The ongoing pandemic has thrown a curveball across businesses, making entrepreneurs, founders, businessmen contemplate their existing strategies and adjust the same as per the changing scenario.
Speaking in terms of content marketing for B2B businesses, there has been a complete overhaul, as the majority of the offline strategies is a thing of the past. This is coupled with breaking the digital barriers to reach the target audience. Sellers and marketers will have to think differently and adopt strategies that will help them deliver better.
In a bid to have a comprehensive view and understanding, we spoke with an independent content strategist and founder of Story Scientist, Nischala Agnihotri, who was a part of the live show on ‘3×3 Content Strategy Landscape for B2B Marketers’ hosted by Dutch Uncles. These weekly live shows are a part of the company’s ‘MentorED’ series.
The workshop, moderated by Associate Editor Chetna Gupta, elaborated on the new-age content strategies and relevant tools that businesses need to invest in.
Below are the few highlights of insights shared by Agnihotri:
In order to understand the content strategy landscape, one needs to be able to find the right balance between quality and quantity, while also making sure that it is something the audience wants.
How would you define content strategy?
It should be the right content mix, content theme, and culture, rather than behavioural culture. Functionality and emotionality make up for quality content. Now the question arises — Why would we choose branding as our goal?
Branding is as essential to start-ups as it is to any other industry player in the market. It is important from a visual perspective but first, you need to figure out the position and statement that you wish to make. It is the expression of the culture within your company and is essentially an identity you want to portray to your customers. It is also very important to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Branding is there to help you stand apart from the crowd, especially in the foetal stages when your business is not as well-known as most other names out there. This is where branding, as a goal, comes into play.
On the other side of things, we also need to look at content production in terms of marketing and strategy. But you must understand first – why we do it.
- Do you know who your audience are and where do they live?
- In terms of channels, what formats do they prefer?
- Would they consume your content and when would they consume it?
Once these questions are answered, that’s when you go and start distributing it. A content marketer gathers enough data and does enough research to be able to understand this flow.
When it comes to content production, that is where the actual execution starts, you start creating as much content as necessary. At the same time, you play with the right amount of quality at the right quantity. The third step in this process is that we need to discover options. You need to figure out your goal in order to do that.
How do you smartly budget and invest in content marketing?
Our speaker states that this aspect is typically side-lined. The answer to that is to be able to use the content strategy landscape that’s designed for B2B marketers and spread out the efforts amongst the team responsible for the content. It’s not just the marketer or the content writer or the content strategist, it is with tech companies.
Content actually also comes from the engineers, the teams who actually work directly for the client. So, this grid-based strategy takes all these factors into consideration.
It helps us figure out how to work with themes and prioritise which content will be produced, published and distributed based on the goals that we are targeting. The ultimate goal is to align the buyer journey with content and communication paths while strengthening organic search. If you are in the marketing space, then you strengthen your organic search and get your business found using SEO.
The floor was then thrown open to questions. Edited excerpts:
How do quality and quantity work? How do we balance the content?
Speaker: For quality, like I said, please stick to those three elements mentioned earlier – Make it essential, make it functional and make it emotional.
When I say essential, these are things like product features and pricing, which you can not miss. Without that, there is no communication to be had.
On the other hand, when you look at something like, ‘How do I make it functional?’, just imagine you are publishing a very long article on a platform like, let’s say Instagram, which needs images as well. So, they would love to see arousals that you have repurposed from an existing blog. People on Twitter would prefer just the gist. They don’t have time for anything more. Only if they love what you have written in those limited 200 characters, will they click on the link. So, it’s really about maintaining that quality. If you know your audience, you will be able to get an emotional response. For example, you know your mother well enough that you will be able to get her the gift of her choice and similarly with your spouse. You know what will be the right gift for them.
In the same way, you should be able to know your audience so that you are able to invoke the desired emotion.
Quantity does not have a lot to do with your budget and this is specific to start-ups, especially those in the growth stage who are not so bound by budgetary constraints. Yes, they do have a framework of budget, they have a set boundary, but they are not really tied by it. They can play around with quantities. You have to go back to your budget and see if that is going to work for you. So that is where you bring the combination of quantity and quantity.
How do I verify initial pieces of content?
Speaker: Use the 3×3 grid, because it helps you decide where you have to start. It is especially useful when you do not have data. You do not know what your audiences like, but you go by a simple formula that is given in the 3×3 grid. If you do have data, every cell in that grid has exceptions.
It will not, however, work for certain scenarios. In that case, you switch to something else.
How do you build the initial pieces of content? You need to be able to give me more information on who you want to build it for and then figure out where you have to invest. This is because, say, an HR professional or the leader of a company, would not be interested in social media posts all the time, or they may not notice you all the time? Rather, they would want to have elaborate case studies and would want to hear how the company has been able to make a difference. So, it is really about who your audience is. If you have done that right, you will definitely see results.
Competition and the ability to identifying it plays a big role in content strategy. At the end of the day, you need to be able to differentiate your business from the rest of the players.
How important is content-linking within the website?
Speaker: When you have a page that has a high ranking and you have other pages that you want to rank, especially when you have your root keyword ranking page that gets a lot of traffic versus other blog pages that are made for long tail keywords, it is highly important that you link the two.
This is important especially if you have a related posts plugin or you have any other way of linking your main landing page to the blog pages, that is going to give you a lot of traction.
I think before you do your off-page work, some amount of on page internal linking should be done.
Is it important to use different types of content strategy?
Speaker: You are dealing with humans who are emotional and want variety. The thing is, sometimes a single type of format really works well with a certain audience, but only up to a certain point. When you are competent or get more creative, you will get into trouble. Reverting becomes highly difficult when you have to move from one content format to another.
Besides, your team has been accustomed to a particular content format for a very long time. Switching will lead to internal friction. So, it is best you go with a minimal mix of content formats and figure out the top three. You do not have to do 10 different ones to start with; figure out the top three that work for your audience, which they would love to consume and then just go ahead and publish that. This way, pivoting becomes very easy.
Is it possible to make the content evergreen so that it remains of the same value even after a year?
Speaker: It is possible to make your content evergreen, depending on the sector. Especially if it is educational content and you are targeting the top of the funnel. There are some all-time favorite companies for marketers, my personal favourite being HubSpot.
It is highly possible that those kinds of people retain the content as there is always a fresh audience coming into the space over and over again and they want to look at educational content all the time.
Nowadays, a lot of product companies, barring e-learning platforms, are choosing to post around six videos or a 10-video tutorial that can help the audience understand the product. A blind formula for creating evergreen content is to make it into a course format. That could be a 10-day email course which would include five to six videos that you publish on your website or it could be 10 different long-form articles elaborating step-by-step procedure on solving a particular problem. These things work well as evergreen content and good quality traffic to your domain.