The Changing Face of Content Marketing
Content marketing is an important part of an integrated inbound marketing program and we typically recommend it to our industrial clients. However, as more and more companies jump on the content marketing bandwagon, we are reminded of economic bubbles. There is some speculation as to whether there is a sort of “content bubble” that threatens to pop and take us content marketers with it. With approximately 15 to 20 new blogs posted every second (yes, that’s every SECOND), how can you ensure your content is fresh and relevant? Here are a few tips.
Follow the Content Trends
A few years back, content marketing was a much simpler procedure that involved repetitive use of a few chosen keywords in a blog post or web page that may or may not have read well. The point then was to use the keyword or keyword phrase over and over so Google would take notice. Over the past 5 years or so, the trend in content marketing has been moving from quantity to quality. It’s no longer using your keywords over and over (in fact, this can be to the content’s detriment), it’s about using them in the most relevant ways. Google’s job is to deliver the most relevant results when searches are done and currently has 200 factors it ranks for search engine placement. Number of views, social media shares, backlinks, how long a person stays on your site, are just a few of those 200 factors.
Write Content that Speaks to Your Audience
Focusing on content topics that actually get read means asking your customers what they’d like to learn more about. Customers are usually happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you, particularly if you’re trying to address their needs. Have your inside sales or customer service group start documenting common problems or questions asked by your customers. If several have the same problem or questions, chances are there’s a lot more who do. Along with their area of concern, document how they were helped. This information can be invaluable in revealing what to lead with when scheduling out your content.
Let Your Customers Tell a Story
It’s no secret that word of mouth, testimonials, and endorsements are key to converting prospects into loyal customers. Studies show that B2B buyers prefer content that is genuine, transparent, and validated. It’s definitely worth bringing an impartial voice to some of your content. One of the best ways to accomplish this is a case study, especially if it contains a compelling narrative. Case studies can get stuffy if they are simply numbers – such as what the customer needed, when they got it, and how much they paid for it. One approach to a case study is focusing on what the customer could have lost without your goods or services.
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
There are many different approaches to developing a content marketing strategy, some quite simple and others quite complex. For most industrial B2B’s your strategy should be an outline of key customer needs or problems that you can speak to, hot topics in your industry, seasonal topics in your industry, company news that your customers would find interesting, plus a detailed plan for how you will use content to bring your company’s voice to the conversation: a publishing editorial calendar. Some companies want their plan to include social media posts, although this can turn out to be a time buster and doesn’t necessarily provide equivalent value to the plan.
Before creating your content marketing strategy, do your research. In addition to documenting topics you think your customers will care about, do an audit of your top competitors’ content. Notice topics appearing in industry magazines, blogs from industry experts, or anyone credible who has something to say about your industry. Who stands out? Is what they are saying different and unique? Can you cover a topic from a different perspective?
Set up a feed reader or Google Alerts for your ideal search terms. Spending more time reading can help you get a handle on what you, your staff, or marketing agency should be spending their time researching and writing. With only 32% of B2Bs having a documented content marketing strategy, this one item can make a huge difference.
If you need help developing a content marketing strategy and keeping a steady stream of quality content in the pipeline, contact us for a complimentary consultation.