Content marketing is a key element in most B2B marketing efforts. Over the years (err, decades) I’ve learned some key best practices for content marketing to help deliver content marketing excellence. Here are 3 which all somehow start with the letter “M”.
Building content marketing at scale successfully requires a modular approach to how you think about content. That is, each piece of thought leadership (read: white paper, research paper, etc.) needs to be presented in multiple ways to multiple audiences. This is where modular thinking is so important. From a content point of view your content needs to built as: the intro – the thinking – the takeaways. This content strategy allows a marketer to create multiple variations for each audience. For example, let’s take a typical b2b marketing staple – the research white paper. With a modular strategy instead of one white paper, we’d produce a series of executive summaries focusing on connecting the research to the use case of that audience or persona you have in your GTM.
Secondarily, you will want differing takeaways for different consumption points of your content. The takeaways on your blog should be different that the takeaways your sales team uses in their version of the white paper. This is simply to connect the white paper to a particular call to action so we can drive content engagement. An old boss of mine used to say, “titles” and “takeaways” leave a reader with that and you’ve won the noise battle.
Colleagues always ask me how do I measure the success of a content marketing effort. There is only one answer revenue. That is how much is your content marketing contributing to sales. No one is going to say I bought X widget because of a research paper, but across all your prospects interactions with that white paper, you’ll discover a pattern of consumption to either pipeline velocity or improvement in average deal side for readers vs. non-readers.
So if you are still busy looking at the number of downloads per piece of content or emails you’ve collected since you’ve launched your whitepaper, you have missed the insight. It’s not volume, but consumption – in context – that should help guide the way you measure content marketing success.
In B2B marketing, build an in-depth piece of content no more than once per quarter. You will want to use these content tentpoles in conjunction with your other GTM activities (e.g., events, executive public speaking, etc.) and to do that effectively with industry impact you will max our your audience if you do more than 4 a year. Essentially, think of an old magazine publishers, they only have a limited number of Special Issues for a reason. By the time the sixth “special issue” comes out, special is not so special anymore. Same is true for your tentpole content marketing initiatives.
In addition to simply getting the tentpole piece of content done, it also requires proper distribution, the right event to launch it from, sales enablement, an so forth to drive the best return on the investment of your content. So once per quarter is plenty.
These 3 M’s are in no way exhaustive of all best practices for content marketing in b2b, there probably another 10 that came to mind as I’m writing this. But if you follow these three you will improve your content marketing efforts for sure.