Does the thought of creating another infographic covering a niche product that only a small percentage of the world’s population is interested in leave you staring out the window wondering what the real purpose of life is? Or perhaps you need to step up your content marketing game but are wondering, how you’ll be heard over all the competing voices in your industry?

Whatever the source of your current content headache, step away from the content calendar and blog topic generator, and let’s talk.

A mere 30% of B2B marketers believe their organizations are effective at content marketing. Only 44% say their organization is clear on what content marketing success looks like. While these numbers are disappointing, it means that while businesses are focusing on creating more and more content, those that determine how to do content marketing well will have a clear competitive advantage.

1. Slow Down... and Start at Your Core KPI

What is the ultimate goal of content marketing? Marketers have a limitless number of key performance indicators to measure: social shares, engagement, keyword rankings, traffic, conversions. However, starting with these types of metrics doesn’t narrow a content strategy down to the metric that’s most important to B2B marketers: sales qualified leads.

When setting a content strategy, start with who your buyer actually is. Talk to the sales team about questions prospects have. What are the pain points prospects have that make your product a good solution?

Go through your marketing platform and identify which pieces of content current customers and sales qualified leads looked at most. What is frequently confusing for buyers in the industry as a whole, and what information hasn’t been provided by you or your competitors thus far?

Then set a content strategy that will lead your buyer through the entire buying process and get traffic, shares, and conversions. In other words, instead of creating 10 infographics, create three high-value pieces of content that create a natural lead nurturing funnel.

2. Everything is Content

Marketers love to follow the latest content trends whether that’s infographics, viral quizzes, or microsites. Yet, focusing on a certain type of content is an ineffective approach to content marketing. Infographics in and of themselves have no value unless that medium happens to be most effective at conveying an idea.

Also, many marketers forget every element of a company’s website is content. Yes, even those boring product pages that haven’t been touched in years, yet 50% of your qualified traffic look at. Evaluate the content of your website as a whole and determine:

  • How that content works together to nurture a buyer
  • Holes in your content strategy
  • What can be updated/presented in a more effective manner
  • Current conversion rates and what needs to be added/subtracted to boost conversions
  • Missing/Ineffective/High performing CTAs and gated content

By the time you’ve worked through this process, setting priorities and coming up with topic ideas comes naturally.

3. Write it Down

Currently, only 32% of content marketers have a documented content strategy. Without a written content plan, pieces are created and forgotten about. Content that converts well gets buried in a list of blog content, and measuring the effectiveness of a content strategy becomes a pain or overlooked entirely.

Instead, write down the goal, KPIs, and promotion strategy for each piece of content and where it fits in the overall content map. Access templates for campaign planning here or use my own template here.

4. Answer Questions

Coming up with topic ideas is tough, especially when you don’t have a place to start. Besides everything listed above, think about mapping content to specific questions buyers have as they are evaluating a product. Then create content that answers those questions, and link the content together in a logical way. CTAs are crucial, but thank you pages and follow up emails are also good lead nurturing opportunities that are frequently overlooked.

5. Integrate and Think Long-Term

Again, rather than one-off pieces that need constant promotion, integrate all elements of your marketing to create long-term conversion funnels. By incorporating keyword research and SEO best practices early in the content planning process, your content will rank for targeted keywords continue to get qualified traffic and conversions long after the content is exciting and new. Re-purpose content for social sharing and revisit themes in blog posts. In other words, at this point, the content you’re creating should have lasting value and can be used for years with regular upkeep.

Bottom Line

Simplify. As much as possible. Focus on the real end goal, and ensure the content is valuable to the buyer, not just what you want the buyer to hear. See a content strategy through from concept to closed customer, and learn from what that data tells you.