There are a lot of ways to use content to market a product or service that barely scratch the surface of marketing content, but if you want to learn content marketing, training is just the beginning, grasshopper.
Play on words aside, there’s a big difference between using content across the buyer’s journey to deliver a consistent customer experience (marketing content), and using content to specifically support top-of-funnel marketing activities (content marketing).
Content marketing is a segment of marketing that focuses primarily on top-of-funnel marketing initiatives, such as thought leadership, brand awareness, and lead generation.
Marketing content is every asset your organization creates to attract, educate, convince, convert, and retain a customer. Marketing content hits every touch point, question, or challenge that a customer (or a potential one) might have at any stage in the sales cycle. It’s the common thread that leads buyers through the customer journey to a purchase.
No doubt the two work in tandem, but ensuring consistency across all of your marketing content requires a more sophisticated process for coordinating and aligning internal teams and business units.
If you’re serious about learning marketing content, let’s get down to the basics.
Know Where to Start and How to Simplify Content Development
First things first: it’s time to build a marketing strategy and end content chaos.
What’s content chaos?
Internal teams are siloed, lacking processes for cross-functional collaboration. The result is ad hoc content that lacks consistency and a disjointed experience for the customer.
When everyone within an organization is on the same page with strategies, key messaging, and marketing campaigns, the end goal is clear. This also reduces the last-minute scramble to pull together random marketing materials and try to shape it into a client pitch with a clear narrative based on customer needs.
When your organization keeps things simple, it naturally extends to the customer experience at every touch point. To create order from content chaos and work more with a cross-functional team mindset, stick with the following four key pillars.
This closed-loop strategy enables B2B organizations to create content that supports all channels and internal teams while delivering essential and valuable information to sales prospects, improving the speed of completed sales, and creating a wonderful customer experience along the way.
Before you move forward with any campaign or initiative, you need to create internal, cross-team alignment.
The most powerful way for a B2B organization to serve customers is to get on the same page about content in every department. This means establishing goals and objectives—what do you hope to accomplish as a marketing team? What business results do you hope to achieve. These goals serve as true north, garnering buy-in from key stakeholders.
Your goals should drive your next step in planning, where you take the time to map out a clear, focused strategy:
- Audit your current technology stack, determining how they align with your goals and objectives and where you have gaps
- Assemble internal stakeholders across teams (product marketing, field marketing, sales, social media, PR, SEO, etc.) to weigh in on strategy and build a customer narrative that integrates each aspect of a customer journey, from start to finish
- Clearly define the buyer’s journey and sales stages as an organization, not per team (see the image below)
- Build personas based on internal and external research of your target customer
- Crowdsource content ideas from key stakeholders and subject matter experts across the company
- Plan the types of content required to meet customer needs—white papers, blogs, how-to videos, etc.—and align them with overall corporate goals.
- Set realistic timelines for each type of content piece to coincide with sales, product launches, or events
These basics serve as the foundation for creating marketing content that supports the entire buyer’s journey. Now that you have a baseline, it’s time to “fill in the blanks.” It’s time to execute.
The production of diverse marketing content can feel extremely complex, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ve already set your plan, now it’s simply about putting that plan into action. Here at Kapost, we’re strong believers in using a single platform to manage all of our content in one place—simplifying workflows, creating a closed feedback loop, and streamlining campaigns.
But, whether you choose to use our marketing platform or not, these are your best practices for executing on full-funnel marketing content:
- Establish set workflows based on content type, not specific pieces of content, for a scalable workflow throughout entire campaigns
- Reestablish campaign milestones to stay on track with execution deadlines
- Edit, edit, edit—according to strict brand standards and established editorial guidelines
When it comes to the actual execution of content, you want to ensure content that is purposeful, valuable, and consistent. You need a creation process that supports this high-quality content, not ad hoc content written in various organizational silos. This can be the difference in a prospect choosing you over your competitor—maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15%.
In other words, create each piece of content that supports a unified goal.
With content in development, the real test is how to deliver content in a strategic way that appeals to potential customers as a clear, consistent narrative. Marketing content feeds distribution channels beyond top-of-the-funnel blogs, spanning all the way into post-sales experience (which can affect important business metrics, like retention rates).
To maximize your distribution for each piece of content:
- Create a digital content repository and include clear, relevant document-tagging for easy search, review, and cross-checking, making content accessible, relevant, and trackable
- Coordinate content sharing among key channels—email, blog, and advertising—and integrate social strategies as part of the content marketing strategy
- Leverage channel-partner influencers to help spread the message and build a larger network with like minds
Whether we’re talking about marketing content or content marketing, both must be tied to measurable outcomes to show real business value. If you hope measure content’s full impact across the entire buyer’s journey, you need metrics—metrics that directly align with the goals and objectives you established in the align stage.
This means paying attention to the details, tracking the right data, and then measuring the results.
- Track and measure results, then tweak as needed based on customer response
- Keep a tally of asset production time vs. ROI to see where money is being saved or spent
- Watch for content coverage gaps and kinks in workflow to clarify and refine customer needs and address them more effectively
Marketing Content Enhances the Customer Experience
Building on this closed-loop strategy, teams can continue to create and refine content in a much more meaningful way that serves a purpose for customers. This meaning is why the differentiation between content marketing and marketing content is so important. While content marketing is a wonderful way to increase inbound, boost SEO, and encourage high-quality traffic, marketing content does so much more.
To learn marketing content is to focus on delivering customer-centric content that stays the same, regardless of the touchpoint. When you align, execute, distribute and optimize all your marketing content, each and every campaign, your force internal teams to step out of the “silo” mentality.
B2B organizations that execute marketing content successfully execute marketing successfully. They are the teams that are seizing the opportunity to grab hold of the customer experience, creating the consistent journey that converts prospects to buyers—and buyers to fiercely loyal customers.