THE EXPERT'S GUIDE
to Buyer-Focused B2B Content Strategy
Strategy Comes First
Today’s B2B buyers tap many resources as they research and evaluate purchases. Search engines, social media and review sites empower them to make smarter decisions—and to make them faster. But large committees of stakeholders still make the process complex, which makes content a critical component of modern buying decisions.
That doesn’t mean you need more content. It means you need to be smarter and more strategic with yours to meet their needs even if you’re working quickly on a tight budget.
With careful planning, you can develop a reliable stream of meaningful content that meets their needs in the moment—no matter where they are. Build your content on a foundation of behavioral insights and knowledge of their goals and challenges. Develop an end-to-end strategy that can adapt and evolve for different formats and experiences.
This is your handbook for success with content strategy.
DID YOU KNOW?
– Demand Gen Report, 2022 Content Preferences Survey
64% of buyers consume 3 to 7 pieces of content before making a purchase decision.
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Lay the groundwork for your successful content with our Expert's Guide to Buyer-Focused B2B Content Marketing.
You don’t need a basement full of marketers tracking the news and cranking out content at a moment’s notice to build a steady stream of meaningful content. You need a marketing strategy directed toward buyer personas.
Whether you’re launching a big rock E-book or crafting an email message, the most important piece of the puzzle is to ensure you’re speaking to your target buyer—addressing their needs, challenges, priorities and goals.
It’s as easy as referencing your personas. How you go about building and refining your own personas may vary based on budget and goals. You can start by interviewing key sales reps or internal subject matter experts and conducting short surveys of your current customers. Use what you learn to develop buyer profiles that tell you who your typical buyers and prospects are.
Set the Stage With Buyer Insights
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targeted customer and prospect research
to develop buyer personas. Read "Perfecting Buyer Personas" for five tips on how you can define your own buyer profiles.
55% of buyers rely more on content than they did a year ago.
The Right Words at the Right Time
With personas in hand, you can begin to develop messaging maps that speak to your audience’s questions, needs and priorities at all stages of the buyer’s journey. But first, you need to answer some important questions about your target buyers: What business problem will your solution solve for this particular buyer?
Why would this buyer reject or resist your solution?
Look for trends and patterns among your personas and within your responses. Use what you uncover to write general first-person statements that can inspire campaign themes and content ideas.
“I would love to move our legacy enterprise apps into the cloud, but my mandate is to put risk management first—and a cloud migration initiative is an inherently risky activity.”
You sell an innovative cloud-based solution that could make Chris’s company far more efficient and competitive, but Chris believes the solution poses unacceptable security and reliability risks.
Chris is an IT executive at a company with strict regulatory compliance and security requirements. He considers himself open-minded and progressive on tech issues, but his job dictates a very conservative and risk-averse approach.
Imagine that you sell cloud-based solutions and you’re targeting IT executives. Here’s how you might use buyer insights to develop your messaging:
STAGE ONE | STAGE TWO | STAGE THREE | STAGE FOUR | STAGE FIVE | STAGE SIX
Educate & Challenge
Educate buyers or challenge existing views of a business problem. Loosen the status quo, if necessary, to set the stage for new thinking.
Build a case for change and instill a sense of urgency. Identify trigger issues that commit the buyer to change.
Present a range of practical options to solve the business problem. Show the buyer how to identify a preferred solution from these options.
Align your organization’s solution with the buyer’s preferred solution. Empower the buyer with information and resources to make an informed commitment to your solution.
Make a fact-based case that supports a final buying decision. If possible, support the case in favor of purchase with content and tools that demonstrate quantifiable value on the persona’s preferred terms.
Confirm & Validate
Provide resources to present and defend the buying decision among internal stakeholders. Reinforce and validate the decision with relevant, peer-based success stories.
Your buyer’s journey may vary by persona or look different from industry competitors, but here’s a quick overview of each stage and its corresponding goals:
Once you refine your messaging for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re ready to peruse your content library to determine whether any existing content will meet your campaign needs.
65% of B2B buyers ranked “easy access to relevant content” as very important in the purchasing process. 55% said messaging that “spoke directly to our needs and demonstrates industry knowledge” was important.
EDUCATE & CHALLENGE
Test different designs, color palettes and image options to see how your buyers respond. Invest the time to write a personalized subject line to get your email opened, and then reward those opens with carefully crafted copy that sparks their interest and wraps with a compelling call to action. Bonus points for eye-catching GIFs, short video snippets and emojis.
Creating net-new content for all your personas and for every new campaign isn’t just time-consuming and expensive, it’s completely unnecessary.
When you implement a sustainable content auditing process and conduct a thorough gap analysis, you can uncover a host of resources ready to reuse or update for countless situations. An audit will pinpoint potential issues and trends that empower you to select the right content for your campaign goals, showing how each aligns to your personas, solutions and repurposing potential (among other things).
Take Stock of Your Content Portfolio
The content audit gives you a granular view of each asset in your content library to determine which can be used for upcoming campaigns and where you need to close gaps with a brand-new asset. The initial audit can be tedious, which is only part of why so many clients turn to us for this service. Our process and expertise will significantly decrease your investments of time, money and resources as you quickly “shop” for content for each new campaign.
5 Steps to a Successful Content Audit
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Set Goals and Track the Results
There’s no way around it: You have to track KPIs and measure your ROI if you want to reach your marketing objectives. But it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Set goals for each campaign, and determine how you’ll achieve and track them.
Your goals may vary based on your business, content marketing maturity and even the individual campaign. In the early stages of your content strategy, publishing content and sending emails on a consistent basis could be enough to help you gauge audience reach and engagement. More sophisticated programs, such as for account-based marketing (ABM), come with more sophisticated goals, like understanding whether the campaign is accelerating speed to revenue or boosting overall revenue results.
Examples include search engine rankings, website traffic, increase in first-time visitors, and increase in social likes and followers.
AWARENESS | ENGAGEMENT | LEAD GENERATION | HARD ROI
You won’t know whether you’ve reached your goals if you don’t have a plan to track the results. Put things in writing. Track email delivery, number of leads generated and other key performance indicators (KPIs). Examine how your efforts have impacted reach and performance.
It’s important to assess your current capabilities and resources, and to continue adopting more advanced measurement methods as your content strategy evolves. Track metrics over time to identify what’s working and what’s not, and continue making adjustments over time.
Examples include content views, downloads and interactions.
Examples include email clicks and opens, form fills and registrations.
Examples include number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), sales-accepted leads (SAL) and number of closed deals and sales.
Broader strategies set the stage for campaign success with new or specific targets. Consider your goals and weigh the options for a strategy that can further increase your odds of great success.
Focused Strategies for Targeted Content
69% of B2B marketers said their demand generation budgets would be increase between 1% and 20% in 2022.
The 2022 Content Preferences Survey Report found that 39% of respondents wanted credible content from industry influencers. Identify the leaders in your industry (don’t forget your own internal SMEs!) and build a thought leadership campaign based on their perspectives. You’ll reach new audiences, strengthen your own credibility and boost organic search results.
Develop ultra-targeted messaging and high-touch, trackable content that’s easy to customize and translates into sales conversions. Personalize outstanding content your most exciting prospects can’t resist.
Whether you’re considering content syndication or just want to reach new audiences with your gate-able, high-value content, lead generation campaigns can populate your database with promising new prospects.
INFLUENCER STRATEGY | ABM STRATEGY | LEAD GENERATION
SCHEDULE A WORKSHOP
Content in Context
Custom Strategy Workshops:
Schedule a complimentary, 1:1 workshop for yourself or your team. You’ll meet with our B2B strategy experts to help you identify actionable steps to developing content that connects with specific industry roles and buying committees. We’ll tailor the session to cover exactly what you care about.
Content4Demand will show you some of the formats and approaches our most successful clients are using as part of their ABM and other segmented campaigns. You’ll walk away with tips, best practices and examples of how B2B companies like yours are optimizing cutting-edge formats to address specific stages and needs of the buyer’s journey.
Blogging is a great way for your brand to build ongoing dialogue with your audience while spotlighting the unique opinions and experiences of subject matter expects.
It’s also an ideal vehicle to promote new content and research, and to show off your subject matter experts. Use social media to extend the reach of your blogs, ask questions and encourage followers to share their feedback.
The goal of modular content is to map and create content with repurposing in mind. Rather than trying to find ideas within existing content, you start out with a series of smaller assets and map them together to create a new hero asset. You can turn one idea into a variety of different pieces while compressing approval processes exponentially.
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Repurposing starts with a comprehensive asset with data, best practices and even quotes and case studies. E-books and survey reports offer a lot of repurposing potential. With little additional effort, you should be able to split a larger asset into a series of new, shorter pieces.
For more tips on repurposing, check out:
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to share your specific challenges and learn how Content4Demand can help you engage buyers and drive results.
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Are you Ready to go All In
on Buyer-Focused B2B Content Strategy?
Your team may not have the time to tackle all these competing priorities—or the fresh perspective that an outside agency brings. That’s exactly why so many of the most successful B2B brands entrust their content strategy to the experts at Content4Demand. We work closely with your team to align everything we do with your goals, your brand and your values. You’ll collaborate with a dedicated team that includes a Content Strategist, an Account Director, a Client Services Manager and a talented Designer.
After conducting targeted customer and prospect research, we identify strategic messaging and content formats that resonate with buyers.
Audits & Gap Analyses
We analyze each piece in your content library for timeliness, relevance and alignment to specific personas and the buyer’s journey. Then we identify content gaps and opportunities to repurpose or update your existing assets, and create net-new assets only where they’re needed.
We create an end-to-end blueprint for buyer-focused content, providing tailored messaging elements for all stages of the buyer’s journey.
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