B2B marketing plan is essential for every such business. For more than 5 years, the Content Marketing Institute along with Marketing Profs has produced an annual document outlining, trends, benchmarks, and budgets for B2B marketing.
This fascinating and very informative paper provides lots of great insights on what is working for companies engaging in B2B marketing, and what isn’t. The document is full of great data, and should be a reference guide to anybody planning a B2B content marketing strategy for the next 12 months, or just for the next quarter. In fact, unless otherwise specified, the numbers contained in this article are taken from the B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.
Of course, reading the document is one thing. Knowing how to take the data from within the document and apply it to your existing B2B digital marketing plans is another thing altogether. It’s certainly not an easy task if you are relatively new to this form of marketing, or have never had a formally documented strategy in the past. Hopefully, the information in this article will serve to bridge the gap between the CMI/Marketing Profs document and your enterprise’s marketing strategy.
1. Meet Frequently With Your Content Marketing Team
The Data: 41% of B2B marketers claimed that having daily or weekly content marketing meetings improved the effectiveness of their campaigns. 89 percent found these meetings somewhat, very, or extremely valuable. The marketers who found meetings to be most effective for their content marketing efforts were those who met on a weekly or biweekly basis. Those who waited longer between meetings reported less desirable results.
How to Implement Effectively: It is overly simplistic to say that obvious strategy is to arrange an online marketing meeting once a week, or once every two weeks. You have to look at your own organization to determine how to proceed. For example, where is your overall strategy falling short? Are their stakeholders who have become roadblocks to implementing and carrying great marketing strategy? If so, would it be appropriate to involve those people in the meetings so that they understand the process and move from being roadblocks to advocates? How many online marketing campaigns are happening at one time, and how many teams are working on these campaigns? The answer to this question may determine whether or not you should have a single meeting or multiple meetings.
Expected Results: By holding regular strategy and review meetings, your team will hopefully come up with better ideas for campaigns and content. Hopefully, redundancies and misunderstandings that result from lack of regular communication will also be reduced. Finally, these meetings could be a great way to get content marketing skeptics on board.
2. Continue to Improve Content Quality Diversify Tactics And Increase The of Platforms
The Data: 72% of marketers plan to focus their strategy over the next year to creating more engaging content. In addition to this, the most effective marketers used the highest number of tactics (15) and were active on the highest number of social media platforms (7).
How to Implement Effectively: As always, creating high-quality content that your audience finds informative and engaging is key. In addition to this, it is also a good idea to examine the content marketing tactics you are using, and explore the possibility of expanding that. For example, if you are using blog posts and infographics to reach your audience, you are certainly using two of the most popular tactics. However, you are not using two of the most effective tactics. Those would be in person events (75%) and webinars (66%). Finally, it might also improve the effectiveness of your strategy to increase the number of social media platforms on which you participate. However, as with everything else, you have to balance the data with your own organizational needs and experiences. If time and budget have been the only things limiting your social media presence, the numbers could certainly be used to justify expanding that. On the other hand, if you don’t believe that doing so would have a positive ROI, your best bet might be to stay on the platforms where you are currently getting results. Finally, you cannot create much engaging content if you aren’t producing current content. Use BuzzSumo, Alltop, and other headline aggregators to do online research for the trending topics in your niche.
Expected Results: Obviously the more engaging your content is, the more your audience is going to discuss, like, and share that content. In addition to this, varying your tactics can appeal to those who haven’t yet found a reason to be interested in your message. Diversifying your tactics is also a great way to give your internal content creators more room to generate great content ideas. Finally, implementing a smart strategy to increase your social media presence is most likely going to increase your audience and brand awareness.
3. Create a Documented B2B Marketing Plan
The Data: Out of all marketers, only 32% reported having a documented strategy. Others either claimed to have no strategy or one that was not documented. However, 53% of the most effective content marketers had a documented strategy.
How to Implement Effectively: Obviously, the first step would be to examine current marketing strategy, and document the policies and procedures that are in place, but have not yet been documented. Of course, the next thing to consider is that a digital marketing document, the outlining strategy is going to be a living document. It will need to be continually updated. This means that managing the document needs to become part of the duties assigned to a team or individual. Otherwise, a documented content marketing strategy will quickly become very useless. Finally, the document needs to be accessible by all as a reference when it comes to branding and content strategy. For example, creating some redundancy in the tone, and look of content can help to improve branding overall.
Expected Results: Having a documented strategy gets everybody on the same page. One result of this is that your audience is less likely to be confused by inconsistencies in messaging when content creators work without a set of guidelines. As mentioned above, it also improves branding. Having solidly documented policy also makes it easy to review that policy and make changes. When new people come into the organization, having a strategy that is on paper makes it easier to bring them up to speed and help them to become productive.
4. Define Your Editorial Mission Statement
The Data: 48% of the most effective marketing professionals say that they have a clearly defined editorial mission statement. 49% found that a documented editorial mission statement improved the effectiveness of their efforts. In spite of this only 28% actually do have an editorial mission statement.
How to Implement Effectively: Create a mission statement that satisfactorily identifies your core target audience, what it is that your content is going to provide to your audience, and how the results are going to benefit your organization. For example, assume that you are a wholesaler that provides textiles to high-end clothing manufacturers. Your core target audience is high-end clothing manufacturers. Your content is going to keep them up to date regarding high-end textiles, and provide them with information about your products that they can use to operate their businesses more effectively. You can even be very specific, by detailing that you will provide information on fashion shows, interviews with industry leaders, and videos that detail how to identify quality fabrics. Your desired results are expanded knowledge of your brand and increased trust on behalf of your current and targeted customer base.
Expected Results: Similar to a documented content strategy, an editorial mission statement gets everybody on the same page. It also gives your content marketing efforts a dedicated purpose. This can be the standard on which everything else is measured. Whether or not a particular post goes public, your company becomes active on a specific social media platform, or whether a piece of content is shared on your company website is determined based on whether or not it matches your editorial mission statement. If your mission statement is a gold standard, you reduce your risk of creating regrettable content or social media posts.
5. Get Everybody on The Same Page Regarding What a Success Looks Like
The Data: Taking a look at the most successful marketers, 79% of them claim that they and members of their organization have a clear picture of what a successful content marketing strategy is.
How to Implement Effectively: Getting people on the same page means creating and managing expectations. For example, some people in your organization might be extremely results driven, even to the point that they don’t give your content efforts the chance to work because they are expecting nearly immediate, bottom-line results. On the other hand, there are those who are so focused on the relationship development and shareability aspects of digital marketing that they forget that these efforts are worthless if they don’t result in more leads and conversions. Success means engagement, but it also means bottom line results.
Expected Results: When a content marketing campaign ends, most teams do a post mortem, sometimes formal, sometimes informal. The purpose of this is to determine whether or not the campaign was an overall success, but also to determine which elements within the campaign worked really well, which need to be tweaked, and which absolutely tanked. Having an agreed upon standard of success can also help to temper both digital marketing skeptics and apologists.
6. Make Content Marketing Maturity/Sophistication a Goal
The Data: Only 8 percent describe their content marketing program as sophisticated. 24 percent would rank theirs as mature, and 29 percent define theirs as the adolescent. Finally, 11 percent define their content marketing efforts as being in the very beginner stages.
How to Implement Effectively: A sophisticated or mature content marketing program begins with a holistic strategy that involves the entire organization. The first consideration is, of course, content. At this level, it is time to move beyond basic social media participation and the occasional blog post. For one thing, content should be created frequently enough to be able to offer followers subscription to a regularly published blog or e-newsletter. Content offerings should also be varied to include videos, white papers, infographics, and other offerings. In addition to content, a mature program will also be highly focused on measuring results and tracking ROI. This means a good analytics package should be in place, and that it might be time to dedicate somebody to the task of keeping track of data, and determining which conclusions should be made from that data.
Expected Results: Once you have elevated your content marketing strategy to this level, a few things happen. First of all, you will begin to see the results of your efforts and those results will be easy to prove thanks to the data you collect and the analysis of that data. In addition to that, your diversified content and subscription options should result in a larger following and increase brand familiarity.
7. Get Your Money’s Worth From Paid Advertising
The Data: ⅔ of companies use paid search engine marketing. This is followed by banner ads (55%), promoted tweets (52%), social ads (51%), native advertising (39%), and content discovery tools (14%). Most companies used 3 different types of paid options in total. Overall, the use of paid advertising has increased. However, the most effective organizations us 4.
How to Implement Effectively: First, off if you aren’t using any paid advertising, it might be time to get started with that. Most organizations report that it is an effective means of getting your brand out there. In addition to that, it certainly appears as if using more than one paid advertising option is a good decision. So, for example, if you are only using banner ads, 2016 might be a good year to add to promoted posts, native advertising, and social retargeting ads.
Expected Results: The better your paid advertising efforts are, the more likely you are to get people to your landing pages. As you diversify in this area, you will also be able to see what paid advertising methods have the best return on investment. As you learn, you can then adjust moving forward.