Consistent, high-quality content is one of the most effective tools you have to reach your company’s goals. From brand building and lead generation to sales enablement, client and partner nurturing, recruitment, and more, content marketing can help.Before you jump into pumping out dozens of pieces of content as fast as you can, take a second look at what makes this content so effective: It’s high-quality and consistent.
Although the vast majority of B2B marketers report using some sort of content marketing, many teams fail to generate the results they desire. Part of that disillusionment comes from the belief that “doing content marketing” starts and stops at having a blog.
Content marketing is a comprehensive strategy. It includes a stellar blog, for sure, but it also needs guest posting, PR, distribution, SEO, and in-depth analytics to help you make the most of your investment.
Influence & Co.'s industry research report, “The State of Digital Media,” uncovered key findings that could directly affect your efforts.
To truly take your content marketing to the next level and generate leads, nurture and close sales, and build your brand, your content must be high-quality, strategic, and valuable to your audience — and it can't stop after a few published blog posts.
Get data-driven insights from online publication editors and an analysis of more than 127,000 pieces of digital content:
In this guide, Influence & Co. will walk you through the necessary steps to get your content marketing strategy into top-notch condition and achieve the results you’re after. Through these six steps, you’ll learn how to transform your company’s content marketing from mediocre blogging to full-fledged brand publishing and skyrocket your ROI.
1. Go beyond just blogging.
2. Publish thought leadership content bylined by your company’s subject matter experts.
3. Align your content with your goals.
4. Use earned media to enhance owned media.
5. Nurture leads with social media and email drip campaigns.
6. Enlist help from the right automation platforms.
We hate to call you out, but if you’re simply using your blog to post company updates, brief thoughts, or snippets of industry news, then you aren’t taking full advantage of its potential, and you certainly aren’t doing content marketing.
Think of your company blog as a home base for your content strategy. It’s a central hub for your content, a place to test your efforts and process, and it’s completely under your control. So it’s imperative to maximize your efforts where it counts: on your blog.
While sharing company updates might be helpful for you and your employees internally, your blog can speak to a broader audience, and hyperspecific news really isn’t all that helpful to your readers’ efforts to solve their problems. To truly attract and engage your target audience, your blog has to be entertaining, address questions and pain points, and serve as an educational resource for your readers.
Getting the most value out of your efforts typically takes more than blogging, even if your blog is amazing. You need some killer earned media, too — but more on that later.
Want more information on how a blog can set the foundation for your content marketing strategy?
One of the first steps to building your brand is creating thought leadership content that comes from (and is bylined by) your company’s subject matter experts. Then, you need to decide where you'll publish that content to reach your target audience.
If you’ve built that successful company blog we talked about earlier, then your subject matter experts (SMEs) should be contributing there, too. But guest posting to the online publications your audience already reads and trusts adds valuable credibility and exposure to your brand and brings new readers back to your blog and into your funnel.
Learn how to turn your expert insights into high-quality content:
An SME supplies the knowledge and insights for content and often serves as the face for that content. People tend to think of SMEs as executives, like CEOs or presidents, but they can also be niche experts in different positions, like account managers, developers, or sales reps.
In addition to providing specific insights that make valuable, authentic content possible, subject matter experts serve three other functions for your brand:
Once you’ve selected your thought leaders, it’s time to create a process for extracting their expert knowledge. Remember, your SMEs are busy people, and the last thing they probably want to do is interrupt their everyday workflow to ideate, write, edit, and publish an article. Make the process as simple for them as possible by following these steps:
Take this quiz to find out which online publications your target audience is reading:
If you’re going to be putting valuable resources into growing your content strategy, then you have to make sure your efforts are actually paying off. The last thing you want is to spend time budgeting for content marketing and then discover later that you don't have any way of knowing whether your investment paid off. Many marketing teams struggle in this area because there are so many different metrics you could track to determine your content’s performance. However, before you can even begin to set these key performance indicators accurately, you must be crystal clear on your purpose for creating content and how it fits within your strategy.
Aligning content and goals starts with a strategy. Use this checklist to get started on yours:
Ever spend precious time creating a piece of content, only to realize that it didn’t actually do what you wanted it to do? Yeah, we’ve been there, too. That’s why it’s so important to clearly and precisely outline your goal for each piece of content before you start anything. It gives you a road map to determine which main points to hit within the content, how to distribute it, and what metrics are needed to track success once it’s published.
Of course, we’re not your mother. We can’t tell you what to do. Just remember: Be precise, and fully understand the purpose behind each piece of your content.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine the KPIs you need to evaluate whether your content actually hits those goals. There’s no single magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, but a combination of benchmarks can be useful to assess performance. Here’s a guide for choosing the right KPIs according to your goals:
Before you push your content live, ensure you’ve got a process in place for tracking your analytics. At Influence & Co., we use HubSpot to track our content performance, but various other platforms, like Google Analytics, can help you do similar reporting.
Looking for actionable steps you can take today to see measurable content marketing results? This guide can help:
Earned media and owned media are content marketing’s dynamic duo. Separately, they each have their own unique superpowers, but together, they’re an invincible combo.
Earned media won’t drive sales on its own; you have to have a base of content published by your company to back it up and nurture those prospects throughout their journey. And owned media alone typically isn’t enough, either; your earned media offers valuable external validation and helps you reach new audiences.
Earned media and owned media are most powerful when combined to ensure your audience has the right content at the right stages — especially when leading your readers through your content funnel along their buyer journey.
How does it work? We’re so glad you asked.
Earned media helps you reach and speak directly to a new audience. So when the media you earn includes links to the media you own — like relevant, high-quality blog posts or even valuable gated content — you're able to pull those new audience members to your site and into your funnel.
To effectively combine earned media and owned media into one seamless team, you have to build a bridge between the two — and that bridge is built by linking.
By linking keywords in your guest posts to valuable on-site content, such as blog posts that expand on points mentioned in your article, you can capitalize on the exposure and credibility your earned media offers and reel audiences back to your site. Then, if you’ve been practicing our top tips for successful blogging, the linked blog post will contain a CTA to download your latest gated content — and bam! Lead generated.
Learn how to create effective gated content and bolster your content strategy:
Once you’ve combined your earned and owned content efforts and captured leads via relevant CTAs or trusty referrals, it’s time to continuously nurture them with social media content and email drip campaigns.
These campaigns — fueled by valuable, high-performing content — ensure your leads have all the resources they need. That way, when they’re ready for your services, you’ll be top of mind.
With so many channels, platforms, and methods of communicating with audiences, it’s easy to overlook the classic email — but email is very much alive and well. In fact, email drip campaigns are one of the simplest, most effective ways to provide targeted, high-performing content directly to your readers, enhance their experience with your brand, and enable the sales process.
And outside of drip campaigns — which we recommend for lead nurturing, sales enablement, and even client onboarding — you can take advantage of simple newsletters, too. Weekly newsletters give you the chance to distribute newly published content and keep your high performers in front of the right audiences.
Plus, email marketing newsletters and drip campaigns are often one of the biggest drivers of traffic back to your blog content — a driver that you control and can use consistently to stay top of mind. We recommend sending custom emails to your various audiences. For each of them, start with this process:
The Anatomy of a Drip Campaign
1. Lay Out Your Strategy
Share your expertise and voice so you can open the door to the kinds of conversations you and your sales team are prepared to have.
2. Segment Your Audience
Targeted emails drive 18 times more revenue, so ditch the mass emails and start leads on an optimized path.
3. Visualize Your End Goal
Step back and think about what action you want qualified leads to take.
4. Select Your Content and Create the Campaigns
It all goes back to where your leads’ focus currently resides and how close they are to making a decision.
5. Automate Your Emails
Let your email solution take care of the heavy lifting to deliver the content you’ve selected at a routine pace.
If your audience isn’t on your email list (yet), you can still stay top of mind via social media. In fact, all this published content — from blog articles to guest posts and everything in between — makes excellent fuel for your social channels, which keep your brand top of mind with your audience members on the platforms they’re already using.
That said, it might not be as simple as slapping a few hashtags onto a mediocre tweet with a link to your blog. Follow these guidelines to create truly impactful social media campaigns:
We’ve thrown a lot of information and advice at you, but don’t worry — no one expects you to do it all alone. Between project management, knowledge extraction, content creation, and distribution, there are many moving parts to a great content strategy, and it can be tricky to manage it all on your own.
Real-life human content marketers are there for a reason: They’re the storytellers, the troubleshooters, the content creators. But in order to do your best work and maintain consistency with your content, it’s helpful to enlist marketing automation platforms.
Different automation platforms can be used for different purposes, but they’re most often used for project management, content distribution, social media management, analytics, etc. — you know, the tasks that tend to be less humanlike and more machinelike.
Before you select any tool, you need to assess your content team’s abilities, resources, and goals. These platforms exist to make your job easier, more efficient, and more effective, so figure out where you stand before you bring in any technology to help. When you’re ready, there are tons of options to choose from. Here are a few standout marketing automation platforms to get you started.