Content marketing is getting harder.
A massive amount of branded content is being published to the web every day. Every piece makes it more difficult to capture and keep the attention of your target audience.
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute Founder, attributes this to the increasing difficulty of “content tilt.” Tilt, according to Pulizzi, is the differentiating factor that makes your brand’s content unique. When your industry is saturated with blogs, eBooks, webinars and podcasts, “tilt” can be nearly impossible to achieve.
While well-done content marketing can create synergy within an integrated demand generation program, there's no escaping the fact that creating quality content is time-consuming. That's why you want to get the most mileage possible out of every piece of content you create.
7 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing for Demand Generation
1. Focus on Problems
You’re in business because your brand has a solution to your prospect’s problems, right?
If your content isn’t hitting the mark, it may be because you’re not focused on your personas' pains at each stage of the funnel:
- Early-stage prospects are just starting the process of solving a problem
- Mid-stage leads are considering their options
- Late-stage opportunities are looking to overcome their concerns and get buy-in from all stakeholders
Taking a solution-oriented approach to your persona’s problems allows you to position your brand as a problem solver. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Creating how-to blogs for every stage of the funnel
- Infusing premium content with unique, problem-solving value.
- Actively listening to your prospects, leads and customers to understand their problems.
- Participating on social media to answer industry questions.
- Optimizing SEO for problem-oriented long-tail organic search keywords.
- Creating solution-oriented lead nurturing workflows.
2. Address the Customer’s Questions
Content marketers instinctively know they should answer questions. But, answering the right questions makes all the difference.
Here are some ways you can understand what your prospects and customers really want to know:
- Analyze the blogs, eBooks and content resources accessed most frequently by prospects and customers
- Examine the content resources used most often by sales and customer success teams
- Compile a list of questions or topics from social media interactions
- Listen in on customer onboarding meetings
- Pull frequent keywords or queries from your website chatbot logs
- Keep a growing spreadsheet of all customer questions from before the sales process, during the sales process and after the close
3. Leverage 3rd-Party Media Sources
If you're trying to boost the reach of your content marketing efforts – beyond what your blog, social and SEO efforts can deliver – the next logical step is 3rd-party media sources and lead generation services.
Achieving the best results with 3rd-party lead gen, in our experience, requires:
- Identifying qualified media sources
- Evaluating potential media partners’ audiences
- Researching their account-based marketing (ABM) capabilities and targeting options.
- Selecting the right content for distribution
- Developing a quick and effective process for lead processing and routing
4. Learn the Art of Self-Promotion
There’s a big difference between good and bad content marketing, especially when it comes to where and how you promote your content. A bad content marketing strategy comes across as spammy and can quickly undermine your brand's credibility. If you do content promotion well, you come across as a helpful and knowledgeable source.
What to do:
- Promote your content where your personas are looking for answers
- Be an active, helpful and valuable member of online communities where your personas engage
- Build relationships before you link or pitch – this means having real conversations on social media post comments, and only linking to your content if it is truly helpful to audiences in the context of the original post
What not to do:
- Don’t send out email blasts to people who didn’t opt-in to your emails (This will become increasingly important as data-privacy regulations, such as the GDPR, expand)
- Don’t repeatedly post links to your own content on your personal or business social media profiles
- Don't make a habit of adding links to your content into the comment section of other blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn post – it's transparent and annoying
- Don't feign involvement in online communities to promote your content
5. Promote Based on Funnel Stage
Content marketing is a full-funnel marketing strategy. Content drives results for brand awareness and lead generation at the top of the funnel. At the middle of the funnel, it helps nurture prospects, facilitating lead velocity, conversion rates and sales pipeline growth. At the very bottom, it supports sales enablement, resulting in more closed-won deals and revenue contribution.
You need content for every stage of the funnel. And, you need to know how to effectively distribute that content to audiences according to stage as well as all relevant stakeholders (i.e., sales and customer success teams).
Use tools to map your content to specific funnel stages and strategically promote it where it brings the most value to your prospects and customers. We've created several content strategy and distribution templates in the Demand Orchestration Workbook that can help.
6. Be Relevant Now
Attention moves fast. Talking about yesterday’s news gets you nowhere. In some industries, relevance is shorter-lived than in others. B2B marketers in particularly fast-moving fields, such as information security, financial technology and similar niches, need to be on top of their game.
Don’t get caught talking about issues or topics that are resolved. It won’t get attention on social media, organic search or other channels.
Creating content in the “now,” isn’t easy, and it requires a great deal of agility. But, it’s just the nature of generating demand in the digital age.
7. Use the Right Tools
Tools aren’t everything, but when you’ve got your processes and people aligned, tools can make all of the difference. Many of the tools most game-changing B2B content marketers swear by are free, easy-to-use and deliver great value.
Here are a few favorites:
- Quora: Need an expert quotation fast? With 100 million users and a fast-growing segment of verified experts and celebrities, Quora is a powerful way to source personalized answers from names your audience knows.
- Percent Change Calculator: Some tools only do one thing extremely well, and in the case of this percentage change calculator, that’s enough. It’s a great go-to if you need to crunch numbers quickly and accurately.
- HARO: Post or respond to source requests from journalists and bloggers, including media at sources such as Reuters, Time and the Wall Street Journal or other subject matter experts.
- Atlas: Atlas is akin to Google, but it’s exclusively dedicated to stats, graphs and charts, many of which are free for reuse.
- Canva: Perhaps the easiest to use graphic design tool for non-designers available online.
Elevate Your Content Marketing in 2018
Content marketing isn’t simple, but it’s also not an optional component of a full-funnel B2B marketing strategy. To generate leads, nurture prospects and win deals, B2B marketers need to work smarter against increasing content competition.
By adopting the right tactics, including better empathy for your personas' problems and a commitment to relevant and timely content creation, B2B marketers can shift from simply creating great content to ensuring it's used to its fullest potential.
Eager to reinvigorate not just your content marketing but your entire demand generation strategy? Get all the guidance and worksheets you need here: Demand Orchestration Assessment Guide and Workbook.