When clients engage us to help with their content marketing strategy, we often find that they haven’t sufficiently answered (or many times, even asked): “What content should we be producing?”
This is a fundamental question that if answered incorrectly can doom B2B content marketing efforts. You can spend a lot of time, money, and energy producing content, but if it’s the wrong content, you’re not going to get the results you want.
So how do you answer the question? How do you pick the right content to drive traffic and conversions?
- Identify your customer personas.
It’s great to have a product or service that fills a market need, but who are the people who are going to be deciding whether to buy it? Who do you need to convince that what you’re selling is valuable?
Obviously, you can’t know all your prospects, but you can create composite profiles of their roles, responsibilities, personalities, pain points, influence on buying decisions, and other key characteristics. These composites are your “customer personas,” which you can use to evaluate the relevance of any content you’re thinking about producing.
For example, you may realize that the people interested in your products or services will fall into one of three categories: executives, supervisors, and office administrators. Think about what these people are generally like—“get to know them”—and then cater to their needs with your content. Some content can be for all of them, but most of it should be focussed on a particular persona.
- Determine what content will help them and you.
With the understanding you developed in creating your customer personas, you can better think about the specific content that will help convert them into leads and sales. However, determining what their needs are is only the starting point. They will have lots of needs, but the only ones relevant to your content considerations are the ones that you can fulfill.
So the “sweet spot” content you’re looking for will have two essential characteristics: it has to provide value to your personas, but it also needs to be focussed on educating them on how they can benefit from what you’re offering.
- Figure out who’s going to produce the content.
Once you’ve put together a list of content that fits the criteria in step 2, you still have a critical point to consider—who’s going to be involved in creating that content? You need content creators who have:
- expertise in the subject
- time to devote to content creation
- the motivation to contribute.
Don’t overestimate what you can get done. If all the people in your company who have the expert knowledge you want to convey are too busy or distracted to impart that knowledge, then your content list doesn’t look so great, does it?
Even if your experts have in-house or external assistance to create and manage content, they will have to be involved to give your content unique value and establish your company as a “thought leader” in your industry.
Before moving ahead with any content creation plan, you need commitments from the people who will be necessary to provide the knowledge for that content.
- Constantly reevaluate how content is working.
All of the assumptions you made about what content your personas will value may prove to be right on the mark. However, more often than not, once content begins to be deployed, you’ll be surprised by some content that does a great job of converting and some content that doesn’t. That’s when you start looking for answers as to why, so you can make adjustments.
For example, if you realize that a persona is much more likely to click on a video link than download an e-book, it’s probably a good idea to devote more effort to videos than e-books for that persona. However, another persona in the same company may have the opposite reaction and want the level of detail provided by an ebook. The same logic applies to subjects that work, or don’t.
Many companies use B2B marketing agencies with expertise in marketing automation and content marketing to help not only with content planning and creation but also with this ongoing measurement of content effectiveness and the subsequent strategy adjustments. However you do it, make sure you’re not releasing content and then forgetting about it. You’re not going to know what’s paying off unless you closely follow performance.
One Red Bird is a B2B marketing services provider that specializes in helping companies increase their sales by changing the way they do marketing. Chris Hubbard is One Red Bird’s Head of Content. Visit www.oneredbird.ca for whitepapers, videos and other resources.
Photo by Sean MacEntee and is licensed under CC BY 2.0