So, you've got a content marketing strategy. High five! You've taken the first step towards using content to grow your sales. Ah, but it's out of date and you're not entirely confident that it's working any more. No problem, It's likely that you can salvage some of it and improve on the rest by using our B2B content marketing checklist. And if you don't have a plan at all yet, read on!
Analyse Your Data
First, you need to figure out which aspects of your content marketing strategy are not working. The great thing about any digital marketing is that you have access to all the data! Even if you don't have a written plan, you will have some data to look at, so either way you'll be in a better position to move forward if you look at what's been happening recently. In B2B marketing, potential buyers do a lot of research before they come to a decision so you want to figure out what they need and how they are using your website at the moment to achieve that.
There are six main areas to look at:
The number of visitors to your website
Use Google Analytics or a similar analytics tool like Clicky to see how many visitors are finding your site and how they get there. Look at the traffic sources to discover if most of them are coming from searches or another route. Monitor this month-to-month to see how they change. If you are not seeing any growth in traffic from search then that's an obvious area that needs attention.
Your search engine rankings
If you aren't getting much traffic from search engines it's a sign that your website is not visible enough, or in other words, it's not near enough the top of the rankings to get found. Use a tool like SEMRush or Google's free tool, Google Search Console, to find out what search terms you are ranking for, and whereabouts in the rankings you are showing up. Use this data to help you plan your content, for example you might want to focus first on those search phrases that are not far off the top slots or you may prefer to start with more obscure phrases that have less competition for eyeballs.
How people are behaving once they reach your website
If you are managing to drive a steady stream of visitors to your site, the next thing to investigate is what happens when they get there. Which pages are they landing on, how long do they spend on the page, what do they do next? Your analytics package will show you this information. If you're not getting them to move through the site in the way you intended, then that is something to work on.
The number of leads
An obvious metric - how many enquiries are coming in from your website? If it's not enough, in relation to the number of visits, you can look at optimising your site for more conversions. Test different calls to action and enquiry forms to see what works best.
Are your lead magnets (e-books, white papers, special offers etc) tired or outdated? Think creatively about what valuable content you can provide in order to persuade visitors to provide their contact details.
The quality of leads
Sometimes forgotten in the excitement of seeing lots of leads come in, you need to sanity check the quality of enquiries. If you are wasting loads of time following up with the wrong people you need to revisit the messaging on your website to attract your ideal customers and put off the less-than-ideal ones.
The conversion rate of leads to customers
If everything else is working well, with a steady stream of the right kind of website visitors who are sending enquiries, but you are not getting the sales, then it's either your product/service that is not what people want, or the final part of your sales process is not working. Dig deeper to see where the problem is.
That's the first stage of improving your B2B content marketing strategy - you've identified the main challenges that you need to overcome.
Next you need to work out what the overall direction will be. That will depend on the challenge you have identified.
iIf you have identified that you want to get more visitors to your website, your overall strategy might be to improve rankings by writing targeted content twice a week.
If you want to increase the number of leads coming from visitors, then your overall strategy might be to improve the conversion rate by creating more enticing gated content.
Improve Your B2B Content Marketing Plan
You need to update your content marketing plan to go with the new strategy.
Identify Your Ideal Customers
Before you leap in, be really clear about who you want to talk to. Your target market is NOT everybody! Focus on the people who will make you the most profit and create a clear picture of who they are and what content they need. Having really detailed buyer personas will make creating content much easier.
Next, you'll want a list of actions that need to be achieved, along with a clear deadline and agreement on who is going to be responsible for each.
Plan out campaigns one at a time, considering each step a visitor will go through. B2B diverges from B2C at this point in particular as decisions are complex and usually involve more than one person and take a long time. The journey will be different for each business, but here's an example:
How are you going to attract attention to your content?
Plan your SEO, social media, and advertising. This content should be helpful and educational, aimed at people who are asking questions and in the initial stages of researching a specific problem or goal.
How are you going to get them to do something else?
Create offers, forms, and landing pages for people who want to dig deeper. Signpost them from your awareness content and if they are sufficiently valuable, ask for an email address before visitors can access them.
How will you show them that your products and services are right for them?
Create price lists, demos, explainer videos, and email campaigns. Provide information about features and benefits and make it easy for potential customers to make a comparison between your offering and others they may be considering.
How are you going to convince them to choose you?
Gather reviews, testimonials and case studies to make them feel safe and convince them to trust you. Also make sure that you have sales people available to close the sale and sign them up.
How are you going to ensure they keep coming back?
Set up email newsletters, Facebook groups, customer service systems to make sure that they remember who you are and what you do, and can make contact if they have any questions. This is all about delighting your customers by being awesome! Encourage repeat purchases if that is relevant to your business, or make sure that you provide excellent service to retain them for as long as possible.
The additional benefit of delighting customers is that they are more likely to provide you with 5 star reviews and recommend you to colleagues and friends.
That is a lot of content to produce! You're going to need a content calendar to help you keep it all under control. The trick to creating content for a campaign is to start at the end. For example, don't start advertising until your landing page is ready. Don't publish your landing page until your e-book is ready. Don't send your ebook until the follow-up email is ready - you get the drift.
It sounds daunting but working through each step methodically will save you a lot of pain later.
So that's it, follow our B2B content marketing checklist, and you'll be on the road to significant improvements.
- Analyse the data to uncover:
- visitor numbers
- visitor behaviour
- number of leads
- quality of leads
- conversion rate
- Decide your overall content strategy
- Identify your most important audiences
- Plan your campaigns - with content covering the entire buyer journey
- Create a content calendar to make sure it all happens when it should
The good news is, you're not on your own! We have plenty of resources to help you. To ensure you've covered all the bases, use our Inbound Marketing Checklist. If you want a little more support, then our free guide to creating a content strategy is your best friend.
And if you'd like to chat over your thoughts then we are always delighted to talk about content plans.