Your HR tech content strategy should answer these six questions
Updated: Jun 25
CMI’s Content Marketing Trends 2018 report finds that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing.
(What the hell are the other 9% doing?! I’ve worked with plenty of HR tech businesses who’ve lost their way, but none that don’t use content marketing at all. Anyway. *Breathes deeply*)
That’s fabulous. Content marketing is how you smash through barriers, build rapport and eventually earn sales.
But simply ‘doing content marketing’ isn’t enough. No, no.
Because only 24% of B2B marketers rated their efforts as very or extremely successful. Nearly a quarter conceded their efforts were minimally successful, meaning content marketing did little to meet their business goals.
Luckily, there’s an easy answer.
62% of the most successful content marketers have a documented content strategy, compared to only 16% of the least successful.
And of the 63% whose content marketing is more successful this year than last, 72% attributed that success to developing and honing their content strategy.
You need a content strategy, put simply. So here’s what to include.
Six questions a robust B2B content strategy must answer…
WHY are you writing?
If you don’t start with clear goals that everyone agrees on, your content marketing efforts will fail.
What’s the bigger picture? ‘Because our competitors do’ isn’t a good enough reason to invest in content marketing. Neither is ‘because we know we should’.
Think about what you want content to achieve. Your marketing goals should be tied to the business’ goals.
Maybe the business is scaling into a less mature market. In that case, you probably want content to educate buyers, prove your expertise and build brand awareness.
Or maybe the business is struggling to retain customers. Your goals then might be around upskilling customers around your product.
Decide what your content goals are, then identify the metrics that go with them. And make sure everyone’s on board, to save problems later.
WHO will you engage?
Content that speaks to everyone speaks to no one. Map out your audience, including comprehensive buyer personas for each person you need to engage.
Not built buyer personas yet? Or think they need a refresh? Check out our free eBook to learn how to build kick-ass personas that actually get used.
As well as basic demographic information, include meatier psychological stuff.
Like their gain points, pain points and barriers to sale.
In the HR tech world, that might mean an HR director battling against a CFO to get budget for a new retention strategy. Or Recruiter Rachel panicking she’s going to have her bonus rescinded because hires keep dropping out during probation.
Unpick their role within the decision-making unit – so you can better understand what they need from you.
Knowing your WHO means you can create content that resonates. And content that resonates is more compelling, convincing and converting.
Also identify your personas’ context. What’s their relationship to you, when they read your content? What’s relevant to them right now?
To be effective, your content should nurture readers through each stage of the buying journey to sale:
Awareness stage. Buyers have an undefined problem or pain point. They want content to help them better define the problem, so they can move forwards.
Consideration stage. Buyers understand their problem better and are considering different solutions.
Decision stage. Buyers have found some potential solutions and want to validate the right choice for them.
So, say you offer a rewards platform and you’re writing for HR Manager Maggie.
Awareness stage content might be a guide that troubleshoots Maggie’s engagement issues.
Then consideration stage content might be around different types of employee benefits and the impact they have on morale.
Then finally, Maggie might want to read your customer case study about how your platform helped boost retention.
That’s an oversimplified journey but you get the point: it’s a journey. There’s progression, from one piece of content to the next.
WHAT will you write?
Great content marketing happens at the intersection of what you know and care about, and what your audience cares about but doesn’t know.
So HR Manager Maggie cares a lot about retention. She’s haemorrhaging people, which undermines the company culture and makes her look bad: she’s got a front row view.
But she doesn’t know how to fix it. You do. That’s a powerful intersection.
So here’s where you brainstorm.
First, outline themes. These are the broad clusters where possible intersections could happen. In HR tech content, that’ll be things like… retention. Engagement. HR transformation. Wellbeing at work. Diversity.
The idea is, you ultimately build a dominant presence in each cluster, for each relevant persona.
Then look at SEO and pull out target terms around each cluster. Long-tail terms help deliver the shortest-term wins, and slowly build your ownership over the cluster.
Say your cluster is ‘employee retention’. Relevant terms might be ‘employee retention strategies’, ‘staff retention ideas’, ’best talent retention ideas in 2019’, ‘most effective employee retention strategies’, ‘building an employee satisfaction survey’.
Each article might itself pull traffic short-term but what you’re really doing is building a long-term web where you dominate the ‘employee retention’ space. Everywhere your prospects turn, you’re there. Being helpful and knowledgeable and present. Buying from you eventually becomes a no-brainer.
At this stage, it’s also useful to run a content audit. Look back at your ecosystem and work out what you haven’t covered or what hasn’t performed. If those gaps overlap with your new strategy, those are priorities.
Run a competitor content audit here too, to spot gaps your competitors aren’t exploiting. Or areas they already dominate.
When you finish the WHAT stage, you should have a comprehensive list of possible content topics relevant to each persona, their buying stage, and each cluster.
Balance impact on your WHY against resource requirements, so you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Scoring a quick win will boost your content team’s morale before you move onto bigger, more time- and cost-intensive projects.
WHEN will you create?
If you don’t create a content calendar for your HR tech business, you’ll struggle to execute your strategy. A content calendar brings everyone onto the same page and keeps people accountable.
It’s a framework showing how all the moving parts of your content machine should slot together.
Depending how many people are involved in creating content, you might want a top-level content calendar and a deep-dive content calendar for the team.
The top-level calendar gives a bird’s eye view: this is what we’re creating and when. The deep-dive calendar breaks down each piece into production stages and deadlines, so everyone knows what their responsibility is.
So you don’t end up starting a customer success eBook then realising you didn’t build in time for customer surveys.
WHERE will you distribute?
Creating amazing content for your HR tech blog doesn’t automatically mean you’ll enjoy fabulous results.
Long-term, your SEO efforts will start to pay off and your organic traffic will swell. But right now, your content strategy should outline other distribution paths.
Distribution paths like…
You can’t just set and forget these distribution methods. Email, for example, depends on how good your existing list is. Social media depends on how engaged your followers are.
There’s no point promoting your content on Twitter if your average Twitter engagement is nil, essentially.
Content marketing doesn’t work in isolation. You also need to actively develop your distribution paths, so they act as an effective conduit for your content.
You can also leverage other people’s pre-built distribution paths via blogger outreach or influencer engagement. This is a time-consuming practice but can help you build backlinks which will accelerate your SEO prowess.
HOW will you scale?
Once you know your content machine moves, it’s time to pick up the pace. But that’s a problem for many HR tech businesses. Especially high-growth businesses using content to mastermind impending world domination.
To avoid delays and costly confusion, your content strategy should outline how you’ll scale your efforts.
That’ll tend to be things like…
Choosing the right tools to automate, distribute, measure, curate and publish content, to free up bandwidth;
Growing your in-house content teams, or supplementing them with freelance copywriters and content writers;
Rethinking processes to empower smarter cross-functional collaboration, so content happens faster;
Learning what works and what doesn’t, refining your approach so you gradually have more smash hits;
Being smart about how you reuse and repurpose your existing content library, so you need to create less from scratch;
Investing in more exceptional evergreen content, to get more bang for your content marketing buck;
Tightening your strategy so your content efforts tie ever more closely to business goals, with less and less wastage.
When you’re fighting to scale, you need a greater quantity of content. But don’t fall into the trap of letting quantity overcome quality.
The key is to build the processes to increase quantity without sacrificing quality. While increasing quality, in fact, so you have fewer misses and more hits with the content you put out.
B2B content strategy gives you more hits and fewer misses
Most HR tech businesses know, doing content marketing and doing content marketing successfully are two very different things.
Even if you do everything right. Even the best content can sometimes find itself languishing forgotten in some dusty corner of the internet. It’s heart-breaking.
But a robust content strategy makes you more likely to succeed. It boosts your chances considerably, and makes those dusty corners retreat that little bit further away.