93% of the most successful B2B marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing.
However, being committed is not enough on its own.
Without a clear plan, commitment is no different than persistence.
This is why 65% of successful B2B marketers also have a documented content strategy.
Benefits of a Documented Content Strategy
You already have a decent idea of what you want to do, why should you have to put it on paper? Here are the top 5 benefits of a documented content strategy.
Aligns Team Around Goal/Objective
By documenting your content strategy you make it clear as to exactly what your goals and objectives are. This way you won’t have people spending time on tasks that aren’t conducive to those goals!
Easily Decide What Content to Create
Stop wasting time figuring out what content to create. By having a content calendar and schedule incorporated into your plan, people can just look at the schedule and figure out exactly what they need to be creating.
Planning content is also made much easier. You should be running brainstorming sessions where you look at your audience personas and topics and start churning out ideas based around them. You then take your best ideas and run them through your content creation process.
Focuses Team on Documented Priorities
If you’re attempting to pivot your content to be more video-centric, then you don’t want team members still focusing on creating whitepapers.
Documenting your content strategy minimizes confusion and makes your priorities clear for everyone.
Better Allocate Resources to Optimize Desired Results
Say you want to rapidly grow your Instagram. Focusing on creating blog posts might not be the most effective use of your time in that case. Instead, put more emphasis on images and slideshows in your content calendar as they do the best on Instagram.
Simple things like that allow you to clearly allocate resources where need be. This way, everyone is on the same page and time is being used most effectively.
Provides Clarity on Target Audience
Kinda, sorta knowing who you’re targeting is not enough. You need to know exactly who they are, how they think, what content they like, what platforms they’re on, etc.
This way you can craft your content specifically for them and start to understand what does and doesn’t work with them and adjust accordingly.
What Makes a Successful Content Strategy
You’re probably wondering what the secret ingredient to a successful content strategy is. Unfortunately, there is no secret ingredient. The secret ingredient is time, effort and persistence. Fortunately, there are commonalities amongst successful content strategies. Here are the top 4 commonalities.
Committing to Content Marketing
You’re either all in or all out. If you’re not going to really commit your company or team to content marketing, you might as well skip over it and focus on what currently works for you.
There’s already an abundance of bad content out there and adding to it won’t benefit your business. So if you’re seriously considering content marketing for your company or team, make sure you do your homework and come prepared!
Understanding Your Audience
In order to be successful with your content marketing, you must know who you’re making content for. You must perform proper market research into your target audience and really get to know them on a deep level.
You don’t want to be the old-timer dad trying to fit in with his kids by copying their slang and trying to act like them. You want to be the cool uncle that understands what it’s like to be that age and can relate to them because he actually understands them.
Educating Your Audience
There’s a reason 90% of the most successful B2B marketers prioritize educating their audience rather than pushing sales or promotional messaging.
People are getting sick of being sold to. The best example of this I can give you is yourself. What do you do 99% of the time when a skippable ad pops up on YouTube? You probably tune the ad out then instinctively click “skip ad” when the option pops up.
By educating your audience and actually trying to provide value to them, you get around this mental block. It’s like getting to know someone before asking for their number, you want to ease into things and not come on too strong.
The number one goal of your content should be to educate your audience. By providing value you’ll quickly build trust and continue to have that trust compound as you provide more and more value.
Documenting Your Strategy
No matter how big of a brain you have, your content will be inconsistent and have no clear messaging without a documented content strategy.
Content marketing without a plan is like working out and doing whatever you feel like at the time. It’s just not the right way of doing things. When you work out you start with a goal and you figure out the best routine to achieve that goal.
It’s no different with content marketing.
In order to be successful with content marketing, you must layout your entire plan and document everything. The document should cover everything anyone will ever need to know about your content strategy.
How to Create a Documented Content Strategy
1. Create S.M.A.R.T Goals
Setting goals should be your first step. However, vague, unrealistic, never-ending goals will do you no good. Always make sure your goals meet all of the following criteria…
Your goals should be clear and specific so you can focus your efforts and stay motivated.
Your goals should be easily measured so you can track progress and know exactly how close you are to achieving that goal.
Your goals should be realistic and attainable while still challenging.
Your goals should be relevant to your other business goals like driving traffic, increasing awareness/authority, etc.
Your goals should have a clear start and end date. This way you know what to prioritize and what can wait.
Choose your primary business objectives and create smart goals with their corresponding KPIs(Key Performance Indicators).
Do any needed research into more KPIs or business objectives.
- Brand Awareness
- Reach / Impressions
- Brand Mentions
- Brand Authority
- Social Shares
- Unique Page Visits
- Return Visits
- Organic Sessions
- Bounce Rate
- Average Time on Site
- Customer Retention
- Customer Retention Rate
- Customer Lifetime Value
- Lead Generation
- Number of Leads Generated
- Conversion Rate
Example S.M.A.R.T Goal:
“I want an average engagement rate of 1% on LinkedIn by 01/04/2020. Achieving this goal will directly reflect our brand awareness and authority.”
2. Identify Your Audience
Your next step should be to identify your target audience and identify different segments within that audience.
Perform market research and study your current clients/customers. Then look at different segments of your audience and generate marketing personas for all of them.
The persona should be very in-depth and will be used as a reference when creating any and all content. Remember to be constantly updating and changing these personas as you gain new insights into your audience.
3. Study Your Audience
Only 42% of marketers actually talk to the people they’re marketing to, crazy right? Be that 42%, talk to your clients/customers, study them and really get to know when on a deep, personal level. And don’t stop talking to them!
You can also perform primary and secondary research on them, get feedback from your sales team, look at your website’s analytics, do keyword research, check out what they’re saying on social media, and anything else to learn more about them.
Just whatever you do, don’t lose touch with your audience.
4. Pick Primary Publishing Channels
What platforms are your audience most active on? Figure that out and prioritize those platforms. Figure out the best times to post, the best days, what kind of content does the best, how often you should post, etc.
Study the platforms and know them inside out. However, this isn’t a one and done job. You must also evolve with the platform and adapt to changes with algorithms, trends and more.
Always stay on your toes!
5. Choose Primary Content Forms
Figure out what forms of content do best with your audience, on your platforms and at different stages in the buyer’s journey.
Take all of that data and compile it into a table that will be used in the next step.
6. Pick Primary Content Topics
Compile a list of topics you will make content around. If you’re stuck, look at what your audience consumes or what your competitors are posting.
BuzzSumo is also a great tool to get insights into trending content in specific niches.
7. Create a Content Calendar & Schedule
Map out when you’re going to create all of this content and exactly when and where this content will be posted. Keep in mind that you should be reusing content across different platforms and channels.
When reusing content, cater it to the platform it will be reused on. Don’t just repost blog articles on LinkedIn, create videos from them, create slide shows from those videos. Get creative.
Here are some helpful tools to get started:
8. Adjust & Pivot Accordingly
Your content strategy will never be done. You must be constantly adjusting and pivoting your strategy and stay ahead of the curve and keep your content fresh.
No one likes stale content, change things up, experiment and keep moving. Never get comfortable.
Now you’re ready to get serious, so what do you do from here? What you do is get started! Start planning out your strategy and put it in a document. Be very thorough and continue to come back to this document every week, month, quarter, and year.
Confused? Overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start?