We are only two months into 2018 and I already hear some B2B marketers say that they work harder, not smarter, and only see limited results. So what differentiates the successful marketers from the not-so-successful marketers? One word: strategy.
According to CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research (North America), 62% of the most successful B2B content marketers have a documented strategy and 72% of B2B content marketers have increased their level of success over the past year as a result of having a strategy place.
So what stops B2B organisations from developing a content marketing strategy, when it’s so clear that having a strategy is key to success? In the same CMI research B2B marketers gave two main reasons: Small Team (67%) and Lack of Time (44%).
Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to create the right content for the right audience at the right time? Wouldn’t it be great to find ways to repurpose the content we’ve spent so much time creating rather than creating content haphazardly? Wouldn’t that save time?
I ask you to invest a little time today and start with a simple content map. Creating a content map will help you align your brand and product stories with your customer lifecycle stages, the questions your audiences ask and their content needs and preferences. This is a logical process that is easy once you get it down on paper.
Just follow these five steps to get started with your content map:
1. Build Your Audiences
When it comes to content, one size does not fit all. While a Marketing Manager of a small business and the CEO of a large enterprise might be on the same customer journey, their content needs are likely not the same. You need to identify your top purchase influencers and decision makers. These are your buyer personas. Once you have identified them, give them each a name. Describe who they are with as much detail as possible. Include things like what they fear, what motivates them and identify their goals and challenges. It’s always much easier to create content while having someone specific in mind. If you need help getting started check out our DIY-Marketing-Success page on Buyer Persona Development.
2. Define Your Customer Lifecycle Stages
Think about how your prospects and customers interact with your organisation and the stages they go through. Some companies start simple and only define three or four stages. Some companies look at as many as eight stages: Need > Research > Select > Purchase > Receive > Use > Maintain > Recommend.
For this blog post I will work with six stages: Interest > Learn > Evaluate > Justify > Purchase > Advocate. But at the end it depends on your buyers, the length of the buying cycle and how complex your process needs to be.
3. Understand What Questions Your Audiences Have
Different audiences will have different questions at each stage of their customer lifecycle journey. The purpose of your content should be to answer those questions, so that your buyers can make informed decisions and naturally move through the funnel from Interest to Advocate. Here are some general questions buyers ask at each stage of their journey:
- How can I manage content and content mapping for my department?
- Am I the only one trying to figure this out?
- Are there content management tools out there that can manage personas, too?
- What are the benefits of using these tools?
- How can Oracle Content Management help me?
- How does it compare to other options?
- Is there an attractive ROI? How can I prove it to stakeholders?
- What are current users saying about the solution?
- What kind of support is there to me going with solution?
- How can I best leverage the features?
- Have I been successful?
- Do I want to tell my story? Where?
4. Answer Your Audiences’ Questions
Start to align your brand or product stories with the questions your audiences ask. Keep in mind what makes your story unique and what differentiates you from your competitors. You may want to start off by taking an inventory of your existing content and identify gaps. Capture all the details that will help you to categorize your content so that you can easily find the right content for the right persona at the right stage.
5. Identify Preferred Content Types for Each Stage
Certain types of content work better at some stages than others. During the initial stages prospects are often more interested in informal types of content consumption like newsletters, infographics or videos – things they do not have to commit much time to. In the mid-stage, they are more interested in case studies or demos. Later in the cycle, when they are more committed to your products and services, they want detailed information, like product specifications and pricing and will spend much more time consuming your content.
Having a documented content marketing strategy is key to ensuring the content you create is timely, relevant and targeted. And creating a content map is the first step to documenting your content strategy and calming the content chaos. As more content is being created each day, adding order to the process is critical. Your content will be most effective when it’s planned, produced and published for a specific persona. You’ll have content that will address your audiences’ needs during each stage of the buyer journey.
Are you ready to get started today? Then visit our Boost Series Content Mapping Plan Builder. The Boost Series is a self-guided service, focused on helping you to implement essential Modern Marketing strategies, on your own time, at your own pace.
For more on how to maximize content marketing download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing, where you'll learn:
- How to develop a balanced content marketing plan to support your most significant business objectives
- Mining sources of inspiration to help create meaningful content
- How to maximize existing content to create additional assets
- Content calendar best practices
- Ways to get to know your content comrades within your organization
- Capitalizing on the idea of “content as data” (and must have content marketing metrics)
Download your copy of the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing now!