There’s a lot of advice out there that can make crafting a B2B content marketing strategy confusing.
Per the Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of content marketers have a documented strategy.
Content marketing isn’t just about writing blog posts and hoping for the best.
It’s about creating content that eventually turns into revenue.
Content marketing strategies should meet business goals, like getting more sales, making your brand known, or building a community.
In this guide, we’ll go through 9 questions you need to answer to create a strong content marketing plan.
Here they are in no particular order:
- What does the business need?
- Who’s your target audience?
- What topics will you focus on?
- What content formats will you choose?
- How often will you publish?
- What will your content workflow look like?
- How will you earn traffic?
- How will you measure performance?
- What tools will you use?
What does the business need?
A common mistake is to start with keywords or topics. Content marketing isn’t just about getting high search rankings; but also about helping your business succeed.
First, ask yourself what your business goals are. Are you looking to:
- Increase sales?
- Build brand awareness
- Grow your customer base?
Your content marketing effort should directly help you achieve these goals.
If you’re merely getting likes and shares but no real business growth, you’re wasting time.
Content marketing budgets are typically tied to how well it helps the business.
If content isn’t driving results, pouring more money into it won’t solve the problem.
A popular blog or newsletter is nice to have, but it’s not the end goal.
Your content should do more than just inform; it should support other parts of your business like sales and customer service.
This means making it easier for people to go from just knowing about your product to actually buying it and becoming a loyal customer.
Who’s your target audience?
Understanding your audience is the cornerstone of any effective content marketing strategy.
You can’t create content that resonates if you don’t know who you’re talking to.
So, who are the people most likely to need your product or service?
Your best buyers
First, consider the concept of a ‘desperate’ buyer. This is the person who needs your product the most.
For example, ice cream sells best in hot countries during summer, and mindfulness apps are most useful to stressed-out professionals.
Who is the most desperate buyer for your product?
Buyers vs. users
You also need to understand the difference between a buyer and a user. Sometimes the purse keeper won’t use the product themselves.
For instance, a team leader might buy a marketing analytics tool, but it’s the content marketer who’ll use it every day.
The buyer often relies on the user’s opinion, so focus most of your content marketing effort on satisfying the user’s needs, while also convincing the buyer to make the purchase.
What topics will you focus on?
Your choice of topics should align with your business stage and available resources.
At a mid to larger company, talking to your sales team is the quickest way to find content topics.
You can read weekly or monthly reports from each department to source content ideas.
If you’re a solo founder or small business without a sales team, you’ll need to balance your time between talking to customers and building your product.
In this case, make time for customer conversations — they’re a goldmine for content ideas.
Don’t limit yourself to just customer feedback. Look at social media threads, community forums, and even industry podcasts for inspiration.
If possible, attend industry events, whether in-person or online, to get a pulse on current trends and issues you can address through content.
Keyword research comes later, not first.
Keyword volumes are based on past data. They show what people have been interested in, not necessarily what they will be interested in.
For instance, if you were planning content in early 2022, you wouldn’t have found much keyword data on ‘ChatGPT’ even though it became a hot topic later on.
Being proactive and staying updated on industry trends can give you a leg up.
Tools like Google Trends can help you spot valuable content ideas ahead of everyone else.
ToFU, MoFU and BoFU
Think about your content strategy in terms of a funnel. At the top, you have broad topics that answer general questions.
As you go down the funnel, the topics become more specific, targeting particular problems and solutions.
At the bottom, your content is geared toward helping the reader make a decision, like choosing between different products or services.
This ensures your content strategy covers the entire customer journey, from awareness to decision-making.
Let’s use ‘observability’ to illustrate a content marketing example of this:
- ToFU: “What Is Observability And Why Should You Care?”
- MoFU: “Implementing Observability: A Step-by-Step Guide”
- BoFU: “Top 10 Observability Tools: Detailed Comparison”
What content format will you choose?
You can’t do everything, especially if you don’t have a lot of resources. You have to pick what’s most important for your business.
Again, consider your business model. If your business is product-led, you might put more effort into SEO blog posts.
If you’re founder-led, LinkedIn content writing (or any other social media platform) could be a better way to generate leads.
Depth and intent
Each content type works better at different times.
For example, a blog post might be good for getting people’s attention at first, while a detailed guide or webinar could be better for giving more information later on.
Also, think about upgrading your content. As people get more interested, they’ll want more details.
For example, someone who wanted a quick answer from a blog post might later want a detailed checklist.
How often will you publish?
How often you should publish content is a big decision. More isn’t always better.
In fact, a content audit is often a better starting point for a content strategist looking to emphasize quality.
Start with your business model
First, think about your business goals and model.
Let’s say you’re a product-led business that needs at least 10 new customers each month.
You can work backward to figure out how much content you need to meet that goal.
For example, you might need 100,000 readers to get 1,000 trial users, who then yield 10 paid sign-ups.
It takes a little while for content production to start showing results.
If you publish one blog post a week, you might get 100 monthly readers per post at first.
But over a year, that’s 52 posts, and roughly 5,200 monthly readers.
If you publish two posts a week, that number doubles, and your impressions grow exponentially (especially if you practice internal linking).
Make a plan you can stick to, and adjust as you go along.
What will your content workflow look like?
Having a smooth workflow is key to making your content marketing strategy work in the long run.
When you’re just starting out, especially solo or as a small team, your workflow might be a bit all over the place.
You might write only when inspiration strikes and not have a set process for editing or publishing.
That’s okay in the beginning, but as you grow, you’ll need a more organized approach.
A content calendar can be a game-changer here.
It helps you plan out what content should be created, who’s responsible for it, and when it should be published.
You can use tools like Asana for this, but even a simple Google Sheet will do.
As you create more content, you’ll discover ways to optimize your content creation process.
The goal is to have a workflow so well-defined that anyone can step in and know exactly what to do.
This is especially important if you plan to expand your team. A good workflow makes it easy for new people to hit the ground running.
It also keeps things running smoothly if someone is out for a while, like on vacation or sick leave.
How will you earn traffic?
Getting people to see your content is the next big challenge. This is key to beating content amnesia.
There are different ways to get traffic, and you don’t have to pick just one.
The PESO model is a useful framework for content distribution: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned.
You can spend a little money to promote each new content piece. Even a small budget can make a big difference.
For example, let’s say you spend a few hours writing a long article.
Putting a small amount of money into getting views ensures your labor isn’t wasted.
But remember, the goal is to rely less on ads over time.
Put as much effort into creating quality content as you do into paid distribution.
This way, you’ll build up a solid base of content that brings in readers without having to pay for their attention.
Another way is to get attention from media outlets or other big websites.
You can do this by sending them your content and asking if they’d like to share it, or pitching them guest posts relevant to their audience.
This can get you high-quality backlinks back to your site, which is good for SEO.
Sharing your content on social media and online communities is a good idea.
Consider joining relevant subreddits, contributing to Quora questions, and joining FB groups.
This can get you more links and also bring your content directly to people who might be interested in it.
If you have an email newsletter, don’t forget to use it. It’s a surefire way to get guaranteed views.
The same goes for any other platforms you might have, like a YouTube channel or podcast.
The goal is to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible, in a way that makes sense for your business.
How will you measure performance?
Measuring content marketing performance is tricky.
You can easily track things like how many people visited your site or how long they stayed, but connecting those metrics to actual sales or growth is harder.
Think long term
First, understand that content marketing is a long-term strategy.
People might read your content long before they need your product or service.
So don’t expect immediate results, and don’t try to link every sale directly to a single piece of content.
One attribution approach is to look at behavior over a longer period, like 90 days before a sale.
This gives you a more complete picture of how your existing content is influencing decisions.
If you can capture email addresses, it becomes easier to track someone’s journey from reader to customer.
Using the right analytics tools can help you track performance.
This makes it easier to see how your content is contributing to your overall business goals.
Google Analytics can give you a lot of data, but it’s more useful if your content is on the same domain as your main site, not a subdomain.
- ❌ blog.columncontent.com
- ✅ columncontent.com/blog
In summary, measuring the impact of your content marketing is not straightforward.
It requires a mix of tracking individual metrics and taking a more holistic view.
Agree on what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use ahead of time.
And be prepared to commit long-term to seeing the benefits of your content marketing efforts.
What tools will you use?
Choosing the right tools can make your content marketing efforts more efficient, but it’s not where you should start.
At its most basic, all you really need for content marketing success are Google Docs for writing and WordPress for publishing.
But as you scale, specialized tools can make your life easier.
- For writing and editing, Google Docs is a solid choice, and you can use Grammarly to refine your content.
- For tracking metrics, Google Sheets can be effective, especially when combined with data from Google Analytics.
- For project management, Asana is a popular choice, but some teams prefer Trello. Both can help you track content tasks and deadlines.
- For email marketing, you can start with something simple like Substack, but as you grow, platforms like Mailchimp or ConvertKit offer more features.
- For social media management, tools like Buffer or Publer can help you schedule posts and track engagement. If you’re an enterprise company, Sprout Social and Rival IQ are worth exploring for their additional analytics features.
- For video content, Descript can edit and transcribe your videos, and allows you to create audio snippets for social media.
Your focus should be on strategy, audience understanding, and quality content creation.
Once those are in place, you can think about tools to best support your efforts.
Not all advice will work for you, not even if you copied someone’s content strategy directly.
Your B2B content marketing plan is shaped by different factors, so take all “successful content marketing strategy” advice with a grain of salt, including this one.
Also, content strategy doesn’t work in a vacuum. It’s just one part of your business.
For example, you might be great at getting leads, but if no one is following up on them, you’re wasting your time.
Tools like email marketing and marketing automation can help ensure leads don’t go to waste.
A content marketing plan is a mix of different things, all aimed at helping your business. It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal.
We’ve gone through everything from:
- Figuring out your business needs
- Choosing your target audience
- Picking the right topics and formats
- Settling on a realistic cadence
- Creating a great workflow
- Distributing your content
- Measuring performance, and
- Using the right tools
Take what you’ve learned and use it to build your own content marketing strategy.