A content strategy is essential in digital marketing in order to successfully reach your target audience and achieve your goals. It should contain a clear definition of your target group, goals, budget, your content plan with all content types and channels, the content itself, your tools and the metrics to measure your performance. This article will provide you with a general overview of a content strategy with insights to help you navigate this process of creating your own.
Your communication depends a lot on your customers or clients. Therefore, I gathered my experiences in content marketing and from various online sources to highlight the differences between B2B and B2C.
B2B meaning: Business-to-business is the case when one business operates with another one.
B2C meaning: Business-to-consumer refers to products and services that are directly provided from one business to consumers who are the end-users.
22% of B2B and 25% of B2C companies spend more than a half of their entire marketing budget in content marketing with additional investment planned for the future. This drive, combined with a diverse landscape and developing technologies, promise excitement while also raising many questions that need to be clarified.
Let’s start with the goals of a content strategy and then continue to the setup.
THE GOALS OF YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
- Brand awareness and brand building
- Gain credibility
- Educate your audience and internal organization
- Demand and lead generation
- Feed and build of subscribers, the audience and leads
- Drive attendance to your in-person or virtual events
- Increase sales
- Support the launch of your new product
- Attract new talents to your company
- Lower your costs to generate organic website traffic and leads that last for a long time
- Experiment with other marketing methods to generate revenue, such as social media advertising, sponsored and distributed content through evergreen content
- Help your content marketing team to feel less challenged and better organized
- Create an emotional connection between your customers or clients and your company
WHY DO MARKETERS NEED A CONTENT STRATEGY?
77% of B2B and 70% of B2C companies have a content strategy. The following steps will show you how to set one up for yourself:
1. Who will consume your content?
Who is your target audience? Do you want to reach new users, expand your audience or keep your current base? I recommend that you constantly run market research to understand your target group. It is essential to know how to reach them with content that is also relevant and valuable to them. As mentioned before, there is a tremendous difference if your company operates in B2B or in B2C. Your target group and how it behaves varies as much as the communication itself, the products and services, the channels, the cash flow and many other aspects.
“Be aware of who you’re talking with to effectively communicate”
2. What problems do you tackle for your audience?
Your service or product solves a problem for your audience and your content guides and educates them as they identify the challenges they face in addition to the benefits your service or product provides. The result: increased credibility for your company. Or do you have other goals in mind? Know your goals before you execute to determine the best strategy.
3. What makes you unique?
Your competitors have a similar product or service and it’s your task to let your potential customers/clients know why yours is better or unique. A special brand voice or philosophy is an example of how to stand out and gain the trust of your target group.
4. What content formats are the right ones for you?
You need to know where your audience is active. It can be a YouTube channel, LinkedIn posts or audio types like podcasts. Once you identify the activities your target group engages in and the right format, you can start to calculate the budget for content creation, distribution and the management. Part of this journey should also be experimentation with various content formats that might perform better than others. Analyze the results to determine what can be improved on and start to brainstorm for your next rocking content ideas. Please keep in mind that each channel has its own dynamics and behaviors, so adaptation is necessary.
5. What channels will you publish on?
As different as the content formats can be, as different are the channels to publish your content. It can be your blog, social media, messages and many more. Your audience has specific preferences that can be anything from long-form videos on YouTube, short written articles on your website or a podcast episode on Spotify. Similar to the formats it’s great if you are open to try out new channels because trends constantly come up. An example of this is LinkedIn’s success with B2C companies which is usually seen more as a B2B platform (more on this in the SOCIAL MEDIA chapter) or the upcoming usage of AR and VR.
6. Does your content strategy clarify the process of your content creation and distribution?
- What are the single stages of each content piece?
- Who creates what?
- When will each person work on a specific task?
- Where will you publish it?
- When will you publish it?
This part is covered by the content plan that is an element of your strategy. Depending on your company’s size, a small team can function as sole decision-maker, but if your company is larger, you will benefit from the collaboration of several content teams with explicit expertise in each format.
7. What is your content idea?
Map the core problems your audience faces by running interviews, surveys and research within online communities e.g. on reddit. Each problem can be grouped into broad topic areas with subtopics that are built out through keyword research. Validate each idea with competitive research as well as within the industry to overview the demand and success. If you find several content pages with the same topic that perform well, apply the ‘Skyscraper Technique’ by Brian Dean and implement the most important messages into your own content to bring the topic to the next level.
These great tools can help you shape your content ideas:
- Feedly – Track trendy topics in your industry and find content ideas.
- BuzzSumo – It determines if a piece of content is popular regarding social media shares and likes.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – This tool analyzes headlines and titles and provides feedback on word choice, grammar, length, and keyword search volume after you entered the general topic or its terms.
- BlogAbout – It shows you headline formats with blanks where you can fill in the subject you have in mind to put general ideas in an appealing context for your target audience.
8. Which metrics do you use to measure your content performance?
75% of B2B and 74% of B2Cs measure their content performance. Among their top measurement methods are website engagement, conversions, website traffic, email engagement, social media analytics and search rankings. Let’s highlight this in the MEASUREMENT OF YOUR CONTENT PERFORMANCE chapter.
YOUR CONTENT PLAN
Include all your decisions in your content plan to visualize them. It should show you the diversity of your content library and your channels as well as the things you should change. It also helps you communicate your content plan within your company to establish a better workflow. I believe in the four-eyes-principle and the content plan as well as project management tools support you and your team to keep track together of the content creation, publication and the management.
It is beneficial if everyone in your organization has access to your content plan (as long as it doesn’t contain sensitive content) to minimize redundancies and to keep siloed teams on the same page. It activates better synergies when content teams involve multiple departments as well as internal and external subject matter experts in the process.
A content plan also greatly helps with the outsourcing of content marketers which is very common and can include entire content teams, single projects or single experts. Finding partners with adequate expertise as well as an understanding/empathy with the audience are among the top challenges. The main outsourced activities are by far content creation followed by content distribution, editorial planning and content strategy.
A well structured and clean content plan is a great way to be on the same page with all internal and external experts as well as all relevant network partners. It can be visualized with Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel or templates that are available online and it’s necessary to keep it in a cloud to allow for constant adjustments to be done in real time, so your collaborators always see your updates.
Important days to implement in the content plan:
Besides holidays and Black Fridays there are a number of important days when your sales reach a high peak. Your content plan helps you to structure them and to care about suitable content.
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- New Year’s Eve
- Chinese New Year
- Religious days
- Father’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
I also suggest you check out social media holidays and to include them in your plan. You will probably find one or multiple days that match with your product or service and that you can use to promote your campaigns.
YOUR CONTENT TYPES
The following lines contain a short summary of each content type with its structure, relevance and performance. As you know, each content type is a universe to itself.
Prominently used by B2C and B2B:
- Owned media assets (Website, blog posts, social media)
- Virtual events/webinars/online courses
Additionally used by B2B:
- Research report
- Ebooks/white papers
- Case studies
- In-person events
- Long articles/posts (more than 3,000 words)
- Infographics/charts/data viz/3D models
- Live streaming content
- Print magazines or books
- Messages (collaborative social spaces – Slack, Teams, Whatsapp)
OWNED MEDIA ASSETS
Owned media assets include all channels your company has complete control over such as, websites, social media and blog posts. It’s the top 3 of investment for B2B and B2C companies and they report that short articles/posts (fewer than 3,000 words) are among the top 3 of their best performing assets as well as their best metrics to track their content performance including website engagement, conversions, website traffic and social media analytics.
69% of B2B and 67% of B2C use emails/newsletter to grow their subscriber base and keep their audience engaged. You’ve gained their trust and now it’s your task to deepen the relationship by constantly providing them with relevant updates. Email engagement is also a great way of measurement which was reported by 64% of B2B and 63% of B2C companies as valuable insights of their content performance. Implement a CTA between your content pieces to build new subscribers as I do below.
Research reports are ranked number 2 among the most used content assets for B2B companies. I personally believe a lot in information flow as you could read earlier that educating your audience is one of the main goals. Valuable information is always important for your company and your clients to progress and perform better overall.
EVENTS (DIGITAL, IN-PERSON, HYBRID)
Events are especially important to B2B companies and are getting a lot of attention right behind videos as the most invested format. Virtual events/webinars/online courses are ranked number ONE among the content assets with the best results (58%) and number 3 of B2C companies with 51%. As a big fan of remote work and all its great benefits, I think it’s possible to have virtual events without in-person interactions but no in-person event without a virtual space. In addition, many companies reported that their audience increased 10 times through their online events which is also defined as relevant audience. Make it accessible for your customers/clients to join your events from different regions or from all parts of the world.
Following the pandemic, 61% of B2B and 42% of B2C companies plan to invest more in all types of events including digital/virtual events, in-person events and hybrid events. All of these are seeing peaked interest.
MESSAGES (COLLABORATIVE SOCIAL SPACES – SLACK, TEAMS, WHATSAPP)
Collaborative social spaces are used by 33% of B2B and 28% of B2Cs to share their content. It’s not among the best performing assets, but I encourage you to keep it in your content plan because it’s a quick and short reminder to your customers or clients in the rush of daily life.
Ebooks are lead generation tools that website visitors download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They are longer and more in-depth regarding a particular problem and solution. It’s ranked number 4 among the best results of content assets for B2B at 47%. It is not only a great way to build subscribers, it also highlights you as an expert with a bunch of educational elements that are valuable for your clients. On the other hand, ebooks and white papers aren’t of much interest to B2C companies.
A case study allows you to tell a customer’s story in the form of blog posts, podcasts, ebooks or even infographics and build your company’s credibility. You can demonstrate how your product or service helped real-life companies to succeed. It’s right behind the ebooks/white papers for B2B companies regarding the best results (39%).
An infographic is a great opportunity to organize, compile and visualize your data in a more attractive way than with words alone. It’s easy for your clients to get a quick overview of your content and it’s more likely that they will share it. You can highlight your company as an expert and educate your audience with valuable information similar to ebooks/white papers.
Video content is currently the most prominent content asset with the highest investment of B2B and B2C companies, even if it’s ranked 6 for B2Bs. For B2Cs, on the other hand, it’s ranked number 2. This is because of the high engagement and divisibility across social media platforms and websites. The high amount of investment is required because of the time-intensive production and resources compared to written content, but it also continues to offer bigger Return On Investment (ROI). We can see how prominent educational content is but as much as I believe that videos are great for the entertainment aspect, it’s not possible to simply copy and paste and therefore not quick to share specific information with internal or external networks. However, along with VR and AR, it’s definitely the best way to touch emotions if you want to convince your client or customer regarding a certain message.
The top 5 of the video formats with the best results for B2B and B2C companies:
- Webinars/webcasts/web series (B2B 51% I B2C 31%)
- Interviews with industry experts (B2B 36% I B2C 37%)
- How-to videos (B2B 33% I B2C 38%)
- About our company (B2B 20% I B2C 25%)
- About our customers (B2B 14% I B2C 24%)
A podcast is a great and growing medium for an audience that doesn’t have the time or interest to read content. It also activates personal sympathies through the voice compared to written content and has the same positive effect that videos do to touch the emotions of your clients and customers. However, I think it’s very specific and depends a lot on your product or service. It’s with 23% for B2B the second asset from the bottom line regarding the best results. Podcasts may have more potential for B2C companies as they are mostly listened to for entertainment reasons in free-time.
Let’s face this gigantic universe. A social media strategy is a great way to distribute your content but it’s mandatory to keep the content original and to make adjustments if you want to have a great performance within social media platforms. For me there are three common examples of posts:
- A blog post is shared with the link and visitors are led to the website without further interactions within the social media platform (no like, no share, no follow).
- The essential message of the blog post is summarized and shared in a social media post with the link between the comments or a highlighted direction in written words. The user will first interact with the post (like, share, follow) and then possibly dig deeper into it through a link or a direct search. The benefit of this method is to build up an online community on each social media platform.
- A post that contains an original message and no other source.
These are the most prominent social media platforms with the best organic (unpaid) results:
- LinkedIn (B2B 77% I B2C 53%)
- Facebook (B2B 37% I B2C 63%)
- Instagram (B2B 27% I B2C 39%)
- YouTube (B2B 21% I B2C 24%)
- Twitter (B2B 17%)
Further social media platforms:
- Reddit (Potential for your B2C and B2B online community)
- Quora (Potential for your B2B online community)
- TikTok (Very prominent among your future customers)
Each social media platform has its own dynamics, rules, communities and algorithms. It’s important to understand each of the relevant ones for your company to achieve better performance.
These are few content ideas that are interesting for B2B and B2C companies:
- Share a giveaway
- Interactions like “ask me anything”
- Present your customers or clients
- Share relevant content like lessons or insights “behind the scenes”
- Post a tutorial of your product
- Showcase user-generated content
- A daily, weekly or monthly series
- Ask your audience for advice
- Introduce your team members
- Tease your product or upcoming release
Your online community is a very important part of your social media strategy and it’s based on your followers. Consistency of your content regarding the language, philosophy, design, messages etc is important to nurture your community with what they are used to from your side. Activate them and interact with them to further establish your relationship. As they show interest, involve them in the generation of your new content.
MEASUREMENT OF YOUR CONTENT PERFORMANCE
It is necessary to have a clear stack of metrics to measure your content performance and to find out what works well with the chance for improvement or actions that don’t perform well. 54% of B2B and B2C marketers find this difficult, especially for technological reasons according to B2B companies like the connection of various applications and platforms as one third of the companies uses 1-2 tools and another third 3-5 tools. Analytics tools, CRM systems, marketing automation and social sharing tools are among the most common measurement tools.
Further challenges for companies are:
- The inability to measure and track activities between specific buyer stages
- The mess of data
- A lack of budget and resources
- A struggle to determine ROI
Common questions to measure your content performance:
- What drives more traffic to your website?
- What earns you the most leads?
- What drives the most revenue to your business?
- What earns the most backlinks/coverage?
- Which post on social media has the most impressions, audience growth rate, engagement rate and click-through rate?
These questions belong to the following metrics:
- Brand awareness metrics
- Sales enablement metrics
- Lead generation metrics
- Engagement metrics
- Search engine optimization (SEO) metrics
Concrete on metrics that provide the most insights regarding content performance:
- Website Engagement – time spent, bounce rate, form completions (B2B 69% I B2C 67%)
- Conversions – traffic to subscribers, leads to sales (B2B 67% I B2C 65%)
- Website Traffic – page views, backlinks (B2B 65% I B2C 62%)
- Email Engagement – opens, clicks, downloads (B2B 64% I B2C 63%)
- Social Media Analytics – time spent, views, shares (B2B 51% I B2C 58%)
- Quality of leads (B2B 44% I B2C 36%)
- Search rankings (B2B 39% I B2C 41%)
- Email Subscriber Numbers – growth, unsubscribes (B2B 32% I B2C 31%)
And among the most successful achievements are:
- Brand awareness
- Education of audience
- Loyalty with existing clients/customers
- Generation of demand/leads
- Feed of subscribers/audiences/leads
PAID APPROACH FOR YOUR CONTENT DISTRIBUTION
81% of B2B and 78% of B2C companies promote and highlight their content with an increasing investment in paid content among search engines, social media platforms, websites and many more. This includes native advertising, sponsored content and content discovery. It’s beneficial to increase the visibility/impressions but also has some disadvantages like the special perception of your clients or customers for its advertised nature. However, it’s important to survive as the world is a constant battlefield of attention and therefore it’s the number 4 investment area for B2B and the number 2 for B2C companies.
Let’s start with the most used paid content distribution channels:
- Social media advertising/promoted posts (B2B 77% I B2C 80%)
- Search engine marketing (SEM)/ pay-per-click (B2B 65% I B2C 66%)
- Sponsorships (e.g., events and workshops) (B2B 49% I B2C 39%)
- Native advertising/sponsored content (B2B 39% I B2C 36%)
- Partner emails promoting our content (B2B 31% I B2C 24%)
This gives a good feeling regarding the business model of social media platforms as it’s the number ONE paid distribution channel. Let’s differentiate them for B2B and B2C in usage vs. success:
- LinkedIn (B2B 75% vs. 79%) (B2C 43% vs. 57%)
- Facebook (B2B 67% vs. 54%) (B2C 91% vs. 70%)
- Instagram (B2B 30% vs. 33%) (B2C 59% vs. 39%)
- Twitter (B2B 22% vs. 28%)
- YouTube (B2B 19% vs. 36%) (B2C 27% vs. 32%)
The success on YouTube represents the interest to invest more in the video format.
Paid search units in SEM are provided by search engines like Google and Bing and serve ads that are related to the user’s search queries. It is essential that your content is specific and relevant to the term your possible customer or client searches for to highlight your content.
THE TECHNOLOGIES OF YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
Many tools are out there to manage, distribute and measure your content. A great stack will help you for all different sectors.
- Analytics tools (web analytics, dashboards)
- Social media publishing/analytics
- Email marketing software
- Content creation/collaboration/workflow/calendaring
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Content management system (CMS)
I hope you could get new insights and impulses from this blog post. I’m planning to share additional posts with specific topics that were only touched upon here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts or a certain topic you want me to highlight.
“Great communication is art. Let’s bring it together to the next level.”
- Creativity and craft in content creation and production is valued
- Do more with the same resources
- Provide a consistent experience across the customer’s or client’s engagement journey
- It has become increasingly difficult to capture the audience’s attention
- Create more empathetic content
- Personalization and hyper-personalization is an increasing approach
- Use AI-technology
- Use VR and AR because both is more and more established in society
- Work on UGC and UDC (user-generated/directed content)
Content Marketing Institute – Research B2B 2022
Content Marketing Institute – Research B2C 2022
Content Marketing Institute – Research B2B 2021
Content Marketing Institute – Research B2C 2021
Content Marketing Institute – Developing a Content Marketing Strategy
Blog HubSpot – How to Develop a Content Strategy in 7 Steps
Marketing Charts – Marketers Still Struggling to Measure Content Performance
Marketing Charts – B2B Marketers Deal with Range of Measurement Challenges
Graphics – Scale