As LinkedIn’s Senior Content Marketing Manager Jason Miller said, “Content marketing is no longer a numbers game. It’s a game of relevance.”

Content marketing is tough, and even the best practitioners struggle to reach their audiences. It’s one thing to live and breathe content strategy, but those efforts will fall flat if B2B marketers aren’t optimized for sales-qualified leads and revenue.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 88% of B2B marketers employ content marketing techniques, but only 30% believe their companies use them effectively. They know creating valuable content is essential to success, but doing this at scale is becoming more of a challenge.

The current influx of content marketing and advanced marketing technology means the bar for standout work continually moves up. As Rand Fishkin asserts, distinguishing your content from the rest means creating pieces that are 10 times better than the competition. With marketers cranking out 27 million pieces of content daily, that’s no small feat.

Ultimately, if top-notch content is targeted toward the right audience, marketers can win long-term customers and consistently drive revenue. Here’s how to make sure you’re standing at the top of the heap:

1. Track marketing revenue by content piece.

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Optimizing your content marketing plan starts with measuring its effectiveness. You should be able to trace revenue back to different content types and topics.

Depending on your audience, webinars or whitepapers might be more lucrative than blog posts. A multichannel attribution model approach can let you know that and can measure every step (or touchpoint) of a campaign to quantify its impact on revenue directly within your CRM.

In DemandWave’s 2016 State of B2B Digital Marketing report, marketers using multitouch attribution models noted that top-of-the-funnel techniques, such as blog posts, are heavily used but generate just 19% of revenue.

Move further down the funnel, and webinars (41%), whitepapers (39%), and case studies (32%) drove most of respondents’ revenue. Knowing each piece of content’s effect allows marketers to craft better strategies and demonstrate every campaign’s relevance.

2. Win prospects and search rankings.

Effective content provides value for your target audience and is easily discovered by the right people. As a recent Google study found, 71% of B2B researchers start with generic searches. So why not help the best leads find you by optimizing your content strategy for organic search?

Start by evaluating your revenue opportunity from SEO. What search terms does your site rank for now? What search queries do potential leads use to find your products and services?

Prioritize relevant, low-hanging-fruit keywords that are in striking distance of page one

Prioritize relevant, low-hanging-fruit keywords that are in striking distance of page one. This typically means focusing on long-tail, high-converting keyword themes first and working up to competitive, high-volume terms. Next, map keywords by theme to relevant content topics and landing pages; consider user intent of the searcher to improve landing page conversion rate.

Which call-to-action phrases match the landing page’s keyword theme and content? Optimize landing pages for seamless site navigation across all devices to make lead capture and conversion as easy as possible.

3. Conduct a content gap analysis.

Examine your buyer’s journey to identify areas of the digital funnel losing momentum with prospects and customers. Run a content gap analysis, and audit your website for the following:

  • Engagement and awareness: How much time do people spend on the site, and how many pages do they visit per session? How many social shares does your content receive? How many new marketing-qualified leads do you typically acquire, and what are the acquisition costs?
  • Conversion comparisons: What is the conversion rate from marketing-qualified to sales-qualified leads by content topic and type? What is the conversion rate from sales-qualified lead to customer?
  • Upsell and retention: What are the upsell and renewal conversion rates for your customer marketing efforts? Are certain products and services lagging behind in terms of upsell or renewal?

If you find any gaps in the funnel, develop a content calendar to address these areas first. It’s also useful to generate content ideas through interviews with your customers and sales team.

Poll your audience on the type of content they’d like to see; ask the sales team what questions they are asked most and what prospects object to most. You can address many of these concerns through whitepapers, blogs, and other content.

4. Establish a clear marketing game plan.

Setting a primary objective will guide your strategy. If you want your content to drive more leads and sales, you must create a plan to capture those leads and have a corresponding follow-up strategy.

One of our clients recently released a new financial services product. This was a completely new target audience for the brand’s marketing team, so the first step was to build awareness and acquire new marketing-qualified leads for this buyer persona.

Marketers are more likely to hit goals with highly focused, targeted plans.

We helped the client create an e-book and infographic to highlight the product’s benefits and key pain point solutions. We developed SEO-friendly landing pages for both pieces of content and wrote several promotional blogs for the product to boost search rankings and drive inbound leads.

With a clear end goal, we were able to measure the right metrics to demonstrate the content’s impact on revenue. We focused on organic visits to the landing pages, time on-site, pages per session, number of marketing-qualified leads, conversion rate from marketing-qualified to sales-qualified leads, and the amount of revenue the campaign sourced or influenced.

Marketers are more likely to hit goals with highly focused, targeted plans.

The battle for buyers’ time and money is only going to become more competitive; focusing on relevance in content and search rankings will be key to winning strategies.

If you define your audience, the type of content that resonates with it, and how best to reach that demographic, then you will successfully optimize your marketing mix for revenue. Now go win the game.

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