It shouldn’t be a surprise that proper planning leads to better results for B2B content marketers.
However, Content Marketing Institute found that only 37% of B2B organizations have a documented content strategy. With a total of 89% of B2B marketers using content marketing, that leaves a huge portion of marketing teams creating content without a defined strategy to support the assets.
If that sounds like a ton of wasted time and content to you, you’re already ahead of the curve concerning how you think about content marketing.
But if you’ve been listening to marketing analysts, you probably know that content marketing itself is already falling behind. What’s going to take its place? Content operations.
9 Ways to Uplevel Your Content Marketing Strategy to a Content Operation
While content marketing focuses on TOFU content and leaves gaps in the customer experience, a content operation connects the customer journey with more strategic content. Here’s exactly how to transform your content marketing efforts to that of a content operation.
Disclaimer: I’ll be showing how the Kapost platform functions in each of these steps. For those of you not using Kapost—don’t worry, I won’t leave you out. I’ll also include options of workaround ways to get similar value.
1. Identify Your Overall Objectives
The foundation of any successful strategy is fully fleshing out what your goals. A content strategy is no different.
For example, if your organization is finding that blogs aren’t leading to many qualified conversions, maybe you want to produce more diverse assets, like eBooks or white papers. Or perhaps most readers don’t engage with more than a single page of your site, so you need to streamline your user experience.
One pretty common issue that we see is that organizations are creating content ad hoc, instead of aligning it to a content pillar. The real problem here is that ad hoc content is that it isn’t attached to any larger strategy—quite obviously. Essentially, unplanned content is reactive instead of deliberate. With the pillar strategy, all content serves a distinct purpose, eliminating wasted content and moving your team towards focused, measured goals.
2. Define the Appropriate Metrics
There’s a reason marketers are obsessed with research and insights. A data-driven marketing strategy wins over intuition-based pretty much every time.
Once your goals are set, it’s time to identify how you can track your progress. Here are some possible metrics that might apply:
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Blog subscriptions
- Conversions—whether that be a filled out form or a demo request, you decide!
- Page rank
- Alignment to quarterly objectives
Your metrics will be in all shapes and sizes, of course. The important thing is to start tracking! Some will be more easily defined than others. You can quickly pull your bounce rate and time on page from Google Analytics, but showing your content alignment is a little trickier.
As a framework, check out how our Kapost platform organizes the information:
At Kapost, our quarterly objectives are called “initiatives.” This view shows what content lives in an initiative and, therefore, is aligned to a broader goal!
So, what if you don’t have Kapost? Is this really that important?
Seeing the numbers on what content is truly set up for success is a necessary component of your content strategy. Don’t let your content live in the land of “What’s my purpose in life?” Whether you keep this metric as a field in your editorial calendar or create a visual board that’s similar to Kapost, it’s a critical part of creating a fully aligned content operation.
Bonus: a visual representation like you see above really incentivizes you to get to 100% alignment. That 2% driving anyone else crazy? Just me??
Whatever your metrics, make sure you have an easy and universally agreed upon method to track and evaluate your progress.
3. Create Buyer Personas
Alright. You’ve got the goals and a way to track them. Now, who are you addressing?
Developing buyer personas facilitates effective content creation, simple as that. It’s almost impossible to consistently touch on a potential buyer’s pain points if you don’t know what their day-to-day looks like. Here are the basics of what your persona should cover:
- A day in the life: written in the first person as if the persona is speaking to you (include relationships with others involved in the buying decision)
- Objectives: priorities they need to achieve
- Problems: why the objectives haven’t been achieved yet
- Orientation: professional attributes
- Obstacles: what could stall forward momentum
- Content and channel preferences
- Keywords and phrases
- Watering holes and social media
Want some more guidance on buyer personas? Here’s a how-to on getting B2B personas just right.
At Kapost, we like to take it one step further. Once you have your persona, specifically tag each piece of content with the buyer persona that it’s targeting.
Check it out:
Tagging your content—whether or not you’re using Kapost—allows other members of your team to quickly and efficiently identify what they’re seeing. Not to mention, it better enables sales to share your content to the appropriate leads.
Related eBook: A Marketer’s Guide to Sales Enablement
4. Perform an Audit of Existing Content
Once you’ve clearly identified the direction of your content—from goals to target personas—it’s time to comb through your existing content.
But here’s the thing: an audit doesn’t mean you jot down titles and topics to avoid redundant content.
For a truly strategic audit, you have to go beyond the surface. Identify the buying stage and persona of each piece of content.
Keeping track of which buyer personas you’re targeting most often allows you to make shifts as needed, so you continue to engage buyers across personas. Since our team is lucky enough to use Kapost, this is pretty easy. Check it out:
Each different color in the circle around the numbers represents a different content type that corresponds to the particular buying stage and persona. Gaps are immediately apparent, allowing you to know what holes to fill with your editorial calendar.
If you’re not using Kapost, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to track this kind of data, perhaps in a spread sheet or other organizational software. It allows you to see where your gaps are in addressing each of your buyer personas.
5. Create and Maintain One Source of Truth
After you gain a clear sense of what content you have, keep it organized in five to ten different spreadsheets that also link to shared drives that house images that publish to a database that’s only accessible to some of your team and understood by even less.
Oops, was that sentence too confusing?
You probably don’t have to imagine the day-to-day struggle of living within spreadsheets that track everything from SEO to publish dates to URL. If you do have to think about it to understand how inefficient that is, consider yourself lucky. It’s a headache.
Advanced content operations require a content marketing platform (CMP)! Have we mentioned Kapost is a pretty good one? We think so, at least. 🙂 Alright, moving on from shameless self-promotion.
We, of course, would recommend Kapost, but here are some key capabilities you should look for in any CMP:
- Cross-content creation
- Goal alignment views
- Sales enablement
- Advanced content tagging
- Content scoring
- Content archiving
Having a single source of truth for your content operation allows your entire team to get out of spreadsheets and focus on the important things: driving leads, bringing in revenue, and providing value.
6. Plan Content around Pillars
We mentioned pillar content above, but it really deserves its own section. Much like its name suggests, a content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme that can be broken into many derivative sections, pieces, and materials. Examples of content pillars include eBooks, reports, and guides.
Basically, it’s a large piece of content that you can turn into many smaller pieces of content to fuel all those channels you’re currently struggling to fill. By focusing your attention on creating a single content pillar, it’s easy to break that finished piece into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates, and more, to attract different kinds of buyers through different channels.
For example, maybe you have an idea to create an eBook: The Simplified Guide to B2B Content Strategy. It breaks down exactly how to develop a content strategy that resonates with B2B organizations. But then you think, why stop at an eBook? It’s the perfect chance to write a blog about streamlining your strategy. People love it, but there’s something missing—templates! Next up in production, a collection of content strategy templates that align all of your content to your organization’s goals. Add in an infographic, a white paper, and a few more blogs; now, your single idea is a robust content pillar!
7. Enable Cross-Department Ideas
Keeping your editorial calendar interesting for not only readers but also your content creators is key to a vital content operation. One easy way to do this is providing a space for other departments to weigh in on the content you’re creating.
Host a weekly meeting, set up an email template, or use a handy CRM’s idea creation feature. Whatever you do, keep the ideas flowing.
Crowdsourcing ideas will give variety to your content while also addressing departmental pain points from sales, customer success, product, etc.
Ready for the extra bonus? Involving other teams in content production creates more cross-departmental ownership of content production. The killer salesperson who submitted the idea for a blog post on the latest trend is probably also the best person to write it. Enabling other teams to produce content adds exponential value to the content you’re producing.
Keep communication constantly open between teams to best support your strategy. Alignment comes from within, team!
8. Test Different Types of Content
You’ll never know what hits home for your buyers without trying! The bonus of producing diverse types content is that you’ll be able to stretch your ideas much further, building your content pillars out to provide more and more value.
Regularly updating your website means getting creative with not only topics and angles, but also types of content. Here are some types to experiment with:
- Long-form blogs
- eBooks (Bonus: here’s an eBook on how to make a great eBook)
- Testimonials/Customer reviews
- Interviews with niche experts
- Gated content
- White papers
- Social media
Of course, don’t spend weeks creating a video you’re pretty sure won’t resonate with your audience, but dabble in different types of content to see what works best for your target personas. You might find something unexpected.
9. Make Your Content Shareable
Social media sharing is a must, of course. In this day and age, having a social presence is non-negotiable. Your social strategy is certainly part of your content strategy, but for the sake of brevity, we won’t delve fully into how to build the perfect B2B social media strategy.
Instead, let’s talk about how else your content needs to be shared: from your internal teams! If sales isn’t able to send content to a lead to help move them through the funnel, the content isn’t hitting the mark.
With Kapost, using “Gallery” does the trick. Without Kapost, consider creating a searchable channel on any internal communications platform. Make sure to let your organization know what you’re publishing so they can file it away in the back of their minds for the next curious potential buyer.
Creating a content strategy isn’t a quick fix. It’s meant to be a team effort to implement and maintain. But strategically investing in your content has massive benefits. There’s a reason almost one-third of the average marketing budget goes to content.
In that same vein, don’t waste your content budget. Aligning all of your content to specific initiatives is critical. We’re so passionate about content alignment that we’ve created ten templates to get you on your way to creating the perfect content strategy for your organization. Download them for free here.