5 Steps to an Agile B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Agile marketing, an approach inspired by agile software development, focuses marketing efforts on short-term campaigns, continuous testing and data pulling, inter-departmental collaboration, and quick responses to change.
If you’ve been thinking about implementing an agile marketing strategy, you certainly aren’t alone – a 2018 study found 37 percent of marketers have adopted an agile approach.
And for good reason, since there are many marked benefits of this practice – teams have reported they’re able to get 30-40 percent more done, get the right things done, and quickly respond to industry changes without sacrificing performance.
But how can content marketing teams shift to a more agile approach – and achieve agile success? There’s one core tenet: Strategy first, last and always.
Agile content marketing is all about creating content smarter. The hallmark of a successful agile program is that your team is able to produce high-quality content that delivers results more effectively and efficiently.
The only problem is, content marketing is a creative endeavor that often has a lengthy production time, can be difficult to attribute ROI, and requires the skills of many different team members in order to sign, seal, and deliver – metaphorically speaking, of course.
With the right strategy in place, you’ll be able to improve collaboration, pivot quickly in response to change, and ultimately develop valuable content that produces ROI.
Let’s take a closer look at five tips to develop an agile B2B content marketing strategy:
1. Understand Company Goals
The objective of an agile B2B content marketing program is, when it boils down to it, improved performance with less effort. Every marketer’s dream, right? Unfortunately, without a deep understanding of what overarching goals your company or client is striving toward, your content marketing efforts will fall flat when it comes to reporting time.
The starting line of an agile strategy should be sitting down with management, department heads, or even executives to make sure the content team is aligned with business goals. Perhaps there is an expectation for marketing to improve traffic, increase brand awareness, or even generate leads? Or maybe the focus is on short-term efforts, including promoting an upcoming conference or a new product?
Whatever those goals are, knowing them is the first step in creating a successful content marketing strategy. It’s important to make sure your team understands the program objectives to ensure they’re working toward them with every asset produced.
2. Develop an Editorial Calendar
Without an editorial calendar in place, it’s hard to keep the team on track to produce great content week after week. The mantra “quality over quantity” is key here, and ensures your resources are being put to the best use possible – why create five mediocre pieces of content when one high-quality asset has the same, if not better, results?
With a focus on short-term, high-impact campaigns, all agile content marketing editorial calendars need the following:
- Keyword Strategy
An agile editorial calendar must reflect an extensive industry knowledge and have a strong keyword strategy behind it. Content teams first should research and create a list of core keywords and queries based on the topics your target audience is most interested in. Next, determine which keywords and topics will help achieve your program goals. Should you target high-volume search phrases that can increase brand awareness and shares, or long-tail, qualified queries that bring potential leads onto the site? Focus your efforts on the keywords and topics that have the most potential to drive the desired results.
- Evergreen Topics
With an editorial calendar filled with evergreen, keyword-focused topics, your team can shift topics around at any time to capitalize on related industry news stories or company changes. Consider planning your editorial calendar out quarterly so the team has time to prepare for development of more in-depth assets, like ebooks or case studies.
- Variety of Content Types
A great editorial calendar should have a healthy mix of content types that target different queries or topics. This includes both short-term content assets like blog posts, which are often published on a weekly basis, and lead generation assets, such as ebooks, case studies, infographics and even videos, that are created monthly or quarterly. Ideally, the team is continuously producing high-impact, short-term content assets, occasionally in tandem with lead generation assets.
3. Reduce Production Time
Efficient and effective. In order to create an agile content marketing program, you need to ensure every step of the process, including content ideation, production, and promotion is both of those things. Creating an editorial calendar is a step in the right direction toward both content efficiency and effectiveness, but the other pieces of the process must be optimized accordingly.
- Content Ideation
As a best practice, encourage everyone, from writers to marketers to salespeople, to contribute ideas. No topic idea is bad, even if your team never actually writes it. CoSchedule suggests keeping these topics in an easily accessible place, though separate from your editorial calendar.
When you’re planning the next quarter or month of content, save time by looking there first and refine topics as necessary to achieve the results you want. As a bonus, this practice improves interdepartmental collaboration and communication, and everyone feels included in the content development process.
- Content Production
In order to save time during the production process, first, you must know what makes a great piece of content.
It starts with a headline that entices readers, an introduction that hooks them in, and a body filled with actionable and engaging information. Before you dive into writing, consider how to tell your story in a compelling way that achieves this. Understanding the basics will ultimately save you time in the long run and also help you produce more effective content.
On a more tactical level, content marketers can save time by scheduling time to write, setting daily or weekly writing goals (such as word count), and eliminating distractions.
Content managers or editors should also group related topics together in the editorial calendar (such as an ebook and related blog post). It’s more efficient to tackle several pieces on a similar topic while it’s fresh in a writer’s mind.
- Content Promotion
Promoting and sharing your content is as important as the content itself. Establishing a routine workflow for sharing content is key to saving time and resources. Before you start writing, know how you’ll promote your content, including identifying the best channels to use – that way, you’re not wasting time after it’s published trying to figure out the best way to distribute.
To really maximize your content promotion strategy, use the data at your disposal to determine which channels and types of posts perform the best in terms of shares, visits to the site, etc., and focus your efforts there.
4. Measure the Impact
Content marketers may be creatives at heart, but to secure more budget (or even keep your department afloat), you must be able to showcase quantifiable results.
The metrics you focus on are entirely dependent on program goals – if you’re writing content geared toward bringing quality organic traffic to the site, focus on sessions, users, new users, time on site, and bounce rate. If the content asset is intended to acquire leads for the organization, instead look at metrics like CPC, CPL, conversion rate and lead quality. For engagement plays, check out social shares and brand mentions.
5. Pivot Strategy
No matter what the goals of your B2B content marketing program are, an essential characteristic of an agile strategy is interpreting performance metrics and pivoting the strategy accordingly. Regular performance check-ins either validate that your content is making progress toward your overarching program goals or alert you to the fact that the strategy isn’t working.
For example, if one piece of content falls flat, dig in a bit – was it shorter than other content pieces, or was it less tactical? Similarly, if a post gets 1,000 social shares, what did you do right? Was it a list-style post, or did it provide an answer a very specific query? Figure out what content resonates with your audience and produce more of it.
In the B2B space, flexibility is also necessary when there are significant news events or new company initiatives. With an agile approach, this is already built into the workflow. Push back topics in an evergreen editorial calendar to make room for more timely pieces or to write content related to conferences, new products, or other company events.
It’s no secret that the B2B content marketing industry is highly competitive – 89 percent of B2B organizations are extremely committed to content marketing, according to a recent report. To differentiate your content from competition, you need to focus your efforts on high-value assets that improve your overall business performance.
With an agile content marketing strategy in place, you’ll be able to produce better content faster, capture more traffic, improve lead generation, and ultimately prove ROI.
Is your company considering an agile content marketing strategy? Start a conversation with us on Twitter!