If you put a lot of time and energy into your content marketing and aren’t sure it’s working—or worse, you’re pretty sure it’s not working—you’re not alone.

The 2016 Content Marketing Institute’s survey found that only 6% of B2B marketers think their organization’s use of content marketing is effective and only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. These challenges may be especially true for small businesses that may be creating and pushing out content, but don’t have the resources to put together a cohesive content marketing strategy.

Is your content marketing setup for success? Let’s find out.

1. Do you have a documented content marketing strategy that is directly tied to your business’ values, mission and goals?

If your content marketing plan isn’t clearly outlined, written down and documented, it’s not a legitimate strategy. If it is documented, it also needs to correspond with your business’ mission or it’s unlikely to succeed.  

Without a clear strategy your content marketing team—even if it’s one person—might be pushing out content that isn’t necessarily reaching your target audience in a meaningful way. The goal is to connect with potential customers, so make sure that your communication strategy is aligned with the overall goals of the business.

Pro Tip:  Have you nailed down your company’s mission?  Learn how to create a killer mission and use it to grow your company.

2. Is your message consistent and seamless across all written content?

Content marketing doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It’s a part of your business’ overall messaging and communications, from blog posts to brochures to descriptions of services to the business  logo. You want your customer to have a singular brand experience, which means that in the same way your logo reflects your brand, the content reflects the brand.  The goal is to have a message that is clearly articulated regardless of how a consumers interact with your brand.

Pro Tip: Check out our helpful tips for branding your small business.

3. Do you know who you’re talking to?

It’s really important—crucial—to know exactly to whom your content is speaking. If you feel you have a general idea of your target audience, that’s not enough. You need to know a lot about them, and not just demographics. What are the problems they face, both as it relates to what your business offers and generally? You should have identified their aspirations, their fears, where they are in their customer journey, the ways they consume content. This combination of demographics plus psychographics will give you a far more complete picture of your target consumer and that can inform the content your team creates.  

Pro Tip: If you don’t know what makes your customers tick, check out our Buyer Persona Workbook to help flesh out your ideal customer.

4. Is your content integrated with your sales process?

At different points along a customer’s journey toward making a purchase, their questions and needs will vary. By knowing both to whom you are speaking—and at what point in their journey you’re reaching them– you can craft content that anticipates and answers those questions, pushing them toward a sale.  Your content should be closely tied to your small business CRM – targeted email marketing campaigns with the right content will push your prospects even further down your sales funnel. Your customers will only contact a sales rep when they have done the research they need to do online, so your content should be tailored for each stage in the sales process.

Pro Tip: Wondering how to pair your content with your sales process?  Check out our helpful content marketing infographic.

5.  Is your content offering anything new?

If you send into cyberspace content that is trite, dated or just subject matter that feels (or genuinely is) regurgitated information easily found in a million other places, it won’t be effective. People are already overwhelmed with information so if your business is going to add to it, add something your audience needs or wants to read. As Nancy Duarte, author of the “HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations” wrote in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Your audience will value your brand and engage with it if you create content … that’s worthy of publication in its own right.

Your content should not only be well-written but factually accurate, with current links, new information or insights and an implicit value to your audience. The best way to do this is to put yourself in your target customer’s shoes. What are their problems and pain points? What are they interested in learning about at the point where they are reading your blog or brochure? Your website information? A white paper? Then generate content that is relevant to them—and that is backed up with research and intelligent insights

Pro Tip: Need help finding the perfect intersection of the content that relevant to your business and the content your audience needs?  Download our content marketing workbook.

6. Do you have a strategy for nurturing leads that come from content marketing?  

Companies that focus their content marketing on increasing and strengthening their brand’s presence–through things like blog posts, infographics and email newsletters—are off to a good start. But B2B sales needs more than an increase in inbound traffic; making a sale requires a strategy for turning those leads and into customers.

Your content will attract potential buyers to your website but from there, your sales team should have a clear strategy for keeping those leads engaged until they reach the point where a conversation makes sense. Content marketing alone will not necessarily close all of your deals, but if it’s part of a comprehensive marketing plan, it’s sure to help.

Pro Tip: Learn more about nurturing new leads into customers with our guide to marketing automation.