Using Content Marketing to Generate Qualified B2B Leads

Written by Kathy Kassera Mrozek

Imagine owning a car that’s powered by bicycle pedals. While it might be a great icebreaker, it wouldn’t be functional for your day-to-day needs. Traditional marketing methods get more sluggish as marketing continues to become more digital. If B2B companies don’t continue to adapt, they could end up with a marketing program that’s as ineffective as our pedal-powered car.

Content marketing should be the fuel for your lead generation machine. Without it, generating leads is based on high cost or labor-intensive methods that are hard to sustain, like traditional advertising, direct mailing, and cold calling. While these methods still work, they are becoming less effective as buyers become more and more informed. Unfortunately, “70 percent of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy” (Altimeter).

How can you create an effective B2B content marketing machine?

You need a strategy that starts with basic voice guidelines and a content calendar based on keyword research. It’s also important to understand the elements that improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. In this article, we’ll talk about what works, how you can create a basic plan, and the best practices for content marketing.

The 6 Steps for Effective Content Marketing

  1. Start with the basics. Keywords, content, and CTAs. Find the convergence between the issues your ideal clients and prospects are facing and what your company can help them with.
  2. Leverage influencers. When influencers share or promote your content, it’s visible to a wider audience faster.
  3. Don’t forget to test. What works in marketing is always changing; testing frequently will help you adapt quickly and not fall behind.
  4. Boost with social and paid ads. In order for your content to be effective, you need to promote it. Social and ads can increase visibility quickly.
  5. Recycle. Content takes time and money to produce, so don’t waste your efforts by only using it once.
  6. Measure. It takes 6-12 months to start seeing the true benefit of your content marketing efforts, but you should set up analytic tools from the beginning. This will help you adjust and optimize your efforts.

Start by Creating a Basic Content Marketing Plan

Creating a basic content marketing plan will help you stay on track and make your efforts more effective. You can create a basic plan with 3 main ingredients.

  1. Simple brand voice guide. This is a document that defines the voice your company will use when communicating with its customers. Defining your voice will help maintain consistent communication even when using multiple writers.
  2. Content calendar. Your content calendar should include future topics, due dates, assignees, and focus keywords.
  3. Basic social promotion strategy. Determine which social platforms you will be focusing on and who will be in charge of posting. Remember, regular posting is more valuable than a one-time blitz. Make sure your strategy is sustainable.

If you’re already doing this work, it’s worth revisiting the effectiveness of your current strategy. If you determine that your strategy is working, then you might be ready for a more aggressive content marketing plan.

Identify the content marketing elements that work for your target audience

By only using tactics that resonate with your audience you make the best use of your employees’ time and resources. To do this you need to:

  • Base your content decisions on buyer personas. User-generated content is very effective for B2C, but it doesn’t always work in a B2B application. Your B2B clients might be more interested in expert advice from thought leaders that help your prospects learn and perform better in their jobs. Comprehensive buyer personas can help you determine what’s most effective for your audience.
  • Develop lead generating content. Create a mix of awareness building content (blog posts, podcasts, newsletters) and lead capturing content (eBooks, checklists, webinars).
  • Choose the right distribution channels. Not every channel will be worth your investment, and trying to be everywhere will just drain your resources and time.

A Plan Is Only as Effective as Your Implementation

While Google values a steady stream of high-quality, comprehensive content on your website, don’t let perfectionism get in the way of starting. Everyone starts somewhere, so prioritize your highest value content and then set reasonable expectations. Maybe you start with one post every month in order to gain momentum and then turn up the frequency.

If you’re unsure of your position on a topic or worried that you don’t have any true thought leaders, going through the process itself can help to uncover the knowledge that you’re using every day.

In your plan, it’s essential to identify who will be producing your content. Make sure they have the time to implement with their current workload. Failing to do this will make implementation impossible.

Another source of content ideas are your sales managers and leadership. They are used to coming up with valuable content as they educate buyers during the sales cycle, especially if they’re following the “challenger sales” model.

What if no one on your team can take charge of your plan?

Instead of turning the calendar over to your sales reps and subject matter experts to “just start writing,” a much easier way to start is using a writer to source reference articles and create outlines for each post.

Once you have a basic outline on paper, it’s easier to share comments on how they would steer a particular topic. This can happen in comments in a Google doc, or over the phone. A writer can then capture that input and create a working draft for another round of comments.

Because your writer is working from a brand voice document, there’s cohesiveness in the writing. This means the thought and expertise are coming from your best people, but they’re not bogged down with hours of writing work.

Do You Want to Move Beyond the Basic Content Marketing Strategy?

Stop powering your content marketing engine with “foot power”. Our team can help you create an effective strategy and implement it correctly. With the right strategy, you’ll create a sustainable B2B lead generation machine that will help fuel your business.

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