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  • Writer's pictureSusan Gaide

4 Tips for a Better Content Marketing Strategy

If content is king, then a great content marketing strategy is queen. But many companies don’t have an optimal content strategy, and some have no strategy at all. That’s unfortunate because content strategy is the best tool for bringing a brand's unique value into every buyer and customer interaction. This article will focus on 4 tips for a better content marketing strategy.

1. Focus on Buyer Value

Instead of organizing a content road map around content categories, listing out plans for blog posts, webinars, whitepapers, case studies, infographics, etc. marketers should start with a focus on how each content asset aligns to buyer value. This is because 68% of B2B buyers want to see content organized around issue/pain point, according to a recent Demand Gen Report. And, according to the report, they are becoming even more precise with their content preferences, placing a higher emphasis on content backed by supporting data, industry influencers and experts.

What outcome are buyers looking for? Whether it's to increase revenue, reduce costs, drive processes' efficiencies, improve business insights, optimize staff productivity, increase asset productivity, create higher user persistence, support faster teams or some other outcome, your content should be organized and tagged around buyer outcomes. Connecting content to a specific buyer goals/outcomes will enable you to create a content pathway that will help tell your brand's buyer-value story. And, ultimately, it will lead to higher content engagement.

2. Prioritize Your Customer Stories

Customer stories and case studies are the most important yet underused type of content. Case studies rank only fourth out of the six top content types, a recent study by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute found. They should be No. 1 for any marketing team. Customer stories are important because they create a subtle yet powerful shift in a buyer conversation wherein you go from seller to peer, collaborator, trusted adviser and problem solver.

For your sales team, the customer, not your company or its product/service, becomes the heart and the hero of the story, which makes it the best non-sales pitch sales pitch.

3. Optimize Content for the Buyer Journey

A content strategy has its maximum impact on a company's revenue growth when content pathways linked to buyer value also support sales and customer success conversations. To support the entire buyer journey, however, content needs to align to the amount of time buyers are willing to spend learning about your company and capabilities at each phase of their journey. Marketing and prospecting teams need content snippets that quickly engage buyers who are just learning about your company. Those snippets could be webinar clips, customer testimonials, thought-provoking questions or anything else that lends itself well to being transformed into tiny, bite-sized chunks of information.

For example, in 2020, I wrote 22 engineering disaster case studies for a school of continuing education for engineers. Each case study was 5,000 words. After writing each case study, I was then tasked with paring it down to a 1,000-word blog post. Then, I pared it down even further into a single, thought-provoking paragraph that was included in the overview of the course into which the case study was to be embedded. Those overview paragraphs served as the “hook” in marketing the course to engineers. It summed up, “in a nutshell,” what they would gain by taking the course.

4. Develop Content Strategies in Collaboration with Sales and Customer Success Teams

Sales teams talk to potential customers all day long, and customer success teams talk to actual customers all day long. Both teams are in a strong position to know the types of content and content themes that will engage buyers and customers. Having the sales team codevelop content themes and messaging leads to much stronger content pathways that align to specific buyer goals.

Ideally, Marketing would have a weekly or biweekly meeting with Sales and Customer Success counterparts to get input on individual content assets and ways to link those assets to specific buyer goals and content pathways. Such meetings could be used to road-test content and get specific, targeted feedback on the use cases, language, and stories that really land. Yet, sadly, according to Neil Patel, as quoted in a November 2021 Modus blog post, sales don't even use 60-70% of marketing content. This means that about two-thirds of marketing's investment in content development –- often as much as 12% of the entire marketing budget –- can be going to waste.

Content that should be impacting revenue by helping to close late-stage deals is just sitting unused.

That’s because content most company’s top-load their content, meaning that most of it is geared for TOFU (top of the funnel). TOFU content is primarily created to pique the buyer's interest and build confidence in the brand. Much of TOFU content is too high-level to help build trust in your sales reps. Unfortunately for sales reps, CMI (Content Management Institute) cites that up to 51% of content created is primarily for TOFU.

Marketers therefore need to create content for the sales teams they're supposed to support. Content creators need to develop content designed to help sales propel the potential deal forward by drilling down to the pain points and problems buyers are focused on solving. Only then can their companies carve a path toward their brand as the solution to those problems.

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