How to Build a Foolproof Content Strategy for B2B
Organizations can spend a lot of money and resources chasing their tails as they work on how to build a B2B content strategy. Here’s why.
Even though the quality and flow of marketing content—from in-house development down to the potential client—is okay, it’s not mapped to the customer journey as well as it could be. In many cases, organizations are also experiencing content chaos, which means that marketing materials don’t seem cohesive or tell a clear product or service story that leads to conversions.
But never fear! Here’s how to build a foolproof B2B content strategy that checks all of the required boxes.
Build a Content Strategy Foundation That Generates Closed-Loop Regeneration
To amp up marketing efforts and make sure they hit home with clients, tap into the four core pillars for a powerful B2B content strategy: Plan, Create, Distribute,and Optimize. Not only are they easy to remember, they provide a solid foundation to end content chaos and focus on elevating the quality of the customer experience along the way.
1. Plan for the Big-Picture Customer Journey
There are a lot of moving parts to an effective content strategy, which makes it critical for all teams within the organization to work together to plan content for the entire customer journey, from beginning to end.
In the current B2B landscape, the entry point for buyers is a moving target, which makes it essential to consult all customer-facing departments to gather input on customer pain points and common requests.
During the planning process, review:
- The budget for content creation as well as any tools and technologies needed to gather, analyze, and distribute customer feedback
- The technologies needed to manage the planning and execution of marketing content
- The budget for content development, like freelancers or contractors who specialize in the key areas of content development
It’s also essential to:
- Clearly define the stages of the buyer’s journey from start to finish
- Ask for input from key internal stakeholders, including sales, product marketing, field reps, social media, etc. so you can work on developing a one-team approach to content development that’s cross-functional
- Develop and align clear buyer personas
- Create content deadlines that start with the big picture and then move down to all the little details of execution
“In 2014, Forrester conducted a survey of 113 senior B2B marketers about how they organize their content marketing efforts and the results they achieve. Of those surveyed, only 6% rated their organization as optimized, and reported tying their content marketing objectives to specific business goals like customer acquisition, retention, and revenue growth.” —Laura Ramos, “B2B CMOs Drive Content Marketing Results by Fostering Direct Involvement,” Forrester Research, Inc., September 9, 2014
2. Create Content Guidelines and Tactics
With a detailed plan in place, creating content to build into your content strategy is so much easier. Teams clearly understand their role in the content strategy development process, but also need a way to automate content development, share information, maximize the marketing materials already created, and detect content gaps in customer journey education.
This is where many B2B organizations fall into content chaos.
Here’s how to avoid this common pitfall:
“Your prospects are searching based on pain points, needs, desires. They are looking for solutions they don’t yet know exist. The better you can speak your prospect’s language, the better you will be able to align your content with prospect intent.”—Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing Inc.
- Establish a clear structure of content responsibility so that each person on the team understands their role as a unique content creator and how they play into the bigger content strategy
- Set clear content goals and objectives
- Create a workflow based on content type—blog post, white paper, infographic, etc.—and list every task that needs to be completed before it’s considered “done”
- Assign realistic content deadlines that consider development time for that type of marketing piece, and make sure someone is assigned as the “content shepherd” for it
- Last but not least, call on SEO tactics to optimize content
- Build a style guide that outlines standards, policies, and templates to take the confusion out of content development
3. Distribute Content and Strategy as a Single Story Arc
Building a foolproof content strategy goes beyond just creating content and getting it out to the masses. It integrates a next-level approach to content marketing that many B2B organizations miss: using a clear “story” and a content management system to get everyone within the organization in sync.
When team members are excited and invested in the core story of the buyer’s journey, client education is more effective, and the overarching “story” of your content appears consistent across all channels.
Here’s how to achieve this:
- Develop a centralized content repository to serve as the go-to place for shared documentation
- Maximize internal channels like business development, sales, customer success, and field marketing to connect with customers at a deeper level
- Be mindful of how you share marketing content across social channels, and choose ones that reflect where your target client hangs out
- Integrate social media efforts with your overall marketing content strategy
- Give people a reason to visit the website—and stick around—by using persona-driven, valuable content that’s sprinkled with targeted SEO words
“50% of B2B enterprise marketers say measuring content effectiveness is a challenge.” —B2B Marketing Playbook
4. Optimize to Keep Your Eye on the Prize
After putting all this time, energy, and money into developing content, you want it to mean something, right? Well, keep your eye on the prize and optimize.
Optimization is key to maintaining the up-front cost of your content “investment,” and it allows B2B organizations to collect metrics that show how content is tied to ROI by demonstrating the impact of a specific content piece on a prospect’s purchase decision.
Here are some ways to track ROI:
- Measure results of content performance at every stage of the purchase process
- Track how your teams use and share content
- Use content as a scoring model to see how certain marketing pieces convert
- With conversion metrics, marketing can pinpoint content gaps and inefficiencies and set clear performance benchmarks
The best part about this closed-loop approach to content marketing is that you can see how each piece fits together and refills the sales funnel (or not).
When you break down how to build content strategy for B2B, step by step, it’s easy to see that the up-front investment is the way to best serve clients, leverage key content assets, and give the B2B organization the best results for marketing dollars spent.