In the days of yore (1996, to be precise), Bill Gates made a statement that will likely endure well beyond the shelf life of any Microsoft product: “Content is king.” It went on to become the darling of every marketing PowerPoint of the early aughts. Why? Because it’s true. Now, we aren’t super into gender stereotypes, so allow us to rephrase a bit: Content. Is. Ruler. Content has ruled inbound marketing since its inception, and it’s quickly asserting its domination over growth marketing, too. But it can’t rule alone. Content is most effective when paired with SEO and other marketing channels to deliver leads, conversions, and swift growth of traffic and revenue. If the content your B2B brand is pushing out feels more like a court jester than a ruler, you need an ironclad, growth-focused content strategy. And we’re going to tell you how to get one.
What Is a Content Growth Strategy?
You plan for everything, and like the Scouts, you’re always prepared. Going to the grocery store? Better make a list. Need an oil change? Get that appointment on the calendar. But if your approach to content is fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, throw-some-words-and-images-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks, you’re not going to achieve the growth you want to see for your brand.
To revisit the grocery store analogy, what happens when you go shopping without a list? You spend too much, and you get a bunch of stuff you don’t need. You also usually forget the one thing you actually went to the store for. It’s a waste of time, unnecessarily expensive, and the outcome is a real letdown. When you create and push content without a growth strategy, the results are the same. But even worse, because you don’t get ice cream.
A solid content growth strategy is the grocery list that makes your trip to the store a success. You get everything you need, you don’t overspend, and you achieve more in less time because you’re prepared.
A content strategy is a plan that helps you reach your business goals through the creation and distribution of content. A content growth strategy, however, is a whole other tub of ice cream. The goal — growth — is already outlined, and every piece of content you create must contribute to that goal. The channels, personas, tactics, and other methods (like SEO or lead generation) you use should all drive toward that same goal. If it doesn’t grow, it’s gotta go.
Why Is a Content Strategy Important?
Ninety-one percent of B2B marketers use content marketing. Again, because it works. And when it comes to growth, there is no substitute. Content marketing reduces costs by more than half and triples your impact. What’s not to love?
Yet, when it comes to content marketing, less than 40 percent of B2B marketers have a documented strategy. Another 40 percent say they have one, but it’s undocumented. That’s like you saying you’re not going to eat that ice cream you impulse bought.
“Content marketing strategy” is the most searched phrase related to content marketing because (say it again with me) it works. In fact, the top-performing B2B brands are far more likely to report using an effective and documented content strategy.
Content strategies work, and a content growth strategy will work to deliver the results you want to see, so your B2B brand can join the ranks of those top performers.
What Is a Content Cycle and What Does It Look Like?
Content cycles detail the process of optimizing your growth through a series of repeated actions. Repetition is a core tenant of growth marketing, allowing you to experiment, set processes, and perform them over and over again while your results compound. There are numerous content cycles out there, but the one we’re highlighting here is focused on using content to achieve growth.
The cycle begins with your content strategy. Here is where you start to experiment to find the channels, personas, and assets that will move the needle for your brand. Once the strategy is nailed down, you move onto content creation and distribution. This process is a mini-cycle all on its own — tweak the strategy, design new content, measure results, and do it all over again. While this is happening, the next phase in the larger content growth cycle kicks into gear — brand building. Continuously adding new content will work toward increasing domain authority and building your backlink profile, which will make it easier to push out additional content to the right audience. Finally, your content leads to increased traffic and increased revenue, allowing you to create stronger, better content…and the cycle continues.
What Goes Into a Content Growth Strategy
Content strategies vary from business to business, but they all share one thing in common: they are built around goals that matter to your brand. In the case of a growth-focused strategy, that goal is to increase traffic and revenue as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
To build a content growth strategy that drives results, be sure to include the following:
Mission Statement & Goals
Obvious, right? But here is where you flesh out those goals to be more than simply, “growth.” Consider your KPIs and most important business metrics. Which ones need a boost, and which ones will indicate that your brand is healthy and growing? Detail them here, and align them with your brand mission before putting a plan in place to regularly monitor progress and measure results.
Hopefully you’ve already conducted some persona analysis and have a good understanding of who your audience is and what they want to see. Don’t waste time delivering content designed to be all things to all people (it won’t be). Instead, craft content that answers your personas’ questions and brings relief to their pain points.
Data from Competitor Analysis
What are your competitors doing well, and what are areas of opportunity for you to move in with stronger, better content? Take a look at the competition’s blogs, social media accounts, and more to get a feel for their brand voice and content mix. For hard numbers, look to services like Ahrefs to see what keywords they’re ranking for and what content performs the best.
Content Audit Review
What content have you already created, and what’s the quality of it? Often, older content can be refreshed and repurposed, which saves you time and money and can also give you a boost in organic search. Set aside content for rewriting and reusing, then go through the rest to identify gaps and look for areas to build authority. Remember that blogs alone don’t cut it anymore. Your brand needs a variety of multimedia content to stay ahead of the competition. Be sure to include assets like ebooks, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more.
Realistic Road Map to Achieve Your Content Goals
Plot out a timeline that allows for planning, testing, execution, and analysis of your content strategy. A good content growth strategy isn’t going to happen overnight, so set your expectations according to a realistic timeframe. Generally, an annual content strategy will work for guiding you through seasonal campaigns and giving you enough to start measuring results. Any shorter, and the data you compile won’t offer a complete enough picture to make effective adjustments, and any longer is just unwieldy.
An editorial calendar gives you a roadmap to executing your strategy. It should detail topics, categories, keywords, and associated pillar pages so you’re ready to hit the ground running once your strategy is complete.
Content Promotion Channels
Where is your content going to be distributed? A blog is a great place to start, but what other avenues can you pursue? Content delivered through newsletters, social media, lead generation assets, and SEO should all be a part of your strategy. A mix of channels is important to capture leads in various locations.
Start sourcing writers and look for a balance between experience and rates that will deliver results without breaking the bank. Always leave more room in the budget than you think you’ll need (because you will always need more than you think), so you’ll have dollars allocated for unexpected expenses or additional content assets when needed.
23 Tips to Create a Content Strategy Optimized for Growth
Here’s where we get down to the nitty-gritty. These are our top tips for crafting a content growth strategy that will give your traffic and your revenue a major lift. These tips are relatively easy to DIY, but remember — it often pays to bring in an expert. If you get through the list and are feeling overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start — start with First Page. Our content experts understand growth marketing and can design a strategy that delivers results.
#1: Ask Who Is Reading Your Content and What Problem You’re Solving
Personas are an integral part of inbound marketing, and they’re just as important to growth marketing. Understanding who’s on the other side of the computer screen or mobile device is one of the first steps to strategically grow your brand through content.
Understanding who your persona is, where they enter your funnel, and how they interact with your brand is critical to solving their pain points.
#2: Brainstorm Content Ideas and Prune the List Based on Your Content Goals
Brainstorming is a highly effective method for discovering out-of-the-box ideas that result in measurable growth. Gather up team members for a quick lightning session, or if you’re still remote, plan an e-storm. To reap the full rewards of brainstorming, keep these tips in mind:
- No judgment. Easier said than done, but naysayers will crush creativity quicker than anything, so stop it before it starts. Set clear boundaries and remind participants there are no bad ideas (there are, but you won’t get to that until later).
- Write everything down. We’ve all had that million-dollar flash of inspiration in the middle of the night, but when the alarm goes off, the idea has vanished. Don’t let that happen in your brainstorming session. Write ideas on whiteboards or smart boards or anywhere they can be seen (and spark new ideas) by participants.
- Set a time limit. Brainstorming sessions should be quick and snappy, not lasting more than 30 minutes. The goal is to get as many ideas in as short a time as possible. Don’t spend time analyzing or narrowing down choices at this point; the goal is quantity, not quality.
- Take a break, then come back. After the initial brainstorm, give everyone a brain break to process all the new ideas that were sparked. When you come back (not necessarily the same day, but not too far in the future), start narrowing the field to the ideas that are feasible, aligned with your strategy, and measurable. Build your shortlist from these ideas, and start incorporating them into your content growth strategy.
#3: Conduct Keyword Research
If you aren’t including thoroughly researched keywords into your content, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Content combined with SEO contributes to tremendous organic growth — something paid marketing just can’t beat.
#4: Collect Questions from Customer-Facing Teams
Your sales team and your customer service team are a goldmine of insight into your buyer persona. They interact with the type of people you want to reach literally every day. They know what makes them tick, they understand their likes and dislikes, and they are essentially a walking, talking FAQ for your persona. Tap into their first-hand knowledge and experience, and build a matrix of questions customers are asking that your content can answer.
#5: Create Content That Promotes Sharing
A “like” react or a laugh emoji just doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to content engagement. To truly leverage the power of growth marketing, you have to create shareable content. And that means you have to have a viral marketing mindset. Keep in mind, that doesn’t always mean your content will actually go viral, but it does mean that you’ll be using viral marketing best practices to increase shareability and get your content in front of new eyes. Here’s what you need to know about creating content designed to go viral:
- It must be surprising, delightful, and/or shocking.
- It must offer value.
- It must be shareable with a single click.
- It must increase social currency.
- It must elicit intense emotion.
- It must utilize trending triggers from your industry.
#6: Include a CTA to Join Your Email List
CTAs are tiny little nuggets of joy for growth marketers. They can take many formats, including boxes, buttons, pop-ups, or scroll bars, but they must be attention-grabbing, valuable, and easily clickable. Creating a CTA that asks readers to sign up for your email list gives you important data, but it also gives you multiple connection points. You can create nurture campaigns, promote a newsletter, or offer exclusive gated content only to subscribers. This will get your content in front of your audience more frequently for a sustained period of time, increasing brand awareness and placing you top of mind.
#7: Optimize Your Content for Search
SEO is about so much more than just keywords. Optimization includes everything from technical and onsite SEO to link building and URLs.
Remember when creating optimized content to avoid black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and paid links.
#8: Hire an Outreach Manager to Build Links and Find Content Placement Opportunities
Link building is critical to optimizing your content and getting it in front of as many readers as possible. Guest posting is one way to extend your brand’s reach and helps you build your backlink profile. You can also use resources like HARO to find expert feedback you can incorporate in your content to leverage linking opportunities. It’s a lot to manage on your own, so hiring or contracting with an outreach manager will save you time and ensure you find the best places to share your content and build links.
#9: Regularly Update Existing Content
Search engines crawl your site looking for a number of factors that will eventually determine your ranking. One of those factors is the freshness of your content. A vast library of content isn’t going to move the needle on growth if it’s all old content. But before you burn that library, instead look for opportunities to rewrite and repurpose updated content. Current dates and refreshed copy go a long way in garnering the favor of search engine algorithms. And, bonus, it’s a quick and inexpensive way to leverage the content you already have to drive results.
#10: Create High-Quality Content Consistently
One measly blog a month isn’t going to move any needles. In fact, with the fast and furious rush of content hitting the internet these days, one post a week isn’t going to cut it, either. Large companies should plan on posting optimized blogs four to five times per week if they want to drive organic traffic.
Push your content out on a regular basis, whether that’s on particular days or a particular number of posts each week. Be sure to leverage your content calendar to make sure you stay on track and keep on top of regular, frequent posting.
#11: Attract Signups with a Free Tool
The content you offer must be valuable, timely, and relevant. And if you’re going to gate that content, it had better be worth the price. Even free tools come with a cost to readers, who have to pony up their personal information to get access to an exclusive download. Make sure that what you’re offering feels like a fair exchange. Some free tools you might consider offering include:
- Templated spreadsheets
- Apps and games
- A downloadable toolkit
- A free tool related to your primary service
#12: Publish Original Research to Build Authority and Drive Inbound Links
Primary data can be hard to find amidst a sea of attributed studies and second-hand analysis. Conducting and publishing your own primary research is a high-value commodity within your industry. Content creators always want to link directly to the source, and if the source is you, you’ll find your backlink profile growing by leaps and bounds. Keep in mind that conducting research can be time-consuming and costly, so look for ways to get good data in a quick and efficient manner, like sending out a survey to your mailing list. Typeform is a great tool to create cost-effective and engaging surveys. It also makes analysis and insights easy to gather and share.
#13: Use Engaging Graphics to Keep Your Readers on Your Page
Visual content is on the rise, growing by more than 10 percent YOY. Marketers are finding incredible value and new growth streams in incorporating more visual content. In fact, in a survey, nearly half of marketers said visual content was vitally important to their content strategy. Even more surprising, 0 percent said it wasn’t important at all.
In the same survey, 88 percent of marketers said they now use visuals in more than half of the content they distribute. It’s time for your brand to get on the visual bandwagon.
#14: Find Your Best Content Channels
You want to ensure you’re pushing out content to the places your audiences already are. A mix of channels is key to extending your reach, but a simple multichannel approach is no longer enough. Effective growth marketing requires an omni-channel content strategy.
Omni-channel marketing doesn’t just deliver content pieces across various channels — it delivers unified, seamlessly integrated content across all the channels your audience uses when making a buying decision.
#15: Blogging Is Saturated: Explore Multiple Formats
A blog is a powerful tool for B2B brands looking to achieve growth, but it isn’t the only tool. To create a robust content growth strategy that delivers results, you need to think outside the blog.
Eighty-seven percent of marketers are using video content, largely in part because it is shown to increase revenue 49 percent faster. And over the last six years, there’s been a 50 percent increase in the number of marketers who say video content delivers on ROI.
Video content is easier and cheaper to produce than ever before. Top formats include explainer videos, testimonials, and presentation videos.
Radio might be dead, but podcasts are alive and well. Already, podcast listening this year has hit a record high, topping 15 billion hours halfway through the year, and it’s estimated that in the next two to three years, there will be 100 million podcast listeners in the U.S. alone. Podcasts offer low-cost ad opportunities that can generate significant revenue, but creating one yourself is an excellent way to boost organic traffic and get your brand in front of a whole new audience.
As mentioned previously, visual content is skyrocketing, and it’s a crucial part of your content growth strategy. The most popular visual content element? The infographic.
Infographics are highly shareable and offer valuable info at a glance. Pinterest is one of the top places to share infographics, with how-tos and data-driven pieces being the most popular choices.
The publishing world used to be a pretty exclusive circle that was nearly impossible to break into. Now, books can be published online at no cost, sold as a revenue generator or distributed as high-value downloadable content. Ebooks have little overhead attached, but they do take time. Shorter ebooks, however, are a great way to leverage gated content and give your audience something that goes in-depth to answer their questions and solve their pain points.
If you aren’t marketing on social media, are you even marketing at all? With an audience of 420 billion users, social media is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to broadcast your brand. Your social media strategy should be inextricably tied to your overall content strategy. Research platforms to better understand users and demographics, and find out where your persona hangs out. Whether you deliver content organically or via paid ads or boosted posts, leveraging the power of social media is a quick and cost-efficient way to grow your brand.
B2B audiences love a good template. Pre-packaged, downloadable templates offer great value and set your brand up as a helpful and trusted resource. Templates can include anything from tracking spreadsheets to worksheets to emails and more.
Case studies are critical to a B2B content growth strategy. Potential buyers hear a lot about how great your brand is (from you, of course), but they don’t want to take your word for it. Case studies allow your audience to get a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a customer, and show them the results and experience they can expect to have with your service. Case studies can also take a variety of forms, including highly visual content, videos, testimonials, and more.
#16: Have a Content Distribution Plan to Reach Your Audience Where They Are
Remember — omni-channel is where it’s at. Your audience is likely on social media, on their phones, watching streaming services, reading industry blogs, and hanging around elsewhere in the digital space. Your strategy should include a distribution plan to make sure your content hits all the channels your audience is known to frequent. But even more important, the omni-channel approach means that content should be consistent and unified in messaging, delivering a seamless experience, no matter where your audience is connecting with it.
#17: Create Roundup Posts
Roundup posts allow you to leverage existing content (your own or others’) and package it into a one-stop-information-shop for your readers. Roundups most often include links to blog posts on a single topic, but can also include a roundup of tools, resources, books, etc. To create a roundup post that brings in traffic, start by browsing Quora to find the questions your potential buyers are asking (you can do this by typing your primary keywords into the search). Narrow the topic, and start looking for blogs or other content to be part of your roundup. Look for content that is high-quality, well-written, and comes from a trusted source or leader in the industry.
#18: Embrace Storytelling
For a long time now, B2B brands have lived in the realm of data, statistics, and hard numbers, which is great for tracking metrics, budget forecasting, and proof of performance. But it also works against some brands, taking away their humanity and making them feel unrelatable. Enter storytelling. Storytelling is a marketing tactic that’s pretty self-explanatory. It positions your brand as a relatable, human narrative that draws in the audience and makes them want to know more about you. Effective storytelling should include:
- Emotional and evocative content
- A relationship-based approach
- Content centered around your brand mission and values
- A clear narrative that has a beginning, middle, and end
- CTAs that are inspiring and motivating
#19: Stop Writing Crummy Headlines
You wrote a great piece of content, but why isn’t it getting any clicks? Maybe the headline is the problem. Sure, it’s tempting to cram headlines with keywords and make them broad enough to apply to every reader in your persona, but that’s not going to drive growth. Best practices for creating headlines that work include:
- Punchy copy that elicits an emotional response
- Urgency to let your readers know they NEED to click NOW
- Focus on one primary keyword
- Use of FOMO — if they don’t read this, they’ll be left in the dark
- Focus on niche audience rather than the entire persona
- A/B testing of headlines to find out which ones work
#20: Focus on Conversion After Capturing Interest
You don’t put the cart before the horse, so why put conversions before capture? Lead capture is an important piece of your content strategy, and when implemented correctly, will lead to more conversions. But once you’ve got leads who are interested in your brand, what do you do with them? You offer them high-quality content that addresses their pain points and solves their challenges.
From there, you can shift your focus to growing conversions and measuring ROI — which, with an effective lead gen and content strategy, can more than double your return.
#21: Find a Unique Angle for Each Piece of Content
Your audience doesn’t want to read the same thing over and over again, and it’s going to take more than tweaking a few bits of copy to make your content seem fresh. Search out different angles for your content that answer a wide variety of questions your persona wants to ask. Focus on niches within your audience, and let your content speak directly to them. Take a good look at your content — have you posted the same blog topic five times, with slightly different headlines? You need a new angle. Buyers in your persona share a lot of common traits, wants, and needs, but remember that they are all individuals. Your content should be nuanced, fresh, and varied — just like they are.
#22: Determine Your Content Success Metrics
If you’re planning to achieve growth with your content strategy, you’ve got to be able to measure it. There are numerous ways to set up and track your success metrics, but if you’re wondering where to start, the first step is to take a look at the goals you’ve outlined in your content growth strategy.
#23: Analyze Content Performance and Tweak Where Necessary
Once you’ve selected your metrics, keep a close eye on them so you know when and where you need to make adjustments. If your content isn’t delivering the growth you want to see, you’ll need to go back to your strategy and find places to make changes and test new approaches.
4 Content Strategy Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign
Want to see great content in action? You’ve come to the right place. Remember that you don’t have to design and execute a winning content growth strategy on your own. There are experts (hint, hint ←) who can help. Here, we’ve compiled examples of how some of the biggest brands are leveraging a killer content strategy to achieve unprecedented growth, including a couple of our own clients.
Triple the Revenue, Quadruple the Traffic
Our client (who shall remain nameless) came to us shortly after firing an SEO agency that wasn’t delivering the desired results. We worked with them to design a strategy that encompassed content, SEO, social media, and lead generation, delivering eight blog posts per month, seven landing pages, extensive link building, and regular social posting. The results speak for themselves:
To break it down, that’s a 300 percent increase in revenue and 400 percent organic traffic growth. And after five years, we’re still going strong. This shows that this kind of growth is not only achievable — it’s sustainable.
What’s in a Name? Crazy Growth, That’s What
The name says it all. Our client, Revenued, came to us under a different name with an outdated brand. We pitched the idea of a total refresh that would bring the direct-to-consumer loan product — you guessed it — more revenue. But the name was just a start. We designed a growth-focused strategy built around a content-generating website.
The results? With a combined focus on SEO and content, we were able to increase Revenued’s keyword growth by 800 percent and get them to position six on the first page of Google. So, what’s in a name? When it comes to First Page Strategy…a lot!
Content Growth Case Study: HubSpot
HubSpot is the leading expert in inbound marketing, and when it comes to content, they know what they’re talking about. They’ve long been a pioneer in content marketing strategy, and it’s evident in the tactics they use for their own brand. One such tactic is including a piece of upgraded content for every blog they publish.
Content upgrades are a powerful way to grow qualified leads. First, ungated content like blogs hit visitors as they enter the top of the funnel. Then, they are offered a content upgrade in exchange for their email address. Because they’ve already seen that HubSpot is giving away great content for free, building trust and authority, they’re more likely to give up their information in exchange for a high-value asset.
Content Growth Case Study: Canva
Canva is a design platform marketed to people who aren’t necessarily graphic designers. They offer a freemium product and upgrades to pro packages that offer users more functionality and access to a wider library of stock images, video, and design assets. They are the leader in their industry, largely due to their strategic approach to content and SEO. Canva’s product marketing is a study in best practices and high growth, but one of their biggest wins happened when they revamped their content and blog strategy, gaining a 226 percent increase in traffic in just 60 days.
How did they do it? Actually, they used a lot of the tactics we’ve listed here, some of which include:
- Lengthening blog posts to cover more content
- Using storytelling to create a more emotional and human brand
- Incorporating a mix of content types, like lists, interviews, and long-form feature articles
- Free, gated resources for download
Ultimately, this was just one strategy Canva used to achieve unprecedented growth, and believe it or not, your brand can do it, too.
Conclusion: The Best Content Growth Strategy Is Fueled By User Insight
Growing your brand with a killer content strategy isn’t as simple as pushing out more content to the masses. It requires a nuanced approach that dives deep into your buyer persona to understand the questions they’re asking and the pain points they’re looking to solve.