When I was a wide-eyed B2B content marketing newbie, I had no one to teach me the ropes. I was a marketing team of one with a boss who left 2 months after I joined the company. Instead of melting into a puddle of despair, I decided to pursue my own marketing education. I read a lot of articles, played around with a lot of different approaches, and learned a lot by evaluating which of my experiments failed and which ones didn’t.
This process served me well, but I spent a lot of time chasing rabbits down holes that led to Mehland instead of Wonderland. Since we all have a limited amount of time at our disposal (unless you have a time turner—if so, let’s talk!), I wanted to share a few of the high-level best practices I’ve learned in my career as a B2B content creator. Here are 6 pieces of practical advice you can put to use in your marketing program.
1. Know Your Audience
If you don’t get this part right, the rest of the best practices in this article won’t make much of a difference. In order to create effective content, you have to know who you’re talking to. And not only who they are, but also where they hang out, what they’re afraid of, what makes them laugh, what inspires them. Without these foundational pieces of information, you’ll never have a meaningful understanding of who you’re creating content for. At best, your content will make a fleeting impact before fading into oblivion; at worst, your content will actually drive people away because it’s so out of touch with what your viewers care about.
2. Tailor Content for Your Audience Segments
Unless your business provides a very niche product or service, the people who become customers likely fall into a few different buckets. These are often called audience segments or buyer personas. Creating content specific to these segments is a great idea for a few reasons:
- You can align your topics and messaging more closely with those of a smaller segment of people.
- You can learn more about the content preferences of specific buyer types.
- You can speak to your industry expertise and company value propositions in a bunch of different ways depending on the what each segment is interested in.
3. Create Assets for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
Most content marketing best practices focus on top-of-funnel engagement and lead generation content. However, there are a bunch of other stages in the buyer’s journey where content can play an important role. It’s important to collaborate with your sales and customer success teams to figure out what types of content would help them close more deals and educate customers throughout their lifecycle. These assets should be just as thoughtfully considered and regularly refreshed as your general awareness content.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with Formats and Channels
Source: Columbia Spectator
Often, B2B marketers feel compelled to keep creating the same types of assets for their content programs—either because their company has always used the same types of content, or because their industry has grown comfortable with specific communication channels.
There’s much to be said in favor of tradition, particularly when tradition has served you well. However, it’s also worth experimenting with new content formats and distribution channels, at least with a percentage of your calendar and budget. After all, you may stumble upon an exciting, effective new way to share stories with your prospects and learn more about them by trying out Snapchat or testing a Blab live stream series.
5. Never Stop Pushing Yourself Creatively
Source: Astonishing Hints
It happens at some point during every content marketer’s career. Once you’ve been at a company for an extended period of time, you hit a creative wall when it comes to content creation. Every topic seems hackneyed and dull. Every format loses its novelty. Every design looks the same as the last one.
I’ve totally been there. But I’m here to tell you that this feeling is just a feeling—not an omen of defeat. If you take some time to step away from your usual routine, look for inspiration outside of your industry, and talk to other people who do what you do for a living, I’m positive that you’ll be able to bring new creativity and excitement to your content marketing program. Marketing events and meetups are a great way to do this.
6. Look for Real Meaning in Performance Data
Source: Downton Demure
As marketers in the 21st century, we all know better than to create content without tracking how it’s performing. There are two problems that often plague B2B content marketers when it comes to analysis, though:
- We focus on vanity metrics like views and downloads instead of things that really matter.
- We track metrics that matter, but we never dig deeper to figure out what the numbers actually mean.
Part of being a good content creator is to use your analytics to figure out why certain pieces of content perform really well and why other ones totally fail. Without this deeper level of analysis, it becomes very difficult to replicate success and reduce the amount of ineffective content you produce.
Before you go: Share your B2B content marketing best practices with me in the comments below.