Content Marketing a comprehensive guide

What is Content Marketing and why is it becoming more and more important in B2B?

Your B2B Content Marketing strategy -  creation and implementation are often associated with a lot of work and time. If you do your content marketing according to the art of inbound marketing, all salespersons are involved.

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As a marketing manager, you’re constantly working for your company. You have a lot tasks requesting a high level of responsibility since you’re responsible for the advertising campaigns without neglecting Content Marketing. This extensive marketing area is becoming more and more important thus only successful with a Content Marketing Strategy optimally tailored to your company's goals and persona. Their creation and implementation are often associated with a lot of work and time. If you do your content marketing according to the art of inbound marketing, all salespersons are involved.

As an experienced marketing manager, you know how to use a professional Content Marketing Strategy to increase your customers as well as your total revenue and to strengthen your company's brand. You equally use it to consolidate your position. If customers are satisfied with your products and service, they will order again and again. With search engine-optimized technical content, you can also become an expert in your industry and also an important interlocutor that stands out from the mass of competitors in the market. I know how important it is for you to carry out your responsible task. And I'd like to help you get the best possible return.

As your company's marketing manager, you know certainly that competition will outpace you if you don't implement Content Marketing properly.

To prevent this from happening, I'll give you an overview of what content marketing is and why it's an indispensable part of any business strategy. Also how to design the right content marketing strategy and implement it step by step. Of course you can as well contact me at any time for questions and problems.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing includes all the tools and strategies that B2B and B2C marketers use to create and strengthen their brand or to attract and retain customers on relevant content. Texts, images and graphics address the problems, wishes and personal attitudes of the target group and takes into account current trends. Good content in the B2B domain only appeals to your target group at a technical-informative level and creates an added value that makes it particularly interesting for your target group. This is because content marketing provides important basic information, not primarily advertising content.

However, it does not have to be aimed at contacting an interested party. In many cases, it’s used to better position your brand with potential buyers. Inbound Marketing in the narrow sense goes beyond real content marketing and uses the generated content for customer expansion and customer service. However, the term inbound marketing is often used today when one actually means content marketing.

Why is Content Marketing more important than ever?

Now you must probably be wondering why content marketing is more important than ever. The main reason is that many and more people are using the Internet for professional and private purposes. Fast and convenient communication shifts previous communication channels, potential buyers, customers and sales markets to the Internet. As a result, modern businesses can only successfully advertise if they use useful content for digital marketing. With relevant content, you draw attention to your business, generate more traffic and reverse site visitors into buyers as well as first-time buyers, who will buy from you over and over again.

Good content makes your business an expert in its industry. It accompanies potential customers in their customer journey. According to a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 81% of B2B buyers find out about the product they need before making their first personal contact. The majority of respondents also stated that reliable information was their top priority. Now you probably want to know if content marketing is done exclusively as online marketing- that isn’t the case. Although the volume of the content published on the Internet is increasing rapidly, you'd do well to supplement your digital marketing with analog content offerings. With these, you can even reach interested parties who don't have access to the Internet.

In order to achieve profitable content marketing as a company in the B2B sector, you must constantly align your company's communication with user benefits. This is the only way to differentiate yourself from other providers overwhelming their customers with excess advertising content. Optimal visibility of your business on the Internet with good SEO content will inevitably encourage customer contact. The majority of B2B companies uses Content Marketing to build and strengthen their brand, even as part of inbound marketing for the purpose of acquiring and retaining customers. If you're launching your campaign online, you need to optimize your content search engines. This involves the use of relevant keywords.

Be awared that the subpages of your website are more important in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than the home page. This is because the information that researchers are interested in is on the subpages. In addition, these are the starting points of the customer journey. The Content Marketing Strategy you use depends on the direction you set. If you're focused on branding, use a different strategy and advertising materials than Inbound Marketing. This is because it focuses on acquiring additional leads and customer orders.

Why you need a suitable B2B content strategy

The content strategy is an essential part of your overall marketing strategy because as an experienced marketer, you know that creating search engine-optimized content alone isn’t enough to increase your sales. These must also reach your target group and be well planned. Therefore, clarify in advance

  • Which content you use
  • To whom you address your content
  • How you produce, publish and reprocess content
  • Which formats do you use primarily
  • Which channels are the most effective for you to publish the content

In addition to its relevance to the selected target group, your content must also be streamed through the right channels- those that the target group mainly uses. In addition, selected content formats must correspond to the customer journey phase in which the prospect is currently located. Even if you have a lot of details to consider when developing your content marketing strategy, it doesn't necessarily take months. On the contrary: the simpler your strategy, the better it can be implemented and the lower the risk of mistakes. It's just important that you take the essentials into account and proceed step by step according to your plan. It goes without saying that the strategy you choose must of course correspond to the general corporate objectives.

Please note that you don't build them exclusively on the analysis of the latest ad campaigns since historical data do not take into account trends. And in the fast-paced Internet age, these are developing faster than before and require a short-term strategic adjustment. Identify interesting developments in due course and include them in your online marketing, you’ll have more visitors and purchases. For example, video marketing is on the rise. Therefore, when launching a new product, it makes sense publishing a video tutorials on your website. Or when creating branches, to present production expansion and its benefits to the customer in an infographic.

But be aware: as a marketing manager of a B2B company, you certainly know that B2B content strategies are fundamentally different from B2C marketing. They must not simply be adopted. The main difference is that the tech-savvy purchasing professionals in the B2B sector make their purchasing decisions on a fact-based scale. The concrete benefit of your product must be recognizable to them. Therefore, there are only a few cases where you offer entertaining or emotional content. In addition, potential B2B customers often have an excellent market knowledge in their field, they know exactly what they need for their business. In addition, quality is more important than quantity for B2B marketing with content compared to B2C marketing: your content must be professional and linguistically flawless, because this target group consists of technical professionals.

The concrete benefit of your product must be recognizable to B2B buyers

In order to achieve profitable content marketing as a company in the B2B sector, you must constantly align your company's communication with user benefits.

The main difference is that the tech-savvy purchasing professionals in the B2B sector make their purchasing decisions on a fact-based scale.

Content Marketing Strategy: Step-by-Step Guide

To develop the right Content Marketing strategy, you can, for example, follow the instructions below step by step.

Determine your marketing goal

Before setting your sales goal, you need to take a closer look at your brand positioning. Ask yourself what your business stands for and what sets your brand apart from the competition and define exactly what added value your products offer. Do you want to strengthen customers' trust in your brand? Would you like to reach a wider target group with your content? Or do you want to generate leads? Please also keep in mind that advertising goals may change. This is the case, for example, if you want to expand your current target market or to reach a different target group with a new product.

Set your target group (persona)

Your content strategy will only succeed if you determine the desired target group as accurately as possible. This second step isn’t important only for startups. If your business has been around for a long time, you should also check your persona because past campaign evaluations show you if it still has the properties defined at that time. With your character, consider not only typical problems but also individual attitudes, preferences and wishes. Collect as much information as possible about your customers and personal contacts as well as the expertise they have. Because you need all of this to produce relevant content for each phase of the customer journey.

Use your customer database and also conduct extensive research on the Internet. Also use customer feedback and find out how your existing customers prefer to consume your content and what content they prefer, thereby asking them how they prefer to share it (email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook?). Be sure to document all the data used and the character created from it.

Analyze your keywords

Find out which relevant keywords potential buyers are looking for on their Customer Journey on Google. Your content should be easy to find in search engines. Therefore, a good SEO is indispensable at this stage. Also pay attention to internal and external links because it helps Google to classify your content as relevant. Write blog and social media posts with important content and run search engine advertising (SEA). However, please don’t simply write keywords related to your brand and products. Keywords in the semantic environment are also important because you can generate topics for further interesting content.

Look at your top performers

Check competitors with similar products to see what content they publish and how they attract their customers and link in the long run. This is how you find niches that enables you to be effectively unique. You then mention this USP in search engine-optimized content. Special software tools are useful when collecting this important data. These analyze, among other things,

  • How their content gets on social media
  • Which influencers share their content
  • Where they publish their content
  • The frequency with which they publish new content
  • What Google ranking they have

Use a Content Management System (CMS)

With this special software, you can easily plan, write and publish your search engine-optimized and target group-relevant content in the www and perform a regular performance analysis. This shows if you’re on the right track with the chosen strategy and gives you useful information about customer behavior.

Collect ideas for new content

Offer your readers a wide range of topics that match your products. This increases your business reach. To find the new content that matches your persona, you can use various software tools, for example a keyword search tool. Also pay attention to what the co-providers in your industry are writing about and create relevant content on these topics. Because idea-finding is usually done by brainstorming, you can make it easier with a Mindmapping-Tool. Like this, you’ll keep an overview of all your ideas and related topics, which can be developed at any time. Other practical tools generate ideas for new blog articles and inform you promptly about trending topics from your industry. The best way to find out what content is popular is by using Social-Media-Analytic-Tools.

Define content types and formats

As B2B marketing manager, there are also different options in this area, such as

  • Blog Posts
  • Emails
  • Posts on LinkedIn and Xing
  • E-Books
  • Videos/Photos
  • Infographics 
  • Webinars

Regular and interesting blog posts are a proven way to increase the number of visitors to your website. If visitors think your content is useful, share it on other websites and social networks. Content-rich blog posts have at least 1,000 words. Find out if your target group prefers long or short messages. For lead generation, e-books are recommended. They are longer than blog posts because they cover topics more detailed and are usually downloaded after reading the blog article. Infographics represent large amounts of data in an attractive and clear way. The reader can immediately extract the most important information without having to go through a long text.

Multimedia content formats such as videos attract more visitors than other formats and are popular on social media platforms. You shouldn’t ignore this popular medium because visual marketing is gaining more and more fans on the Internet. As a B2B marketer, the following eight content formats are especially important to you:

  • Short online surveys
  • Contact forms
  • Request for a callback
  • Request for a demo version
  • Registration on the site (white paper order)
  • PDF downloads (tracked)
  • Product video views (in the process of being tracked)
  • Registration to attend webinars

Follow the rule of seven: Before you can present your product to a potential buyer, he must have had contact with your brand at least seven times beforehand. You use the first contact point to send him important information. You then move on to building a personal relationship with him, accompanied by appropriate content. Thus, trying to win his trust and present yourself as a reputable company as well as an expert in your field. In the outreach phase, potential customers are informed about your business via informative blog posts and LinkedIn or they can contact your company via your landing page. You will receive an e-book, a white paper, video instructions or an informative webinar. The evaluation phase is accompanied by sending of technical sheets, case studies, samples, FAQs, demo videos or product webinars.

In the last phase of the sales cycle (purchase phase), you perform a free product test (live demo) and give the prospect a coupon to entice him to buy. He redeems this when buying your product. The content format you choose depends on your personality. If you want to create or consolidate an expert status as well, webinars are suitable for industry and businesses. This also gives you first-hand confidence-inspiring content. E-mail marketing and the generation of new high-quality content are always suitable for long-term customer loyalty.

Choose advertising-effective social media channels

According to a study by the CMI, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are the most suited social media platforms for B2B content marketing. You can find out if this also applies to your business via a short online survey sent to your customers via email.

Manage your content in an effectively targeted manner

Your content marketing strategy involves not only determining what content you create online, how and where. In addition, determine how you organize it so that you always have a good overview of upcoming appointments. An editorial plan is well suited to this to keep an overview of your published content. A social media planner helps you keep track of your publications on other websites. In this planner, you also enter at what time new content should follow and where it should be distributed. But don't just think about your evergreens. If you also post articles on current topics, you can significantly increase the number of visitors to your website in the short term. Use certain days that are particularly important for your target group and known holidays and determine how you want to re-use the created content later again. 

It's also important to know how often you create new content and formats. According to the CMI, social media posts such as content used in the B2B area are with the exception of blog posts (93%), newsletters (80%), website articles (78%), images and photos (75%), videos (74% ), Blogs (67%) infographics (46%). When designing and implementing your content marketing strategy, please consider that winning new customers isn’t enough to generate consistently high sales. You also need a customer loyalty strategy. 

Assess your advertising campaigns’ results

Hard to believe, but true: more than 50% of B2B marketers do not analyze the success of their online advertising campaign. Without a documented content marketing strategy and without measuring success, you can't assess whether your content campaign has been successful. Before the evaluation, determine which KPIs you want to review. If your campaign's goal was brand strengthening, analyze it using the website traffic, page views, video views, downloads, and referral links metrics. If it was about winning high-quality leads, it's important for you to sign up for the newsletter, downloads and conversion rate. Other key B2B figures for the incoming area are

  • Lead quality
  • Number of leads generated
  • Number of sales
  • Change in website traffic
  • Increase in the conversion rate
  • Improving Google's rankings
  • Number of subscriptions

The key numbers you use to measure your advertising success depends, among other things, on your marketing goal. Be sure to compare the results you've achieved with those of your most recent advertising campaigns. This way, you can immediately find out in which area you still need to improve. Then, in coordination with other departments in your company, set yourself a new marketing goal.

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Summary

The content strategy is an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. As an experienced marketer, you know that creating search engine optimized content alone is not enough to increase your sales. It must also reach your target group and be well planned. Therefore, you should clarify the following in advance

  • Which content you use
  • to whom you direct your content
  • how to produce, publish and reprocess the content
  • which formats you mainly use
  • on which channels you publish the content most effectively

In addition to relevance to the chosen target group, your content must also be distributed through the right channels. And these are the ones that the target group predominantly uses. Furthermore, the chosen content formats must fit the phase of the customer journey in which the prospective customer is currently in. Evenif you have a lot of details to take into account when developing your content marketing strategy, it doesn't necessarily have to take months.

On the contrary: the simpler your strategy is, the better it can be implemented and the lower the risk of errors. The important thing is that you take the essentials into account and proceed step by step according to your plan. It goes without saying that the strategy you choose must of course also fit in with the general company goals.

However, you should not base it exclusively on the analyses of the last advertising campaigns. Historical data do not take trends into account; in the fast-moving Internet age, these develop more quickly than before and make a short-term strategy adjustment necessary. Recognize worthwhile developments in time and include them in your online marketing, you will receive more visitors and more purchases. An example: Video marketing is on the rise. Therefore, when launching a new product, it makes sense to publish video tutorials on your own website. Or, when establishing branches, to present the expansion of production and its advantages for the customer in an infographic.

But be careful: As a marketing responsible of a B2B business, you surely know that B2B content strategies are fundamentally different from B2C marketing. They must not simply be adopted. The main difference is that the technically savvy B2B purchasing professionals make their purchasing decisions based on facts. The concrete benefit of your product must be recognizable to them. Therefore, you must never deliver entertaining or emotional content. In addition, potential B2B customers often have excellent market knowledge in their field and often know exactly what they need for their company. Apart from that, compared to B2C marketing, quality is more important for B2B marketing than quantity: your content must be technically and linguistically flawless because this target group consists of professionals.

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