Fi Shailes

B2B content marketing overwhelm? Focus on these seven things

At the heart of every marketing campaign and every digital strategy: content.

Formulating content is often a continuous trial for marketers. The good news is that over the past few years an increasing number of businesses have started to understand the genuine value of content — and how hard it can be for digital marketing teams.

The most ‘enlightened’ firms support their marketing teams by allowing them to recruit more content creators; thereby enhancing their marketing team’s capacity and capability for content production.

In a previous in-house digital manager role, I got lucky. I was able to hire a content writer to help do some of the heavy lifting in our otherwise-traditionally-structured marketing team.

Whilst it may still be seen as a ‘luxury’ role by some, there’s no doubt at all that this was a very wise investment indeed; particularly as the business’s appetite for content became positively ‘hoggish’ at that time.

This article is about the fact that there are many things to bear in mind if you’re a content creator. Here are seven key things I myself always keep a beady little eye on…

Focus on these seven things

1. Get topical content ‘done and out’ as soon as possible

A crucial enabler re: getting things turned around quickly is having an effective approvals process in place.

Before you’re even close to sign-off stage, try and give yourself a head start by:

• asking any journalistic questions early
• ensuring your internal process for creating content is as streamlined as possible

If a piece in draft has to receive input from ten people before it can be released into the world, it’s probably going to lack impact by the time it gets published.

2. Write for your audience — not for yourself

It might sound dead obvious, but when you’re creating content, one of your main aims should be for it to strike the right chord with the intended end audience.

Where is the value for them, and why should they read it?

There’s no point writing about something because you want to write about it, or because the business thinks it’s a great idea (in fact the latter can sometimes almost certainly mean it’ll be a bad idea). If you don’t bother to try and understand your audience and what they want, you may be firing your arrows at the wrong target, and missing what would have been a strong opportunity to build trust.

3. Commit to developing genuine insight

According to Hubspot, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads (per month) compared to those companies that do not.

Think of blogs, white papers and newsletters not as ‘sales collateral’, but more as ‘insight assets’. As you produce more of these content items over time, they can end up becoming very effective, enduring building blocks for your company’s credibility online. Being a regular purveyor of valuable insight can help businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors in an otherwise saturated marketplace.

4. Segment, measure and remarket

All three are big topics in their own right, but essentially, this ‘pointer’ is about driving home the fact that you need to be:

• delivering relevant content to your audience (segment)
• checking whether what you’re serving them has resonated and made an impact (measure)
• making sure you keep feeding relevant content to those people who engage (remarket)

A classic content marketing mistake is to invest time and effort in a campaign, collect contacts into a database and then almost start again from scratch when you come to launching a new marketing campaign. In today’s digital landscape, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to being able to pick software which can help us segment, measure and remarket — Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, Salesforce… the list goes on.

And whilst it can be a slow process to nurture prospects (and customers) with content (your sales team may even be twitching in their chairs at the thought), it’s this stealthy, ‘warmer’ approach which can often successfully convert leads to customers.

5. Plan how you can make owned, paid and earned media work for your brand

Traditionally these have all been seen as separate entities — often working in isolation to promote your brand. But, in truth, they all need to be working together as one content strategy ‘ecosystem’. (Yes, I said ‘ecosystem’, sorry.)

Owned: Build up your owned media channels with trusted, customer-orientated content (this should commonly include an element of ‘problem-solving’ to add some solid value).

Paid: Use paid channels, like PPC or paid social, to get this content strategically positioned online to create exposure and attract your target audience.

Shared: At the pinnacle of doing a ‘good job’ with your content, are the rewards found from those who trust/believe in what you’re saying, and who rate your content highly. A proportion may engage with your content through liking, commenting or sharing it with their peers via channels such as social and email.

Earned: If an industry news/media organisation has picked up what you’re doing, likes what you’re doing, and wants to feature your business in some way on their own digital channels, this is traditionally what ‘earned media’ means. These days however, ‘earned’ can extend to being picked up by well-known bloggers and collaborating with influencers too (these could arguably sit in ‘paid’ to be honest, but we’re looking at it from more of a ‘perception’ point of view here).

6. Optimise your content

There are three aspects to remember when it comes to ‘optimising’ your content:

#1. Be mindful of the different channels your content is destined for. So for example, a webpage may house half a page of introductory content, but a social media post about the same subject will need to be shorter, snappier, and (preferably) include a CTA.

Likewise, an Google Ad will have some character restrictions, and so the content will need to be positioned slightly differently in order to pack the most punch into this format.

#2. Ensure that your website is responsive. According to a recent report, 67% of the world’s total population own a smartphone.

Couple this with the fact that there are still many businesses that lack a responsive website, and it’s clear that some marketers have to work even harder to make their content effective. Reading-based Digital Marketing agency Sharp Ahead conducted research on 599 B2B companies in the Thames Valley and Solent regions. They found that 42% of these businesses did not have a responsive company website.

So, to keep your message digestible across a variety of different devices, keep content short and sweet, use bullet points and subheadings, and add impactful images and infographics to make your story come alive. After all, around 90% of the information your brain receives is visual.

#3. Last but not least, there’s optimising for the purposes of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It may seem somewhat obvious to a content marketer with any experience, but the magic formula for achieving effective SEO is ever-changing, and it remains an important piece of the jigsaw.

7. Make your content work harder

It often feels like an age has passed by the time you actually get your blog/white paper/report /newsletter signed off and out there. The smartest content marketers will now perform one our greatest tricks, and attempt to squeeze every last drop of mileage from that base content.

Think about how you can make your content ‘divisible’. That is to say, can you re-purpose elements of it for use on other channels, promote it again in a few weeks via a related campaign, or even use elements of it in a form of offline media?

I really hope these basic pointers help guide your content marketing efforts — there are probably more I’ve not listed here, but these are the principles I’ve always tried to stick to!

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Full-time social strategist | part-time content writer | Editor at www.digital-freelancer.org | Twitter: @Fi_digitaldrum | Better Marketing columnist ✍🏼