10 Easy hacks to get your content strategy fired-up

By Mei Burgin and Marie Wiese from CMA’s B2B Council

In our last two posts, Mei and I discussed why your organization needs content marketing and how to define your audience.

So you have buy-in from the boss and you’ve developed a buyer persona to help you guide the themes for your content marketing plan. Now what?

Here are 10 easy B2B content marketing hacks to get you started with developing and executing your content marketing plan.

1. Look for gold in email correspondence

Many times you are writing to a customer or a prospect about a particular challenge or how to solve a business problem. What you likely don’t realize is that your email content would make a great blog post if you made it generic and expanded on the business problem. There is often gold sitting in your emails to clients and prospects. The reason being that if one customer is asking about something, there are likely lots of other people interested in the topic as well.

2. Ask your sales reps

Talk to sales people and find out what conversations they are having with prospective customers. We always recommend that the top 10 questions that are asked in a first sales call make excellent fodder for blog posts. You can help people self-serve and self-educate when you make commonly asked sales questions easily available on your website.

3. Ask your best customer

This should likely be hack #1. To develop truly customer-centric content, the best person to ask is your best customer. Shoot them a quick email and ask them to list three things they wish they could magically solve in their business. Don’t ask about you – ask about them and see what comes back.  These three things could end up being your best blog posts of the year or perhaps turn into an eBook or essential guide to help with list building or customer engagement.

4. Search on SlideShare

Find a topic that customers are concerned about and see who is posting about this topic on SlideShare. SlideShare is an often overlooked social media tool that has lots of great content available as PowerPoint presentations. See who is covering a topic, read their angle on the problem and then review your latest corporate presentations to see if a topic your company presented could be introduced in a blog post with a link to the posted presentation on SlideShare. Not only will it help you present a topic, but it is a great process for sharing and socializing content. Even if you presented something more than a year ago, there is always a way to update and re-purpose content.

5. Find an industry report to discuss

Lots of people are investing money in research. There are some great reports you can use to drive traffic and engagement for your content strategy. Partner with research providers, conduct your own surveys or find out who has the most compelling research in your industry that you can talk about. Research helps people make better business decision so be the good person that shares this data.

6. Learn on Skillshare

Skillshare has really come a long way and for only $9.99 per month for a subscription, you have access to a whole bunch of great courses that last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. We searched it and found a bunch of new courses to help people structure content, find new ways to be creative and advanced search engine optimization classes to help you think about content. If you don’t have a lot of time and money, SkillShare is a great way to learn something new and apply it instantly to your business or marketing program.

7. Use Google Trends

This tool is often overlooked, but it is so powerful as a B2B content marketing tool. You can really get your creative juices flowing when you start to slice and dice data and look for ideas and trends that relate directly back to what people are actually searching for and doing online.
Here is a great example of how you can use it:

  • Search a topic that relates to your products or services. I used “content marketing” and here is what I found…

Although content marketing was a relatively new term in the marketplace in 2011, you can see that search trends are on the rise. CMA's B2B Council has been doing research on keywords to plan our B2B Hub editorial themes. We are very focused on content marketing because of the trends we are seeing.

  • Here is what else we see in Google Trends that would help us direct content….

The regional view gives us great insight about which countries are interested in a topic. This helps if you sell globally or locally. You understand the relevance of a topic or term by country, which can really help you be specific about the next round of content.

  • And lastly, but certainly not least is related topics…

This is the real gold because this data basically gives you the headlines for your next five blog posts. Look at how topics are trending. We can fit this data nicely into your buyer persona interests or your keyword strategy. Not to mention Google Trends is free!

8. Plan your headlines

A fundamental part of your content strategy should be based on a researched keyword strategy to help you direct content for search-ability and audience engagement. Any journalist will tell you that the headline does 80% of the work in getting people to click through or pay attention. After all, no matter how great the content, it will make no difference if nobody reads it. To illustrate our point:

The original working headline for this post, as outlined by Mei and me for our series, was: “Planning and executing your content strategy: editorial calander, asset types, templates and calls to action.”  So that’s a pretty long and boring title but it says exactly what the post is about.

So we ran the title through CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and it got a score of 28%. We played around with the four categories that CoSchedule recommends for words in headlines: common, uncommon, emotional and power.

We then came up with “10 Easy hacks to get your content strategy fired-up” and we got a score of 71%. After planning your editorial calendar, spend lots of time on your headlines.

9. Don’t forget the call to action

As the saying goes, “for every action there is a reaction.” What do you want your readers’ to be?

  • Leave the page
  • Finish reading the page
  • Share the page
  • Get excited and call you
  • Sign up for an offer

Think honestly about next step in the buying process and how you want your reader or visitor to react after they have consumed your content. After all, your goal is to help move the reader along to the next stage in their buying journey – so that they ultimately choose your product!

10. Use an editorial calendar tool

We have reviewed a few editorial planning tools from free to paid to help you plan and organize content. There are many plugins available for WordPress if you are using a WordPress content management system.  There are many other tools available for bigger teams that need to plan, share and edit content in a team environment. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Editorial Calendar for WordPress – Allows you to see all of your posts and when they'll be posted. Drag and drop to change your post dates. Manage your drafts with drafts drawer. Quick edit post titles, contents, and times. Publish posts or manage drafts. Easily see the status of your posts. Manage posts from multiple authors.
  • CoSchedule by TodayMade enables the scheduling of both posts and social media updates on the same editorial calendar. Starting at $30/month, there are currently over ten thousand active installs. It’s easy to install, has good workflow management and is very intuitive. It guides you through the process of setting and managing an editorial calendar. It also has a killer headline analyzer which discussed in Hack #7.
  • One of the best-known editorial calendar tools, Kapost is the software behind the content strategy at companies like Content Marketing Institute, CBS and Cisco. The software tracks the workflow of your content marketing from strategy to execution and social distribution. It’s a great tool for brands that create a large volume of content or have numerous team members, due to the fact you can internally categorize and search your existing assets. The platform offers quite a few more capabilities than just acting as a content calendar. Starts at $95/month.
  • Another great tool for planning out content distribution in conjunction is Hootsuite. You can easily manage your social content through a library of ready-to-publish messages and creative assets for teams to share, target your posts and share content with your customers based on location, language, and demographic details. You can also designate team leaders to approve outgoing content so your team’s social media posts align with your goals and brand strategy.

Hope these hacks help and don’t forget to sign up for the Content Marketing Bootcamp to further hone your team’s skills. Refer to the CMA website under Events & Education.  

Our Expert Panel of CMA members weigh in with these comments:

Luxy Thuraisingam, Director Brand, Enterprise - Rogers:
In recent years, there has been a focus on creating content due to the increasing importance of being a thought leader in the technology space. The opportunity now is to develop the right framework, processes, dashboard with centralized accountability to ensure the right content is developed and placed in the right channel to the right audience at the right time. My advice would be that the infrastructure and processes are as important as the content itself and this needs to be built into the strategic plan.

Patricia McQuillan, President and Founder, Brand Matters Inc.:
Over the past few years, at Brand Matters, we have witnessed our clients shift their focus to ensure that the most effective digital marketing and social media tactics are integrated with their traditional marketing programs and brand messaging.  As part of this, a key step is ensuring that our customers’ B2B brand strategy is up to date and is stated in the most relevant context in order to engage current and future customers. This often involves qualitative B2B market research and internal stakeholder alignment, an additional step, which always pays off to ensure relevancy and customer engagement. The landscape is shifting but the core elements of brand building and integrated marketing planning remain the same.

Andrew Assad, Strategy & Insights Manager - Integrated Solutions, Google Canada:
The world of digital is a fast-paced, ever changing and sometimes complex world.  It is important for us to help break down the complexity through thought leading research to help our clients feel comfortable and confident.  The best way to do this is through educational content. Keep it simple, focus on memorable sound bytes that matter and ensure you think of why your audience should care, what they should do and what the return is. 

Evan Wood, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Custom Services - Environics Analytics
Like our clients, we have finite resources, limited time, and a desire to grow our products, services and bottom line results. So we have put a lot of emphasis and structure around doing fewer things really, really well. For example, we regularly get together with the sales team to discuss key challenges and topics that come up in their discussions with clients. We’ll then develop content to specifically address these issues, using the content across multiple channels in different formats (e.g. collateral, conference presentations, LinkedIn posts, etc.). Another example, more operational in nature, is that we have developed core expertise in content planning and development, with one of our senior resources professionally trained as a journalist. This is very helpful as he brings a real discipline to the editorial process, from content brainstorming right through to execution.

Tell Us What You Think
  1. If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by CMA before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry.
    Thanks for waiting. View CMA's Blogging Policy.

Tags: content marketing, keywords, google, slideshare, b2b, email, trends