Crafting and carrying out a content marketing strategy continues to be one of the top marketing challenges of organizations that we work with. While getting the right marketing content to the right people at the right time is easier said than done, it can be done nonetheless and doesn’t have to be a highly difficult endeavor.
This topic is one we speak and write about frequently. In fact, we recently wrote about developing a content marketing strategy in our B2B Marketing for Executives: A Deep Dive on the Big Rocks First white paper that covers the importance of a well-defined B2B content marketing strategy and some of the most often cited challenges B2B marketing leaders and executives share in their content marketing efforts. The following is an excerpt from that work.
Content marketing strategy for B2B in 2018
The B2B Content Marketing 2018 report from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs found that only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. This is quite surprising when you consider that 91% of B2B respondents report that they are currently applying content marketing in their overall marketing strategy.
When asked why they think their organizations do not plan to develop a content marketing strategy within 12 months, marketers listed several reasons, most of which centered around having too small of a team, a lack of time to address content marketing and content marketing being a lower priority for them. Do any of these reasons sound familiar to you?
Let’s dive a little deeper into some of these key challenges surrounding B2B content strategy & development and how to address them.
First, what is content strategy?
As a quick refresher, content strategy is the thoughtful and planned distribution of content (now mostly through digital channels). As Brain Traffic CEO and content strategy expert Kristina Halvorson describes, content strategy is the “creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content.”
Earlier, we simplified the output of content strategy as getting the right content to the right people at the right time. For that reason, it’s very important that you think about content strategy in the context of the buyer’s journey. For helpful reference, consider the following stages of the buyer’s journey and the different types of content individuals are likely to expect at each stage:
Awareness Stage – This is generally when buyers realize they have an issue that they need to solve or get further information about. They seek out resources that answer their questions and shed light on what they’re experiencing. Helpful content at this stage is likely to include:
- Research reports
- Editorial & educational content (i.e. blog posts and articles)
Consideration Stage – Here, individuals have formed an idea of who or what product/service can help them tackle the challenges they’re facing or achieve the goal they wish to reach. Content that’s helpful at this stage is likely to be comprised of:
- Expert guides
- Webcasts / Webinars
- Self-guided demos
Decision Stage – At this stage, individuals have narrowed down their choices and are looking for evidence that helps them make the right decision for their needs. They’re also looking to build confidence in their decision, which is supported by content such as:
- Vendor/Product comparisons
- Case studies
- Trial downloads
- Live demo
Key challenges in B2B content strategy & development and how to address them
As mentioned earlier, although a majority of B2B marketers say they use content marketing in their organization, many still struggle to produce and manage their content efforts. In reviewing content strategy with various B2B executives and leaders, a few recurring themes emerge. Let’s explore those themes and how we address them:
“We don’t have enough bandwidth to create the amount of content we need”
Generating enough content to cover the stages in the buyer’s journey for each of your personas can be overwhelming. It’s important to note though that not all content needs to be created from scratch. Good content can be repurposed and repackaged into new content to meet different needs. For example, look at this very blog post. It was repurposed from our broader marketing strategy e-book to help those specifically looking for information on addressing content marketing challenges. Publishing it did not require that produce wholly new content.
Using outside expertise to supplement your content creation efforts. We do this with many organizations. Typically, it involves partnering with one or more of the subject matter experts to get their unique perspective on a range of topics and then us taking that information to form it into a more complete narrative that’s ready for publishing.
Need additional support? Check out these five ways to help you contend with content development.
“How do we use content for lead generation?”
Some content (e.g. blog posts, features/benefits sheets, case studies) should be ungated, meaning you shouldn’t require contact details or anything at all to view it. Other, higher-value content (e.g. white papers, e-books, reports), should be gated so that you capture (at minimum), an email address so that you can begin to build a dialogue that grows to become a lead. If content is truly valuable to an individual, they will not mind sharing a small bit about themselves in exchange for it.
Learn more about gated vs. ungated content.
“What’s the right cadence or frequency for distributing or publishing our content?”
As we’ve shared, effective content distribution follows a thoughtful, purpose driven plan. Create a marketing calendar that addresses the key facets of your messaging and the needs of your respective personas. As much as possible, enable 1:1 marketing whereby individuals can determine what types of content they want to receive and when. Marketing automation can also help with that.
In short, your goal is to create an ongoing dialogue with your prospects and customers. This can be accomplished by a combination of continuous content publishing (e.g. blog posts, new assets in your Resources area and website updates) along with tailored email communications, social media engagement and introduction of content on other sites your prospects and customers commonly traffic.
Gaining confidence in content strategy development and execution
Creating a B2B content strategy does not have to be a difficult task and should be considered a priority for marketers who are doing content marketing. If you’ve found yourself struggling with one of the challenges mentioned above and could use additional advice, give us a shout in the comments below!