10 Ways a Content Marketing Expert Can Help Your Content Program Succeed

Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, has 6x the ROI of other marketing methods, and generates up to 3 times more leads, making it an ideal strategy to grow your audience, improve search traffic, increase conversions, and boost your sales.      Most enterprises know the value of content marketing and 90% of them… Continue reading 10 Ways a Content Marketing Expert Can Help Your Content Program Succeed

How to Onboard New Content Teams So They Can Succeed with Your Content

So much can go wrong when you don’t empower a writer or a new content team to really understand your industry, your standards, and what you expect from them.  If you fail to properly onboard a new team you’ll find that…

How to Determine a Budget for Content Marketing

Heads of marketing ask me all the time how they should budget for content marketing.   A straight answer: As a benchmark, on average, a small business may spend around $2000-$6000 per month on content marketing, while larger companies may spend $10,000-$50,000 or more per month.   A more nuanced answer: The cost of content… Continue reading How to Determine a Budget for Content Marketing

Top 9 Ways to Get New Ideas for Content

You don’t need to be stumped when you’re trying to think of what to write about. You may be struggling with ideas for blog posts, social posts, ebooks, and/or videos, but a wealth of ideas are out there and at your fingertips. You just need to know where to look.   My top sources are: … Continue reading Top 9 Ways to Get New Ideas for Content

How to Get Started with a Thought Leadership Program

Woman thought leader

With AI content cluttering the blogosphere, every B2B knows they need to put out ‘thought leadership’ content.  But what really is thought leadership content?  It’s not your subject matter expert (SME) who writes blog posts. It’s not your CEO who posts company and financial updates on LinkedIn. It’s not a researcher who periodically presents at… Continue reading How to Get Started with a Thought Leadership Program

How Content Marketing Teams Can Empower Sales Teams (and Vice Versa)

Marketing teams spend so much effort crafting positioning and messaging. They interview customers, do market and competitor research, define differentiators, find something clever to say, and then they…email a document around to everyone.   And then wonder why messaging and positioning information rarely survives the jump from marketing to sales.  That disconnect can look like… Continue reading How Content Marketing Teams Can Empower Sales Teams (and Vice Versa)

5 Experts Weigh in on Today’s Content Marketing Landscape

All content marketers are not the same. There are those that come at it from a writing background who love crafting with words. There are strategists whose skills lie in seeing the big picture, making connections and building plans. Those that come at it from SEO – data lovers. Then those who focus on web development and online advertising. And others still who view content marketing from the lens of social media. Each brings a different skill set and point of view to the discipline. 

 

Of course, the full discipline of content marketing includes them all; success lies in the space where strategy, writing, SEO, social, and web intersect.  

 

To gain a broad perspective of today’s landscape in content marketing, I decided to reach out to one of each of these types of marketers. They are:  

 

 

These are the questions I asked them. 

What is the biggest challenge in B2B marketing today?

 

Emily: Today, one of the biggest challenges B2B marketers face is having to do more with less because of the current state of the economy. Layoffs have led to smaller marketing teams, which means the remaining team members suddenly have to take on the responsibilities and tasks from their departed colleagues. And reduced budgets have led to more initiatives and marketing activities being moved in-house, rather than outsourced to an agency, which means the now smaller marketing team has even more on their plate.

 

Ryan Mahoney: The biggest challenge in B2B marketing is getting in front of a miniaturized target audience. B2Bs have more competition and fewer customers than B2Cs. There’s more noise to cut through to reach your ideal customer.

 

Alice: Social is really where the growth happens. So, providing outstanding social content and then finding the balance of encouraging but not forcing employees/partners to be active on LinkedIn to build their connections and have conversations. This takes time,  confidence and maturity, in some cases, to find and build their expertise without selling. 

 

 

Tom: The biggest challenge in B2B marketing today is generating high-quality leads and effectively nurturing them through the sales funnel. This requires a deep understanding of customers’ needs and pain points, as well as personalized and targeted marketing strategies to engage them at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

What is the top thing you see that marketing departments should STOP doing?

Emily: B2B marketing departments should stop neglecting the importance of measurement and ROI. I’m continually surprised that so many of the marketers I speak to don’t actively or strategically measure the performance of their marketing activities. Data and analytics can be overwhelming, so it’s crucial to figure out the top 3 metrics to track, and then act on the data you collect.

 

Alice: I see businesses rushing to make a deadline instead of being purposeful and intentful. Businesses should take the time to zero in on the target market they are speaking to and really customize. There can be variations in the same target market and the language or angle needs to be adjusted. Also, I don’t see enough testing, i.e., testing the promotions and/or testing the messaging and collecting the data that can give you direction. 

 

Tom: The top thing that marketing departments should STOP doing is initiating multiple content projects or long-complicated projects without proper planning and testing. Often, marketing teams start projects and ideas, only to put them into a virtual drawer, never to be executed or utilized. This not only wastes resources and time but also demoralizes team members who have invested effort into the projects.

 

To avoid this, marketing departments should prioritize short 1–2-week proof of concepts (POCs) to test the viability of their projects before diving into large-scale execution. This allows for checking whether the project is able to bring the expected results.

 

What should content teams START doing?

 

Emily: Content teams need to start paying attention to the content they’ve already put out in the world. Are you repurposing it? Are you distributing the content in a multitude of ways throughout the year? Are you checking its SEO performance every quarter to see if its ranking and if anyone is reading it? By doing those 3 things, you’ll start seeing the ROI of your content.

 

Ryan: Content teams should start exploring the idea of the maximum amount of content needed for a website, product, or service. As generative AI becomes increasingly more competent, marketers have two choices: increase their quantity or focus on quality. Instead of worrying about how many more per month they can create, content teams should be asking how much they actually need. 

 

Inna: Businesses should start focusing on thought leadership pieces and personal experiences instead of writing generic content. There are too many blogs with the same content around the web. You won’t stand out if you say things everybody has already said. Instead, share the experience about the product/service, add screenshots, or interview experts in the field.

 

Alice: Businesses should focus on messaging that is founded in transformation. They should zero in on the transformation their ideal client is looking for and use the influential topics, important steps, and challenges in the content, so it speaks to them. Focus on the barricades that can come up that will cause them to turn from the journey or postpone the journey. Show them that the transformation is achievable.  

 

Tom: Content teams should start focusing on creating well-researched, high-quality, and relevant content that genuinely adds value to the target audience’s lives. Emphasis should be placed on developing a coherent content strategy, setting measurable goals, and evaluating the performance of the content to identify opportunities for improvement.

If you could only focus on one content type, what would it be?

 

Emily: If we could only focus on one type of content, we’d focus on customer stories. For the second year in a row, SaaS marketers have ranked customer stories the #1 most effective marketing tactic to increase sales, ahead of general website content, SEO, blog posts, social media and other tactics. 

 

Customer stories are important because having others tell your story is more impactful than trying to promote your impact yourself. It’s also a way to get deeper customer research that can inform pain points, positioning and areas of content focus.

 

Ryan: My knee-jerk reaction is to focus on blog content. But if you ask me the same question a year from now, I’m not sure it’ll be the same. Blog content is relatively affordable to create. Paired with intentional strategy and planning, you can repurpose and distribute the content across a variety of channels. As the industry becomes saturated with AI-assisted articles, the importance of videos, slide shows, pdfs, and infographics will increase exponentially. TL; DR: It depends.

 

Alice: Blogs posts. Coming from a social media person this is funny. But most people have the attention span to read a blog and it is a great opportunity to get people hooked on your content. Blogs are that happy medium between social posts and valuable website copy that sets you apart.

 

Tom: If I could only focus on one content type, it would be long-form, educational content, such as blog articles or whitepapers. This type of content is SEO-friendly, authoritative, and provides value to readers, helping businesses establish thought leadership and attract high-quality leads.

If you are a small marketing team, what should your top three priorities be?

 

Emily: If you’re a small marketing team, your top 3 priorities should be:

  1. Content marketing and SEO: Use content to establish thought leadership, educate your audience and generate leads. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your target audience’s needs and interests. Create high-quality content such as blog posts, white papers, case studies, ebooks and videos. Promote your content through various channels, including your website, social media platforms, email newsletters and industry publications. Valuable content helps build trust, engage prospects and nurture leads through the sales funnel.
  2. Email marketing: This is a powerful tool for nurturing leads and maintaining customer relationships. Build an email list of prospects and existing customers and develop targeted email campaigns. Personalize your emails based on customer segments and their specific needs. Send informative content, industry updates, product updates, and special offers to keep your audience engaged. Track email metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions to refine your campaigns and improve effectiveness.
  3. Social media marketing: Determine which 1 or 2 platforms your target market are most active on and focus on those platforms only. Develop a strong presence and share relevant content, industry insights, thought leadership and updates about your products or services. Engage with your audience, respond to inquiries, and participate in industry discussions. 

 

Ryan: The top three priorities for small marketing teams are quality, impact, and implementation

As bad faith actors take advantage of generative AI to create loads of low-quality content, we’ll see increased demand for high-quality content. Low-quality content might rank, but it doesn’t convert. If content doesn’t improve conversions in the long run, why do it?

Implementation is essential for adding value. It doesn’t make sense to create quality content if we’re not going to publish it. The impact of the work needs to be noticeable and meaningful to the client. Communicating the impact while balancing expectations is fundamental to a successful partnership.

 

Inna: I would say understanding user intent, focusing on social media, and gathering feedback. 

 

Alice: For me, the top three priorities should be:

  1. Producing valuable educational content that proves your expertise  
  2. Building a healthy social media system with one primary channel 
  3. Understanding where your customers are coming from. What’s the strongest lead source? Then focus on that lead source. Is it word of mouth? Sponsor presentations, speaking opportunities, and/or panels. 

 

Tom: If you are a small marketing team, your top three priorities should be: 

  1. Leveraging AI writing: As a small marketing team, maximizing your content production is crucial for reaching a wider audience and remaining competitive. By using AI writing tools and managing a team of writers, you can scale your content creation without spending a fortune. This way you can compete with companies that have larger budgets.
  2. Optimizing the content creation process: By optimizing the process of generating and promoting content, you can ensure that you are producing high-quality and engaging content on a consistent basis.
  3. Talking with potential and current customers: This should be an everyday task. To effectively target your product communication, as well as create relevant and compelling content topics, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, and their challenges. 

If a business has no content team, who should the Head of Marketing hire first?

 

Emily: The first hire after the head of marketing should be a content writer. The head of marketing can handle the strategy and goal setting, so they need a content writer to help execute on the strategy. The writer can help establish the brand’s voice and create valuable content assets like blog posts, social media content, lead magnets, email content and website copy. 

 

Ryan: An experienced content marketing manager can single-handedly create a content department. The right person will have industry experience writing, editing, and planning content. They must be skilled project, account, and people managers. Bonus points for those with agency or entrepreneurial experience—as they’ll have an edge for the best practices and know how to build out your internal processes.

 

Inna: Either the business should outsource that to the complete content team, or hire a content strategist that will hire all the other specialists that might be required: SEO specialists, copywriters, designers, CMS specialists, SMM specialists etc.  Who needs to be hired will depend on a specific content strategy for a certain business.

 

Tom: The head of marketing should first hire a content marketing generalist who is operational, hands-on, and able to create and execute a content strategy. This individual should be capable of taking ownership of implementation and results while effectively leveraging AI & Content Tools and external contractors to work in a smart and efficient way.

How important is SEO right now and what percent of time should a content team focus on it?

 

Emily: SEO has always been incredibly important to me as a business owner of 16 years. 95% of our leads come from prospects finding us through search so we put a lot of time and effort into creating valuable, optimized content. Our goal for 2023 is to update and optimize one of our 90 existing blog posts each week. As a content team, we spend about 20% of our time on creating highly relevant and useful content, optimizing it for search, measuring the results and further optimizing the content over time. 

 

Ryan: Content is one of the pillars of SEO. They’re interlinked. When you write content for people first, clearly organize thoughts, and support ideas with research and sources—you’re already doing SEO. There’s not much left to tinker with once you have a well-written draft.

 

Assuming SEO influenced the content planning and strategy, optimizing content can be as simple as running through a checklist before pressing publish. Content teams should fold SEO into the strategy, planning, and editing process—whether they learn how themselves or collaborate with a specialist for guidance.

 

Inna: SEO is as important as ever. Businesses should focus on it all the time. Along with PPC and social media, it’s the main source of lead generation. SEO is even better than social and PPC though, because it can provide long-term results without permanent investments.

 

Tom: SEO is critically important right now, as it helps in driving organic traffic, increasing visibility, and building credibility among your target audience. Content teams should devote approximately 30-40% of their time to SEO, which includes keyword research, optimizing existing content, incorporating on-page and off-page SEO strategies, and monitoring performance to make continuous improvements. Balancing SEO efforts with high-quality, valuable content is essential for achieving long-term success.

 

How to Write a Style Guide

Are you ready to manifest your brand in your content and ensure consistency across all communication channels? These comprehensive instructions on designing a style guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to create an effective, tailor-made resource for your team. Here you will find insights and actionable tips for creating a… Continue reading How to Write a Style Guide

4 Steps for Building a 3-Month Content Calendar

If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen, right? It’s true for vacations, and it’s also true for your content program.  Building a content calendar (aka editorial calendar) may sound complex, but it isn’t hard.  In this post I’ll tell you exactly how to create a visual 3-month content calendar to generate content that provides your audiences… Continue reading 4 Steps for Building a 3-Month Content Calendar

How to Start Repurposing with a Content Audit

Chances are, your org has a ton of content.  Blog posts written by SMEs, white papers, customer story writeups, solution briefs, and one-pagers like data sheets. Podcasts and webinars. Conference presentations. Even proposals and pitch decks.  At the same time, your CEO wants you to generate more content to reach customers and drive brand awareness.  But before you… Continue reading How to Start Repurposing with a Content Audit

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