You already have your inbound marketing strategy in place. You know your buyer personas. You’ve been putting out content for a while and recognize that creating new blog posts, videos, ebooks or other content pieces is a major source of new traffic and leads. However, constantly coming up with new content can be overwhelming. So how can you keep up? To handle the demands of content creation, use these tips for creating an efficient, effective and scalable editorial process.
Put Together an Editorial Team
If you’re reading this right now, you’re likely in charge of inbound marketing at your organization — but that doesn’t mean that you are the only one who can contribute to content development. Consistent, high-value content production requires an editorial team, though your team members don’t necessarily have to have “writer” in their job title. Pull in people from different disciplines across your office. Technologists, customer service reps, executives and product managers all have an important and unique perspective on your business and your prospects’ needs. Invite them to contribute their perspective, whether it’s through writing a piece, interviewing them, or joining in on a regular editorial meeting where you brainstorm content ideas.
Conduct a Content Audit & Identify Gaps
Conduct an audit of existing content to identify gaps. Examine all the content you’ve created, from blog posts and podcasts to white papers, videos and webinars. Create a map (our favorite tool for this is MindNode) to categorize each content piece according to the buyer persona. Include details such as content type, topic, and any success metrics and start to look for patterns. Do you lack “rich content” such as videos or infographics? Are there topics missing? Do you have a lot of content for one buyer persona while neglecting others? Are you are producing content for every stage of the buying cycle? Based on these findings, draw up a list of goals for future content creation.
Build a Bank of Content Ideas
Once you’ve put together your editorial team, pinpointed your reader’s needs and identified gaps in your existing content, it’s time to start generating topic ideas. Here are some easy ways to get started.
1. Create a Blog Format Guide
The idea behind a blog format guide is to outline the most common forms that your content takes so that you’re never starting from scratch. It is a great resource for occasional blog contributors who might not know where to start when they’ve been assigned a piece of content. It can also help your editorial team when they’re stuck. Ideas can include formats such as numbered lists, explainer videos, how-to guides, Q&A interviews, or checklists — just to name a few.
2. Follow Industry News
Reading blogs and conversations happening in the industry gives you a clear idea of topics that are front-of-mind for your customers so that you can create relevant, timely content. Follow news and commentary sources, as well as bloggers that cover your industry or speak to your target audience. Subscribe to email newsletters from niche publications (including those belonging to your vendors and competitors). By checking these feeds every day, you’ll better understand your persona’s pain points and it will help generate content ideas around industry trends.
3. Monitor Social Conversations
Social media gives you real-time insight into what your prospects are talking about. As an added benefit, content born out of social conversations is also easy to share and promote on those same social media channels. For example, if you see many people asking the same questions about a product or service you provide, create content to provide information regarding those questions. Leverage free tools, like HootSuite or TweetDeck, to help you filter conversations by keywords to create a stream of relevant discussions.
4. Repurpose Old Content
Don't create a piece of content, share it once, and never look at it again. Every piece of content you create can be repurposed and repackaged across multiple different mediums, platforms, and formats. For example, turn videos into blog posts and ebooks. Use webinar questions and comments to create a new blog post ideas that directly addresses your prospects’ pain points. Create a podcast episode based on your most downloaded resource. Repurposing content gives you the ability to reach a new audience using a different medium or to expand on a topic that you know readers are interested in.
5. Conduct Original Research
Customers, prospects, bloggers, and reporters in B2B technology are eager for new data and the insight it provides. Use your own network and audience to conduct original research around the market you serve. Tools such as SurveyMonkey make it easy to create and send online surveys. You can look at your own sales, marketing, and product research data for interesting trends about your industry such as geography, demographics, buying habits, or biggest problems facing industry leaders. This kind of original research shows that you are a thought leader while giving readers valuable insight into the industry landscape.
6. Create Useful Tools
Think outside of blog posts to more interactive content that will make your buyer’s job easier. For example, in our own content strategy, we’ve discovered action content (e.g. worksheets, timelines, templates) have higher engagements than educational and self-promotional content. Your audience doesn’t care about the technical aspects of your product; it cares about the business objectives that your product helps them achieve. Expand your content strategy to cover big-pictures themes that your product addresses such as productivity, security, or lead generation. Develop calculators, quizzes, worksheets and templates that serve as useful tools for identifying your prospects’ problem and helping guide them to a solution.
7. Leverage User-Generated Content
If you’re trying to attract more customers, talk to the ones you already have and then turn those conversations into content. What convinced them to buy? What questions did they need answered in the process? Encourage users to contact you, engage them on social, and use their comments and contributions to generate content ideas. Call your most loyal clients for interviews to get further insight into the pain points, concerns, and needs of your buyer personas. This will be a gold mine for generating targeted content.
Regular content creation is a critical element of successful inbound marketing. Once you have begun to build a bank of ideas, mapped to different personas and stages in the buyer journey, you can create nurturing campaigns and workflows that target your buyers’ needs throughout the decision-making process — and converting those prospects into customers.