If you’re a B2B marketer, you should be aware of, perhaps even vigilant for, the sharp increase in content marketing budgets among your peers.
In this research from 2018, Content Marketing Institute found that the most successful B2B marketers are spending as much as 40% of their budget on creating and distributing content. They’re sending newsletters, publishing blog posts, hosting podcasts and webinars, making videos, etc.
If you don’t catch up very soon, your bottom line could suffer. That’s a reality you should acknowledge and decide what you’re going to do about it.
In case you decide to jump on that train, you’re going to need a strategy. After all, you don’t want to spend almost half of your budget on a whim, don’t you? The strategy will direct your effort, and it will give you a certain baseline to measure your success.
We won’t go into details of creating a content strategy here (but you can find a useful guide and template elsewhere.)
Instead, we’ll focus on creating a particular kind of content – educational, “how-to” articles. After reading this post, you should have a better understanding of educational content, its purpose and its methods of research and promotion.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a long-term marketing asset that will build your authority and goodwill among the target audience. Content marketing, especially when it comes to educational pieces, is not a sprint.
It’s a marathon.
Create an inventory of tips
When planning out your content, it’s best to look at what others are doing, especially if you’re just starting. Citation Labs, a marketing agency specialized for content marketing, has some good advice about doing exactly that.
The advice comes in two parts.
Its first part is to create a spreadsheet, so-called tip inventory, where you’ll put these eleven columns:
- Tip Target
- Tip Result
- Tip Requirements
- Original Tip
- Tip Revision
- Source Title
- Source Origin
- Source Contact
- Tip Occurrence Frequency
- Tip Occurrence URLs
You don’t have to necessarily include all of those in your spreadsheet, but I recommend that you get familiar with the content of each column in this post.
Roughly speaking, you need to categorize tips according to their source, results, requirements, and finally, to determine which tips appear frequently and which need to be explained further.
This spreadsheet will give you clarity about the overall strategy. You’ll see what works for others and where’s an untapped territory that you can conquer; you’ll be able to determine who are the other experts in your niche with a quick glance, and so on.
And then, when your tip inventory is ready, you’ll need to get the data. You’ll do that by entering your “Subject Matter Phrase” together with query stems like “how to” and “tactics” into Google.
When you finish an inventory of tips relevant to your website, you’ll be able to move on to the next step – deciding what tips to cover.
Find keywords with potentially good ROI
Now that you know what others are writing about, or more precisely, what advice are they giving, you can focus on the other part of the equation: what users are searching for.
There are a number of free and paid keyword research tools you can look up for on Google, but the best way to start for free is to use Google Keyword Planner.
It’s a tool that will give you:
- Keyword ideas
- Search volume estimates
The first role of keyword research is to generate as many as possible variations of your primary keyword, such as “data storage center.”
Now you’ll need to browse through the tip inventory. You can play around with different phrases and questions you find there, and Keyword Planner will get you even more ideas.
Then you’ll need to determine which keywords people are searching for.
The way to do it, again, is to use Keyword Planner to check the estimates of monthly search volume. They come in intervals such as 10-100 or 1,000-10,000.
You should start with the less popular ones. As your website gets older and more authoritative, you’ll be able to move on to those that have higher search volumes.
The third important factor you must take into account is competition.
When you find keywords that people are searching for, you’ll see that many of them are covered on multiple websites.
Some of them are covered by the best-known players in the field.
You don’t want to write your content around those, at least not in the beginning. You’ll have a much harder time ranking for them, than for those that are covered poorly, or by irrelevant sites. They’ll be hard to find, however, it’s worth knowing that the ROI of your time and money can be really good with low-competition keywords.
Even if the monthly search volume is low.
In the next two steps, you’ll create some content around low competition, low-to-middle search volume keywords aiming to offer the best piece of advice available on the Internet.
Make your blog posts media-rich
The first half of the good piece of advice is its descriptiveness.
When we get one, we know exactly what needs to be done if we want to achieve our goal. We get a clear picture of our goals and tactics.
The way to achieve that with your readers on the internet is to make the posts media-rich by adding images, video, audio, etc. to them. Just like they did with this one.
Making your content that way will help you a lot in the next step.
So let’s connect the dots.
Quote other experts in your niche
‘The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know.’ –Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Even though this quote, I believe, has a lot of truth into it, the readers will, in most cases, appreciate social proof in your posts – often a quote from an expert. Especially when experts are real experts according to Taleb, when they have skin in the game, or they’re being in the trenches, as Internet marketers like to say.
You need to browse through the tip inventory and see who are those experts in your niche. Find an email address of each one and write it down because it plays a key role in the next step.
And as I promised you earlier, your media-rich posts will play a major role here. When you’re not limited to text you don’t have to rely on quotes.
Instead, there are YouTube videos, podcasts, memes, wallpaper quotes, etc, to embed them, to challenge them, to have your ideas challenged or to support your claims.
And don’t forget to be creative as much as you can when finally writing the posts.
You’ll need a lot of share-worthy content for the next step.
Promote your content
I’d like you to pay close attention now: the next few paragraphs are all about making your strategy successful in the long run.
Or not, if you don’t pay close attention.
The important fact is that your content, however well-researched and written, isn’t worth a dime if users can’t find it on Google, social media, or in their inbox. That’s basically the same result as if you haven’t invested any time and money (which you would, at this point) in making of it.
Now is the time to revisit your tip inventory and look up the emails of experts. You’re going to reach out to them with a quick comment on their original post and a link to the post where you’ve used their quote.
The imperative is that you create the content of high quality so that experts can appreciate your email.
That’s it – more or less – when it comes to promotion. Just a respectful message to an expert.
You can wrap it up by asking them to share your content with their audience.
If they’re going to share your link in a blog post, you’ll get bonus points in the SEO game. It’ll be easier for you to rank high on Google, especially if the competition is low.
Naturally, there are other methods of content promotion, but this one is just an extension of the way you get data in the first place: by creating an inventory of tips and collecting expert’s emails.
Therefore your initial research becomes more valuable if you use this method of content promotion, namely blogger outreach.
If you want to get into B2B content marketing, there are three important numbers to track.
One of them, revenue, is ultimately more important than the other two, number of website visitors and leads, but I think it’s not a proper metric for measuring the effectiveness of B2B content marketing.
The number of leads is arguably the optimal metric for that.
To put it bluntly, content can get you leads, but not sales if you’re in B2B marketing; why would you hold content accountable for the sales results?
By tracking the number of visitors and leads, you can analyze and tweak the strategy until you find something that brings in the results you want. And then try to scale whatever you’re doing right.
A good way to start is with educational, “how-to” posts.
You can create them by following the steps outlined above and see the results you get. My advice is to take this article just as a starting point for your own experiments.
Graham Burtons is a writer and content strategist from Wyoming. He’s proud of being a freelancer who only writes about topics of his interest. When he’s not crouched over his laptop, you can find him on hiking trips and in nice restaurants all over the country.