit for the brainstorming task of no more than 30 minutes to produce a decent amount of ideas without investing more time than necessary.
Also, since you’ll have everyone in one room, you can take this opportunity to begin selecting the best ideas together. Get each team to whittle down their suggestions to 6 ideas each, then have your marketing team make the final selections.
Here are a few tips to help you create a top-notch content marketing calendar:
- Make sure your content calendar encompasses all aspects of the content creation cycle from idea generation, editing, and publishing
- Consider any upcoming events and promotions that’ll need content
- Aim to schedule content three months ahead so you have a clear view of your messaging, themes covered, and content types in your content marketing strategy
- Be sure to include the name(s) of the person(s) that will own each stage of the content creation process, so it’s clear what’s expected of them and when.
- Decide when and how each team will contribute the content schedule whether it’s through an interview, blog post, or newsletter, then put this into your content calendar. (Don’t have a Content Marketing Planner? Watch out for the FREE content marketing calendar I’ll be releasing soon!).
Hubspot’s Content Calendar
P.s. Stay tuned for a FREE B2B Content Marketing Calendar I’ll be releasing soon…
Also, just as a guide, the information in your content calendar could include:
And finally, aim to schedule content for up to three months in advance. This is enough time to create stability in your content marketing efforts yet short enough to allow for flexibility and change in line with your customers’ and business’ needs.
4. Create content for each stakeholder in the decision-making process
Now, here’s where the differences between B2B and B2C companies really show. With B2C you’re targeting a single person or at most their superior like a parent if the customer is a kid.
Yet it’s a completely different ball game when it comes to B2B. There are often three or more people whose buy-in is needed before a contract is given the go-ahead.
Depending on the prospect and the product you’re pitching, this line up could include the CEO, CTO, CFO, Head of Sales, Head of Product, CMO, and VP of Marketing.
That’s a lot of people to impress by anyone’s standard and clearly, CTO is going to have very different pain points to say the Head of Sales.
But don’t freak out, this information is content marketing gold!
Once you have a list of people that’ll be involved in deciding whether to invest in your product or not, you can begin researching their occupation and delve deeper into their unique fears, frustrations, concerns, wants, needs, and dreams to create a client persona. Then, using this persona as a guide, create content that speaks directly to this stakeholder, solve their problems, and build a genuine connection.
Buyer personas are essential for increasing the success rate of marketing efforts. In fact, Hubspot found that client personas increased the effectiveness of websites by 2-5 times. So, be sure to dedicate the time needed to create them.
Breaking things up this way allows you to win each person over in a way that’s relevant to them.
5. Get serious about collaborations
When it comes to content marketing collaborations are no joke. Even in the B2B space, its positive effects on businesses cannot be understated. In fact, research has revealed that as much as 55% of marketers believe that influencer marketing enables them to acquire more ideal clients with greater accuracy.
Done correctly, you can look forward to things like authority building backlinks to your website, new followers, hot leads, and increased sales.
So, to get started, set a realistic goal to work with a specific number of industry influencers, thought leaders, and move makers within a certain timeframe.
These collaborations should be targeted at people and brands both big and boutique in your niche or a related industry that are making their mark. This’ll allow you to reach people with an affinity to your field. Hence, they’ll be more likely to respond positively to your content and interact with your brand due to your shared interests, beliefs, and ties.
To find these companies and influencers, start by tapping into your network and engage with those who will be a great fit for your company. As they’re already in your realm of influence, it should be easier to spark a conversation with them and eventually propose a collaborative project.
And if you want to work with certain brands and influencers but don’t have any connections with them – reach out! You never know they may already know about your company but were just admiring you from afar. So, don’t be afraid to reach for the stars!
Hubspot’s Co-Marketing Example
Despite this, I must warn you. Its likely things will start off slowly and you may get rejected A LOT in the process. But, don’t give up, take time developing genuine connections and refining your pitch. Once you’ve got a few reputable names you can reel off, securing collabs will get easier.
Play the long game and don’t give up.
To add, when you’re doing a collab, it’s important to use a medium that is an authentic fit for your brand to ensure you display your business in the best light possible, reach your target audience, and make sure your content resonates with your target audience. So, depending on your brand, you could try out avenues like:
- Guest posting
- YouTube interviews
- Instagram giveaways
- Inhouse workshops
- Panels and networking events
All are awesome options for spreading your content far and wide to drive awareness and engagement, it just depends on your business and what it has to offer.
And don’t forget, in all your collaborative projects make sure you have something of value to offer your partner in return such as access to your audience, complimentary product, or monetary payment.
After all, these collabs are supposed to be mutually beneficial partnerships. So, let’s make sure it ends up that way to create long-lasting business relationships.
If you need some inspiration scope out Hubspot’s mammoth list of awesome B2B partnerships.
6. Be….with your audience
If there’s one thing to remember when you want to build a solid readership from content marketing, it’s to be 100% transparent with your audience.
So, in practice this could look like:
- Sharing ‘day in the life’ content – exposing struggles and fears you’re facing as well as the wins you’ve bagged, good times, and laughs had
- Being clear with your readers that you’re collaborating for business purposes when participate in partnerships
- Presenting both the good and bad of your product and those of your competitors to help prospects make informed decisions
- Explaining to your readers why you choose to do business the way you do – i.e. if you choose to not work in certain industries or with specific types of clients – let them know why
Check out Entrepreneur’s killer line up of companies crushing their transparency game.
Transparency is crucial in today’s increasingly sceptical digital world as people are now more suspicious due to the false lives, dangerous scams, and annoying spam distributed online. So, being open and acting with integrity are great ways to win the trust and respect of your customers.
Don’t be shy. Let your audience get to know the raw and authentic you.
And there we have it some goal setting, move-making, and evalu-ating tips to set your content marketing on the right tracks in 2020.
Having a well thought out plan plays a huge role in success. It’ll give a clear path to follow and enable you to avoid busywork and to overcome hurdles ease, so you don’t want to skip this step.
So, planning your content marketing efforts should be seen as a necessity rather than an option.
But, whilst these content marketing tips are simple they certainly aren’t easy and will require discipline and consistency to be fruitful. So, roll with the punches as they come and keep going!
Skew the odds of winning in your favor by starting your own plan today!