The argument for using content marketing for B2B companies is no longer an argument at all. Last week we shared that nearly all B2B buyers research extensively online as part of their purchase process. Once they narrow their choices, nearly half of these buyers view 3-5 pieces of content, often from a company’s blog, before engaging with a sales rep. (In our next post we’ll talk about the full range of content marketing options.) What is up for discussion is how to make your B2B content stand out. How do you create content that is compelling, convincing and memorable? We have found it starts with a structured process backed by creative collaboration between agency and client.
Process Builds a Better B2B Blog
We have developed a simple approach to creating B2B blog content that consistently yields outsized results for our clients. These 9 steps shape content that attract prospects today but also compounds over time, becoming a resource for future visitors. Here’s how it works:
- Name the blog
This helps create focus for the content and forms the foundation for the blog’s personality.
- Set a publishing schedule
Whether you have the content and resources to publish multiple times a month or multiple times a week, a schedule is essential. To be effective, content must be both anticipated and relevant. So it is important to decide how often you will post and on what days. Blogs that publish weekly or multiple times a week get better results, generating greater awareness and readership. However, if that is not practical, we recommend posting every other week, or at the very least once a month on a schedule. Posting sporadically does not produce the same level of results as a more active program.
- Create an editorial calendar
Just as any magazine or newspaper would, you need to create a game plan for the topics you want to share with your customers and prospects. Based on the types of articles that will be created, the calendar can be planned for the whole year, quarter or only a month or two at a time. The format here is not as important as identifying themes and aligning with major events in the year or the editorial calendars of the major publications in your industry.
- Identify your authors
As the topics are scheduled in the editorial calendar, it is also important to identify who on your staff will be the author. Guest authors should also be considered.
- Plan your article
Once the topic has been identified, we like to create a series of questions that help shape the article. We call these “thought starters.” These can be helpful whether the client author will be writing their own article or if the agency team will be creating the first draft. For the latter, the author can choose between answering the questions via email or talking through their answers on a call.
- Content and SEO work together
There are many elements behind a blockbuster blog. We create a template to ensure the SEO components are properly captured prior to drafting and/or posting such as identifying key phrases, SEO title tag, blog category and tags, page URL and meta description. The template also calls out the headline, author, author biography and the related content for social posts. This usually includes LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Perfection is not possible for every post, but it should be a goal. Even content genius Seth Godin recently apologized for typos in his blog: the past ones and the ones yet to come. Nonetheless, nothing spoils great content more than the undetected typo, which seems to flash in neon after it has been published. Proofing is important and there are many online tools to support this effort – but nothing beats the keen eyes of a few live proofers.
- Find an intriguing image
The vast majority of blogs are about 750 words, with the average length just over 1,000 words. (This article clocks in at 770.) You can pack an extra punch with the equivalent of another 1,000 words by using an image to reinforce your main point. In fact, blog articles with images get 94% more views.
- Proof again
This step takes discipline but can pay big dividends. Often the last proof is best performed by someone on the team that is not involved directly in the content creation.
Listening, Learning and Creative Leverage
We find this process invaluable to effective B2B content generation, but this is only the structure that we work within. Listening to our clients, learning their business and applying creative leverage is how we make your products and services stand out. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to B2B content marketing, please call 612-288-2493 or send me an email.
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