How to Kick-Start Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Developing a B2B content marketing strategy that aligns content messaging with your target audience is no small task. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, yet only 32% have a content marketing strategy.

The development of a fundamentally customer-focused marketing strategy will blaze a trail for a B2B content marketing strategy to reach new customer engagement and acquisition goals. By ensuring value is delivered to your customers, the B2B content marketing strategy will fall into place.

Here are a few key tenets of B2B content marketing strategy to kick start the process for you and your team:

1. Determining your content point of view. Here’s a hint: Make it customer-focused.

2. Ensure once you start executing on content creation, you can measure your efforts. Another hint: Make sure it’s driving a tangible business outcome as well.

3. Align your team’s talents with the type of content being created. Last hint: Not all marketers think the same way.

Customer-Focused Point of View for Content Pays Off

Content marketing strategies developed to engage customers with your brand start by aligning content with the point of view of your reader. Delivering information both that the customer sees as valuable and that aligns with your brand should be the underpinnings of every B2B content marketing strategy.

In a recent study from Forrester Research, they provided the example of Kraft Foods launching a site (kraftrecipes.com) to share recipes and food ideas using their products. By shaping purchase decisions, encouraging buyers through the journey through value-driven content, Kraft Foods had buyers that were all-the-more inclined to purchase cream cheese for “that casserole recipe I saw online”. They delivered value to customers by encouraging a purchase decision as opposed to pushing a coupon.

With a customer-focused point of view regardless of the buyer type (B2C and B2B buyers), position your content to deliver value to your customers. Similarly, through customer-centered content, you can actively shape purchase decisions through a B2B content marketing strategy that drives leads which, in turn, fuels revenue.

Prioritize and Set Content Goals

In a recent survey of content marketing maturity, Forrester found that 52% of B2B marketers were in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing it. While B2B marketers seem to be embarking on a more customer-focused approach to content development, a key tenet to a closed loop model for your B2B content marketing strategy is tracking buyer interactions with content at each stage in the purchase life cycle.

Providing buyers with content that is useful and valuable to read, watch, or interact that encourages forward movement in the buying cycle is a B2B marketer’s dream. And yet if those interactions are not measurable, how do you know your content strategy and supporting tactics are effective?

To kick start your B2B content marketing strategy that produces customer-focused content, ensure your team is taking a practical approach to content creation aligned with short-term goals. Meeting and rewarding these short term goals will push your team to drive increasingly buyer-aligned content. This will inevitably result in customer interactions that contribute to increased revenue. These longer-term objectives ensure content drives tangible business outcomes.

Align Talent with Content Creation

Balance your team to align strengths with content creation requirements. Buyer-aligned content that captivates, inspires and challenges is a different focus for most B2B marketers. Marketers whose background include a mix of product marketing, sales positions and even direct marketing may be challenged to make this shift.

Climbing to new heights requires planning and preparation but it also mandates physical and mental stamina. Applying that principle to strategy development versus plan rollout and execution, B2B marketers need to consider skill assessment and training as a critical tenet of B2B content marketing strategy. When the team is ready to hit the trail, talent needs to be aligned with a type of content creation that sees through the buyer’s point of view, interweaves a compelling story and is appropriate to the content application.

So, begin with your team to consider what content will deliver value to your customers. With this customer-focused lens, a B2B content marketing strategy will achieve the following:

  • Address buyer concerns to engage
  • Motivate them through the buyer journey
  • Build support from bottom-line-thinking executives.

Professional Affiliate Marketing Primer

If you’re new to the professional affiliate marketing Internet business playground, then you’re no doubt wondering what affiliate marketing is all about. In simplest terms, it is marketing and promoting some other company’s products/services on the Internet. You, the pro affiliate marketer, promote through whatever means is available to you (your ezine, blog, email, online advertising, etc.), which then sends traffic and customers to another company’s website, who then does all the work — develop, sell and support the actual products and/or services; close the sale; process the orders, take payments and make delivery; etc. — for the paying customer. You, as the marketer and source of that business, are then paid a commission for your work. That’s it!

The whole business arrangement is essentially revenue sharing. The company that provides the product or service being sold is generally called the affiliate merchant, and he shares the revenue they generate with you, the affiliate marketer, for sending business their way. In most cases, the affiliate marketer drums up that business through various forms of legitimate advertising techniques on a wide variety of online avenues and platforms.

Note that generally, the affiliate merchant does not pay anything for the “marketing” and promotion until a sale has actually occurred. This way, the merchant can minimize both risk and expenditures. Theoretically, the affiliate can then be rewarded more handsomely for taking on that marketing risk and expenditure. However, since the affiliate marketer does not need to take on the risk, investment and expenditure of developing and supporting a product/service and administering a sale, the relationship is very much considered a win-win arrangement, with each party focusing on the part of the business they are good at and interested in.

Tracking, Calculating and Paying Affiliate Income

How the affiliate marketer essentially gets paid for his work depends entirely on the affiliate merchant. In practically all cases, the arrangement is wholly managed through an automated system, with the merchant using Internet server-based software that gives an affiliate marketer a unique link code or ID which the marketer must then use to identify all the traffic and customers he sends to the merchant. This is really the only way the merchant can properly identify, credit and compensate the right affiliate for any business generated.

In some cases, an affiliate merchant uses the resources of a much larger affiliate network service (such as Commission Junction, LinkShare, etc.) to administer its affiliate program. Some other merchants, on the other hand, choose to run their own in-house affiliate system, keeping their program independent from everybody else’s. In practically all cases, however, the basics of how an affiliate program tracks and calculates affiliate commissions follow what is outlined above.

The merchant generally specifies the financial terms beforehand (pay periods, minimum payment thresholds, when money is paid and how, etc.), whether it uses the services of a 3rd party service or runs its own affiliate program in-house. How an affiliate is ultimately paid will depend on these predetermined specifics, and they can run the gamut from being paid online through services like Paypal, having funds wired directly to an affiliate’s bank account, to having a physical check printed and mailed directly to the affiliate.

Although there is obviously a level of trust in the merchant involved in this arrangement, it works because not only is it to the affiliate merchant’s benefit to maintain a good working relationship with its affiliates in order to grow its business and ensure its continued success, the community of professional affiliate marketers is fairly tight-knit with extensive communications channels that quickly reports any shadiness and negative business dealings. On top of that, affiliate programs that run on third party network services offer an extra layer of protection and trust to the affiliate, with the networks helping ensure that all transactions are properly tracked, calculated and compensated. This is one reason that many professional affiliate marketers often adopt a policy that they will only work with affiliate programs that are administered through these third party affiliate network services.

Affiliate Program Selection

You, as the professional affiliate marketer, are free to choose whatever affiliate program you wish to join and market. In other words, you essentially choose which products and/or services you’ll be promoting (through your blog, web site, ezine, advertisements, etc.). It is not a light decision, since your income is very much affected by how well you match your total “offer” to your “audience” or “market.” That, however, is essentially your job and is part of what you as the professional affiliate marketer is compensated richly for.

In many cases, what affiliate programs you do choose is usually determined by your preexisting markets and audiences, For example, if you already run a gardening blog, then obviously the programs you would seek out would be gardening related or ones that you’ve determined would be of interest to the audience demographic your gardening site attracts.

If you are approaching this affiliate marketing business as a pure marketer, however, where the decision on how to market a product or service would be highly dependent on what it is you actually select to promote, how you select an affiliate program can be based on many different factors.

Some professional affiliate marketers, for example, choose programs based on commission size (high payouts per sale) or market size. These are business decisions you have to make, again, part of what you’re getting paid for. Here are some suggestions for beginners, however, that may help you get started.

Choose products/services you are personally interested in. If you are interested in gardening or golf, for example, then focus on products/services specifically for those markets. The plain simple truth of it is that it is much harder to promote a product or service that you really couldn’t care less about.

Choose products/services that do not embarrass you and that you are comfortable having your friends and family associate with you. For example, even though it’s quite lucrative, some professional affiliate marketers are unable to promote dating sites and services for reasons of embarrassment and discomfort.

Choose products/services you are already familiar with and fully understand. Even if you are not all that interested in automobiles or travel, for instance, you may already know more than enough about the products and services in those particular markets that you can actually sell in those market niches.

Select affiliate programs that provide you with the best sales support. This only comes up from prior research, of course, but it’s something you must do anyway. The sales support referred to here are things like training, advertising material and resources, extensive product information, etc. Obviously, the more tools they give you to sell with, the better your chances.

Remember: Being a professional affiliate marketer means that you are in business. Your business. Your success is ultimately determined by your decisions and actions. Good luck.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Affiliate Marketing

Most people have heard of affiliate marketing, even if they haven’t actually started doing it. Affiliate marketing is basically referring people to various products and services around the internet. For each sale you generate through your affiliate link, you earn a commission. The size of the commission depends on the products themselves, who is selling them and the percentage offered by the seller to the affiliate.

But what is actually involved in affiliate marketing? What do affiliates do on a daily basis? How do they earn money and how do they learn what to do?

1 An Example Of A Successful Website

There’s several ways of marketing products and services online. Many affiliates create a blog first and sell products and services through their blog. Martin Lewis has a very successful website called moneysavingexpert.com. This is also an affiliate website. By creating content and helping people decide which service to use: which credit card offers to choose, the best interest rate etc. moneysavingexpert.com makes money by sending website visitors to various offers. If a sale is made through this website, the link this credited to it and a commission is made. By creating content, offering value and helping people make sensible choices, the website has built a reputation and become more prevalent over time. Google ranks the site highly in the search engines and thousands of people use it to make purchasing decisions every day.

2 How Can I Get Started As An Affiliate?

Affiliate marketing is huge. There are thousands of people already making their main source of income from the internet. To get started as an affiliate you need to learn some basic strategies and build various methods of generating traffic from the internet to those offers. A lot of affiliates start with a simple blog. Many travelers ‘blog’ about their travels. If you don’t have a passion or interest to blog about, you can start by following an online course which will help. See my bio for more info on this.

3 How Long Does It Take To Make A Living?

Some people go into affiliate marketing with the intention of creating a second income. Some people want to make big money. Depending on how much time you can dedicate to your affiliate business, and how dedicated you are to it, is a big factor in determining your results. Results vary from person to person. With a large advertising budget and the right business model, some affiliates have replaced their living in 6-12 months. For others it can take years before it replaces their existing income. Depending on your approach, advertising budget, and business model, it can take between 3 months and several years to build it to a point where it can replace an existing income.

4 Can Anyone Do It?

One of the great things about affiliate marketing is that the technology is now available to allow anyone to build their own online business. As long as you are prepared to learn and implement that knowledge, anyone who can operate an email, can use online platforms and tools to build their own online business. The main thing you need is the desire to learn. Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone though. It does take a lot of hard work and it can take years before you are rewarded financially.

5 What Are The Pitfalls Of An Affiliate Business?

You need to dedicate some time to your affiliate business for it to work for the long term. Some people go into affiliate marketing thinking it is some magic pill which will pay them instantly in cash. Much like a job you can’t expect to get out more than you put in. Affiliate marketing is performance related. This means you don’t get paid unless you can successfully sell products and services online. If you don’t know what you are doing it can take years to do this. You can’t be a dabbler and expect to earn the big money. The big earnings are created over years of hard work. Don’t expect to achieve this with only a small amount of input.

6 What Are The Best Things About Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom. You can work an affiliate business from anywhere in the world providing you have a laptop and an internet connection. You can choose your own hours and build it up around existing work. Many people come into affiliate marketing because it offers this kind of flexibility. They can choose their priorities in life: spend more time with family, choose your working hours, travel and work abroad. No more commuting to work or working long hours for a boss you don’t like.

Affiliate marketing also offers incredible scalability. A business which is local is always limited to the people who can travel to that business. An online business can be global. Using digital products in conjunction with a global reach, you can scale using tools and software to reach thousands of people through digital technology. By using automation much of the work involved with an online business can be pre-built. By building automation into the business model, you can focus your activities on reaching a larger audience through content creation and paid advertising.

7 Why Am I Struggling With My Affiliate Business?

A lot of people struggle with their affiliate businesses.This can be for a number of reasons. Firstly building up an affiliate business takes time. You need to dedicate a lot of time to an affiliate business in the first place. Only when you reach a ‘tipping point’ do you really start to see your progress. Many affiliates simply don’t realise how much work is involved. They underestimate how much time they need to dedicate to their online business to make it work.
Paid advertising can allow you to grow your affiliate business quickly. But it costs money and you need the right products too. You can’t advertise small value items with paid advertising. You won’t generate enough profit to cover your advertising costs. You need a range of products and an email list to advertise through.
Content marketing takes much longer to work, depending on your chosen area of business. If you find an untapped niche to market your blog in, you can make some fast progress. However, with a competitive niche you will struggle to get noticed above all the other content which you will have to compete with. There’s several reasons why you might struggle. The main one is lack of knowledge. Get the right education first and your affiliate business will move much faster.

8 What’s The Best Affiliate Model To Use?

There are many different affiliate models, all offering something different to suit the individual. Some affiliates target search traffic and aim to get their content found on Google. Some create their own products and sell them directly to customers. However, having a range of products which you can sell over and over to existing customers is a great model for long term success. Selling a single item online is limited. It means you can only make one commission from each sale. By choosing membership products to promote which also offer back end sales and a built in sales team, you can benefit from monthly commissions and up-sell commissions for the lifetime of any given customer. Selling membership products is definitely a game changer when it come to affiliate marketing because you make an income from each customer, rather than a single commission. But a good model to choose is one in which you have a passion for and can keep doing for the long term. Choosing products which you have no interest in is a short sighted plan. Think about what you would like to do online to generate an income. If you choose to go with your passion, your business will last much longer, and be more successful.

9 Can I Just Sell My Own Products?

Many affiliates create their own products to sell online. However, when you are starting out it is a good idea to learn the basics of marketing first. That way you can start earning more quickly from your affiliate business. I spent a long time creating my own products when I first discovered affiliate marketing. But I didn’t sell anything because of a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t research whether my products would have a big enough demand. Secondly I didn’t know how to market them. By joining a program which teaches you how to market products first, you can start making money more quickly. Don’t waste time creating products if you don’t know how to sell them. Marketing is a much more important skill for making money online. Once you know this skill, you can then apply it later when marketing your own products and services. Also your own products will be limited in range. By using an existing product range, you can benefit from products which are already selling. You can choose a program which offers high ticket commission, monthly memberships, back end sales and a built in sales team. Building your own products which offers all of these things not a possibility for most people when starting out.

10 What’s The Point Of Affiliate Marketing?

Some people struggle with the concept of affiliate marketing.They think it sounds too ‘salesy’. When I understood affiliate marketing I immediately found it appealing simply because I needed a flexible way to work around my contract work. I had to drop what I was doing at a moments notice if the phone went. This meant other jobs were awkward to juggle around. No-one wants to employ a ‘flaky’ employee. I wanted to work from my laptop and affiliate marketing gave me that opportunity. For many people this is the reason why they choose affiliate marketing. They can earn an income from their laptop, choose their working hours and not have a boss or place of employment. You don’t have to sell directly to anyone or even talk to a customer. There is no stock to hold. Added to this, the scalability of affiliate marketing which lets you scale up to a global audience and deliver products on autopilot, makes it the best flexible business of the future.