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What is content strategy?

Jonathan Powell content marketing, content strategy, digital marketing Leave a Comment

Shareable. Snackable. Viral. SoLoMo. SEO. Hyperlocal.

With so many buzzwords floating around B2B content strategy, it’s no wonder why many businesses fall short of expectations when creating and promoting content.

In truth, those concepts alone aren’t detrimental to content strategy or B2B marketing strategy in general. In fact, they can be quite useful when leveraged in the right way. Unfortunately, there aren’t always comprehensive resources to put them all into perspective—which is the most important part of employing them successfully.

Simply creating “viral” videos and sharing them isn’t a sustainable strategy on its own, but for the right business and within the context of a larger picture, it can certainly help.

So, what is content strategy?

Simply put, content strategy is essentially a blueprint. It maps out every step of content creation and promotion from who is creating it to what messages are being sent to what channels they’ll be distributed on and, maybe most importantly of all, why.

How does content strategy work?

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To understand how a content strategy works, it’s best to first see how it fits into the rest of your marketing efforts.

From the top down, your content strategy falls under the umbrella of your overall marketing strategy.

While your B2B marketing strategy embodies everything you do to promote your business and bring in customers, including networking, market research, establishing buyer personas, and developing inbound workflows, content strategy is merely a facet of it. Its focus is to create a body of content that delivers your messages across numerous channels, including email, blog posts, white papers, eBooks, social media, and more.

Each platform you use to promote your business is different, so the key to creating a successful content strategy is leveraging the strengths of each one individually while employing all of them together in a unified way.

Writing a compelling blog post that relates to your business is one thing, but when you’re able to drive site traffic to it through email, promote it with relevant hashtags on Twitter, and cap it all off with a call-to-action button that directs them to your information collection form, it’s easy to see how your viewership becomes exponentially larger the more you’re able to execute on all platforms collectively.

Why do you need it?

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Compared to shot-in-the-dark marketing methods of old, such as cold-calling, sign-waving, and the like, basing your inbound marketing on a well-structured content strategy yields considerably better ROI. Instead of sending out random blasts of information in hopes of striking a potential client, you’ll have each piece tailored to the individual channel, buyer persona, and content journey stages—yielding much better conversion rates.

But beyond just creating engaging content, a good content strategy will also incorporate something nearly as important as words from the get-go: numbers.

If you’re looking to generate sustainable growth, monitoring your metrics is one of the best ways to do so, as you can compare what blog posts garnered the most traffic, which tweets generated the most engagement, and what CTAs got the most clicks, giving you a clear idea of what to create and aim for in the future.

If planned and executed correctly, a good content strategy will inform readers, generate engagement, build relationships, and represent you and your brand online—all of which will combine to put prospects into the funnel or flywheel and better yet, potentially even turn them into loyal customers.

How do you go about it?

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For those with limited experience, it’s safe to say that forming a comprehensive content strategy isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible either. However, there should be at least a few things in place before you attempt it, if you don’t plan to hire out.

Buyer personas defined

One of the most key concepts in putting together a successful B2B content marketing strategy is first developing buyer personas. Why? Because they’re who you’re targeting all of your content towards.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers that you create based on both market research and actual data you’ve collected from real existing customers. They’re especially important because they not only define who your ideal customers are, but also who they aren’t—a bad fit for your product or service doesn’t help you or them, wastes resources, and can even result in bad feedback.

Creating buyer personas

So how do you go about creating buyer personas? You’ll first want to collect as much information about your existing customers as possible, including demographics and preferences.

While most businesses choose to have their marketing team spearhead the overall creation, it’s important to note that all of your customer-facing teams, including sales and customer service, should be involved in the process, as each department can use buyer personas in their own way and provide unique insight.

Start by having each team put together current customer data—marketing can look at social media and website performance/interaction, sales can look at profiles based on sales data, and customer service can even provide anecdotal evidence as to whom they’ve received the best feedback from.

Once you’ve compiled the data from each, look at the basis for your business’s product or service as well as who finds the most success with it, then start filling in the details—and leave no stone unturned! Consider your customers’ goals, frustrations, personality types, preferred communication channels, habits, interests and so on, plus more basic demographics like age, gender, income, and even family life.

After that, it’s time to verify and expand on the data with personal experience by conducting customer interviews—and don’t worry, not all of them! Build a questionnaire of 15-30 questions and propose them to about the same number of people. With any luck, it will help ensure that what you’ve assembled with data alone is similar to real customer experience. Whatever questions remain unanswered should simply be posed to your customer-facing teams to make educated guesses.

When all is said and done, you should have a few comprehensive personas that every customer-facing team can use to create content (marketing), qualify prospects (sales), and generate top-notch experiences (customer service). And don’t forget—buyer personas evolve, so make sure you periodically check to make sure you’re still on the right track.

Summary

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Sound like a lot? That’s because it is. Putting together buyer personas and content strategies is a lot of work, but it certainly pays off in your bottom line and future marketing efforts. Thankfully, for those without the know-how, resources or experience to put it all together, there are still top-notch companies out there (like Impressa Solutions, for example) looking to help you make it happen.

Now that you know what all goes into it, you’ll have a much better idea of how to approach it, whether you do it yourself or hire out. So get to it!

 

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