Many large and high-growth B2B companies are fortunate to have robust marketing teams, large budgets, and sophisticated content marketing strategies. Everyone has a specific task and the entire team moves like a well-oiled machine, with creative professionals available and ready to execute every new content idea.
However, because every company and marketing team is built differently, this might not be your reality. According to a study carried out by the Content Marketing Institute, about 69% of B2B marketers consider time – and the lack of it – a major challenge in getting their job done. What’s more, one of the primary problems that marketers face, according to a survey of a thousand marketing professionals, is scaling their content marketing strategy.
These insights point towards a limited bandwidth to expand upon content marketing strategies in many marketing teams and agencies. However, despite these problems that are often symptoms of a limited team and budget, it is possible to scale your content marketing strategy and maximize its ROI.
About 69% of B2B marketers consider time – and the lack of it – a major challenge in getting their job done.
In the context of this article, to scale your content marketing strategy means getting the maximum ROI from your existing content strategy, even if your team only has a handful of professionals and tools at its disposal.
What it Means to Scale Your Content Marketing Strategy
The phrase, “how to scale your content marketing strategy” might lead you to think that we’ll be discussing how to create more original content with a limited team, time, and budget. However, that’s not entirely the case here.
Many marketing teams and agencies are already creating plenty of content, despite their size. As such, unless you’re currently having trouble maintaining consistency with your content creation process, there’s a strong possibility that you do not need to create more original content.
Scaling your content marketing strategy within the context of this conversation means getting the maximum ROI from your existing content strategy, even if your team only has a handful of professionals and tools at its disposal. Outside of simply creating more content, it’s useful to consider how to maximize the impact of the existing content your team is creating.d
How to Scale Your Content Marketing Strategy With a Limited Team and Budget
1. Start by Working on the Content Strategy Itself
A content strategy is the very foundation of any successful content marketing campaign. Of course, not every viral B2B post was perfectly planned out. There is always some degree of luck and timing, but having a consistent plan increases your chance of finding the right combination of timing, topic, and audience.
While relying on accidents and sheer luck to achieve your content marketing goals might work occasionally, it’s entirely impossible to control and recreate on demand. For this reason, it’s important to start your process with a strategy that will guide you through your content creation pipeline.
So, if you haven’t created one, now might be a good time to get started with an actual document that can be referenced as opposed to a few scribblings in your notepad. If you do have a strategy, on the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to have a second look.
While we won’t be going in-depth into creating a stellar content marketing strategy, we will offer a few tips to guide your process:
a) Research Should be the Primary Driver of Your Ideas and Plans
Several content marketers with one too many deliverables often let research take the backseat in their content marketing strategies. They base the majority of their ideas and plans on (educated) guesses and just start producing content from there.
This is understandable for a number of reasons but it’s hardly the best course of action. To make the best decisions in your strategy creation process, you need to understand your audience and the best way to do so is by speaking to them. After all, they’re the ones you’re creating the content for.
First, decide on your most suitable research format – interview, survey/questionnaire, or focus groups. Use the data gained there to make decisions regarding your content distribution channels as well as the type of content to be created.
A close second to speaking to your audience directly is observing them. Among other tactics, you can do this by studying analytics from your website and competitors. Semrush, Ahrefs, and even Google Analytics are great places to begin here.
As an alternative, you could simply ask your sales team questions about customer and prospects interests, motivations, frustrations, desires, etc. Sales and customer success likely understand your customer’s pain points the best.
b) Not All Your Content Needs to be Driven by Search Engine Visibility
Google is the largest search engine on the internet and it’s safe to say that it has the attention of most content writers. Being found on the search engine is typically the primary goal of most website content.
However, one of the problems of Google is that sometimes, it provides the best optimized content, not the best content. Marketers who are eagerly looking for traffic create more and more optimized content that aggravates this problem.
Although the Google ranking algorithm is updated often, and recent releases have focused more on user search intent as a key ranking factor, B2B readers are particularly aware of the tricks companies employ to rank as high as possible while providing unsatisfactory answers to their questions. For this reason, it can be more useful to produce content that truly answers your customer’s questions rather than simply optimizing for Google ranking. It is likely that overtime, search intent and the ability of your content to answer a user’s questions will be just as important as keyword density and backlinks.
c) Don’t Ignore Content Distribution
Marketers are often caught in an endless cycle of content production without creating a plan for distribution. In your strategy, outline your channels carefully. Then, create a process that allows you to adapt your content for the chosen channels and include a posting schedule across those channels right alongside your main content calendar.
Ross Simmonds, the Founder & CEO of Foundation Marketing is a big advocate of focusing heavily on content distribution. Check out his playbook in the video below.
2. Design a Content Creation Workflow
Once you’ve created your strategy, which may include which keywords and audience to target, what search intent to address, and how you will distribute your content, the next thing to do is to ensure that it is sustainable. You don’t want one person churning out several thousand words every week with the only break in between being spent planning for the next week. You also don’t want to have too many pieces of content going out in such a short period, causing your audience to get overwhelmed.
The key to sustainable content is to find a balance and maintain it by creating systems that allow you to work efficiently for extended periods.
Here’s a quick tip that might be useful to you in the process: Use tools to create systems and stay organized.
Trello is a Kanban-style project organization software that’s great for collaboration and keeping track of your tasks and deliverables. Asana offers similar content planning capabilities as well.
Notion, on the other hand, is a lot of things, including a database creation software, task management tool, team collaboration platform, journal, etc. Many people have even used it to build a no-code website. Notion can be an invaluable resource in your journey toward scaling your content marketing strategy for content planning and creating a collaborative content calendar.
3. Create Great Content
This is as simple as it gets. If you want to scale your content marketing strategy, you can’t do it with content that makes your audience roll their eyes in disappointment.
Marketers spend hundreds of hours taking content creation courses and others have spent years honing their content creation abilities. However, without going too deep into content writing advice, here are three tips to help your team create better content.
a) Assign Content to Writers That Matches Their Expertise
Depending on your team’s size and capabilities, you could divide along the lines of content distribution channels. That is, one person could create content for web and another would create for social media.
As an alternative, you could divide your team along the lines of topics covered on your website.
For example, here at Automata, we discuss content repurposing, content distribution, and challenges of small marketing teams, among other topics. If your content marketing strategy is divided into multiple buckets, you could assign a writer to each topic, depending on where their expertise lies.
Additionally, if you create a variety of content, you could assign your team to tasks by content format. Those who are skilled at video creation should be left to it and those who excel at podcasts should be given the microphone.
By keeping your team members assigned to areas of content that they’ve mastered, you’ll be able to significantly ramp up the quality of content produced by your marketing team.
b) Set Clear but Simple Goals for Every Piece of Content
It’s difficult to achieve much with your content if you do not set well-defined goals.
As a general rule of thumb, decide why you’re writing a piece of content before you begin writing it. Doing so helps you to keep your content focused such that you don’t end up writing a lot without delivering the correct message. You may be optimizing for search, to educate existing customers, or convert bottom of the funnel prospects in an email campaign. No matter the goal, you need something to track – a metric to measure your performance against for improvement in future.
Like every other type of marketing effort, it is great if content marketing can provide a clear ROI. Setting goals moves you a step further in that direction.
c) Create Unique Content
Much of the content on the internet is simply a mashup of existing articles and videos. Writers, especially those in content mills, often borrow ideas here and there and rephrase it carefully to avoid plagiarism checkers.
Don’t do that. Infuse your posts with relevant statistics obtained from research conducted by credible organizations and subject matter experts. If you can do the research yourself, even better. Obtain expert advice and/or opinion on specific topics within your content. Include key takeaways and useful recommendations of tools and platforms to help your audience execute the ideas you’ve provided in your content.
Here’s Lauren Lang from constructor.io on the benefits of original research in content creation:
4. Fire Up Your Content Distribution Engine
This is perhaps the most important part of scaling your content marketing strategy even with a small team. Earlier, we had hinted at the importance of content distribution but let’s put things in perspective.
Considering the amount of content being created across blogs, social, and email every day, much of your audience is likely already inundated. Google Chrome, one of the most widely used browsers, has a convenient feature that recommends articles to a user based on their reading habits. It’s fairly customizable. Medium, the content sharing and reading platform does something similar. Different social media sites use complex algorithms to recommend content to their users based on their audience.
These features allow people to see a lot of content that they are interested in. On the other hand, there’s a chance for people to get stuck in a perpetual bubble where it would be fairly difficult to find content outside of their recommendations unless they actively search for it.
So, it’s not simply enough for you to create content and hope for the best from these types of algorithms. You need a plan to help you distribute your content effectively.
There are a few ways to go about it:
a) Repurpose Existing Content for Different Channels
Content repurposing has the potential to get your content in front of audiences that were previously unreachable to you via your primary content distribution channel. If you intend to scale your content marketing strategy, you cannot do without it.
For example, to repurpose a webinar, break it down into a series of videos for social media or turn it into a blog post for your website. When you create a blog post, make it into a series of infographics for relevant channels and so on.
While this seems like more work, it’s much less than creating entirely new content for each channel. Content repurposing is designed to help you make the most out of your existing content without having to create new assets entirely. It’s significantly easier to pull a quote from a blog post and turn it into a social media design than to write a series of posts to create a carousel for your social media pages. It is an obvious solution that benefits from a concerted effort and intentional planning.
There are many useful tools like Automata’s AI-assisted content engine that helps you create unique assets from existing content you’ve produced already.
b) Turn Interested Team Members into Company Promoters
If your team consists of marketers with a fair bit of experience, you can expect them to be reasonably active on social media with some likely having a large following. A great way to scale your content marketing strategy is by getting the team involved in content distribution/promotion. This also means your engineers, finance department, and HR as well. With an active employee-led engagement program, everything become easier from hiring to selling.
This is important is because company channels often have little to no engagement on their posts, especially on LinkedIn. This is a fact for many companies, including some of the biggest in the world.
Take Microsoft for example. The company’s LinkedIn page has over 16 million followers. However, one of their most recent posts gained less than 200 reactions and 20 shares and only one comment as at the time of writing this post.
People are simply more inclined towards interacting with other people. Instead of fighting it, you could work with it by having your team members join the content promotion effort. Whenever there’s a new piece of content, especially one that took quite a bit of effort to create, have your team members share it across their personal pages. In addition, encouraging thought leadership in whatever area of expertise they might have is even better than simply sharing company content.
It is important that the employee-shared content is not too robotic and unengaging for the audience you’re hoping to attract. Instead of forcing them to publish and share, make sure your team understands the decision is entirely up to them. In addition, give them the freedom to create content as they please so that it matches the existing tone on their personal pages. They should be building a personal brand while promoting the company’s.
If the need arises, edit some of their content to ensure that it’s on brand and represents the company properly but don’t take away their freedom. To make things even better, you could offer an additional financial incentive of some sort.
By creating something along the lines of an internal influencer marketing strategy like so, you’d have a set of pillars to support your content whenever the time for distribution comes. Hootsuite writes a lot about employee-led engagement and has a lot of great tips on how to set up this type of initiative.
c) Explore Paid Content Channels if You Have the Budget
A major topic we once covered at Automata is whether or not it’s necessary to pay for content distribution. We highlighted the need to consider the sustainability of the paid distribution strategy as well as your budget for such an undertaking.
With that being said, if you have the budget to cover a paid content distribution campaign, go for it. If done right, it would likely provide benefits ranging from lead generation to the attraction of new audiences.
5. Pay Attention to the Data
It’s difficult to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re coming from or where you’re going. So, after getting through all the steps required to scale your content marketing strategy, pay as much attention as possible to the data and analytics around how your content is performing.
For your website, Google Analytics is a great tool to use. Monster Insights is excellent if WordPress is your content management system and you need something relatively simpler. Heap Analytics is a newer tool that provides many valuable insights with a user-friendly developer experience.
You should measure the impact of your content against predetermined goals each week, month, quarter, and year. At every turn, try to find out what’s working and what’s not. Focus on the former and build your strength in that regard.
Metrics such as traffic, conversion rates, SERP rankings, social shares, and backlinks are all good indicators depending on what your ultimate goals for the piece of content are. A/B testing distribution channels, messaging, and format is a great way to optimize for whatever outcome you are looking for.
Useful Tips to Help You Out Throughout the Process
1. Automate As Much As Possible
Scaling your content marketing strategy with a small team has the potential to increase your workload in ways that are hard to predict.
If you’re successful, you’ll have leads constantly making comments and inquiries on your posts, leaving your community manager overwhelmed. What’s more, your audience might start making specific content requests, leading you to create more than you’d initially expected.
To ensure sustainability in the execution of your content marketing strategy, automate processes that allow for it. Content repurposing is possible and much simpler with Automata. Email marketing is quicker with Mail Chimp. HubSpot makes Customer Relationship Management less daunting.
Pick whatever works best for you, depending on your specific needs and automate. That way, you can spend your valuable time doing the things that keep your business and marketing team productive.
2. Increase Your Marketing Budget Whenever You Have the Chance
Everything is easier with more money. It’s easier to run A/B testing across platforms. It’s easier to converge on the winning strategy. It’s obvious advice that as soon as you start achieving some results in your content marketing effort, pitch a budget increase and double down on any way you can turn a dollar into two, or turn an audience of 10 into 100.
With a bigger budget, you have many more options to hire a more experienced team, whether it’s in-house or contractors. You could also afford more advanced tools that would simplify your process and you can pay for as much content distribution as you’d like.
3. Keep in Touch With the Team as Often as Possible
Your team is a group of professionals with different backgrounds, skills, and ideas, and it only makes sense that you communicate often and effectively to ensure you’re all on the same page.
It’s easy to see a content strategy start to deviate away from the initial goal as soon as the first bit of data comes through. However, much like other parts of your business, it’s important to avoid making quick decisions on a small amount of data.
Effective content repurposing and distribution are at the forefront of successfully scaling your content marketing strategy even with a small team. Investing in a sound content strategy around topics that matter to your audience, research methodology, content creation, as well as repurposing and distribution across relevant channels is a good start to get the most out of a small team and budget.