Ask any savvy marketer the secret behind their content marketing success and here’s what they’ll tell you - great content begins with a thought-out and documented content strategy.
In this article, you'll be able to download a step by step template that we use, and we'll breakdown how we do it for one of our clients
The Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2B report has consistently shown that a documented strategy is a key indicator of success in content marketing. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that the number of content marketers who document their strategy has been steadily on the rise.
However, many marketers still falter when it comes to conceptualizing and creating a successful content strategy for B2B businesses. While some struggle because their approach is too myopic, others set themselves up for failure by being over-ambitious. So, here’s a nifty guide on how to create a B2B content strategy deck that will help you get the results you’re aiming for.
To start off with, download the content strategy deck template using the form below.
1. Consider Your Goals and KPIs
The very first step in creating a content strategy is to think about your goals. What do you want to accomplish with content marketing?
Some common B2B content marketing goals include:
- Generating leads
- Driving better conversion from opportunities to closed won deals
- Increasing brand awareness
- Boosting engagement
You need to make sure that your goals are challenging enough, yet achievable. For this, you need to make sure that you define SMART goals - which means that they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
Also, depending on what you intend to achieve, you’ll need to decide on the metrics you’ll use to track and measure your content marketing success.
Here’s an example of a SMART goal along with the KPIs for its measurement:
For example, we recently collaborated with Shell, a global leader in the oil and gas industry, on a content marketing campaign. Here’s a little background on what they wanted to achieve.
With the rise and influence of social media, a large number of people have woken up to the perils of climate change. Naturally, they have been asking oil and gas companies to change to address the climate crisis that we face.
Shell had invested a lot in their Energy Transition Program (ETP) over the years, and their focus now was to build awareness about the program among their target audience and create a strong, lasting relationship with them.
So, the goal of our content marketing campaign was to drive advocacy and awareness of Shell’s ETP in Singapore among their intended target audience.
Now, most businesses would measure success based on the return on investment (ROI) and the same goes for content marketing as well. However, it can be a little tricky to measure the ROI from content marketing especially when most of your content aims to build awareness or educate your target audience.
We used the following metrics to track and measure Shell’s ETP campaign:
- Engagement Rate - The engagement rate is calculated based on all interactions (likes, shares, comments, clicks) on a social media post divided by the total number of followers on the page. We compared the engagement rate thus obtained with the industry average to measure success.
- Impressions - This metric determines how many views a post gets, which is an indication of how much exposure Shell’s ETP gets.
- Brand Sentiment - The attitude and feelings people have about your brand on social media add context to all the mentions, comments, and shares. Brands need to listen carefully to what is being said about their business online and know whether it’s positive or negative. In this case, we defined the percentage of positive or neutral sentiments for ETP content as a measure of success.
2. Define Your Audience Personas
Once you’ve identified your goals, you need to understand the people you’ll be creating content for. Ultimately, you want to influence their behavior with your content. And to evoke a reaction from them, you need to know what they care about.
The best way to go about this step is to create your audience personas. Think of them as a representation of who your ideal audience might be - their demographics, job roles, industries, interests, and challenges.
However, creating an audience persona requires way more than just profiling them. You might also need to create negative personas - the people you shouldn’t waste time going after. Also, instead of asking them generic questions, you’ll need to use a mix of quantitative and qualitative techniques to probe them effectively.
For example, to raise awareness about Shell’s ETP in Singapore, the audience groups we wanted to reach out to were:
Given the broad topic of energy transition, we segmented our audiences into the following three groups:
- Gen X (Born between 1965 and 1980)
- Gen Y (Born between 1981 and 1995)
- Gen Z (Born between 1996 and 2012)
We then conducted a series of interviews with people from each of these groups and attempted to understand the following:
- How much do they know about Shell and ETP?
- What’s their decision-making process like when it comes to oil and gas companies?
- The current state of energy
- The future state of energy
- What do they think about clean, sustainable energy?
- Which channels do they use to consume information?
- How can we reach out to them better?
These interviews revealed some crucial information that would help us identify content gaps in the subsequent stages of our content strategy creation.
3. Identify the Content Gaps
A content gap analysis helps you measure your buyer’s questions and concerns throughout their customer journey against your content offerings to find potential gaps and fill them with relevant content. This is one of the most crucial steps in creating a B2B content strategy.
Our audience persona interviews for Shell had unearthed some great insights. For example, based on the following responses, we realized that most people weren’t aware of Shell’s ETP:
We also found that most respondents inaccurately described Singapore as being powered mainly by coal (which we derived from the following responses):
Using all of our findings from the interviews, we conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis for Shell’s content marketing campaign around the ETP. For example, the fact that not many people were aware of Shell’s ETP would be considered a weakness. However, the fact that most people recognize the brand was certainly a strength that we could leverage.
The SWOT analysis of our findings from the audience persona interviews helped us develop some ideas around potential content gaps that we could fill.
For example, we found that most respondents incorrectly assumed that Singapore was powered by coal. This indicates that even though people are immensely dependent on power, they have no emotional connection with it and therefore, don’t care about its source.
By filling this content gap, Shell could build a stronger relationship with their audience. We could educate them about Singapore being powered mostly by natural gas which is cheaper, more efficient, and produces very little waste.
4. Create Your Content Pillars
Once you’ve identified your content gaps, the next step in creating your content strategy would be to create your content pillars - the key topics or themes around which you would create content.
Content pillars can be extremely useful because they can make sure that you don’t end up ignoring the needs of any part of your target audience. They can also minimize the trouble of having to come up with fresh content ideas now and then. They’ll also help you create a content calendar so that you can be more organized in your content creation process.
Based on our research and analysis, we came up with the following content pillars for Shell:
- Advocacy/Education - Content that aims to educate intended audiences about the transition, the future of energy, and how these would affect their lives and their future generations. The end goal of such content would be to evoke emotions, such as encouragement, surprise, and excitement.
- Demonstrating Energy Transition - Content that describes Shell’s real-life initiatives and educates audiences about what they are doing to transition to clean energy. The end goal of such content would be to build awareness around Shell’s business announcements.
- Inspire - Content that aims to inspire people to participate in the energy transition phase and contribute to sustainable energy. The end goal of such content would be to instill a sense of ownership and control in them as to how they are impacting the environment.
Creating a content strategy for B2B might seem like an overwhelming task at the onset. However, taking the time to consider your goals, creating buyer personas, and documenting your strategy will be well worth the effort.
Not only can it help you address the potential content gaps but also give you more control over your content creation and distribution process. If you don’t have the time or the resources to invest in creating a B2B content strategy, collaborating with content marketing agencies can prove to be very useful.