If we tried to sum up past five years of marketing in a single keyword, it would be “content.”
You've probably heard that, right?
The Content Marketing Institute recently revealed that 88% of organizations use content marketing. Also, 72% of B2B marketers said creating engaging content is their top marketing priority.
The reason? Content marketing works for B2B companies, and marketers are doubling down.
76% of B2B companies say they’ll produce more content next year than they did last year. We're even seeing companies in industrial niches that haven't thought about their websites as more than brochures start to create content. But, companies new to content marketing may not realize just how involved the process can be.
Content marketing is not as simple as:
- Posting a few notes on a recent shareholder’s meeting
- Posting company press releases
- Posting company product release notes
- Publishing your sales catalog online
- Sharing news or information from an industry newsfeed
- Sending email blasts to customers or distributors
Sure, these are all a start, but if you want your company website to help build your lead list, those efforts won't cut it. You can't cut corners and expect the results you're looking for. Business blogs that leverage content effectively require the appropriate time, effort and planning.
Today, we share 4 critical components of a proven content creation process that go beyond typical common writing knowledge. These apply to all forms of content, even social media posts, emails, videos or webinars.
Stories have selling power. Advertisers use stories to help customers connect with products. Likewise, marketers use stories to build relationships and share ideas as efficiently as possible.
However, storytelling doesn’t just happen. First, you need to understand your audience and why they are on your website.
- What information are they looking for?
- Who are they finding the information for?
- What is it they're hoping to gain?
- What is the story your business can tell that will help your reader? How can what they read or watch on your website help put themselves in the position of a customer you've helped before?
Storytelling means stepping out of your comfort zone. Write about something educational rather than "marketing" or branded content. Focus on providing value. Understand that what you write is a reflection of your brand. Do you want to be seen as knowledgeable and helpful, or pushy? When was the last time you wanted to read something that was pushy?
Maintaining consistency and a brand "style" is important.
It’s no coincidence that The Harvard Business Review always uses a "%" sign to show percentage but The Washington Post always uses the word "percentage." High-quality content platforms use standard language and symbols in every piece of content to ensure a sense of consistency and professionalism.
So how do you keep consistency? Create a content style guide. A style guide should give guidelines for:
- Key messaging that will resonate with your target audiences
- Preferred tone
- Use of graphics
- Designated font and font size, word choice, and style of hyphenation.
A style guide is especially useful if your blog has several contributors. (Too busy to write your own style guide? Consider borrowing ideas from one of these businesses.)
Some of the most widely-known marketing writers insist that half of your time creating content should be dedicated to identifying the best possible headline. That’s because the headline of your article is incredibly important.
Reader data from 2010 showed us that 44% of people scan headlines without clicking through, indicating that the headline is the gateway to readership. This is a principle that BuzzFeed clearly understands, and you can learn something from them when creating headlines for your business, too.
If you write your own blog content, focus on and spend time on your blog title. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What is an enticing title that they would click on? Does it include SEO keywords that will help your article reach more people?
If you neglect your title, you’re investing an awful lot of time and money into an article that may or may not get read.
Varying Sentence and Article Length
Beyond what goes into an article, content creation professionals also consider how content looks on the page. Short and varied sentence and paragraph length make reading easier and more engaging, so even after you craft a blog article you need to edit for ease of reading.
The same goes for blog article length: while Buffer reports that the best length for a blog post is 1600 words or 7 minutes reading time, readers like variety.
Strategically fill your blog with a mix of short length articles (300-500 words), medium length articles (600-800 words), and long articles (1000+ words) that cover a wide range of topics.
Putting It All Into Practice
Some B2B businesses choose to DIY content, and that’s fine. If you do, you can download our blog planner template here. But unless you're sure you can devote the time, resources, and expertise to all the work that goes into making your content engaging and effective, you’re better off working with professional content developers from the start.
Can we help? If you'd like to discuss your content creation efforts, ask questions about the process, or learn more, please request a marketing opportunity review here.