5 Steps to Creating a Killer B2B Content Marketing Strategy
(and Lead Generation Machine!)

Content marketing is a proven way to generate quality leads online.

In fact, you could be reading this because you’ve already experienced the benefits of content marketing and want to be more strategic about it.

Or maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of having a content marketing strategy and you want a smart plan of attack to get you off to a flying start?

Either way you’ve probably realised:

Producing engaging content that generates leads takes time and effort.

Because you not only need to create high quality content, you need to do it consistently and effectively. Which is the second biggest challenge for marketers, right after creating engaging content, according to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute.

Challenges that B2B Marketers Face

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So how do you create engaging content consistently?

Consistently creating engaging content that generates quality leads requires a well-executed content marketing strategy.

Are you ready to learn how to create your very own content marketing strategy?

Today I’m going to tell you exactly how to create a content marketing strategy that generates leads for your business in the short and long term.

It’s a five step guide to content marketing strategy and the content creation process that will turn your website into a lead generation machine.

But you might be wondering what the catch is?

catchWell, reading about creating a content marketing strategy is a great start but you need to take action and follow through on this advice.

So I recommend that you don’t just read this article. You need to actually write your own content marketing strategy.

Sure it will take time, but taking time to work out your content marketing strategy and committing it to paper will make it 6X more effective. It will also make it easier for you to share your content marketing strategy with your marketing team or content creators so everyone is on the same page.

Planning a strong content marketing strategy takes time, but it’s worth it. That initial time investment will help you avoid wasting time throwing content together haphazardly and getting nowhere fast.

By creating a sound content marketing strategy now, you’ll be well placed to achieve your goal. So in the long run you’ll save time AND get way better results.

Sounds good? Then let’s get started

Step 1

Step1

Define the target audience and purpose of your content

The first thing you need to know when you create a content marketing strategy is who the content is for and what the aim of the content is.

You can’t write great content unless you know who’s going to read it, so the first thing you need to do it define your target audience. 

Sounds obvious? Maybe, but you can’t afford to skip this step, because the more you know about your target audience, the better placed you’ll be to write content they can’t resist checking out.

So how do you define your target audience?

Create buyer personas

The best way to outline your target audience is to create a series of buyer personas. Buyer personas allow you to get to know your target audience and understand them intimately.

personaIt works like magic:

Creating buyer personas will bring a laser-like focus to your content marketing strategy and everything else will flow from that.

What is a buyer persona?

Hubspot describes a buyer persona as:

“a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

How to create buyer personas for your business

Create a profile for each buyer persona including key data points that help you truly understand your target audience.

ProTipBook

Ideally you should create three, four or five separate buyer personas. Take it to the next level by giving your buyer personas a name and face. For example, using a stock image photo next to each buyer persona will elevate them from persona to person. Someone you can really relate to and write for.

The criteria below will help you create the profiles. You can use a template like the building personas template created by One Red Bird or our simple template below. You’ll notice that we like to avoid marketing jargon in our template to bring the personas to life.

First  Brainstorm

ProTipBookWhen you’re brainstorming there aren’t any wrong answers. Just write all the ideas down. You can cull them at a later stage. This is the time to be creative and come up with as many ideas as possible, so send your inner critic out of the room!

Start by brainstorming your customer needs and wants. Ask this question:

What are all the different reasons people would want to engage with or purchase from our company?

To begin with, identify the needs and wants that all customers have. Then identify those that differ, or are unique to one type or a few types of customers.

It’s important to think about your ideal types of customers. Make sure they’re different so that you can easily identify them along with their distinct problems and reasons for engaging with your company.

Create at least three buyer personas so you can focus on specific buyers and their unique issues.

Don’t create more than five buyer personas or they may not be distinct enough and you could end up spreading your marketing efforts too thin.

Once you’ve decided on the personas, create notes for each of them including the attributes that define them:

  • Who are they?
  • What makes them unique?
  • What do they care about?
  • How will they find out about your company?

  • How do they engage with your company?
  • What are their characteristics?
  • What are their personal goals and dreams?
  • How do they spend their free time?

Do your research

Once you’ve finished brainstorming you can look for data. Use as many data sources as possible to continue to build your buyer personas.

If you haven’t already set up your business you can run an informal survey with your Facebook friends or anyone who might be interested in your products or services.

If you already have an established business and website you can start by looking at your site analytics, your CRM and/or email marketing data and any previous interviews or surveys you’ve run.

Collecting data

Ideally you should make time to conduct more customer interviews or run a detailed survey to get the information you need. You could create a free survey using Google forms or run a survey on Facebook or by email.
CollectingData
Keep your survey short and limit it to five to ten questions. Make the questions multiple choice so they’re fast to answer but leave room for people to add more details if they’d like to.

Start with demographic data, such as:

  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Location;
  • Family size.

Then collect as much data as possible about:

  • Psychographics (personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles);
  • Behaviour;
  • Pain Points;

  • Media use;
  • Values;
  • Goals;
  • Experience;
  • Objections;

Look for patterns

Once you have all the data look for common trends, patterns and characteristics:

  • What do your customers have in common?
  • Do women engage with your company more regularly?
  • Do people with families come from Facebook more often?
  • Do people that research products from home make larger purchases?
  • Do people that access your website on a mobile device spend more time browsing?

Now think about whether these answers support your brainstorming ideas or contradict them?

ProTipBook
Name your persona and reference the persona by name throughout your marketing plan. This will help you be consistent about how you implement and measure the success of your marketing efforts for each different persona.

Buying Persona Template

PhotoName:

Bio:

 

Dreams:

 

 

Why s/he’s interested in our services:

 

DESCRIPTION

Gender:

Age:

Job Title:

Industry:

Media:

Buying concerns:

Problems:

Motivators:

Making choices:

Other Insights:

Quotes:

Buying Persona Template

for business training and mentoring services

TeresaPhotoName: Teresa Long

Bio: Teresa is young, free & single & loves to travel. She lives alone and owns her own flat in Newbury. She’s a social butterfly who loves going to parties and singing karaoke.

Dreams: Teresa flits between jobs and wants to start her own business so she can work from home or on the road.

Why she’s interested in our services: Teresa wants someone to hold her hand and teach her how to be strategic about starting a business.

DESCRIPTION:


Gender: Female
Age: 31

Job Title: Sales assistant or personal assistant
Industry: Retail or wellbeing

Media: Teresa reads Marie-Claire and Red Magazine but spends far longer on Facebook where she catches up with friends, shares personal news and spreads information about causes that are dear to her like animal welfare and vegetarian recipes.

Buying concerns: Teresa likes to buy from someone she knows personally. She spends a lot of time doing research, but once she’s made a decision she will commit.

Problems: Although she has considerable skills and qualifications, Teresa lacks confidence in her ability to start a business. She’s scared of getting overwhelmed and wants to know how to get systems in place to deal with details and paperwork so she can focus on the customers.

Motivators: Teresa is motivated by the desire for control. She wants to have an independent income and be location independent so she can make lifestyle decisions based on her personal preferences, not on job availability.

Making choices: Teresa is heavily influenced by personal recommendations as well as online reviews. Before buying a product she wants to hear from other women in her circumstances who’ve already tried it.

Other insights: Teresa’s self-esteem is linked to her dream of starting a business. She doesn’t believe she’s filling her potential now, and her personal happiness is linked to making this dream happen.

Quotes: “It’s so hard paying the bills and working day to day that I can’t set aside the time needed to fulfil my dream of starting my own business. If only someone would give me a simple plan I could set aside 10 hours a week to work on it, but at the moment I just don’t know where to start. ”

Define the purpose of your content

Now you’ve created your buyer personas and you understand who your target audience is, you can start to develop target keyword groups, content topics and messages for them.

Persona guided content, optimization, and social engagement serves two purposes:

It helps you create a better content experience for your target audience and it allows you to create specific content marketing goals.

For example, your goals may be to increase:

  • New sign-ups
  • Customer engagement
  • Repeat business
  • Client satisfaction

  • Chances of your content spreading further via social media
  • Referrals

While you were creating your buyer personas you probably noticed that different personas are drawn to different topics, types and forms of content.

So how do you work out what the purpose of your content is?

What it really comes down to is why you’re creating the content in the first place.

It’s not enough to have one general content marketing objective like ‘generating more leads’. That’s a good start but your results will sky rocket if every single piece of content has a very specific purpose such as the ones listed above.

ProTipBookOnce you’ve got your head round your buyer personas and your specific marketing efforts, think about how to tie them into the buying cycle stage of each persona. Consider creating content for each stage of the buying process for each persona. For example, early stage content will focus on “what’s my problem”, mid-stage content will target “how do I solve my problem?” and late stage content will cover “who can help me solve my problem?”

HERE'S THE DEAL:

There are four main purposes for creating business-to-business content:

  1. Acquisition: Getting traffic, social shares and backlinks, and drawing people into your lead nurture programs, for example with blog posts or free ebooks or reports.
  2. Nurturing: Building trust and moving people further through the buying cycle.
  3. Conversion: Convincing people you’re the right company for them and getting the sale.
  4. Engagement: Continuing to add value to your existing customer base, building more loyalty and increasing upsell or cross-sell opportunities.


Once you know which persona you’re catering to, what your marketing goal is and what stage of the buying process they’re at, you’ll be able to work out what type of content to create.

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Step 2

Step2

Decide on the content type

Now you’re up to speed with step one and ready to move to the next stage of creating your content marketing strategy.

But first let’s check three things:

  • Have you got a clear idea of your target audience?
  • Have you defined three to five buyer personas?
  • Have you got a clear idea of what the purpose of your content is?


Quicksprout

If you answered yes to those questions then you're ready to decide on the type of content you're going to create for those unique people and purposes.

There are a multitude of options for creating either a stand-alone piece of content or a series including:

  • Blog posts;
  • Videos;
  • Podcasts;
  • Ebooks;

  • Checklists;
  • Whitepapers;
  • Infographics;
  • Quizzes;

  • Lists;
  • Infographics;
  • Reviews.


You can find out more out these content ideas and get more content type ideas on Quicksprout.

ProTipBook

Remember that one content idea can be repurposed a number of different ways. For example, you can create a video, a blog post and a quiz on the same topic.

How to decide what type of content to create

The type of content you create will be defined by:

  • The product or service you're promoting;
  • The buyer persona you're creating it for;
  • The purpose of your content;
  • Budget;

  • Available resources;
  • Time frame.

Type of product or service

Different products or services will lend themselves to different types of content. One huge dividing factor is whether you're out to entertain your readers or educate them.

The buyer persona you're creating it for

The advantage of spending time defining your buyer personas is that you'll know EXACTLY what type of content will most appeal to them. For example, whether they'd prefer a two minute pop quiz, a 20 page report they can download and read offline, or a five minute video they can watch with their kids.

The purpose of your content

monitorNow you know the type of product or service you're offering and the target persona you're creating content for, you're ready to consider the reason for creating the content.

For example these could be to:

  • Promote brand awareness;
  • Collect email addresses;
  • Get someone to download something;
  • Build your subscription email list;

  • Fill up the top of the funnel for your lead nurture program;
  • Move people further down the lead nurture funnel.


The diagram below from content marketing agency Sales Engine even includes a time frame for you to work to.

Mapping Narture Campaign Content to the Sales Funnel

BulbThe type of content you create will be most effective if it is mapped to the buying cycle phases of your personas. Remember for example that:

  • Early stage content should focus on “what is my problem?”;
  • Mid-stage content should address “how do I solve my problem?”;
  • Late stage content should target “who can help me solve my problem?”.

The chart below from Gravitate Design will get you thinking about what type of content will best fit each buyer stage.

GravitateDesign


Budget

No one ever likes to talk about money, but budget is the final determining factor in what type of content you create.

What’s the bottom line?

When considering your budget, don't forget to take into account both content creation and promotion. You don't want to spend your entire budget creating an amazing piece of content and not be able to promote it.

While we're on the subject of promotion, there are two main options:

  1. Paid options such as paid search or sponsored content. These will eat into your budget but are relatively resource-light.
  2. Free options such as social media marketing or organic search which are more resource intensive.

Depending on your budget and resources, you may wish to choose one or the other, or a mixture of the two options.

Resources

So it naturally follows that resources are another key factor to consider early on. Some things to think about are:

  • What skills do you have in-house? For example, do you have writers, developers, videographers or graphic designers?
  • What can't your team do?
  • What will you have to outsource and who are you going to outsource it to? For example a general digital marketing agency like Digital Rhinos, a freelancer or a specialised content marketing service like Prozely?

FilesWorking out exactly what resources you have available to you now (and the availability of those resources to work on the content) will save time, money and headaches down the road.

Time frame

Every piece of content you're creating and promoting should be part of a content calendar.

It’s important to determine the time frame for each piece of content, and ideally get the next three months of content mapped out.

Backwards planning works well. For example, if you know a blog post takes a week to turn around from idea generation to publishing, but a video will take two months, you’ll have a clear idea of what content you need to start working on when.

ProTipBook

When setting up a content calendar give yourself a little bit of slack so you’re not always working to a tight deadline.

Choosing your channels

The next step to work out is what channels you're going to use to promote your content. For example:

  • Organic search;
  • Paid search;
  • Social media;
  • Third party websites (eg. guest posts).

chanalThe channel you use will depend on the persona the content is targeting.

You need to think about where your persona hangs out, how they're most likely to find your content, where they'll view it and how they’ll view it.

Depending on the audience and type of content it may be best suited for LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or somewhere else.

The channel or channels you choose to publish your content on will depend on where your audience is, the type of content you’re creating and what you're trying to achieve.

Focus on consistency

Mapping out a content calendar based on the type of product or service, the target persona, the purpose of your content, your budget, your resources and time frame will help you be consistent.

TArgetBeing consistent in all content creation is essential.

You need to speak to your audience with the same brand voice and brand message every time you communicate with them.

By setting up clear guidelines and expectations your content marketing strategy will help you create content that:

  • Is consistent with previously released content;
  • Consistently interests your buyer personas.

Think about potential outreach targets

Another thing to bear in mind when considering the type of content to create is potential outreach targets.

WHAT ARE OUTREACH TARGETS?

Outreach targets are people who might promote your content for you. Ideally you should create a secret list of potential outreach targets to get in touch with when your content is released.

The aim is find influential people in your niche who may be willing to promote your content through their social media networks or by linking to it from their website. Your list of potential outreach targets or influencers could include:

Outreach

  • Prominent bloggers;
  • Journalists;
  • Product reviewers;
  • Industry thought leaders;
  • People who run business or social groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media outposts.

Remember, we're not officially talking about promotion yet! That would be putting the cart before the horse. Sure, this list will be useful for promotion purposes when your content is created but it's INVALUABLE in helping you decide what type of content to create.

HERE’S THE DEAL:

Once you've got a list of potential outreach targets you need to study what they share with their audience and work out what kind of content they like promoting.

It's far smarter to reverse engineer your content creation and, when the time comes, promotion. So, before you even start creating any content look at what kind of content those outreach targets already like.

Once you know exactly what kind of content they like - be it reports, blog posts, memes, reviews or lists - you can create the same type of content only better.

That's right! You need to make it better:

Put your own spin on it, add more details, turn it into a series, or make it way more controversial.

BONUS: When the time comes for promotion you'll already have a list of potential outreach targets who should love your content because you based it on their past preferences.
ProTipBookWhen it comes to promotion you'll get a lot more traction through those potential outreach targets. Especially if you're the new kid on the block or have a small following. Because you'll get a lot more interest and awareness by leveraging off other people's networks than you will by only pushing your content to your own small audience. Some influencers have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers, so one tweet from them can get your content viewed by hundreds or thousands of people.

Final word on content type

FinalWordWhen choosing what type of content to create, the key is to make sure it fits your buyer persona and goals,then work backwards based on what type of content you already know is popular. Spend time building your list of potential outreach targets and watching them closely so you know what type of content gets most widely shared, liked, downloaded or viewed.

This method takes the guesswork out of deciding what type of content to create because you base your content on stuff that's already popular and attracting interest. It’s a proven formula.

Then you just need to put your own spin on that content, update it, make it better, or do all three for a killer combination.

There are endless ways you can improve content that’s already out there, and once you've seen what's popular you'll be able to base your content creation plan on that.

Download Now:
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Step 3

Icon of an exam pad

Plan the content

Now you've defined the target audience and purpose of the content and decided what type of content to create, it's time to start planning your content.

Everyone enjoys different stages of the content marketing strategy process but for me planning content is the fun stuff.

Are you ready to have fun?

Some of the things we're going to look at are:

  • Keyword research;
  • Idea generation – that's right, it's time for some more brainstorming!

The two most important things for you to do are:

  1. Work out what’s already popular in your niche - If you've already started building your list of potential outreach targets you'll know what those people like. Now you can start another list of popular content ideas based on what's worked well in the past on other sites.

  2. Make sure the content fits with your personas - No matter how popular a piece of content is, if it doesn't engage your buyer persona it won't get results. There's no point in attracting the wrong audience. You want to stay laser-focused on your buyer personas and make sure the content you create appeals to them. You'll have far more success creating content for a specific buyer persona than you will by trying to appeal to a broad range of people.

Keyword research

Then you want to look for the Find Keywords headline and click the 'Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category'. This will open up a form.

To begin with just fill in the product or service line to enter some keywords or phrases. You can search for several different keywords or phrases at the same time by adding them on separate lines. For example:

LocationAndLegnuage

Keyword research examples

We'll use Japanese fashion as an example but you can try this for yourself with any keywords or phrases relevant to your product or services.

To begin with just add some keywords that you think might be popular. For example I entered gothic lolita, Japanese fashion, Harajuku fashion and kawaii, and chose Australia as the location for my hypothetical East Asian fashion retailer.

The results below show how many monthly searches there are in Australia for each keyword and the competition for those keywords.

Keyword monthly search
You can see the results for the keywords you actually entered, but notice that Google also suggests similar or related keywords.

Some of those keywords will be too broad but others, like 'Japanese street fashion', may fit well with your target audience. You can also see that there are a decent amount of people (170 per month) who are searching for that key phrase and the competition is low. In other words, not too many other websites are targeting that phrase. Perfect!

Sometimes the keyword planner will come up with ideas that you might not have considered. In the example below it suggests 'Korean fashion online' and 'Korean fashion'.

That might make you consider focusing on Japanese and Korean fashion, because the research suggests that if people looking for Japanese fashion, they’re also interested in Korean fashion.

People looking for Japanese fashion


Idea generation

When you've got plenty of ideas for keywords and keyword phrases you can plug them into a search tool like Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo is fun and fruitful because it tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks that content based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

You can only see the first page of results (10 pieces of content) with a free Buzzsumo account but it’s well worth paying $99 for one month of access to get ideas for popular content.

Here’s an example:

If we search for 'Japanese fashion' on Buzzsumo over the last year (or any filter period you prefer) you'll see the most popular content of all types (articles, infographics, videos etc) that include those keywords.

People looking for Japanese fashion Buzzsumo


Combining data from Google Adwords and Buzzsumo for idea generation

If you look at the results above from Buzzsumo you'll see that “What Japanese street fashion are you?”  has had about 27,000 shares in total. It's hugely popular.

And you know from your Google keyword research that people who are interested in Japanese fashion are also interested in Korean fashion; so maybe you could create a similar piece of content such as “Which Korean street fashion are you?”

In this example, that topic idea could be an online quiz on Facebook, which would mean it’s very interactive and probably fits well with a young target audience. But the type of content you create will depend on the audience and the purpose of the content you defined in step one.

Buzzsumo will give you a clear indication of what type of content and what topic of content is popular. For this example, the most popular content types were YouTube videos, quizzes and images.

So we can see that, for this target audience, there's no point in writing a 30-page guide on Japanese fashion because they probably won't read it. This target audience likes bite-sized pieces of content.

Buzzsumo will help you work out what your audience is actually looking for based on the keyword research you did in Google.


REMEMBER:
When we're talking about audience you want to think about the distinct buyer personas we outlined in step one.

Ready for some more examples?

manandwomanIn the example outlined before we may have two different buyer personas:

  • A 32 year old guy who lives at home, has a good disposable income and loves a specific sub-genre of Japanese fashion;
  • A 15 year old girl who spends all her pocket money on Japanese clothes.

The products that they’re interested in, the types of content you're going to create for them and how you reach those two personas will be different. Even though you're selling the same thing to both of them (Japanese street fashion), other elements will vary including:

  • Content topic and type;
  • Language;
  • Imagery;
  • Channels used;
  • Expected outcomes.

We love using Buzzsumo to get ideas for content and as a basis for brainstorming for more ideas. If you're not convinced it will work for you there are some excellent resources for getting content ideas and brainstorming online.

Go here for a step-by-step guide to generating hundreds of content ideas.

Hubspot have another great guide on getting blog post topic ideas.

Download Now:
Download the PDF version of this guide to save it directly to your computer for sharing or printing.

Step 4

Icon of a writing pad

Create the content

So far so good! If you've already done steps one to four, then you've defined the target audience and purpose of your content, decided on the content type and planned your content. Now all you have to do is create the content.

Here’s the secret:

If you've got a team of people to work on your content, or even if you're just outsourcing one blog post to a freelance writer, then you need to create a brief.

The aim of the brief is to outline all the different elements of the content and make sure everyone knows exactly what the audience, goals and channels are.

How to make a brief for your content creation

  • Buyer persona;
  • Type of content;
  • Channels;

  • Budget;
  • Resources;
  • Time frame.

Use those elements to create a short template that you can use every time you need to create a brief for a new piece of content.

How a brief helps

If all you're doing is writing one short blog post then it's relatively easy to get your writer on board. But if you're creating a 40 page eBook or a video, there may be many different people involved. In that case the brief will give the writers, videographers, graphic designers and anyone else the exact same idea of what you're trying to achieve. That way you'll save time and get the consistent, high-quality content you need.

Now you've got an overview of the content you need to outline the details. Be clear about:

  • Narrative voice - Is it first, second, or third person?
  • The buyer persona you're targeting - If you've created buyer persona outlines you'll be able to add the relevant one to the brief.
  • Tone and style - This will depend on your purpose and objective. For example, is the content humorous? Instructional? Persuasive?
  • Objective - This should be tied to your desired outcome and be included in a call to action.

Including a call to action

ctaA call to action tells people who've engaged with your content the next step you want them to take.

Including a call to action is vital because you don't want people to simply read your blog and then leave. If that happens you may never see them again.

The call to action will remind people to follow through with the outcome you've set. That outcome could be something simple such as liking your Facebook page, all the way through to signing up for a demonstration or purchasing something.

KPIYou want to have a next step, no matter how big or small it is, and no matter how incremental it seems. That's the only way you'll get anyone engaged going forward.

Even if your buyer persona just likes your Facebook page after connecting with a piece of content, you're continually growing your audience. So next time you publish content it will reach a wider audience, which means you have a greater chance of it being shared even more widely.

The call to action for what you want your buyer persona to do next will be tied to your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) or other metrics, so you can measure what's working and what's not.

We'll talk more about that in step five: Measure the success of your content.

Writing the content

When it comes to writing the content you've got two main options:

  • Write your content in-house;
  • Outsource your content writing or an element of it such as proof-reading.

In-house writing

Even if you haven't got a dedicated in-house writer you could get your subject matter expert to write the content. But you may have to plead with or threaten them because many subject experts aren't strong or confident writers. They may be highly technical, product savvy or brilliant at sales but that may not translate into engaging writing.

If you have in-house writers, all you need to do it give them the brief and a deadline. That should be enough for them to create a strong draft of your content.

Out-sourcing writing

If you're out-sourcing written content the brief will be invaluable to quickly get the writer up to speed with your audience and goals. A skilled and experienced writer won't need much direction and should ask you a few questions before they start writing. If you’ve got a great writer you can just give them a topic or headline along with the brief and let them run with it.

And if you’re looking for a content writer don’t forget to check out Prozely.

penYou can save time and money by getting someone in-house to create a rough draft with the essential information. That way the writer saves time on research and just has to polish the article, make it sound professional and read well for the target audience.

If you're hiring a cheap writer on Elance I recommend you give them as much guidance as possible. That brief will be gold.

The more you share your thoughts, vision and intentions, the better the article will be.

If you don't give an inexperienced writer, or someone unfamiliar with your topic area much direction, the content they produce may well be generic and generalized. In other words, it will be blah.

sharethots


Not surprisingly, blah content won't stand out from other content on that topic because it hasn't got a different slant and it's not better. It may also be inconsistent with other content you've created.

Ideally you want a hired writer to add a bit of polish to the content. If you leave them to come up with the entire piece, you'll probably be disappointed because you know more about it than them.

That's why having a buyer persona and brief to give the writer will take your content to the next level. Or from blah blah to hell yeah!

writerThe other thing you want to do is check the reading level to make sure it’s easy to follow.

When you get your draft back read it carefully. Unless it's a technical document for a specific audience, like doctors, the writing should be jargon-free, clear, simple, and fast to read.

If the writing’s too technical or complicated you risk alienating an audience who don't understand it or are bored by it. You should use a Readability Test Tool to ensure that the reading level of your site matches your target personas.

ProTipBook
Everyone’s busy these days, so making sure the writing is easy to read and understand is crucial. The best writers and content-creators can take a complex idea or topic and make it simple. The more you simplify something the more likely people are to engage with it.

So take a reality check on the writing to make sure it's crystal clear and fast to read.

Checking and proofreading

Checking and proofreading might be boring but they're also essential. A piece of content that's peppered with typos or grammatical errors will reflect badly on your brand and turn off the people you most want to attract.

Fortunately proofreading is easy to outsource. An online proofreading and editing company like Scribendi, which is based in Canada, will be able to make sure your writing is word perfect for a small fee.

Graphic content

GraphiccontentWhen the writing is complete, you'll probably need at least one image to accompany a blog post, or graphic design for a bigger piece of content like an infographic or report.

If you've got a creative team in-house, use them. Otherwise you can look for images on stock image sites like Shutterstock, outsource graphic design to freelancer sites like Elance or 99 Designs, or even use Canva to create your own graphics. It depends on your budget and your goals.

If you're outsourcing graphic design your brief will come in handy again. But whether you’re out-sourcing content creation or dealing with it in-house, you've now got a good idea how to create your content.

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Step 5

Icon of a non-linear scale

Measure the success of the content

Measuring the effectiveness of content is one of the biggest challenges marketers face.

The Contently study below found that 29% of marketers listed their inability to provide Return on Investment (ROI) as the most challenging obstacle to inbound marketing success.

 

MOSTCHALLENGING OBSTACLE
But measuring the success of a content marketing campaign gets easier if you’re clear on your target audience and the purpose of your content. Because that purpose will determine the metrics you use to measure whether a piece of content is successful or not.

You’re well placed because you got that stuff sorted in step one.

Here’s the final part of the plan:

Decide how you’ll measure success

mesureDeciding how you'll measure the success of your content marketing campaign is strongly linked to step one, where you decided on the purpose of your content. That’s the key point here.

If you're clear about the purpose of your content then measuring its success (or short-comings) is easy.

For example, if the purpose of your content is to build awareness, you could measure reach in the form of page views or social media shares.

Are you ready for more examples?

If building awareness is your main purpose the metrics to measure with Google Analytics are:

  • How many people viewed the content?
  • How many new visitors did the content drive through to your site?

If the purpose of the content is to get people to subscribe to your email list or join your lead nurture program, then how many people actually gave you their email address?

If the purpose of the content is to move people through the buying cycleor sales funnel, how many people have moved from one stage to the next? What's the funnel stage conversion percentage?

Key Performance Indicator (KPIs)

The answers to these questions are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so it's important to spend a bit of time working them out.

ProTipBookTie your KPIs to your campaign objectives and your overall business objectives. Otherwise they tend to be empty vanity metrics that don’t move the needle on your business. If your KPIs are clearly tied to your campaign objectives then it's much easier to prove the success of a campaign to others within your organization.

Benchmarks

Once you've released some key pieces of content and tracked those metrics, you’ve got some benchmarks to work with. Use those benchmarks to set targets for what you're trying to achieve.

For example, if you put out a piece of content with an aim of building awareness or getting your brand in front of people, each piece of “awareness content” should generate X number of likes, X number of views and so on. That then becomes your benchmark.

After setting your benchmark for success, next time you release a new piece of content you’ll know if you're achieving your expectations. If a piece of content exceeds the benchmark you can analyse what was different about the content that made it more successful. Alternatively, if a piece of content gets disappointing results you can analyse why it was less successful.

The aim is to take things that made a piece of content successful and re-apply them to new content you create in the future. Or to learn from your mistakes and create a more successful strategy in the future.

Key metrics

Here are some metrics you can use for each of the types of content you create.

acquisition
Interested in ROI of leads? You might be wondering:

How the hell do I work out that?

Let me explain:

While the terminology changes from one organization to another, the general qualification of leads is more or less the same.

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to define the stages as follows:

  • Marketing Lead (ML) - The raw leads that you generate with your marketing efforts, that may have been partially qualified but not yet qualified enough to pass on to sales.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) - Leads that have passed your qualification criteria and passed to the sales team.
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) - The sales team have determined there’s a commercial opportunity (this is usually when they attach a pipeline value to the lead).
  • Sale – I’m pretty sure we all know what that means!

The first thing you’ll need to find out is, what is an average sale worth?

As for how, well…

Interrogate the data. Torture it. Buy the sales analyst or business intelligence analyst a beer. Beg. Plead. Steal. Whatever it takes!

Depending on how easily you’re able to get this data, you may want to get more granular, segmenting by line of business or even individual product line.

Once you know what an average sale is worth, you can work backwards to see how much you can spend to acquire each ML.

Let’s say the average sale is worth $12,000 to your organization. If one-third of SQLs converts to a sale, then each SQL is worth $4,000.

Going even further back, if one in four MQLs is considered to be an SQL, that makes each MQL worth $1,000. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Acquisition costs/ROI of leads

table

Here are some metrics you should consider using to measure the success of your content marketing plan.

ACQUIRE:

  • Site visits
  • Cost Per Lead

  • Percentage of site visits that convert to MLs
  • ROI per ML

CONVERSION:

  • Percentage of MLs that convert to MQLs - You want to know which pieces of content are most successful at moving people further down the buying cycle, building out the profile and lead score of your prospects

  • Percentage of MQLs that convert to SQLs
  • Percentage of SQLs that convert to sales

  • Pipeline value generated by SQLs (average and total)

ENGAGEMENT:

  • Content engagement (eg downloads) from existing customers
  • Customer referrals
  • Churn rate

  • Cross-sell and upsell from existing customers
  • Average lifetime value
  • Net Promoter Score

Test, measure and appraise

If you’re getting good results and traction from your content marketing strategy then take time to celebrate your success.

If you're not, you might want to look at whether your personas are correct, whether your messaging is correct, your channels are correct and the type of content you're creating is correct for your personas. In that case it’s time to go back to step one.

Although we've included measuring the success of your campaign as the final stage of this content marketing strategy course bear in mind that it's all part of a united content marketing process.

It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to measure the success of your content marketing campaign, be it in traffic, shares, leads, conversions, incoming links or brand awareness.

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Icon of a bulb for conclusion on the front page

Next steps

That's it!

hiNow you have a detailed guideline for creating a solid content marketing strategy, with the exception of one key element - Promotion! That's such a crucial, enormous part of content marketing that it deserves its own guide. Subscribe now to the right to be notified as soon as we release it.

You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now but take a deep breath and relax. No one expects you to do all of this at once; by subscribing to Digital Rhinos, you’ll be given all the tools and detailed instructions on how to implement each of the steps above.

But if you just can’t wait, or don’t have the time or resources to put together a content marketing strategy for your business, we’d love to help you out. Just get in touch!

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