Dear, Digital marketing agencies and marketers, are you wasting your time creating content that won’t get noticed, shared or bring sales?
Can you think of the last time, you had a content on your website that was praised by a stranger in the comment or it was shared by a person with thousands of followers or it had lots of signups or leads.
If you remember, congratulations. You are doing great.
Those of you who can’t remember, have no recollection of something like that whatsoever.
Then we have a problem.
The reason behind this is, you are creating generic contents that do not interest your target market or customers.
Demand for quality and specific content is always on the rise among the B2B industry.
Quality and especially specific; engineered towards an ideal client has proven to generate organic traffic, social shares, leads, and sales.
Besides that, it’s the foundation of building authority and thought leadership in your industry.
Content or copy is what actually moves the prospect through the next stage of the buyer’s journey, building relationships at every stage till the end of the funnel and even after that (the delight stage).
You can’t create content like those without a plan, goal or purpose. Without a strategy it will be like going down a dark alley, not knowing what you will find.
It will be much harder for you to reach your goal without an effective strategy and specific content in place.
In this post, I will tell you how to effectively develop a content strategy and what type of content you should create.
I have also used a fictional marketing agency example for your convenience. So, that you can implement this right away.
But first, let’s talk.
Why content is a crucial part of your business?
Because people are very very self-centered.
I am serious.
Everyone has their own problems. Why should they read about your business that will not help or provide value to them anyway? Your clients don’t care about you or your product and let’s be frank, why should they?
If that’s the case, should you just leave it to fate and hope someone with the right need and budget will eventually find you.
Because 10-15 years ago, when you could publish content and could rank it by the next week, one still had to work hard to get clients.
In order to get your client or prospect’s attention, you need to put your client’s need + your business’s expertise in one bundle and present it to your potential customers.
Through Content/copy you can create that bundle.
According to a study done by Kapost Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as paid search. Can you believe that?
Well, it shouldn’t be hard to understand, because content build trust and likability that pays in the long run. The only downside to content marketing is that it takes time to build that trust and requires a bit of a learning curve.
If you are not using content then be ready to lose a big portion of the market.
Content is the broker between you and your prospects.
It’s the best kind of marketing tool that done right will never go out of style.
That is why 92% of content marketers view content as an asset.
Ok, What is a content strategy?
I assume you know this but I am going quickly go through it anyways.
[(truth: I put this question on purpose to optimize the post for SEO. Muahhaa ha ha ha…….(evil laugh)]
Trust me it won’t be boring. Read along.
Content strategy, hence the name is a marketing plan or management of every piece of content you produce for your business. From web copy to blog post, social media posts to ad copy, even the visuals, pdf and things that are open for the world to see.
Content Strategy, it should have a goal or purpose and every piece of content you create should support that plan or goal.
Listen to this, 65% of B2B buyers prefer and enjoy authoritative and credible content from industry influencers and in the same study, there was another finding that 71% stated that they consumed blog content during the purchase process compared to 66% in 2017.
You see content does make an impression on people. But, you can’t do that without customer data and strategy.
Developing or creating a content strategy helps a business or marketer to measure cost-effectiveness and ROI effectively.
There is also another question that marketers often times can’t give a clear answer to, that is-
How does B2B Content Strategy differ from B2C Content Strategy?
The difference is in the target market. The characteristics and behavior of the ideal market is the main consideration of any marketing strategy.
B2B market content value and specificity matter a lot then B2C. It is not to say B2C contents aren’t useful or valueless.
Being useful is a primary concern not the goal per se. For example think of branded content, as Coca Cola or Cadbury publishes.
But in B2B industry where we are selling services/ software to another business, the approach is different.
This doesn’t mean B2B content must be boring, bland and tasteless. In fact, B2B content has to be all of the above- value-packed, engaging and enjoyable. It won’t be a sin to merge two of this (B2C and B2B) approaches every now and then. It could help humanize your business.
Now let’s dive into the meaty part of this post. The reason we are all here.
What is the best content strategy for online marketing agencies?
Businesses that provide marketing services to other businesses should have this figure out, right?
Some of them has figured it out and generating revenue from them.
But many online marketing agencies/ SEO agencies are still creating generic content like-
- How to market your business online
- SEO for bloggers
- 5 ways to improve SEO
- How to use facebook for your business
- What is social media marketing?
- SEO for businesses
- How to optimize blog posts for SEO
- Why SEO is important?
There are literally thousands if not millions of posts like these.
If you are a marketing agency then you shouldn’t create generic content like these.
Your target market who want to hire you for 5-10k per month, generic posts like these won’t interest them nor will be valuable for them.
Your clients aka business owners would be more interested in specific stories, content, and strategies that can help with their business.
You are providing B2B services, needless to say, you have to practice what you preach.
“5 tips to improve SEO” – your clients can find thousands of content on this topic from one Google search. If a client thinks that they can find how to do “your-job (marketing)” on their own from the internet, then you lost him.
Now if you were to create-
“Increase your traffic to your e-commerce business by 47% with this 5 step guide”
“How (Business name) doubled their revenue by just implementing this one simple strategy”
“Build yourself a 24/7/365 salesperson that makes money while you are asleep”
Which one would interest your client more? you be the judge.
I love Joanna Wiebe at copyhackers, she is a conversion copywriter, she says the copy you produce should meet the conversation in your client’s head. Not the conversation you’re having in your head.
Legendary, isn’t it?
Most of the time due to all client chaos online marketing agencies forget about the company blog or building business or brand.
55% of marketers say blog content creation is a top priority for them. Because not only it helps to build awareness, it also improves SEO, thought leadership, brand likability, and industry authority.
It’s not just about having a brand. Having a business blog will not just humanize your business by strategically creating blog content will generate leads for you.
Content strategy is not just about brainstorming a random topic and map out when and where to post them.
your content strategy should address these elements:
- Who are we talking to?
- What is the best way to talk to our clients?
- What and how much they know?
- What are their goals?
In more details here-
1. Who are we talking to?
John, Dick or Harry?
A content strategy is based on the goal and target market.
Before anything, you need to know your people. (oh! wow what unique advice.)
No, seriously. People still mess this up. It’s not important that you get it right from the get-go and never change it. It will change more or less as you grow.
It’s important you have a good idea of who you want to work with and who could afford you.
It’s like what Ryan Deiss said at the Hyper Growth Marketing Event- “ I am not interested in what marketers think is cool. I’m interested in what my customers think is cool.”
— Kelly Duval (@kellylduval) June 10, 2019
Many SEO or online marketing agencies do know who they want to work with. But their content doesn’t reflect on it.
If you want an SEO client that owns a real estate investment company, he or she won’t read posts about “Online marketing for businesses”.
As I said before I am going to use an example to make this guide little more helpful.
I am going to create an imaginary marketing agency and create a content strategy for them.
Name: Medusa.com (pretty good, right?)
Location: New Zealand (one of the countries from my travel wish list)
Medusa.com is an SEO and digital marketing agency that helps local businesses owners to start and build their presence online and get solid revenue from it.
Local businesses mostly who sell physical product maybe craft, jewelry, utensils and things valued between 100-500 USD, annual revenue from 50k-200k
They are serious businesses who already have a good local reputation but want to broaden their reach and start getting orders from online.
This is good information to start with but one can do much deeper than this. The more in-depth you go in your research, the more specific your content and strategies would be.
The more knowledge we have about the target market, the more specific the content will be.
You should know your target market’s pain-points and what’s stopping them from hiring you.
Main pain points of their ideal clients:
(Talking from educated guess) They are puzzled about running their e-commerce or business website, how to process the orders, customer retention, customer support and they are having trouble believing that they can get more business from online than their physical shop.
(We are going to use to create TOFU and MOFU contents that would attract prospects, more on this later)
What’s stopping them from hiring you?
It could be a number of things but for the sack of this blog post.
I am going to use my imagination again,
They are afraid to invest in something that will not have quick results. A local business owner can find many things to invest in, other than a website and online marketing agency. They are not completely sold on building an online business.
(We can use this to write more focused blog content, sales copy, email copy or even the homepage)
We have the ideal market research down, let’s get on to the next step.
2. What is the best way to talk to our people?
Best way to attract your target market is learning their way of life and knowing what moves them.
In most marketing research questionnaire you will find open-ended questions like-
- describe your (survey takers) everyday life
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What would you do if you cannot use this product/ service?
- What your business will look like if you reach your desired revenue goal?
- How would you feel if you woke up one and saw a big number in your bank account?
These are the questions that will decide the style and tone of your brand. Branding is pretty important any company or service provider because people buy with emotion, not logic.
Logically your product may have the best solution for your client’s problem but if your brand doesn’t convince the client that they are in safe hands or you can’t create a burning desire then you will not see sustainable growth in your business.
Branding + high quality content is the key to success for both B2C and B2B.
Best way to talk to people is by attacking the feelings and emotions you clients are going through in their life.
And where you go to reach is also important. For example, the ideal market for MEDUSA will probably be engaged locally a lot. So, local marketing would be a good approach. But as we are here talking about online business.
- You have to ask your prospects-
- Which influencer do they follow?
- Whose book they often read?
- Did they go to any event that year?
- Where do they spend most of their time on the net?
- Are they familiar with big content publishing websites that produce content about marketing and business?
With these answers, you will know where you can find and reach out to them.
Another way to promote your business locally is by selecting local events or a well-known person or a business (you had already worked with) to create marketing campaigns around. A person in a small city of New Zealand may not know what Forbes is? But he or she will know their local cultural activities.
You can target those cultural activities and create campaigns to promote your business.
3. What and How Much They Know?
We know who is the ideal client for Medusa agency and how are we going to reach them.
The next step is to know what and how much they know?
- Do they know that they need marketing?
- If so, do they what online marketing can do for them?
- If so, have they decided to do something about it.
If you can know where they are on the buyer journey, you can create specific content to attract them.
Basically, we have to know what stage of awareness they are in.
Stage of awareness, what is that?
Schwartz outlined the concept of 5 stages of awareness. This is how aware people in your target market is about the solution and products that can help with their specific situation.
This is very important because by targeting a person of a certain stage of awareness you will quickly know what to say to him.
- If he knows about his problem, you tell him about solutions
- If he knows about the solution, you tell him where he can get it
- If he knows where he finds the solution, you tell why he should choose it over other options, why it best for him.
- If your reader doesn’t know about the problem, you cannot pitch him the solution. He won’t be interested in that.
By implementing this strategy you will know what to say to people and when to say it and most importantly when to sell him.
If you want to build a loyal and profitable customer base than you got to know when not to sell.
So, let’s head back into our fictional example-
The target market that I tried to define for MEDUSA previously can tell us in what stage of awareness they are in.
previously, I said that they want to expand their reach but they are not completely sold on the idea/concept digital marketing.
This tells us that they do have a problem that they are aware of. They know the name of solution (not completely knowledgable of) maybe even know a couple of people that have done online marketing but not sold on the idea of how it can help them and why they should invest in it.
We can conclude that- they are somewhere between the problem/solution and product aware.
And our content would only target the people of this stage of awareness.
After we decide how much they know or how sophisticated the target market’s knowledge is.
Next comes the goal.
4. What are their goals?
Next thing that will pretty much shape our content strategy is the goal of the client.
Now here we going to talk about two goals one for our fictional marketing agency- MEDUSA and one for the clients of MEDUSA.
In order to reach the agency’s goals, they have to look out for the goals that their clients want to achieve. (hope this makes sense)
MEDUSA have to make their client’s goals possible to do business.
For an online agency or business, It’s usually either traffic or conversion related.
It could be one of the two or a combination of both. For example, your client might say- we need more traffic/ links or we want to improve SEO or we need more leads/sales/conversions.
Your clients might also say we have traffic but they are not converting or we have a good conversion rate but we want to increase our organic traffic.
Now here we have to set a goal. Because the goal is strategy.
Let’s set a goal for Medusa.com- From the description (given above) it looks like they (service providers) saw a good opportunity in local small businesses.
Their goal could be to increase awareness and in the next 6 months, they want to close 12 clients, 2 each month.
This means MEDUSA needs traffic and conversion.
The goal of the clients of the agency: small business owners they want to expand their business online (which means initially they would want to build awareness about their business and then make consistent sales that would double their current revenue)
We got almost everything to sketch out content strategy:
Ok..Now Hold Up.
You need one more thing.
You need a content flow.
All of the information above is pretty useless you don’t use them to create content strategically. A strategic approach to content creation is commonly known as content marketing funnel.
A Content marketing funnel is a system that will take your reader through a step by step process or journey and convert them into a paying customer.
Content Marketing Funnel has 3 broad stages:
- Awareness (Top of the Funnel or TOFU)
- Evaluation (Middle of the Funnel or MOFU)
- Conversion/ Purchase (Bottom of the Funnel or BOFU)
There is another stage that is Delight that comes after someone becomes a paying customer.
Why do you need TOFU, MOFU, BOFU?
Because every piece of content should have a purpose. There could be multiple purposes like to improve SEO, to boost traffic to promote to a certain community. But on top of all the content should support the marketing funnel you want your clients to go through.
A good piece of content will move your prospect to one stage of awareness to another.
TOFU or Top of the Funnel content is primarily created to attract leads and get them through a funnel it could be making them sign up for a newsletter or download a lead magnet.
This kind of content would not be directly related to what you sell or do, but it would be something your target people would love to read or pique their interest.
MOFU or Middle of the Funnel content mainly educates clients. You solve their biggest pain-points and here you showcase your service or product as a solution.
This kind of content is made to build trust by showing results, expertise. In this step of the funnel, you are qualifying your customers to buy. In these contents, you will talk about the pain-points of your clients integrating your core services or products.
Case studies work great here.
BOFU or Bottom of the Funnel content is more direct and is more focused on conversion to paid product or services. These kinds of content make comparison of options for their clients.
In this step, you would want to create content around keywords with buying intent. By which I mean, keyword that people use when they ready to buy.
For example, a social media marketer looking for a Pinterest scheduling tool. He/she have read a couple of posts about different tools, now he has narrowed down his decision to 2 tools Tailwind and Hootsuite. Finally, he wants to decide on one tool and he goes on to google searches “Why you should use Tailwind?” Or “Tailwind vs Hootsuite”.
Here the reader is past the product aware stage is in most aware is ready to buy.
But it doesn’t mean a lead can’t convert through a top of the funnel content. That’s why it’s better to make each piece content evergreen, updated and well researched.
Now, let’s build the content strategy already.
- We know our customer– small business looking to expand their business online has revenue of 50-200k per year
- We have an idea how we can talk to them– we have to use local events and culture to reach out to them plus with more research/ survey we can get the voice of the customer, their pain-points, etc.
- We know what stage of awareness they are in– they know about the business opportunities online and have seen people expand through online marketing but they don’t have a sophisticated knowledge of the industry.
- We know their goal- to build a good service business and to close clients.
For Medusa.com we have to create 3 types of content
- one that will pique the target market’s interest
- one that will educate about agency’s services
- one that will convince the target market hire
Your ideal client doesn’t need tips to improve their seo because they are looking to hire or hiring an agency has crossed their mind.
What is the best way to attract this kind of clients (like Owner/CEOs or Businessman)?
Stories/ interview/ case studies
Think of it like this- if you are a business person wouldn’t you be interested in how another business person( of pretty much same industry or same situation) build their company to success
Here are content ideas I picked for MEDUSA-
Will he read:
How to blog to build a brand or
How Mr. Awesome build 100k revenue business in 4 months with just 3 person team (give a real example)
Which one you think would attract our ideal client.
You be the judge.
If you starting from scratch and don’t have any resource- what do you then?
You can create like- Strategy that can increase your revenue by 20%
Create a good argument in your content.
As you can see, developing a content strategy isn’t really a walk in the park. Especially if you are in a competitive industry. That is why you have to know how to hold your hand up in the crowd and be seen.
Long gone the days when SEO post like how to do SEO, SEO tips blog posts would get thousands of shares and leads. For a marketing agency, you have to position yourself as an expert apart from the crowd who are creating generic posts.
Do your research and create content that people would love to read 5 years from now.
Because people buy from them who they know, like and trust.
With the strategy explained in this post, you will be able to create a unique content strategy for any business and niche.
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