With the new year upon us, search engine marketers are focused on putting the foundation together for campaign execution throughout 2013. Central among the strategies meant to deliver B2B SEO results will be content marketing.
Just in time for preparation in the new year, MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute launched their 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report, looking at budgets, benchmarks, and trends to watch for with B2B content marketing.
As I reviewed the report, a few key takeaways were important to me, as it pertains to B2B SEO programs we’re launching this year. After a recap of those takeaways, I’ve included my suggested checklist of questions to ask at every stage of a content marketing campaign.
Content Marketing Tactics Employed
Establishing Performance Metrics
The top criteria for measuring the success of B2B content marketing initiatives were Web traffic, sales lead quality, and social media sharing. SEO was a distant seventh in priority. I would argue that SEO directly impacts or is impacted by the top three.
Evaluating Content Effectiveness
Only 36% of B2B marketers surveyed felt that their content marketing tactics were at least “effective” last year. Only 6% of the overall total felt they were “very effective.” This leads lots of room for improvement.
With such a range in tactics, content types, and ways to measure effectiveness, it can easily get overwhelming; particularly for B2B marketers just starting out. An important component of successful B2B content marketing (and B2B SEO) is in proper preparation and planning.
Here is a checklist of action items and questions we try to run through when launching B2B content marketing initiatives for SEO; pre launch, at campaign execution, and post launch.
25 Questions For Your Content Marketing Checklist
Prior To Campaign Launch:
- Target Audience: Do we understand and have we identified the specific target audiences we’re trying to reach (such as executives, technologists, industry professionals, etc)?
- Have we considered what buyer personas our content marketing asset will address?
- Is the conversion action for our content asset tied more closely to information seekers, sales-ready prospects, or somewhere in between?
- Content Strategy: What type of content marketing asset do we need to succeed, i.e., blog post, article, white paper, infographic, etc.?
- Do we need to develop supporting assets such as landing pages, press release, etc. to drive traffic and lead acquisition?
- Keyword Research: Have we identified search result opportunities that could be improved through content being developed?
- Is our content marketing asset designed to be more informational, transactional, or specific to brand development?
- Network Identification: Who are the key influencers we need to reach to help spread awareness?
- What social media platforms and applications do they use most often?
- Have we established a connection with these influencers or do we have secondary connections that can assist?
- Competitive Review: Did we identify whether our content initiatives exceed value of similar content found in the competitive landscape (if applicable and certainly subjective)?
- Message Collaboration: What team members will be part of the production of this content asset, from creation to execution?
- Measurement: Have we identified the measurement criteria to be evaluated and used to demonstrate content marketing effectiveness?
At Campaign Launch:
- Keyword Tagging: Did we optimize the content marketing asset’s HTML Title, Meta Tags, page copy, web address, etc.?
- Conversion Optimization: Is there a clear call-to-action that is trackable in existing reporting tools? (You might be surprised how many marketers forget the latter.)
- Message Execution: Is everyone responsible for communication (PR, Communications, Customer Service, Sales, etc.) aware that the content is live and ready to be distributed?
- Have we placed our message in appropriate locations? Examples might include press release, email blasts, internal communications, website landing pages, other online assets (including social media, see next)?
- Social Media Execution – Initial Phase: Have we published notice of our content marketing asset in designated social media platforms?
After Campaign Launch:
- Influencer Outreach: Are we communicating to targeted influencers identified in the planning phase?
- Social Media Execution – Secondary Phase: Are we focusing on supporting the communication to influencers through mentions, retweets, and further interactions in targeted social media platforms?
- If appropriate, are we able to contact identified targets as well?
- Cross-Linking Review: Have we identified and implemented cross-links from related website material, in order to facilitate better indexing of the new material?
- Reporting & Analysis: What are the results as they pertain to core B2B content marketing objectives?
- What did we learn, regardless of success or failure?
- Are we able to effectively communicate results to appropriate team members and organizational leaders?
Final Thoughts On B2B Content Marketing Challenges
I found it interesting that while the top two B2B content marketing challenges were still “producing enough content” and “producing the kind of content that engages,” there was a dramatic decline in the percentage of those B2B marketers emphasizing the latter (see chart below).
While there are other results in the survey that could support this reasoning, it seems strange given the concern about content marketing assets delivering effective results.
This seems like another opportunity for B2B search engine marketers to take the lead. As Knowledge Graph becomes a more prominent component of search relevance, in-depth search results analysis may lead to more effective content marketing execution over time, and perhaps a new action item for B2B marketers to consider.
What is on your B2B content marketing campaign action list? I would love to read your thoughts and perspective via comments below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.