The principal objective in content marketing is to drive qualified traffic to your site. After engagement with relevant content, visitors should be asked to supply information that will later be used to market more directly to them. It’s at this point that content marketing and marketing automation technology come together. Content marketing attracts prospects; marketing automation moves them through the buying process.
Lead generation (85%) and sales (84%) will be the most important goals for B2B content marketers over the next 12 months.
However, many of the marketing automation users do not have an effective content strategy in place. In fact, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Report, only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy they are using to attract qualified leads — and that’s down 3% from last year! One thing I say all the time is you can’t automate your marketing if you don’t have anything to send.
How do you get started building a solid content marketing strategy? Below is a “quick guide” of things you need to know in order to start developing a lead-generating content strategy.
1. Know Your Audience
It may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised how often buyer personas are missing when it comes to content. Developing your buyer personas (or ideal customer profiles), and documenting the typical buyer’s journey will help you develop a content map that corresponds to the journey and the personas. Basically, you document your target audience and the questions and concerns they have when purchasing your product or service.
ProTip: If you’re looking for a quick way to begin developing buyer personas, I suggest identifying a current customer that you would like to have 100 more of. Take them to lunch or request a quick phone call to discuss:
- What questions did they ask when deciding to buy your current product or service?
- What internal hurdles did they face when they were trying to justify purchasing your product?
- Was this their first time purchasing a product or service of your kind? If not, what caused them to switch products or services?
2. Know Your Content
Now that you have identified your target audience, along with their profiles, buying questions, and concerns related to your product or service, take inventory of your current content that addresses those questions and concerns.
Though the audit process can be tedious, it will empower your contributors to create more targeted, more valuable, and more effective content. Getting a handle on your current content makes you aware of your content gaps — the important answers to your buyers’ questions. What is your audience looking for that you’re not currently providing?
3. Know Your Schedule
What is the first thing you do when you schedule a meeting with someone? You create a calendar invite. Calendars keep you on track and ensure you don’t miss an important meeting or opportunity.
Similarly, a content calendar is one of the most important pieces of your content marketing strategy. The problem with content marketing calendars is that one size does not fit all and what works for one team may not work for another.
There are plenty of templates you can download (see a simple sample template we’ve created below), or you can simply use a Google Doc. My suggestion is to start simple — don’t over complicate it. What you really need to get your head around is the content you have planned for release, the format, and the author. At first, start with 90 days out. Once you’ve got a handle on that, plan out your content as far out in advance as possible.
Quality content not only shows your customers that you know your business, it also creates a sense of trustworthiness, increases your rank in search engines, and if done right, helps “fill the funnel.”
Though there are other factors involved in a content marketing strategy, like budget, SEO, and your goals and metrics, I always say “take baby steps.” Tackle the three areas above and you’ll be well on your way to developing a solid content marketing strategy.