Content marketing should be a huge part of any B2B software company’s sales and marketing efforts. But the only way to get the most out of it is to start with a documented strategy — one that ensures your content is relevant, targeted and effective.
The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report found a third of B2B companies using content marketing say they have a documented content marketing strategy; slightly less than half say they have a strategy, but it’s not documented. It also found 60 percent of those with a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32 percent of those who haven’t taken the time to document their strategy.
To help you develop and execute a successful content marketing strategy, we’ve developed a guide. “Content Marketing for B2B Software Companies” provides a framework for mapping out your content marketing strategy, as well as advice and examples from B2B software marketers who’ve created and executed successful content marketing campaigns themselves. Here are some of its highlights.
Start by Getting to Know Your Buyers
Before you create a strategy, you have to figure out who you’re trying to reach with your content marketing efforts. Develop buyer personas to narrow down your audience and better target your content. Chances are your sales team has already done a lot of the leg work here and can offer a wealth of information about your best clients, so start by talking to them.
Web-based relocation management software company UrbanBound’s marketing and sales teams developed buyer personas together, says Vice President of Marketing Erin Wasson. This approach helped them get the greatest insight into the company’s customers and establish buy-in from both departments.
Develop and Document Your Strategy
Your buyer personas are the first piece of your content marketing strategy. Keep them in mind as you go through the next steps of putting your strategy together. This will include setting some goals, such as building brand awareness or generating more leads.
Next, consider how you’ll produce your content. Develop an editorial calendar that identifies who will create the content and the timeline they need to follow. Look back on your goals and determine how you’ll measure ROI. Finally, be ready to adjust your content depending on what your data tells you.
Use a Variety of Channels
You’ll want to put most of your efforts into the channels that get the best response, but using a variety of channels will help you identify those that work best for your audience. A blog is often the best place to start your content marketing efforts. Customer intelligence and Web analytics platform KISSmetrics has attracted a loyal following of blog readers by prioritizing topics important to its prospects and customers, says Lars Lofgren, its director of growth.
Other options include:
- Downloadables. Expand on your company’s most popular blog post topics in white papers. Include expert input, surveys and analysis.
- Email. We still love email, and others do too: “If you need to focus on directly generating and nurturing leads at a low cost per lead, the first place to start for most businesses should be email marketing,” says Jay Ivey, market research associate at Software Advice.
- Visuals. Slideshare presentations and infographics can help you grab your audience’s attention and get your main points across. Infographics in particular, Lofgren says, are a popular, easy-to-grasp, shareable, fun way to showcase what your software can do.
- Video. “For a B2B software company, video is definitely part of the supporting cast,” says Phil Haslehurst of Decibel Insight. While the company doesn’t usually get new traffic through video, he says the company’s established audience finds a lot of value in it.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
If you’re looking for content topic ideas, start with your customers’ most common questions. Technology Seed Marketing and PR Manager Katie Bisson says she looks at industry trends, general news items that are trending and common questions from customers to get content topic ideas. “We figure if our customers are asking, others are probably asking as well.”
Finally, trade shows and conferences are content goldmines, says Michele Linn, vice president of content at the Content Marketing Institute. “Think about ways you can use the content you create to connect with people at the event, and follow up with them after.”
Keep reading. Get more B2B content marketing tips in our guide: