In the B2B space, having a solid, holistic content strategy has never been more important for connecting with your target buyers. A recent study on global digital behaviors found that a person between the ages of 16 and 64 spends an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes a day on the internet, and there are 4.95 billion internet users globally. If you want to find your target audience, they’re online.
How do you reach them? Content. But it’s not a matter of an isolated blog or two, or an occasional podcast. B2Bs need to the question becomes, how can you create and promote high-quality, targeted content — consistently, and at scale. That’s where a content creation engine comes in.
What is a content creation engine?
A content creation engine is an internal system for producing, promoting, and delivering targeted content for your audience. Built well, it’s a self-sustaining content machine — aligned to your company’s vision and landing with your target audience. Just what it entails depends on the company, but here are some common elements:
- Focused strategy
- Efficient creation process
- Diverse tool stack
- Team of expert creators
A focused content creation strategy
You can’t arrive at your final destination without knowing where you’re going. The same goes for successful content creation. You can’t deliver great, effective content without understanding critical information — like the target reader, intent, and promotion plan. Before you get started, develop a successful content marketing plan with these five steps:
Start with SMART goals
It’s important to know how you and your team will define success. For that, you need clearly defined, and aligned goals. More importantly, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely).
For example, instead of setting a general benchmark like ‘increase the traffic to our blog,’ aim for something like ‘increase the traffic to our blog by 25% by the end of quarter four.’ For tips on how to set SMART goals, check out this post.
Understand your buyer personas
Let’s face it: the internet is not short on content. There will always be countless competitors vying for your audience’s attention. Buyer personas help you talk to the right people in the right way and at the right time.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, developed using market research and existing customer data. They’re meant to develop and change over time as you continue to engage with and better understand your audience. HubSpot’s simple and easy Make My Persona, is a great tool for getting started.
Have cohesive brand standards
Developing a strong set of brand standards is a great way to ensure your team is aligned and your brand is represented consistently, no matter the context. A coherent representation is vital for building brand recognition as your business continues to grow.
Your brand standards include all the foundational visual elements — your logo, fonts, colors, graphics, and the guidelines for use. Guidelines for your written content should be covered as well, including brand voice and tone, grammar, and style preferences.
Keep it informative, relevant and interesting
Reaching your audience is key, but it’s not enough: you need to keep them engaged. Consider your persona and the message that you want to convey. How will it best be received — via text, a podcast, a video, an infographic? Experiment with a healthy range of content types, reviewing performance data to see how each form resonated with your audience. As for content types, here’s a basic list:
- Blog posts
- Website pages
- Case studies
- Infographics and more
Looking for specific content marketing examples? Here’s a compilation of some of our favorites.
Audit and categorize your existing content
When planning your content calendar, it’s helpful to have insight into what is already performing well and where your opportunities are. Before you start scheduling, we recommend starting with a content audit.
Revisit all of your existing content and planned content topics. Look for opportunities to repurpose and refresh them. Organize all of your content pieces by content type, stage of the buyer’s journey, and topic. HubSpot has a great guide for performing an effective content audit here.
An efficient content creation process
Now that you have effectively mapped your course, make sure your content engine is tuned and ready to effectively exceed your goals. This means having a content production process that operates smoothly from start to finish. Let’s take a look at some of the key areas of the content creation process:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy
All the most beautifully crafted, well thought out content in the world won’t have any value if it’s not getting found by the people that need it. For that, you need a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. It starts with thorough keyword research for the key topics that are priority areas for your business.
Using this data — along with the preliminary work you executed on in strategy (i.e. your buyer persona, and buyer’s journey) — you should be able to begin to identify the search intent of your prospective clients.
Your goal should be to develop a well-curated list of short and long-tail keywords as well as the baseline documentation for measuring and reporting improvements over time. Each new piece of content your team creates should be optimized for one of the identified keywords in your strategy.
Search Engine Optimization can feel like a daunting task. But you don’t have to go at it alone. We love helping our clients tackle their SEO goals.
It’s brainstorming time! Now that you have your key topics identified, you can begin coming up with ideas on how to best support them with related content. When you’re building your content library and digital presence, the key topics should map to long-form pages (also known as pillar pages) on your site which support your overall content plan.
There should also be complementary, related pieces optimized for the relevant terms and questions your audience is looking for. Make sure to include all subject matter experts on your team in your content planning. Pick their brains, and leverage their expertise and perspective on the challenges they work to solve for your customers.
Writing and editing the content
When it comes to creating the content itself there are some essential elements to consider. If it’s an article, for instance, who is writing it, and are they set up for success? With B2B, technical, in-depth writing is appreciated most when it addresses specific aspects of the buyer’s journey.
That’s the key to establishing trust. We recommend asking certain members of your team to contribute in the areas which they are the most passionate about. You can stand out from your competitors by choosing to lean into in-depth expertise that has a point of view.
Your team members may need some help with the structure and direction of the piece — and there are a few ways to help. Provide them with a well thought out content brief, which covers the piece’s goals and requirements, as well as a sense of objectives. Consider utilizing the guidance of expert editors — in house or external.
Once a draft is written, conduct some due diligence: review it carefully, have the writer make any required changes, and give it another look before it’s ready to enter the world.
For certain subjects, you may want to give it to another subject matter expert to double check. In every case, we recommend having another set of eyes check for errors as well as opportunities for improvement.
For other forms of content, you’ll still want to make sure the clarity and accuracy is there, whether it’s a script or text going into a graphic form. Then conduct a well-considered production process (such as with a designer or a video producer) to take it to its final form.
Launch, monitor, and optimize
Say your content piece has been drafted and designed with the persona and your content strategy in mind. It has gone through rounds of peer review and refinement. Now the hard part is done. Is it time to push the button and take it live right? Not so fast, actually.
First, you need to make sure you and your team are aligned on your publishing and promotion plan. Figure out which channels your target audience is most likely to spend their time on — those are the ones you should focus on to get the most value out of the promotion.
Time is another factor: when you publish and promote can have a bit impact on your success. There are some highly effective tools for scheduling content pieces and social posts to publish at optimal dates and times. HubSpot’s scheduling capabilities have proved incredibly valuable for our client’s content needs as well as our own.
Setup regular recurring analysis and reporting
Creating content is a powerful investment that can take significant time and resources. Don’t just publish and promote your content and forget about it. Make sure your efforts are hitting their marks by tracking and reporting on the progress of everything you publish.
By analyzing the success of your keywords, you will learn more and more about your audience and their behaviors. This empowers you to adjust where needed to get the most effective results based on your goals.
A diverse toolstack
There are plenty of resources available to smarten up your content creation engine, from the technical — such as helping you define your target audience and strengthening your SEO, to the creative — such as boosting the readability of your content or designing great graphics. Here’s a lineup of some of our favorites:
MakeMyPersona — As mentioned above, this intuitive step-by-step tool from HubSpot will guide you in the development of your buyer persona. You will also be able to export and save the MakeMyPersona document to share with your team.
AnswerThePublic – This powerful site can add substantial depth to your brainstorming process. Use AnswerThePublic to discover what questions people search with, and how they relate back to your specified keywords.
SEMrush – This is a great platform for gleaning valuable insights related to SEO. You can use SEMrush to strengthen your keyword research, and analyze key metrics such as volume, ranking, and cost-per-click. We are proudly partnering with SEMrush and would love to answer any questions you may have!
Grammarly – This cloud-based ai platform is an easy-to-use solution for reviewing your written content. Simply copy and paste your text into the editor, and you will automatically receive suggestions on how to improve your spelling, grammar, punctuation, and content clarity.
It is important to note, that because the recommendations are ai generated, we recommend using this tool as an aid to content review as opposed to a standalone solution. This will help keep your content clear and make sense for a human reader.
Canva – Canva is an empowering tool that can help your team create beautifully designed graphics for almost every media from digital content to print. There are a lot of great templates to choose from as a starting point as well.
Hotjar – Learn even more about your audience through quantitative and observational data. Hotjar is a platform that can help your team gain powerful insights through the setup and analysis of heatmaps, surveys, screen recordings and more.
A team of expert creators for a humming content creation engine
You’ve worked through your strategy, and developed a process for brainstorming and creating effective content pieces. But how do you keep your content engine firing on all cylinders and delivering the most value for your audience? Invest in developing a reliable team of subject matter experts to keep the momentum.
Your content engine should be operating at the center of a culture of content — where contributors can feel confident in the expertise they are bringing to the table. Empower your team members to lead in the areas that they know best, and encourage deep collaboration among them to develop a holistic creation process where all of your bases are covered.
Looking for a fresh perspective or additional resources on your content strategy? Consider us an extension of your marketing team. We would love to talk about your content creation challenges and how to solve them.