Even though you might feel like you’re getting lucky just rolling the dice with your digital content, who’s to say you wouldn’t be winning bigger and more consistently if you started playing the odds?
When it comes to B2B content marketing, most people are gambling with their content without even knowing it. If you’re one of them, it could be severely impacting your business.
Do any of these sound familiar?
You don’t have a solid foundation
Before you embark on any digital content creation adventure, you need to have a solid base. At a bare minimum, this includes brand guidelines, style guides, buyer personas, and goals.
- Brand guidelines go over who your brand is. This includes mottoes and mission statements, the words and images that represent your business, and even the colors you use for graphics.
- Your style guide goes into how your content should be created in a technical sense to maintain a consistent, professional, unified brand voice across all marketing channels. In the style guide, you specify all details, including things like whether you will use the Oxford comma, put spaces before and after ellipses, or write out the word “percentage.”
- Buyer personas are profiles of current and prospective customers. These aren’t actual people, but compositions based on research and analysis.
- You should set goals for your business, and we recommend “SMART” goals. You should reference them when making decisions for your business, including marketing-related calls. If the choice you make doesn’t support your objectives, you may want to give it a second thought.
If you don’t have these elements in place, you are taking a big gamble with your content. It’s hard to speak for your brand if you don’t know who you are. Moreover, you can’t be consistent when you don’t know for sure who you are talking to or when you don’t know why you are doing what you’re doing.
You only have a blog
While blogging is an essential card in the content marketing deck, just having a blog is simply not enough. Sure, you may be attracting prospects, but they’ll most probably be at the earliest stage of the buying process, not knowing which direction to take. Then what?
Without higher-level content for those hungry for more, you’ll just be the first fact-finding stop. In order to guide prospects along to the next point in the buyer’s journey, you need to put in the work of creating a comprehensive B2B marketing plan. This includes targeted calls to action (CTAs) and content centered around stages further along in the buyer’s journey when prospects are looking for more information.
The same is true if you only focus on email, social media, white papers, or any other marketing activity. Even if you are experiencing some degree of success by just playing one card, you could be doing better if you were looking at the whole deck.
You don’t know when to outsource
Let’s start off by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with outsourcing your B2B marketing content, or any other content. We wholeheartedly endorse it, and it’s something we’ve done ourselves. However, if you just completely remove yourself from the content creation process, that’s where you’ll run into trouble.
Going hands-off is betting that whoever is creating your content won’t run wild with it, and that’s not a gamble you want to lose. If you want to outsource, but you’re not sure if you should, there are a few things you can look at.
If you can’t afford to outsource quality blog posts, don’t do it! While there are some diamonds in the rough, you generally get what you pay for—those writers you’ve scraped out from Upwork who are down to do 5,000 words for $5.00 may not end up representing your company well. If your budget doesn’t accommodate a decent writer, you may be better off doing it yourself and paying for someone to proofread.
If the content you’re creating is overly complicated or delicate – such as legal issues or investments – or you’re creating “personal” content for your blog or personal website, it’s more effective to generate that content in-house and then pay someone else to proofread. This will save not only the time it would take to convey the breadth of the topic, but will also help you create more compelling content since you’ll be creating it in-house where the experts reside.
If you decide that outsourcing is the best course of action for your business, make sure you take the time to find the right writer or firm. This may take some time and mean hiring a few different writers to produce a piece of content here and there and see how they work with you and your company. Look for how their content fits within your already-created content and make sure it’s a good fit in terms of voice, style, and tone.
You’re not consistent
Inbound marketing methods are most effective when you do them on a regular, ongoing basis. If you end up with current or potential clients who pay attention, your willy-nilly approach to content development will drive them nuts. Instead of giving them regular releases to look forward to, you leave them hungry for more. Not to mention, inconsistency makes you look flaky – definitely not the impression you want to be giving to potential clients. Don’t be surprised if they stop caring and following you by the time you’ve decided to dole out your next installment.
With inconsistency, you’re gambling on two things. First, on whether your spotty content will make an impact. Second, you’re betting on whether or not anyone will notice (or care).
To be more consistent with your inbound marketing efforts, set a goal for how many pieces of content you want to produce each month. For blog posts, our recommendation for the absolute minimum is four posts per month – though if you’re a big business or looking to grow using content marketing, social media, and search, one post per day wouldn’t be too many.
But like with any inbound marketing strategy, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some elements that can help you reach consistency across your communication channels:
First, you should take into account your customer segments, creating content that appeals to specific buyer personas. Because content designed to appeal to the masses doesn’t really appeal to anybody. At least one blog post appealing to each customer segment should be rolled out each month.
Second, you should look at your overall goals. What are you trying to accomplish with your website, your blog, your social media profile? To keep your content high-value and on point, focus most of your pieces on one goal at a time. There should be a piece of content created for every goal at least once a month.
Third, for your content to be high-value, you should have something to say. Blogging or posting just to have consistent content (but without a clear message) can dilute your authority. You should have one main message that all your content points towards, or specific messages for each client type. At the same time, at least one post should be created for each message you have. If it’s something ongoing, that means one post per month. If it’s a limited time message, at least one post should be published early enough that visitors could take action on it.
You don’t measure and adjust
If you aren’t measuring how your content is performing, you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. You could end up creating more of the stuff that’s missing the mark and drive off potential customers. Or you could end up pounding away at an expensive and under-performing promotion strategy.
According to HubSpot, there are seven metrics you should be checking weekly: blog post views, CTA click-through rates, social media reach, email click-through rates, landing page conversion rates, traffic sources, and your monthly goal progress.
Then, the adjustments you make throughout the month, guided by the insights you receive from reviewing your data on a weekly basis, can really contribute to whether or not you reach your objectives.
You don’t have a plan
You need a marketing plan, and any digital content creation, social media marketing, or influencer outreach that’s implemented needs to fit into that plan. Content is sometimes thrown in as an afterthought, and it doesn’t have the same level of focus that other strategic measures have in the marketing plan. That’s not good enough!
Not having a plan means you’re gambling with your content. You’re just throwing blog posts and infographics out there, hoping they hit and stick. Picture closing your eyes and throwing darts in the general direction of the board versus stopping, looking, and taking aim. Makes more sense to take aim, right?
The perfect content strategy varies from one business to another, but having one is crucial if you want to get results. A killer content strategy is really a formula that takes your goals and your budget into account so you can realize a higher ROI… and lets you finally stop gambling with your content creation.