In the content marketing world, a lot of attention gets paid to top B2C brands doing amazing or flashy things, but content also has a huge (albeit less glamorous) role to play for B2B marketers as well. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, the most successful B2B marketers reported spending 40% of their budget on content marketing in 2018.
But budget power is not enough. Along with it, you need a content marketing planning strategy to ensure that you can achieve your top business goals. In most cases, for B2B marketers, your main focus will be some combination of lead generation, conversion, and/or sales.
Smart and strategic enterprise content marketing can help attract customers to enter your sales funnel and, more importantly, keep them there. But it’s not as simple as throwing up a few blog posts or asking your CEO to post on LinkedIn.
What you need is a detailed content game plan that outlines exactly how your team will create purposeful content for each part of the buyer journey so that your efforts ultimately drive your B2B bottom line.
Follow this guide to get started:
Start with your team
Particularly for B2B brands, it’s important that all stakeholders be on the same page when it comes to content marketing planning. That includes your marketing, communications, PR, and sales teams, and anyone else involved with working with customers. Every team has its own agenda and targets to hit, but with an integrated effort and an understanding of each team’s role, everyone can contribute to one cohesive plan.
For instance, involving sales can reveal what the customer pain points are or where in the journey prospective customers most commonly drop off. With that knowledge, the content marketing team can cover topics that help the sales team educate customers and address their concerns.
- Create a chart that includes each internal team that can benefit from content marketing in some way; the types of content that you want to create; the role each department will play in the content creation; how the content will be distributed; and who is responsible for each moving part.
- Establish a regular communication loop (a weekly call perhaps?) so that everyone understands who is responsible for what, and can be kept up to date on priorities and progress.
- Map out the buyer journey (awareness, consideration, purchase, retention), and describe which type of content will be created for each stage, and which team members are involved.
- Share the master workflow with all involved parties, and revisit and revise as needed.
Dig deep into personas
Now that your high-level content marketing planning is underway, you can get more granular by figuring out exactly what type of content will help you meet your B2B goals.
The best place to start is to develop personas – profiles of the typical people you want your content to target. It’s likely that you will have more than one persona, including the main buyer of your product or the person in charge of making purchasing decisions. Depending on your industry, one of your personas might be the head of IT or some other business function.
For every persona, think about each one’s unique challenges and what they need help with. Do they need a lot of information so they can go to their manager with your product offerings? Do they want to see case studies of similar businesses to figure out if your solution is a good match for them? Do they need content that shows them unique ways to maximize the services they’re already paying for?
- Get input from the people on your team who deal directly with customers at various buying stages to find out more about them and what motivates them.
- Dive into your content marketing analytics to find out which types of content they engage with most, and which social channels they tend to use.
- Put together a full picture for each persona including their average age, experience level/job title, and other demographics.
Once you have well-developed personas, you can create content that is less generic and more personalized, which has proven business impacts. In fact, 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.
Develop your editorial calendar
Once you have everyone on board and a good idea of who your target audiences are, you’ll be ready to start creating the actual content. The question is: what type of content will work best?
Figuring that out will take some trial and error, but there are some general rules of thumb that might help.
For starters, long-form content is popular among B2B content marketers with 74% of them saying that they’ve used it in the past year, according to a 2019 Content Marketing Institute study. This includes content like white papers, ebooks, original research, and case studies — all of which are geared toward converting customers who are in the later stages of the buyer journey.
Of course, you also need to reach potential buyers way before that, such as those who want to learn more about your company, your products, and your services or maybe just the industry in general. That’s where awareness-type content like your blog or social media posts will come into play.
Once you’ve hooked readers in, you’ll also want to have some meaty types of content available that can help move them along into the consideration phase. This can include content like guides, webinars, and slideshows.
- Create an editorial calendar with content that appeals to your different personas as well as each part of the buyer journey.
- Consider using a centralized content management platform so that everyone can see the status of each content asset in real-time.
- If you need more content than your staff can create in-house, look into licensing or hiring a third-party agency for support.
- Develop a distribution plan for each piece of content that includes where it will live and how/where it will be promoted.
- Track progress with analytics so that you know how your content is performing, and make tweaks accordingly.
By following a robust content marketing planning strategy, your team will be well equipped to develop targeted content that can deliver the business outcomes you want.
Interested in learning how NewsCred’s CMP can help you to ideate, plan, and execute your content marketing strategy? Request a demo.
Dawn Papandrea is a NewsCred Contributor.