When you’re compiling your B2B content marketing strategy, where do you look for help?
You could start on Twitter with your fave follows, ask your mentor (if you’re lucky enough to have one), or simply try Googling what you need to include.
All these are good first steps but they all involve people. And people don’t like to give everything away. If they did, what would happen to their career? Surely anyone could come in and do their job if they shared their knowledge and experience
Not everyone wants to give away their secret sauce.
But, in this post, we’re going to share 10 things us marketers don’t often like to share when creating a content marketing strategy.
1. B2B content marketing pros fail a lot
Testing and experimentation is the name of the game.
You will rarely nail a blog post title the first time. It’s even rarer you will rank #1 with your first blog post.
And even if you do, what if nobody clicks through to your landing page?
What good is a high-ranking blog post if you’re not getting anything from it? With no ROI on your asset, your content marketing strategy is a non-starter.
But don’t fear. We all fail. We just don’t like sharing our failings in public.
Take this pop-up, for example.
This is the kind of image I love sharing on social media. It says “Look how great I am; my content is converting at nearly 10%”.
Which is great. A million likes for me.
But the widget directly below it looks like this.
This tells a completely different story. I am not successful all the time. And that’s okay. Part and parcel of any content marketing strategy is building in time to fail (and learn).
As long as you apply what you’ve learned from these failures, it’s still a good strategy.
2. Even the most experienced B2B content marketers fail
Jimmy Daly, CEO at Superpath, is a veteran content marketer with 13+ years of experience in the marketing world. He’s led the growth and content marketing teams at big hitter agencies like Animalz before starting a 7,000+ community of marketers.
But he also tells a story of a time when he got it wrong.
“I got carried away with keyword research and SEO. We kept growing our organic reach but sign-ups were close to flat. My boss (our CEO) kept trying to get me to focus on converting folks, insisting that we had enough top-of-funnel content. I ignored him. I felt like that was someone else's job.”
The output of Jimmy’s choice?
“They let me go. I realized I had totally missed the point (of content marketing).”
Traffic for the sake of it ended up being pretty useless.
3. B2B content marketing isn’t always about new content
Mark Rogers, Director of Strategy at Animalz, says content refreshes are criminally underrated.
“They almost always result in a boost of traffic. Find them, perform them, embrace them, bask in their glory.”
How do you decide whether you should create a new blog post or update a new one?
Try this flow chart:
What exactly is a content refresh?
When you write a blog post and a year passes, several things can happen.
- It ranks top of Google and you enjoy constant traffic forever.
- It ranks high on Google and you enjoy good traffic.
- It ranks then tanks and you leave it to sit on page four forever.
Instead of letting the third option happen, you can “refresh your content”. In simple terms, this means updating it.
In your content refresh, include the following:
- Update dates, stats and figures.
- Check for previous spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Source new quotes if the old ones are no longer relevant.
These are table stakes.
The best content refreshes go further and include:
- New examples and screenshots.
- Adding internal links to other content.
- Finding extra keyword or keyphrase opportunities.
- Repurposing your content into a video or podcast.
- Addressing new questions people ask on Google (see video below for this process).
4. Organic is still the biggest source of information on the planet
This means going all-in on SEO remains a great idea.
As of April 2022, Google sees over eight billion searches per day. Then throw in the search traffic you can pick up from Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo, and you’ve got a lot of people looking for information.
Marketers don’t often like to share this tidbit because it goes against everything we know about diversifying channels. So here’s a small caveat.
Don’t go all-in on SEO. What happens if Google changes something major at the drop of a hat? Or if Google breaks something by mistake.
It is rare but not unheard of.
In 2020, I learned this the hard way. Here’s how my experience played out because I had become too focused on SEO (and neglected other channels):
- Mio blog is pacing at ~6,000 page views per day.
- I log in on Tuesday morning and notice that only 160 people read the blog on Monday.
- Upon investigation, all our organic traffic had disappeared.
- After much panic, it was clear that Google was suffering from an indexing issue.
- We were one of the 0.02% of sites on Google affected.
What could we do here? Nothing to impact Google’s indexing.
But, we should have been diversifying our channels over time so we didn’t lose 93% of our traffic overnight.
To diversify your channels, spend time developing a content promotion strategy.
5. Nobody in B2B content marketing spends enough time on content promotion
Even those who preach content distribution on their Twitter and LinkedIn know they could be doing more.
We talk about it. We pretend we’re good at it. We even say things like “you should spend as much time promoting your content as you did creating it.”
But we don’t. Because it’s hard to find where it does and doesn’t work. Finding places other than our standard social media channels is time-consuming and can be trial and error.
The hardest part of any content distribution process is knowing where to distribute your content. Until you make a start and see the benefits, lots of marketers don’t believe in the value of distribution.
I created this content promotion checklist you can use to get a head start.
This isn’t the only thing marketers are bad at documenting.
6. B2B content marketers are too busy to document their learnings
Ugh. Me too. I hate it when people say they're too busy to learn.
But the harsh reality is that content teams are under constant pressure to perform. This means we often rush to get the new blog post out the door.
What we should be doing is working out what worked well, what didn’t work, and how we can apply learnings to our next piece of content.
By conducting a performance review of our content, we can predict what will work next time. We can strip out the processes we used that didn’t add any value.
Every time we publish a new piece of content, we have an opportunity to make the next one better.
You wouldn’t skip an employee’s performance review. Why skip a content performance review?
7. Not all content has to be written
If you ask 100 marketers what the most important skill for a new hire is, a high percentage will say the ability to write clear copy.
And I don’t disagree. But when it gets to lower in the marketing funnel, your content marketing strategy should take on different mediums. But some marketers are afraid to share this information because the metrics aren’t mind-bogglingly high.
For example, the Mio blog (my longest-term client) gets over 100,000 views per month. A stat I’ve been proud to shout about.
Since starting a podcast for them, though, the stats have firmly remained behind closed doors.
It’s an underwhelmingly low figure compared to the success we’ve seen with written content.
So why do we include a podcast in our content marketing strategy?
James McKinven, podcast expert and founder of PodPanda, talks about “time with brand”.
If you compare the average read time of a blog post, or even several blog posts on your site, it is likely less than that of a podcast episode.
This literally means your potential customer is spending more time with your brand.
When you understand the value in this, you start to include other mediums in your content marketing strategy.
8. Content must align with other teams
Ashwin Balakrishnan, head of marketing at Optmyzr, says if you don’t line up your content marketing strategy with what other marketing teams are doing, “you run the risk of taking top-of-funnel audiences nowhere.”
“I’ve seen too many content strategies that weren’t in line with brand and product positioning.”
While no content marketer likes to admit it’s easy to become your own silo and start producing what feels right, if your content doesn’t support the needs of your product or company, you’re working against each other.
It’s a little reminiscent of Jimmy’s experience mentioned above, isn’t it?
“They let me go. I realized I had totally missed the point (of content marketing).”
9. You might need to look outside your company for sources
It is challenging to accept that you’re not a source for great content. It’s your job, after all.
But, in reality, you need a new content marketing strategy because either one didn’t exist before or it didn’t work.
Kevin Daniel, a freelance content marketer, says sometimes you have to go look for it rather than produce it.
“Interview subject matter experts, people at your company, and people in your network. Find original research (or conduct it) and learn to ask the right questions.”
It’s okay if you don’t have the answers in your company. The world is big. And some people do like to help, after all.
Even when they don’t, a small monetary incentive can change their mind. If your budget allows, you can get hundreds of responses to a survey by offering a $20 gift card or a large prize for taking part.
For example, the Mio Workplace Messaging Report, only came together after we offered a $50 Amazon gift card for responses. This might sound expensive on the face of it.
But, when we produced the content, we gained 6,000 views and 300 specific customer details on the day of launch.
Further, it continues to deliver hundreds of views per month and provides us with our own data to reference in new content.
Money well spent.
10. Your content marketing strategy is yours
Whatever has worked for other people might inspire your content marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow it word for word.
We’re all out here marketing different products and helping different audiences.
If there was a cookie-cutter approach to marketing, we’d be out of jobs.
The most important thing content marketing pros don’t want you to know is that your content marketing strategy might be better than theirs.
Not every marketing leader is going to share what goes into their content marketing strategy.
But these 10 items should help you get more of an insight into the things we don’t like to make public.
Do use the things you find in public and the things peers tell you work for them. These are great sources of information.
But don’t forget that behind the curtain is a wealth of opportunity, too.