Cartoon chess pieces to represent content marketing strategy.

Content marketing has gone mainstream. Most B2B companies now use content to raise brand awareness and stand out from their competitors. However, new research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs has some surprising statistics. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, only 30% of enterprise B2B marketers think their content marketing is effective.

Why is this?

Many factors could be at play, but another statistic in the report sheds some light on this. According to the report, only 32% of enterprise B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. A strategy shapes every aspect of your content marketing. It tells you where you are today, describes where you want to go in the future and gives you a roadmap to get there. If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, it’s like you are driving to a new location without a GPS. Chances are you will get lost along the way and waste money on gas. 

Cartoon illustration of cars driving on a highway

Here are seven questions to ask when you develop a content marketing strategy:

1. How will you get key stakeholders on board?

It will be hard to get results from your content marketing if you’re the only one committed to the initiative. You’ll need to show others in your enterprise the value of content marketing and why it is necessary. If they don’t see the need, you won’t get buy-in. You should also address their concerns and discuss potential risks. For more information on getting content marketing buy-in, check out this article.

2. Why are you using content marketing?

Before you publish another piece of content, think about why you are doing content marketing. Is it to raise brand awareness, attract more high-quality leads or improve your customer service? Your content marketing strategy should support your larger business and marketing goals. The better you can align each piece of content with a larger business goal, the better your results will be.

Illustration of chess pieces and business icons

3. Who are your target audiences for your content?

You can produce tons of content – even great content – but if it’s not relevant to your target audience, you are wasting your resources. In the latest B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends B2B technology buyers stated that “media is only effective if the information that it features is relevant to their research”. If your content isn’t relevant, your buyers will search elsewhere to find what they are looking for. 

You can create targeted content for each audience based on their role, needs or stage in the sales cycle. However, don’t try to create content for every buyer and influencer right away. Start by focusing on one or two of your key audiences. Spend time getting to know them. What are their needs? What is their typical day like? How do they consume content? It’s better to gain a deep understanding of one key audience than it is to do a half-assed job creating content for lots of audiences.

4. Where are you at today?

Before you leave for your destination, you must know from where you are leaving. Perform a content audit to determine what content you already have and where you need to fill the gaps. For example, are you missing content that speaks to a key audience? Do you need content to support an upcoming product launch? Do you need to publish to your blog on a more regular basis?

Laptop and mobile screens showing data illustrations

When you conduct your content audit, you should refer to your analytics to see how your current content is performing. This will let you know what topics your audience finds the most valuable. You can then create similar content to bring more targeted leads to your website.   

5. What topics are you going to cover?

After you identify your gaps, think about what you want to be the “go-to” resource for. Then, create an editorial calendar with lots of content about these topics. Your editorial calendar doesn’t need to be complex. It can be as simple as an Excel sheet with columns for the following:

6. What channels will you use?

Before you get excited about the latest social network, find out if your target audience hangs out there. If not, you should focus your efforts on the places where you can interact with your target audience.

Illustration of hands connecting to content on a computer

Also think about how your target audience prefers to consume content during each stage of the buying cycle. Do they rely on white papers to educate themselves about your type of product or service? Do they prefer to view content on desktops or mobile devices? Are they likely to attend webinars or watch videos? Be sure that you create content for all their preferred channels.

7. What resources do you have?

One of the biggest B2B content marketing challenges is finding the resources to produce content.

Creating a content marketing strategy can put you on the road towards marketing success. The most important thing to do is put your audience first. When you create content that resonates with them, you’ll improve your results.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Download 15 Marketing Questions That Won’t Make Your B2B Customers Die of Boredom for some great conversation starters.
  2. Read “Why IT Buyers Aren’t Responding to Your Content” to learn how to make your marketing less robotic.
  3. Share this article on Linkedin. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.

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