Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Walk before you run. However you say it, it means the same thing: Don’t get ahead of yourself! Yet time and again, I see B2B marketers doing exactly that as they drive traffic to their website without first having the right content in place.
Why it’s a mistake
This move translates into risk for a number of reasons. First, visitors to your site have expectations of what they’ll find upon arrival. If you don’t have what they want – or need – they’ll be disappointed and leave. And your chances of getting them to come back are pretty slim. Moreover, if the visitors to your site vanish without completing a conversion action, was it really worth it to bring them there in the first place? At that point, what will you have accomplished besides wasting time and money, and creating a poor brand experience for a lot of potential customers?
How to build your content strategy
Smart B2B marketers won’t let this happen. Instead, they’ll follow the below six-step plan to build an effective content strategy.
- Define your goals and objectives
Building a solid content strategy first requires gaining an understanding of the purpose your site. What is it intended to accomplish? Are you selling products? Promoting services? Providing information? However, keep in mind that these goals and objectives might differ page by page. Considering that, it’s critical to outline the goals for the overall site and the individual sections/pages. Once you have clarity on this, it will make it much easier to construct your strategy.
- Assess the competitive landscape
The next step is to identify what your users are seeking online, and gain an understanding of why they are looking for it and when they need it. It’s also important to identify the other companies that show up in the search results on similar content. To do this, you must first identify as many related keywords as possible, and leverage free search engine tools (and your search agency partners) to quantify search query volume for each. This data will help you establish appropriate content themes.
- Take inventory of your content
Once you know your target themes, you need to do a full assessment of everything on your website, including textual content, video, images, press releases, etc. This is critical because each of these forms of content could tie to certain keywords within the search engine results. As you review your content, consider whether it is relevant to the themes you identified in the previous step. In addition, assess whether it aligns with your understanding of how people are looking for your products/solutions. Ultimately, this step will help you ascertain whether you currently have sufficient content that will enable you to “win” on certain keywords/themes in the search results.
- Make smart decisions
Next, look back at the first three steps and determine your “must win” themes. However, be mindful that winning isn’t everything. Given that, you must also determine secondary themes: areas where you still want to be found in the search results, but that you recognize that you won’t be able to dominate, and as such, will limit your efforts accordingly.
For example, if a large B2B office supply company wanted to win on the following keyword phrases: “HP Color LaserJet Printer” and “laser printer comparison,” but was forced to choose between the two, my money says that they would pick the first one every time. Why? Because the searcher who uses that term — in this case most likely an I/T or procurement person — is much closer to actually making a buying decision. Considering that, this company might be best served to make the latter term a secondary area.
- Integrate or die trying
Integration is no longer an option for marketers; today, it’s a must do. In fact, research shows that 67% of search engine users are driven to search by an offline channel. Moreover, 39% of those offline-influenced search users ultimately make a purchase from the company that prompted their initial search. What does this mean for you? Don’t build your content strategy in isolation. Instead, walk down the hall and talk to your marketing peers in affiliate, display, and email marketing to understand their upcoming initiatives.
Likewise, share your most successful keywords and ad copy with them so they can capitalize on those successes as well. In addition, make sure that your online content strategy supports your company’s offline efforts. Ideally, the key areas you identified in the previous steps need to be aligned with the other groups within your organization.
Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions: How much content needs to be modified or created in order to support the strategy? Do you have sufficient internal resources to make this happen? If the answer is yes, it’s time to sit down with the appropriate teams to share your hard work, plans, and needs. If the answer is no, you need to start identifying and evaluating potential partners to help you develop and deliver the necessary content to “win” in the areas you previously identified.
Driving relevant traffic to your website is important, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Make sure you have the right content in place first. If you follow these six steps, you will be well on your way to not only being found in the search results, but also to fulfilling the needs of your prospective customers once they land on your site.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.