What are the first questions a leadership team needs to ask themselves about a content plan?
Goal-setting questions are crucial – the key questions leaders should be asking are, “what are you hoping to achieve through content”, “how does that ladder up to your business and sales goals”, and “how does that fit into your product roadmap?” Having a “North Star” is extremely important.
If you’re early-stage, your goals would be around awareness and trust – if you are an early-stage startup, you’re looking at goals around brand awareness and educating your audience.
If you’re a growing startup, it’ll be more about demand and leads – if you’re more of a growing start-up, you’re looking more at generating demand, with a focus on creating and nurturing leads.
What is your budget and resource allocation? – be realistic about what you need to spend to achieve your goals. Spending too little might cause you headaches further down the road but spending too much might not be financially prudent given your company’s current stage. It’s both an art and science to find the right balance. Your budget helps you prioritize what steps to set out to create content.
What key elements should go on your homepage, and what should you consider when setting each element?
Above the fold
H1 and H2 headers – start with an H1 and a max of 10 words so you can quickly capture the audience’s attention. Show the results of what your product will help your customers achieve. The H2 will be more detailed on how you’ll achieve those results.
Call to action – an above the fold CTA typically has a higher conversion rate. You can use a standard CTA like “request a demo”, “get started”, “start your free trial”. Or, consider using an email box to grab attention. You might also include a less prominent secondary call to action that’s more educational such as “watch a video”.
H1, H2, and call to action example from Wrike
Showcase your product above the fold – consider creative ways to showcase your product features. For example, make your product more human by highlighting a real customer vs. just using pictures of a computer screen. You can use hover menus with engaging icons to include descriptive info before the user clicks into each section.
Hover menu example from Setmore
As you scroll down the homepage
Social proof – lower on your home page, incorporate social proof. This could be a customer picture and a quote or a row of logos.
Before and after – set the stage with “what is the problem now?” and what it’d be like after. Showing the before and after in a clever way grabs people’s attention.
Before and after example from Pathfactory
Explain your product (top 3 functionality) – after setting the stage, I recommend having a few rows that explain your product and how you solve your target audience’s top three or four problems. Include product shots as well. Looping videos of in-app actions can let someone see themselves in your tool as you share the different functionalities.
Feature functionality example from Notion
Strong CTA at the bottom – end your homepage with a strong CTA at the bottom. A witty copy and re-routing them to a demo is good. Find a balance between humor and seriousness that works for your target audience.
Bottom-of-page CTA example from SurveyMonkey
What are the key pages to consider having as a part of your website? What goes on each?
- Integrations that are applicable to your product
- FAQs to quickly answer prospects’ objections
- Social proof (specific to that product)
- Call to action for trial or demo
Industries or persona pages – if you serve a lot of industries, you can go the industry route. If you don’t have industry-specific offerings, you can focus on personas. Use these pages to address pain points and highlight aspects of your product specific to the industry or persona. Use a problem, solution, problem, solution formula. Include persona or industry-specific resources, like webinars or blog posts, and finish with a call to action for a trial or demo.
Case studies – you can showcase all of your case studies or feature a few. I suggest featuring a few to decrease the load time of your webpage. If you want to have a lot, have tabs to filter by industries, personas, benefits, and/or solutions used.
Resources or Blog – eventually this includes your blog, webinars, ebooks, reports, events, etc. You can just call it a blog at first and then as you grow, rename the tab and create different sections.
Pricing – whether or not to have public pricing is debated, but I honestly believe that if you’re pretty established in the market, there is no reason not to publish pricing. With public pricing, you’re qualifying your prospects a lot faster. If you have a set subscription price, make it easy to find, even consider previewing pricing and plans with a hover menu before visitors even navigate to the actual pricing page. If you have custom or non-public pricing, you might still use a pricing page to collect their contact info so you can reach out to them.
About page – cover things from your company such as the company story, mission, values, leadership, team, careers, news, etc.
What are the tactics for tailoring your website experience for different visitors?
Starter option: make it easy for visitors to find the right part of your site – for example, incorporate icons in your tabs that a visitor might identify with to help guide visitors to the right industry or persona pages. Images play a big role in tailoring a web experience.
Advanced option: use web personalization tools – companies like PathFactory help you serve up content that’s relevant based on industries, personas, stage in the sales cycle, etc. You no longer need to create microsites for different personas, there are marketing tools that can personalize your homepage, product pages, customer stories, and more.
Use chatbots or pop-up surveys – Use these tools to let your web visitors self-identify then nudge them on your pre-planned journey as they answer your questions. But make sure to do it in a way that’s not overwhelming for them.
When should a B2B company have a blog?
When you have your site built, you should have a blog – once you have your website built, a blog should be there whether you have a marketing person or not. If you’re an early-stage startup, founders should contribute where possible – you need to have at least a handful of posts. Start with a couple of blogs about your company, the backstory, your products, and other topics that would be of interest for your target audience.
How often should you post to your blog?
With the right structure in place, shoot for at least one post per week – when you have a marketer on board, you should aim for at least one per week. But again, don’t post just to post, there is such a thing as content overload, even for your site.
Quality over quantity – You don’t need 10 blog posts per month. There needs to be a solid content foundation and strategy in place first. Don’t post content for the sake of content. Quality over quantity is what I always recommend.
What categories of content make for good blog fodder?
Guest posts – get a guest blogger or influencer in your industry to do an interview. As a bonus, when they share the interview with their network, you get free publicity.
The pillar page strategy is great for SEO – effectively, if you want to be known for a main keyword you create a “pillar page” with topic clusters that link back to it. It’s a fast way to rank and gain authority.
Interactive content – templates, checklists, or quizzes can be used as content for lead gen. To get the result, your prospect would need to share their information. You can just show the results if you want it to further capture and nurture that person on your site as well.
Who should write the blog?
Ideally, your content marketer writes your blog – an in-house team is good because you can keep style and voice consistent; you can establish and adhere to brand guidelines.
Freelancers can help early on – especially if you have a technical founding team, have them help you turn technical jargon into layman’s terms. They can also help with heavy lifting, like content series that take up more time and effort.
Which social platforms should B2B companies consider cultivating?
LinkedIn – the top one is LinkedIn, especially in the SaaS space. That is where most of our target customers are living. I would suggest posting more frequently through individual employee accounts vs. through the company. There’s value in that because, at the end of the day, humans buy from humans.
Twitter – if you’re in the tech space, your customers are likely there. It can take time to create a solid following base and cultivate relationships, which may be easier once you have a dedicated content person.
Most B2B companies don’t need to spend a ton of time on the other social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Clubhouse – you typically don’t spend as much time on them during work time. Sometimes companies want to cover all their bases, but I think these are the last places you should spend time (unless your ICP spends time on that platform).
What types of content make for good organic social content?
The algorithms favor audio/visual content – platforms are prioritizing videos, audio, and visual. It makes sense because the art of repurposing has been gaining steam again and you want to create content once and divvy it up to create traction.
Ultimately, the format is secondary to substance – format should be second to what the actual content is so it provides value. You need to think about what is something your audience would be interested in learning more about or engaging with.
How often and when should you post to social?
Mid-week mornings are good (but it varies) – it’s been different at every company I’ve been at, but if you’re aiming for decision-makers, mornings tend to be when they have time to read and engage.
If you’re adopting the social selling approach, activity depends on the person – it’s really up to your employees when they share on their own. I’ve seen it done every day and every other day. Try to aim for at least twice a week.
If it’s more real-time, it feels more real – you can’t schedule comments as you can with a batch of social posts at the beginning of the month, which gives that type of activity a more human feel.
How should you think about your content calendar and production plan?
- Start with an evergreen focus – at the beginning because you don’t have that many resources, so you should just dedicate your time making a few of these evergreen programming and pump it out until you get more people on board.
- Build out more campaign-specific content later – you can then build more campaign-based content that you can push through nurturing emails (when you have a more established database).
If you have a limited budget, start with BOFU (bottom of the funnel) content – it seems counterintuitive, but chances are, there are already buyers in your market and they’re searching for you, you just don’t know they’re searching. At the beginning, they’re the lowest-hanging fruit. Then as you have the budget, you flip the content pyramid, to do more TOFU (top of funnel) and MOFU (middle of funnel) content.
Use a project management tool – I would recommend teams to use a project management tool that has a calendar view to organize their content calendar.
What metrics should you track and target across your website, blog, and organic social media?
- Traffic metrics – you want to look at the average time on a page, the bounce rate, and the traffic sources so that you have a good idea of people’s sessions on your website.
- Session metrics – you want a long average session duration; you also don’t want them to bounce right away.
- SEO ranking – if you have a few main keywords in mind already and you already know the product-market fit, then you should see how you are doing in terms of ranking. If they’re going up then that means you can bring in more traffic and, hopefully, more quality prospects.
- Conversion – track which CTAs convert and monitor whether they’re the right types of conversions (the right industries, the right titles, etc).
- Traffic metrics – track whether you’re getting comments and social sharing.
- SEO performance – especially if it’s a pillar page or a series of blogs, how is that ranking for the target keywords?
- Conversion – in terms of revenue, are there conversions for your high-intent or BOFU (bottom of funnel) content?
- Awareness metrics – in the beginning, look for followers, reactions, and comments.
- Use UTM codes to track conversion – for social content aimed further down the funnel, use UTM codes to see whether viewers are taking action.
What are the tools in the content tech stack?
Website/blog/CMS – e.g. Hubspot’s CMS. You need something for website and blog content management.
Usage tools – e.g. Hotjar, a heat map session tool for behavioral usage. You can track and record people and where they click and don’t click during sessions.
Social media tools – e.g. Buffer for post scheduling and management. There are some enterprise options that most startups don’t need, like Falcon, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, etc.
Analytics tools – e.g. Google Analytics. If you hook your website up through Google Console, you can then get Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
Project management – e.g. Asana, Trello, Wrike. There are lots out there for collaborating within your team and with designers.
Editing tools – e.g. Grammarly, Hemingway. They help you with grammar and fix up your structure, length, tenses, and reading levels.
SEO tools – e.g. Ahrefs, Semrush for keyword research. There are also some SEO/editing all-in-one tools, e.g. Surfer SEO.
Graphic design tools – e.g. Canva. For simple design and email marketing templates.
Email automation – e.g. Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, MailChimp, Convertkit.
What are the most important pieces to get right?
Establish a content foundation before getting into tactics – sometimes we dive straight into tactics, but tactics before strategy or foundation hurt you in the long run.
Hire content marketers who can see the bigger picture – and are willing to experiment. There are formulas in this world of information overload and noise but you also have to infuse creativity.
Hire designers who can accentuate your content with visuals – that convey the right messages and concepts.
Invest in marketing operations – they’re a crucial hire and you need them as soon as possible because you need someone to build the data infrastructure for you. You need to have access to the right data to be able to analyze it.
What are the common pitfalls?
Don’t produce random content and hope it works – you need to establish a strategy and a strong foundation before pumping out content and hoping it works. Have a clear plan so you can prioritize what kind of content you want.
Asking one content marketer to cover everything forever – hiring one full-time content maker for a very long time and telling them to cover all bases is not sustainable. If you have to go down that path because of budget, hire a head of content and then a couple of freelancers.
Focusing too much on being data-driven vs. data-informed – as marketers, we strive to be data-driven. Unfortunately, we’re so focused on the minutia that we sometimes need to go up one more layer. Zoom out to be data-informed or even data-inspired to look at the overarching patterns.