How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

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Marketing Automation


How to Make

a Smashing

B2B Content

Marketing Plan


Table of Contents

Content Marketing - an Integral Part of Inbound Marketing

Build a Content Marketing Plan - Set Your Company Goals What Are the Essential Elements in a Content Marketing Plan?

Content Creation:

- Why Do You Need a Content Calendar?

- How to Make a Content Marketing Calendar? Some Samples You Can Use - Content Formats – What Works Best?

- How to Make Your Content Engaging?

Distribution & Promotion:

- How to Distribute and Promote Your Content?


- Calculate Returns on Your Content Marketing


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Content Marketing – an Integral Part of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has never been as important as it is today. Up to now, marketers followed a push strategy, bombarding the audience with messages.

Over time, the audience grew immune to the messages. This forced marketers to shift to a pull strategy, requiring marketers to generate valuable content and wait for people to find their message when prospects are truly interested.

Content marketing is the foundation of inbound marketing. Every corporation from Microsoft to IBM uses content marketing as a part of their inbound marketing strategy.

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and

understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action,” according to Content Marketing Institute. “Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.”

Content marketing is a very popular marketing tactic more popular than SEO, events, PR and advertising, according to HiveFire B2B Marketing Trends 2011 Survey, which surveyed 400 B2B marketing professionals.



Fig. 1 - 82% of B2B marketers use content marketing. Source: HiveFire B2B Marketing Trends 2011 Survey

In order to consistently deliver high-value content you need to have a structured content marketing plan in place.

Build a Content Marketing Plan - Set Your Company Goals

Companies have varied goals when it comes to content marketing, from brand awareness, customer acquisition to lead generation and website traffic.


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Fig. 2 - An overwhelming majority of organizations aim for brand awareness and customer acquisition through their content marketing. Source: B2B Content Marketing: 2012

Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Set your goals at the outset. Keep it specific so measurement becomes easy.

What Are the Essential Elements in a Content Marketing Plan?

A content marketing plan should cover:

Content creation – a calendar to track who, what and how.

Distribution & Promotion – figure out how to reach your audience and ensure your content is discovered.

Tracking – parameters to track.

We will discuss each of these in detail in subsequent sections.



Content Creation

Why Do You Need a Content Calendar?

A content calendar helps ensure:

A steady stream of content without the last minute scramble for ideas.

The content team and marketing team members coordinate better.

The content team picks topics and themes in alignment with the overall marketing plan.

How to Make a Content Marketing Calendar? Some Samples You Can Use

Have a master content calendar.

The master calendar can list:

Important dates, events and holidays of the countries you cater to.

Content formats you want to use

Brief description of each content piece.


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Fig. 3 - A sample master content calendar.

Have a tab dedicated to each of your content formats. A tab on blog can track a number of items such as keywords, tags, call to action buttons. This makes SEO tracking and optimization much easier.

Fig. 4 - A sample blog calendar.

Have another tab to track content ideas. This spreadsheet can have fields for idea, title, and status. This sheet can help align the themes and important dates to content ideas and track status of each idea.



Fig. 5 - A sample calendar to track content ideas and their status.

Have themes in your calendar. Your content calendar can have different themes for every month.

The themes could revolve around:

Pain points of prospects.

Holidays like July 4 or Christmas break.

Seasons like fall and spring.

Events like the Olympics and Super Bowl.

Industry events like popular tradeshows and large seminars.

Industry journals and their calendars.

Content Formats – What Works Best?

Should I blog, hold webinars or publish white papers and ebooks with the limited time and resources that I have? Which are the most effective?

Blog posts, webinars and virtual events and white papers are the most effective content marketing formats according to Focus Research.


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Fig 6. - Blog posts are most valuable in supporting the marketing objective. Source: Focus Research Study Marketers’ Benchmarks 2011: A Survey of Marketers’ Priorities & Challenges.

Use a healthy mix of content tactics. Experiment and figure out what works for you.

How to Make Your Content Engaging?

Find out what your prospects’ challenges and pain points are. Revolve your content topics around these issues. When your prospects do searches to address their challenges your content will pop up. Your expert advice will be much valued.

Get your content team to talk to your sales team. Sales folks have the pulse of the market. Content developed with inputs from the sales team can be very relevant to prospects.

Tell stories. Be original. Edit well. Holger Schulze’s B2B Content Marketing Trends 2012 shows that engaging and compelling storytelling, originality, custom content and well-edited copy are the most important elements of effective content.



Fig 7. - Engaging and compelling storytelling is the most important element of effective content. Source: B2B Content Marketing Trends 2012 by Holger Schulze, a technology marketing executive who writes the Everything Marketing Technology blog.

Give answers. Offer solutions. Don’t sell. Take Michael Aagaard, online content marketing guru’s advice. He says, “Don’t just write descriptive articles where you are talking about a problem…Give answers…Provide solutions for problems.

Also, don’t sell.”

Place a call to action in all content pieces. Without this you are missing the point. At the end of your content piece, urge your reader/viewer to take a free trial or download your ROI calculator. This is the only way to ensure he goes further down your sales funnel.

Follow the B.E.S.T formula.

According to the B.E.S.T approach developed by Joe Pulizzi, content marketing


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Essential: Make the information you deliver critical to your prospects’ existence.

Strategic: Your content marketing strategy must be in line with your overall business strategy.

Targeted: Know your audiences. Revolve the content around the audience.

Fig. 8 - Ask yourself if your content is essential, strategic, targeted and encourages a positive action. Source: How to Attract and Retain Customers With Content Now by Joe Pulizzi.



Distribution and Promotion

How to Distribute and Promote Your Content?

Content distribution:

Publish midweek. Publish new content on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for higher click rates and downloads. Avoid Mondays and Fridays.

Reimagine content. Reimagine your content, as Ann Handley, author and chief content officer of MarketingProfs says. Don’t recycle but reimagine.

Think how your ebook can become a series of blog posts. Interview the author of an ebook and make it a podcast, says Ann.

Place your content piece prominently on your website. Offer fresh content on your homepage for the first week. Later move it to the resources section.

Use it in campaigns. Offer it in specific landing pages and in email campaigns.

Give it away at webinars. Give out your latest ebook or white paper at your webinar.

Directories. Infographics can be submitted to directories such as and


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Use a toolbar. Use a toolbar on your website to showcase content dynamically based on prospect’s interest and geography.

Place in your newsletter. Place a thumbnail of your latest ebook or infographic in your email newsletter to reach a dedicated reader base.

Content promotion:

Amplify your blog. To promote your blog and reap benefits, read Tips and Tricks to Generate Leads From Your Corporate Blog.

Use your blog to promote other content. Before you release your latest ebook write a teaser blog post with a sneak preview. Once the ebook is released follow up with a blog post giving an overview of it. Add some interesting snippets and an accompanying visual. Place a link to the ebook in your blog. This can work just as well for white papers, handbooks,

industry surveys and reports.

Use press releases. Use press releases selectively, only when the content is really path-breaking.

Use email and social media. Promote content using email and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

Promote your content in forum discussions or in the comments sections of blogs. Use this channel judiciously only when your content asset is highly relevant. Otherwise you will come across as blatantly self-

promotional. In fact some blogs don’t allow hyperlinks in the comments section.

Repeat and vary your tweets. Vary your tweets using interesting bits and key facts from the content piece rather than just the title along with a link.

Tweet two times a day for the first two days. Tweet it every other day for another three days.



Make content shareable. Make every content piece shareable over social media. Embed share buttons such as Twitter’s “Tweet”, LinkedIn’s “InShare”

and Google+’s “+1”.


Calculate Returns on Your Content Marketing

Content marketing can help bring you visibility, credibility and respect. This apart, several corporations like American Express and Ariba have reaped benefits in terms of leads and increased revenues.

Here is a list of primary parameters you should track along with your content marketing:

Website traffic– Measure any increase in website traffic post a content asset.

Page views– Track number of page views of each content asset.

Bounce rates– Calculate bounce rates of HTML content assets to see if the content holds the reader’s attention.

Time spent – See how much time a visitor spends on each HTML content asset. Unfortunately, time spent on downloaded pdfs cannot be measured.

Downloads – Track how many times your content asset was downloaded.

Figure out which content assets are more attractive than others.


How to Make a Smashing B2B Content Marketing Plan

Lead quality– See what quality are these leads.

Inquiries/request for demos – Did any of the prospects who consumed content assets make inquiries or request for demos.

Conversion– How many prospects turned into customers after consumption of content assets.

You could also track:

Search rankings – Track if your content assets help you climb search rankings.

Inbound links – Track if your content assets have led to more inbound links.

Social media shares – Track which content assets get shared over social media.



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