Content in B2B PPC Strategy: Preparation & Goal Setting

This is the first of a two-part post on how to leverage content in your B2B PPC strategy. This first post will give more of a background on what content marketing is, how to choose the right content and goal setting. The second post will cover more of the nitty-gritty on how to leverage content in a PPC strategy.

What is Content Marketing?

The primary goal of Content Marketing is to provide helpful, relevant resources to your existing and prospective customers that speak to the challenges they face.

I love this explanation from Content Marketing Institute which helps to accurately frame this whole topic:

“By becoming a credible, authoritative resource on topics that matter to potential customers, your business is more likely to get discovered by the right audience and earn their loyalty and trust — which, in turn, enables your brand to strengthen its customer relationships, grow an active and engaged subscriber base, and even increase its profits.”

As any good marketer knows, a direct sell of your product or service isn’t always the best approach.

Content Marketing is a softer approach that is all about strengthening customer relationships, which takes time. While this can be a really effective strategy, it’s not for everyone.

As with any new marketing strategy, you need to ask yourself some key questions to determine if it’s a viable option for your business.

Is Content Marketing Right for Your Business?

The first question to ask is: do you have great content that is already available?

This could be in a number of formats such as blog posts, podcasts, whitepapers, webinars, newsletters, e-books, videos, etc.

If you don’t have helpful, well-researched, authentic content readily available, are you willing to spend the money to acquire it? According to Content Marketing Institute research from last year, more than half of B2B Content Marketers reported increased spending on content creation in the past 12 months:

Considering that US adults spend almost half their day consuming content, this could certainly prove a worthwhile investment.

Besides content availability, there are a few other important considerations:

  • Do you have extra budget to dedicate to this effort?
  • Does your sales team have the bandwidth to handle additional incoming leads?
  • Are you utilizing a CRM system?
  • Do you have an effective way to qualify leads?
  • Are you willing to give this approach ample time to prove its value?
  • Do you have the resources and manpower needed to continue creating new content for the long-term, should this prove to be an effective strategy?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, then a Content Marketing test might be a good next step for you.

What to Remember Before Starting Content Marketing

It’s important to remember, however, that there is no guarantee that this strategy will prove itself as an efficient way to scale, as CMI reminds us:

“Content may, in fact, be more efficient or effective at closing or attracting new leads. But then again, it might not. The scary truth is that content marketing done well can turn out to be more expensive than advertising or less efficient than a cold call; it can even slow progress through the stages of the brand-consumer relationship. Put simply: Content marketing is often no faster, cheaper, or more effective at moving customers down the funnel than other marketing techniques. However, its greater power lies in its ability to produce a better customer, a more loyal customer, or a customer more willing to share his or her story with others – which compounds the value he or she provides to the business. But when we simply stop the business case at how much more can we squeeze out of the marketing process, we overlook this important potential.”

Ultimately, even though there’s no guarantee that Content Marketing will help you efficiently garner new leads, research is showing that consumers are increasingly looking for personalized content from authentic businesses that they can be loyal to, and Content Marketing can provide a powerful strategy to help achieve this goal.

Goal Setting for Content Marketing

There are so many things to consider when deciding what content you want to promote.

A good place to start is determining your goals for a content marketing strategy which will help you choose the appropriate, corresponding content and set the right KPIs.

  • Are you trying to drive more leads?
  • Are you trying to increase brand awareness?
  • Are you trying to improve your lead nurturing process?
  • Are you trying to improve user engagement?

As is the case for any new initiative, you should have clearly defined goals. Determine what your current pain points are and, using the information we’ve covered so far, decide if content marketing could help alleviate or improve these issues.

Choosing the Right Content

Once you determine your high-level goal(s), you’ll need to consider where those customers are in the stage of the sales funnel to help determine what type of content you should offer. I like this graphic from powered by search which outlines content options for each stage of the funnel:

This graphic certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all for funnel content options, but it’s a good jumping-off point.

However, it’s important to remember that you know your business and your customers the best, so lean on your own knowledge as well and ask yourself: what is most important to my customers in each stage of the buying process, and what resources do I have that can best help them and answer their questions in each stage?

Choosing the Right KPIs

Your KPIs should correspond with the type of content you’re offering.

For example, if your goal is to increase Brand awareness and you have blog posts available that you know have been a helpful resource to your existing customers this might be good content to start with to reach a new audience. After you determine what posts to use, you’ll need to determine KPIs. What is the best performance metric to focus on?

  • Is it the length of time users stay on this page when reading the post?
  • Is it how many other pages/posts they visit in total?
  • Or is it something else? Google Analytics can give you these types of valuable insights to help determine success.

Just as you’ll want your type of content to correspond with where your customers are in the sales funnel, you’ll also want your KPIs to correspond with your content type.

Leveraging Content with a PPC Strategy

While there are many ways to promote your content, we’ve found success for our clients using various PPC platforms and strategies, leveraging the powerful audience targeting that’s available to get the right content in front of the right consumers at the right time.

We’ll cover these strategies in depth in our next post, so stay tuned!

How have you utilized content in your B2B PPC planning? We’d love to hear about your tactics in the comments below!