Where do you take your marketing strategy from here?
Most marketers agree that creating content is a core business strategy
SEO can help you capitalize on the content you've created and see lasting results
Create content around common sales objections to improve the sales process
Instead of going all-in on the best-case scenario of in-person events being able to happen in 2021, create a plan based on what you know works now and could continue to work into the future as well
With 2020 pulling the rug out from under pretty much everyone, it's no surprise that marketing has had to shift over the past year. Where the focus for many organizations was once in-person meetings and events like trade shows and conventions, it's now mostly shifted to tactics that can be deployed remotely.
The biggest winner out of all this change has, without a doubt, been content marketing. In the summer of 2020, I surveyed 49 B2B companies to see how they are approaching marketing, and more than 80 percent of them agreed that content is now considered a core business strategy.
Content marketing is a strategy that doesn't require any physical contact to connect with people, and content can be shared widely and consistently, regardless of where people are in the world. It can help current clients better understand the value of a company and even act as a way to bring new customers into the fold.
While the strategy owes much of its popularity to the pandemic, content marketing's recent dominance is unlikely to go away once the pandemic subsides. Before 2020, many marketers had already been pushing for a more content-focused strategy. In many ways, this past year has simply created the opportunity for them to prove the strategy's true worth.
How to plan a marketing strategy around whatever 2021 may bring
These past few months have been a time of experimentation for marketers, full of successes and failures. For some companies, weaknesses in this strategy, like poor SEO and a lack of budget for content development, have been exposed, even as the potential of content marketing has been proven. Now, the question for marketers is how to bring a content strategy into the next year and successfully meld it with a plan for a world beyond the current health crisis.
1. Focus on SEO
All the high-quality content in the world can't help you if no one can find it. Make better SEO a key goal if you want to capitalize on everything you've done this past year. Perform a technical website audit to ensure your website is set up to be found by search engines and a keyword audit to ensure your content aligns with your target audience's queries. Not only should your keyword research guide your content for the future, but it should also steer your updates of older content to maintain its relevance. Updating old content is often the most efficient strategy you can employ.
Don't just stop at keywords, though. Perform a deep dive into your audience's behavior to figure out exactly what they're looking for to increase your chances of turning visits into conversions. After all, what you think you know about user behavior and what is actually true can turn out to be wildly different. For example, according to HubSpot, popups are the most-used form for sign-ups, but they only succeed in converting three percent of visitors. Landing pages, meanwhile, have the highest conversion rate, despite being the least popular version of sign-up form.
2. Develop more sales enablement content
Effective content can be useful for more than just marketing. Sales reps can also use it to better communicate with potential customers.
Listen to sales calls to figure out which questions are the most common and which are the most difficult for your sales team to answer. From there, you can create sales enablement content, such as blog posts and infographics, that the team can refer to and pass on to prospects. You can also use the biggest client successes as case studies that can help potential clients better understand your value. This will not only help sell customers, but it can also help with securing internal buy-in for a content-focused strategy.
3. Don't bet on in-person events in 2021
Over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events next year. Even if everything goes perfectly over the next few months and things can begin moving toward some level of normalcy by summer or fall, don't count on big in-person conventions and trade shows to come roaring back and take over your marketing strategy. That's why a majority of marketers are creating strategies that can work for both virtual events and in-person events over the next year.
Content will still be just as effective when the pandemic is over, but what in-person events will look like is still up in the air. Don't bet on an imaginary best-case scenario, create a plan based on what you know works right now and could continue to work into the future.
While 2020 might have thrown everyone for a loop, the lessons learned this year can be applied in 2021, even if we're unsure of what the coming year will truly bring. By focusing more on a content-first strategy, you can ensure your marketing plans don't go to waste both in best-case and worst-case scenarios.
Cherish Grimm is VP at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.