There’s no shortage of statistics on the proliferation and effectiveness of content marketing. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” marketing strategy. It’s a necessity for most businesses today. More than 90 percent of all B2B companies are using some form of content creation in their marketing. And high quality, engaging content is a powerful tool for guiding your prospects through every stage of the customer journey, from awareness to education to presenting your solution to closing the deal.
But is there a magical X-factor that makes a piece of content go viral and become hugely popular? No, but there are strategies that can sharpen your content and help it slice through the clutter.
Luckily, we have folks like BuzzSumo who regularly analyze content marketing to see what’s working and what’s not. They recently analyzed more than 50,000 articles from 2018 and chose the best based on such benchmarks as type of content, headline strength, article length, and social engagement.
Incorporating the BuzzSumo results and other research, we’ve come up with 10 B2B content creation strategies that will help you cut through the marketing clutter, engage your audience, and get results.
Here’s how to create content with an edge:
- Conduct initial research. First, purposefully pick topics that attract your targeted reader and drive the right kind of traffic to your business. If you want business readers, beware of topics that appeal to the consumer audience. If you want affluent readers, write on affluent topics. Spend a moment to research keyword search volume and choose a topic with good search volume and low competition. If you create content on topics that no one searches for, you’ll never be found.
- Fit your content to your goals. According to BuzzSumo, different types of content get different results. For example, if you want more shares, put “success” in your headline. Use “guide” in your title to get more backlinks. If you want more of both, try using video, which is hugely popular and growing. Simple list articles are also still popular, with five being the most popular list number. Maybe a tried and true “how-to” article to give your audience a tangible problem solver is best for your audience. Or maybe an infographic, which can arrange large amounts of information in a visually digestible way. Find what works for your audience, then mix and match to create your own unique content.
- Write captivating headlines. If your headline doesn’t grab your readers, they won’t read any farther. Period. So, what headlines work best? According to BuzzSumo, these six phrases were the top performers in 2018:
- “The future of”
- “How to use”
- “Need to”
- "How to create"
- "Here's how"
- "Need to know"
Use these to brainstorm ideas for your audience. For example, “How to Use Data to Lower Your Insurance Rates,” or “Top 5 Things You Need to Know Before You File a Claim.” Your headlines need to pique curiosity and garner genuine human interest. There are a number of headline generation tools to help you get started such as “The Kickass Headline Generator from Sumo”. When you add your content into your blog platform, make sure to code your headline with an H1 tag so search engines notice it.
- Choose the right content length. How long should your content be? That depends on several things – your topic, audience, and goals, for starters. Shorter articles (less than 1,000 words) are still most common and still work for readers and for Google searches. However, data from BuzzSumo and others shows that longer content (1,000-3,000 words) actually performs better and gets more social engagements and backlinks. Bottom line: Google equates longer content with higher value, and that translates into better rankings and more traffic.
- Give your content a voice. Read through a few dull corporate blogs and you’ll soon understand how NOT to do content marketing. Your content should reflect your personality and your company culture. Be passionate, exciting, fun, engaging, or even irreverent if that’s what your audience will respond to. And be consistent so your audience learns your style and can easily recognize your company’s voice. Avoid writing in the third person. Be direct and use language that your target reader uses.
- Use an angle. Every story needs an angle to draw your audience in. Whether you’re tying your content to breaking news, leveraging an interesting statistic, or painting a picture with an analogy, an interesting angle makes your article appealing and memorable.
- Make it easy on the eyes. People want quality information they can use, but they don’t want to wade through huge chunks of text, sloppy visuals, and confusing layouts. Make your content visually appealing with shorter sentences, many subheads, bullet points, and visual elements such as infographics and images. Posts with images get shared more than twice as much as those without.
- Make the key takeaways obvious. Never assume that your reader will get your points. Instead you should assume that your reader is scanning, multi-tasking and distracted. So, you need to make the key points as obvious as possible. You’ll see in example of this in our last article, where there is a “B2B Content Marketing Takeaway” after every point. This helps the reader easily understand the “what’s in it for me.”
- Cast a wider net. If you just post your blog on your website, it will only be seen by those who already know you or who accidentally find you. To case a wider net, post teasers that link to your blog in all your social channels and groups. Consider doing sponsored posts in Facebook or LinkedIn. Post questions on forums and link to your blog with the answers. Also, offer your content to related businesses who also communicate with your target audience. For example, insurers may want to offer content to agents, estate planning attorneys, accountants, realtors, car lots, or other related business groups of interest. If they publish your article in their newsletters and blogs, with links back to your site, you expand your reach exponentially.
- Be consistent and persistent. Your content will never build an audience if you create and post haphazardly, always stopping and starting. Yes, it takes a commitment. But posting regular, quality content over a long period of time is a proven way to build trust in your brand. If you have any doubts about this, learn more about the Snowball Effect of Marketing.
You might be thinking that with so much content out there, yours will never cut through the clutter. Lucky for you, there’s a lot of poor-quality content out there and a lot of inconsistent content marketing going on. If you’re willing to invest the time and effort to create quality content and publish regularly, you can slice through the clutter and reap the rewards of content creation done right.
Need help with a consistent content creation plan? Check out these related Inbound Marketing articles and learn more about our blog writing services, which offer you a very easy solution for jumpstarting your content creation plan.