Best Practices

Everyday Marketing: A B2B Marketer’s Guide to Creating Relevant, Shareable Content

Welcome to Part 2 of Everyday Marketing, a series where we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty tackling the everyday challenges of being a B2B marketer. Expect nitty-gritty details and best practices that can mean the difference between “just OK” and “awesome!” results. Now, let’s talk creating content.

Content fuels modern marketing. It’s how we, as marketers, help our buyers educate themselves about a purchasing decision at every stage of the funnel. However, 57% of B2B marketers report that producing content consistently is a top challenge. Getting to a place where you’re consistently delivering content that resonates with your audience is tough, but it’s not impossible. In this post, I’ll cover two ways to leverage your audience to generate the best topics and four ways to turn those insights into engaging content.

Tactic 1: Ask the Internet

Be where your audience is and understand their needs. Is there a highly trafficked LinkedIn group or third-party community where they like to hang out? Well, head there first and see what people are talking about. Take notice of the questions people are asking and document the trends. Jot down as many topics as you can and reference this list whenever your well of content ideas is running dry.

Pro tip: Keep your eye out for anyone who’s really active. They may be a good fit as your next guest contributor.

Tactic 2: Let the ideas come to you

If your company has already established an audience, such as blog subscribers, you can still “Ask the Internet” by surveying those people for relevant ideas. For example, you can set up a logic in your marketing automation platform that automatically emails a subscriber once they meet a specific threshold of engagement and asks them to complete a (very) short survey to offer some feedback on your blog (this can also double as a re-engagement campaign). Keep a running document of the best ideas for future blog posts, webinars, etc. These topics will always have the best response from your community.

Pro tip: Keep your surveys short but focused and offer incentives, such the chance to win a gift card, if possible.

Here’s some sample email copy you could send to an engaged subscriber:

Subject Line: Would love your opinion…

Hi {{First Name}},

Behind the scenes, a lot of time, thought, and effort go into creating the [Insert Your Company] Blog. As someone who’s an active subscriber to our blog, we truly appreciate the time you take to read our posts each week.

We want to make sure that our content is as valuable, engaging, and relevant for you as it can be — so please take our anonymous 2-minute survey below and let us know what you think!

{{Insert CTA}}

Thank you,
{{Your Name}}

Example survey:

  • How would you rate the overall quality of our blog? (Scale from 1-10)
  • What is [Insert Your Company] doing right with the blog?
  • What can we do better?
  • In your opinion, what has been our best blog post thus far?
  • What other [Insert Industry] topics would you like us to cover in the future?

Turning water into wine – or, in this case, topics into content

Depending on how much bandwidth your content team has, you could create all the content yourself… or if you don’t have a never ending supply of bandwidth, I have three strategies that can help.

Strategy 1: Start a roundup series

A roundup article, which features a curated list of articles on the same topic, is an effective way to accomplish a few things – generate content, engage thought leaders, and expand your reach.

Once you have a few topics in mind, search the web for supporting articles. Look for the best content but also take note of the author’s reach. Once you’ve compiled your articles, you’re ready to write.

In my opinion, a good roundup series is a narrative. For example, I may choose to write about sales enablement in my next roundup post. I’ll open with why this topic is important and then onto the many ways each department can enable sales while leveraging each article as way for them to learn more.

Here are a few examples of a roundup series to inspire you:

Pro tip: Once your post is live, let the authors know that you’ve mentioned their content. Often, they’ll happily share your post with their networks, giving you some additional reach. Keeping open dialogue with thought leaders is important if you want to keep your brand top of mind and will make it much easier to work with them in the future.

Here’s a very simple outreach template:

Subject: We featured your article

Hi {{First Name}},

We featured your blog post “{{Insert Featured Post Title}}” in our latest issue of the [Insert Roundup Series Title]. Check it out – {{Insert URL}}

If you’d like to share the love, here are some handy pre-written social updates [Insert Sharing URLs]

{{Your Name}}

Strategy 2: Q&A

Heinz Marketing website screenshot featuring Q&A post part of How I Work series

Another way to create highly relevant, shareable content with a diverse range of perspectives is to start a Q&A series. You ask the questions and get industry influencers, customers, and other experts to answer. Can’t get them to answer via email? Book 30 minutes with them and interview them over the phone. Transcribe the interview and, voila! There’s your Q&A.

With a Q&A series, predictability is key: publish these posts on a consistent schedule (e.g., the third Thursday of every month) and keep the topic or theme the same every time so your audience knows what to expect.

Q&A series inspiration:

Pro tip: Take your Q&A series to the next level by adding video, like we did with Fast Five. Interview your guests on YouTube Live or your favorite web conferencing platform, then transcribe your conversation so your audience can either watch the video or read the Q&A below.

Strategy 3: Enlist guest contributors

A steady flow of guest contributors not only takes some writing off your plate but also brings a fresh perspective to your blog.

You should start by publishing some guest post guidelines on your blog and be sure to include suggested length, preferred topics, previous examples, your target audience, and how they can submit. Cover all your bases and make it really clear about what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to mention what’s in it for them – building their personal brand, the size of your audience, etc.

Here are some examples of guest post guidelines:

Once you have your guidelines in place, your next step is scouting the web for people who are already blogging about similar topics in your industry. Compile a list and reach out to see if they’d be interested in writing for you. Whether this means writing a super personalized email to each person or using a tool like Mailshake to do a mass outreach, make sure your email is compelling. Before reaching out, you should always check to see if they’ve already subscribed to your blog because then you have your opening.

Pro Tip: When it comes to accepting inbound guest posts, you have every right to be picky. If you receive something that you don’t think will resonate with your audience, then either make suggestions on how they can re-work it or be upfront and tell them you’re not interested. Even if you’re strapped for content, you’d be better off posting nothing than something that hurts the reputation of your brand.

Strategy 4: BribeAsk your colleagues

Seeing what the other departments can contribute to your company blog is always a really good practice. A one-off blog post may be appealing to some people, but try to incorporate them into the bigger picture by offering to feature them in a blog series. Then buy them their favorite coffee to say thanks! We’re fortunate to have an office full of passionate people who are always bringing new ideas to the table.

Pro tip: If you have someone who embodies your target audience in your office (for example, if your company makes IT software, you’ll want to make Fern in IT your new BFF), try to think of them as you write. Ask yourself, “What would Fern think about this?” and meet with them often to brainstorm new ideas.

There you have it – two ways to generate solid topics for your blog and four strategies to turn them into content. I hope this helps increase engagement to your blog and provide some additional reach. That’s it for now but stay tuned for my next post. In the meantime, I invite you to tweet me via @matthewamclaren to tell me about your #EverydayMarketing.

Written By
Matthew McLaren
Matthew McLaren is the Marketing Operations Manager at HiMama. When he’s not whipping up amazing marketing programs, he likes to unwind by baking his famous homemade treats.

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