The exciting potential of content marketing is in having control of your business stories, their frequency, style and length. Internet marketing becomes more dynamic, powerful and profitable when you take charge of creativity.
A content marketing strategy is a plan to follow for your future online material. In B2B marketing, it’s productive and cost-effective to have a guide on what and when to publish.
Unexpected twists and turns are special challenges in online marketing. More dexterity is required than with traditional promotions, such as print. Being able to respond quickly to opportunities and threats keeps your branding messages strong and consistent.
Surprises can come without warning from social media trends or breaking news. But each can offer commercial advantage too. Online marketing makes you flexible at short notice because a quick alert to your database is just an upload away.
Who is your audience and how does it consume content? For B2B, they’re either in a decision-making chain or they’re influencers. How do they find information? Websites or social media? Are they readers or do they prefer images and video?
Consider your target’s preferences in your content marketing strategy and review your communication platforms regularly in case trends change.
Remember, B2B buyers are only interested in having their problems solved. When they click on your content they need to quickly see why and how you provide the solution they’re seeking. This ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude should underpin any plan that aims to turn prospects into sales.
Hot Tip: Once you have a web visitor’s attention, capture their details. Have a call to action on every page. Provide easy opt-ins to newsletters or blog feeds and a one-click sign-up to Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and Twitter accounts.
Even though your audience wants its problems solved, most B2B prospects can wait. And wait. It could be weeks, months or years before they have either the funds or an urgent need to buy. They’re cautious because they often answer to multiple higher authorities, clients or shareholders. Trust and reputation are crucial, so prepare to be parked in the ‘lead-generation zone’ for a while.
The job of your online news and views is to nurture these prospects into customers with compelling, regular information that’s so good they’ll subscribe and hopefully share it with peers.
For the usual B2B content goal of generating leads, the most common desire is to rank your business on Google’s page one. A long-term aim might be to become an industry thought leader regularly called on by the press, for speaking engagements or as a contributing author. These and any other results can be achieved using clear marketing strategy goals.
Just as for any business plan, the goal must be measurable in time, dollars, numbers or combinations of all three. For example, you might aim for 100 new subscribers per blog post. Or, if your goal is to increase sales and enquiries through public relations exposure, the aim could be to have five stories appear in the press every month as a result of uploading media releases that respond to breaking news.
Having a quantified target inspires more ideas when you meet or exceed them. It allows for better analysis during strategy reviews if you miss the mark.
Hot Tip: Spread the word among employees about your content marketing ambitions and invite story ideas from everyone. Circulate positive results in-house and celebrate the successes.
Don’t confuse web pages showing product descriptions with content marketing. Of course having product information online is vital and details must be current.
But blogs, newsletters, image galleries, videos, media releases and case studies are the power tools of online marketing. White papers and e-books compartmentalise deeper content away from the stories and news that can be skimmed quickly by busy people.
Choosing the format of regular online posts depends on your internal resources or the budget available for outsourcing content production to internet marketing specialists. Once you’ve determined the best fit, hold regular brainstorming sessions for story ideas to feed your blog, newsletter and media releases. Compiling creative ideas from staff can be added to existing regular meetings, with an appropriate person assigned the task of story development.
Hot Tip: Sales and customer service teams are a perfect source of news on how your products or services solved a client’s problem. Encourage these staff members to pass on story leads that might feature in future online content.
If you’re serious about internet marketing, producing online content can’t be that extra task squeezed in around ‘real work’.
Rushing copy can even work against you, particularly if you’re chasing a better SEO ranking because Google’s new criteria rates quality highly. The best B2B online marketers devote a lot of time to making their prolific supply of online content appear effortless.
Story generation is as manageable as any ‘normal’ business activity when broken into chunks, otherwise known as an editorial plan.
If your content marketing strategy commitment is a weekly blog, you’ll need 52 ideas per year. Producing a monthly newsletter could mean finding 10 stories per issue, or 120 news items per year.
Setting aside time for generating content ideas provides an efficient focus for collating topics and managing output. By short-listing a dozen blog topics or newsletter articles once a month or 30 every quarter, in a story ‘funnel’ for the future, you’ll avoid deadline panic and keep quality high.
Hot Tip: Enshrine reasonable word counts into your strategy so writers aren’t overwhelmed by the blank page. Be open to a mix of writing styles. Use dot-point, straight prose and ‘how-to’ articles, for variety.
Among many content writing principles, if you’re writing for the web, you’re writing for SEO.
Every post should strike the right balance of being interesting and valuable to your audience while also meeting your business goals – and SEO (or keyword) criteria.
When creating content, simply keep in mind that readers are more likely to forward links to colleagues or post them on personal (and corporate) social media if the content is of high quality, accurate, has the right tone, good timing and is crisply edited.
Hot Tip: Be direct and invite feedback every time you post content. This encourages valuable interaction about your brand and the link-sharing required for SEO. Invite opinions. Ask readers to share experiences. Remember, online conversations are also a source of fresh ideas for future content and even new clients.
It doesn’t look good if your latest blog was posted two years ago. This part of the content marketing strategy is about setting a comfortable creative pace.
Seriously profitable online marketing is regularly updated, if not prolific. But be realistic and set objectives you can meet. Then clearly state your publishing frequency so potential subscribers have an idea of what to expect before signing up. Remember to include social media updates in the frequency section of your strategy.
Meeting nominated deadlines is good for business credibility because loyal readers will respect punctuality and associate the trait with your general business culture.
Content updates shouldn’t be a constant interruption, but should genuinely inform with news or relevant information and offers. Consult with colleagues on their instincts for the best rate of client contact in your field and check out your competition too. If still in doubt, survey your customers on their preferences for frequency – and subject matter. They’ll appreciate your concern for their time and their problems.
Hot Tip: Don’t over-promise on frequency. Be conservative, at least for a trial period, while fine-tuning strategy. Remember, announcing increased contact later when you’re able to commit to more is a good news story of itself that implies growth.
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