The 52-point checklist to take your content creation and distribution to the big leagues
Between 1908 and 2008, British cyclists won a single Olympic gold medal.
But in 2003, they took a different approach. A new performance director believed that if you broke down every activity in an athlete's life and make multiple small improvements each one, these marginal gains would eventually add up to an unbeatable competitive advantage. It worked spectacularly. In the 2008 Olympics, the team that had won one gold medal in a century went on to win 60 percent of the gold medals on offer.
There is an analogy here with content marketing. Creating content is mission critical, but around the creation part, there are countless marginal gains you can make to ensure your content is optimized to be seen by the right person at the right stage of the customer journey.
Without further ado, here is the 52-point checklist for creating super effective B2B tech marketing content, numbered and divided into sections to keep it organized.
Strategy and planning
1. A brief: Your goal should be mentioned on your brief so all stakeholders can refer to it, along with other key information such as target audience, key messages, deliverables, word count, stakeholders, budget, timelines, and any other relevant information. The brief keeps everyone accountable and on track.
2. A clear goal: Lead generation, awareness, and education are all solid goals.
3. Workflow: Your workflow should include two types of stakeholders; those who give information and feedback, and those who have approval power.
4. Budget: This can be for creation and/or distribution: Especially important if you are outsourcing or for bigger pieces of content.
5. Record your interviews: Interviewing internal or external subject matter experts is often a starting point for research. Don't forget to record the interview (with permission) to make sure you don't lose any details.
6. Social platforms: Sites such as Reddit and Quora can be particularly helpful at finding out not only what kinds of questions people are asking, but also what experts are saying on niche topics.
7. Internal resources: Chances are someone has created a post, page, fact sheet, deck, brochure, or video on your chosen topic already. So it's always wise to search your company blog, Google Drive, DAM solution, or intranet. Or ask around!
8. Competitors' websites: Always good to know what useful insights the competition may have, but also what they DON'T say, to help you come up with a fresh angle.
9. Trade press: Trade publications often have articles, webinars, and white papers on relevant topics.
10. Cloud-based writing tools: If you work with a word doc you end up with multiple versions, sometimes conflicting, and often getting lost. With Google Docs or Microsoft 360 everyone can see where the comments are, you can control permissions, track changes, and make life a whole lot easier.
11. Grammarly: A simple plugin in your browser will help ensure you have error-free copy.
12. Hemingway: This app helps you keep sentences short and clear.
13: Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com: It's important for credibility and readability to make sure you are using words correctly and you are not using the same words again and again. Using synonyms can also help with SEO.
Writing the copy
14. Relevancy: Write directly for the target audience in your brief, addressing their pain points, ways to overcome them, and how your solution can help. Be focused and narrow rather than trying to write for everyone.
15: The ideal situation: People like to be inspired. If you can paint a picture of a perfect situation in terms of how they could do a specific task or job, you will probably have them excited to learn more about how you will presumably bring this perfect situation to life.
16: Benefits: A classic misstep in content marketing is focusing on features rather than what the features can help your target audience achieve. Solve their problems first.
17: Features: Once your audience is engaged by the benefits, talking about how the features support them is important.
18: Storytelling techniques: Storytelling techniques have very specific and practical uses in B2B tech. They can make your content more engaging and relevant if used in the right way, but they are not suitable for all content types. See here for more: The science of storytelling: why and how to use it in B2B tech marketing
19. Urgency: Make your reader understand that action should be taken now, in order for them to build a competitive edge/get better at what they are doing/gain from more insights/whatever it is the key benefits are of your solution.
20: Emotional engagement: The B2B buying cycle can be complex and have many stakeholders. But humans are emotional creatures and make decisions accordingly. Here are some ways to bring emotion into B2B tech content.
21: Social proof: Quotes or proof points from customers, internal or third-party statistics, links to case studies, and so on are all ways to demonstrate to prospects that your information needs to be taken seriously.
22: Use cases: Use cases can be hypothetical or anonymous, but they help your target audience see how your solution or insight can be applied to their specific problems.
23. Newsjacking: This is a PR tactic that can easily be applied to content marketing. If there is a big breaking story in your niche, you can chip in with a perspective from your company.
24. AnswerThePublic: This tool helps nail question-based keyword research.
25. Semrush: This is a great tool in the research phase of writing copy. Researching will help you find gaps in the market and also study the composition of competitors’ ad copy.
26. Headline SEO: Coschedule is a useful tool to analyze and give suggestions on the SEO potential of your headline.
27. E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness can help improve your SEO.
28: Alt tags: Add alt tags to your images to provide context to Google about what an image is displaying. Not setting alt tags can hurt SEO.
29. Meta description: A meta description is important both for potential site vistors, and search engines.
30: Backlinks: Backlinks represent a "vote of confidence" in your content, so it is worth investing in building them to your page.
31: Internal links: Internal links help establish an information hierarchy for your website.
Design and collaterals
32. A "content design" mindset: To learn more about this concept, visit: How content design can supercharge your B2B tech content marketing
33. Images: To break up the page and provide a better reading experience.
34. Diagrams: These can be especially helpful to illustrate complex points or show how software architecture works. Sometimes it is far more effective to use a diagram than several paragraphs of copy.
35. Gifs: Sometimes gifs can be even more effective than diagrams in showing a complex process that is difficult to explain in words.
36. Popout quotes: If you have a big stat or high praise from a client, you want to make sure your audience sees it.
37: Sub-headings: Break up your copy and ensure that your audience is not faced with a wall of text.
38: Highlights: Underline, bold, or italicize key words or phrases to make sure they grab your reader's attention.
39: Call to action: Every piece of content should have an action for your target audience to take next, whether it is to get in touch, download, join a webinar, or something else.
40. Social media assets: Don't forget to include these in the brief and make sure they are consistent with the design and images of your content. They should also include a CTA and copy written according to the word limits of the platform.
41. Mobile optimization: Make sure all your diagrams, gifs, and copy are readable on any screen.
42. Video: This is a whole topic by itself, but video can be very effective in tandem with blog or web copy, with client interviews, expert opinions, or animations.
43. Internal channels: Sharing on social media organically is a default behavior now. But a lot of potential reach is lost if you don't also share content internally. This can be as simple as sharing in Slack and your internal newsletter, if you have one. Your colleagues may also appreciate it if you provide some suggested copy for social media.
44. Less obvious social platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook tend to hog most of the attention for B2B tech marketers. But what about less obvious but still popular sites such as Quora or Reddit? These can drive significant traffic to your content - but be aware they need a different approach.
45. Sponsoring on LinkedIn: The world's biggest social network for professional purposes offers incredibly granular targeting possibilities. Read more here: How to create and optimize the ultimate LinkedIn sponsored post.
46. Sponsoring in a third-party email: Trade publications can sometimes open up space in their newsletters or dedicated emails for sponsored content, which can amplify your reach. Or more often, they will host third-party content such as white papers on their sites and generate leads for you.
47. Recommendation platforms: Solutions such as Outbrain can serve links to your content to quite granular audiences from related content.
48. Sponsoring on Twitter and Facebook: While these platforms don't have the targeting granularity of LinkedIn, they can still be effective platforms to reach targets.
49. Newsletter: Don't forget your company newsletter!
50. UTM tags for social channels: Keep track of where your traffic is coming from, and whether it is through paid or organic means.
51. Traffic acquisition report in Google Analytics: See where your traffic is coming from and compare your channels.
52. Hotjar: To track how your visitors scroll down your page, where they pay attention to, where they click, and where they drop off.
Tried and tested tactics for your content marketing wins
Individually none of these tactics will make your content stand out. But like the one-percent gains made by Great Britain's cycling team in the 2008 Olympics, together they have the potential to help your content break through and drive real gains for your business.