Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is at the heart of what we do as marketers these days.  Cool infographics, eBooks, podcasts and everything else under the sun. It’s the best way to connect with your buyer. It’s really the only way to start the conversation, Engage your buyers and gain permission to continue that conversation. But, how do you know what to create, when to deliver it and with whom to communicate? It’s the strategy behind content marketing that makes the difference. And most marketers forget that.

According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 44% of B2B marketers have a document content marketing strategy.  In addition, only 73% have someone who oversees content marketing strategy. The reality is that these statistics show us that although we are making great strides in content marketing…we are still in the early days of this “content marketing revolution” per the report.  Otherwise, stay with me now…why would 29% of the 73% who oversee content marketing strategy, not have a documented content marketing strategy? Something is missing here. Especially since the report states that those with a documented content marketing strategy are more effective and are less challenged in aspects of content marketing.

A true strategy: Maybe it’s the lack of understanding of why the strategy so important? A documented content marketing strategy is essential for many reasons including mapping the right message, to the right buyer at the right time.  As much as you think you can simply document your plan (topics, format and dates) and even when you execute flawlessly, that is not a strategy. That is an editorial calendar.

What should a strategy look like? See the ANNUITAS example of the buying process with various content offers throughout the buyer’s journey.

Buying process 2
Know your buyer
: It starts with understanding your buyer and their unique buyer’s journey or purchase path because all content is not created equal.  A white paper is not going to be effective to generate interest for an early stage (Engage level) buyer. They are just not ready for that kind of content yet. That needs to come later when they are already bought into the idea of needing A SOLUTION to solve their problem.  White papers are great for later stage Nurture content or even Convert stages – when your buyer is discovering how YOUR SOLUTION could solve their problem. There’s a big difference.

A documented content marketing strategy makes you think about all the ways you can connect with your buyer, when and how to best do that and that drives results. An editorial calendar provides structure and even a cadence for your marketing- which is great-but it’s not a strategy. Do the essential research to understand your buyer and then build out a content marketing strategy to deliver the relevant information to your buyer in the format they want to consume it in. Don’t forget that aspect of the strategy- not everyone wants an eBook or video– people consume content in different formats, so address that in your strategy as well.

It’s a lot to think about and a lot to do. That is why an editorial calendar just won’t suffice to drive real revenue. Strive to become next year’s statistic – one of the elite 44% that have a documented content marketing strategy. It makes a difference.

Author: Erika Goldwater, CIPP/ US @erikawg Director, Marketing for ANNUITAS

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