Because we like to practice what we preach, we work to stay directionally sound in our own content strategy, as it’s our master plan for the creation of all our content and marketing efforts to help us reach our business goals. Because we know the importance of content strategy, we aren’t surprised that 84% of 1,500 marketing agencies and businesses surveyed by Semrush reported they have a content marketing strategy.
What does surprise us is, in that same survey, only 11% reported their content strategy as solid or that it helped them develop a brand with authority in their respective industries. In a survey from 2020, the Content Marketing Institute revealed even bleaker numbers, including 69% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, but only 42% of B2B companies consider themselves in the “sophisticated” or “mature” phase of content marketing.
It’s tough to know if you’re headed in the right direction with a content strategy if you lack confidence in its thoughtfulness or substance. Even with positive social media attention and browsed blog content, how do you know you’re not wandering in wonderland with Alice and a white rabbit? How do you know what you’re doing is going to get you to your marketing and business goals?
If you’re nodding your head as you read this, consider the following four steps to ensure your content strategy is pointed down the right path, but first, ask yourself if your content has a purpose beyond making you money. How will your content help users solve their problems and pain points?
If you’re not adding a solution via useful and useable content to the mix, you’re just adding noise. Kristina Halverson, the owner of Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy and author of “Content Strategy for the Web,” wrote, “high-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.”
1. Form Your Direction Question
If you’re confident your content is helping your customers and prospects solve their problems, good on you and your efforts. If you aren’t crisp on this, start with a different question and make it one that challenges your most entrenched assumptions. A good directional question would be, “Who is already buying, and what marketing content do they want to enhance their buying experience?” Map out the journey of your last 10 customers. What do they— and their journeys—look like? What trends and patterns are at work?
2. Identify and Document Your Customer Personas
Knowing your customers is clearly critical. In a recent Forbes article, “knowing your buyers” was indispensable for creating a clean and effective content strategy. Take that knowledge into a usable form and create empathetic profiles of your prospective target audiences. Personas are, according to HubSpot, “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.
They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).” What data, you ask? Your own website’s analytics, Google analytics, CRM systems, industry and trade research reports and publications, reviews (including any bad ones), trade shows and surveys. The good part of data collection is that you can use it for multiple purposes, in addition to understanding your customers.
And always, when you build customer personas, include what is referred to as the Three Rs: your customer and prospects’ responsibilities, their risks and their rewards. Make sure you document, in some way, the response to these questions:
- How do our potential B2B customers find you?
- What information do they want?
- What are they not interested in?
- What are their concerns and pain points?
- Why would they want to buy from you (be specific and from their point of view)?
Finding out who your buyers are and what questions they have is essentially a map to help guide the buying experience. Knowing where each persona stands allows you to create content marketing and nurturing campaigns that can help no matter where they are on their journey.
3. Track Your Content
Your next step is to identify and evaluate the content you use right now. How is it performing? For each B2B marketing campaign, create a spreadsheet that identifies every piece of marketing content in chronological order. Create categories for each stage of your customer’s journey, such as consideration, awareness, or decision-making. Then add engagement data such as organic searches, views, downloads, and social sharing. After creating the spreadsheet, investigate whether your marketing content met your target audience’s needs.
How well did it deliver what your target was seeking? Some key areas to evaluate include:
How effectively does your writing style deliver the right tone, voice and messaging? How effective are your colors, fonts, and photography style? How well do they reflect the brand message you’re trying to send?
How clear and concise is your information presented? How effective are the writing and layout?Accuracy
How up-to-date is your information? How accurately does it reflect the current state of your company or industry?
How well does your content provide value to the reader? (Revisit Kristina Halverson’s useability and usefulness advice.)
4. Rescue Your Campaign
If you feel your B2B content marketing campaign has gone off-road, or you’re trying to just figure out where you’re t right now, a content audit can help. If your content strategy feels lost, use a content audit to help re-orient you and your efforts, as it will help you determine if you and your prospects are even on the same path.
Once you fully focus on meeting your customers’ and prospects’ needs, based on an empathetic persona, you’ll find you won’t have to be constantly asking whether your marketing content is headed in the right direction.
You’ll have a master map to follow, which instills confidence in you and your business. It matters that the top three reasons B2B buyers chose a business over others are the business’s knowledge of the solution and industry landscape, the business’s knowledge of the buyer’s needs, and the business’s ability to provide content that made it easier to build a case for the purchase. Your content strategy should dovetail neatly with—ideally—all these reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions
Having a solid content strategy is important because it helps businesses reach their marketing and business goals. It ensures that the content created is purposeful and valuable to users, helping them solve their problems and pain points. A well-defined content strategy also enhances a brand’s authority in its respective industry.
According to a survey conducted by Semrush, 84% of 1,500 marketing agencies and businesses reported having a content marketing strategy.
According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 69% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
To ensure your content strategy is on the right path, consider the following steps: 1. Form a directional question that challenges your assumptions and focuses on enhancing the buying experience of your target audience. 2. Identify and document your customer personas, which are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. 3. Track and evaluate your content performance by creating a spreadsheet that categorizes your marketing content according to each stage of the customer’s journey. 4. Assess elements such as branding, clarity, accuracy, and utility. If needed, conduct a content audit to reorient your content strategy and align it with your customers’ needs.
A content audit can help rescue a content marketing campaign by providing insights into whether the content aligns with the needs of your customers and prospects. It helps identify areas where the campaign may have gone off-track and allows for adjustments to be made to realign with the desired goals. A content audit serves as a tool for reorientation and ensuring that your marketing content is headed in the right direction.
The top three reasons B2B buyers choose a business over others are: 1. The business’s knowledge of the solution and industry landscape. 2. The business’s knowledge of the buyer’s needs. 3. The business’s ability to provide content that makes it easier to build a case for the purchase.