B2B companies appreciate the effectiveness of content marketing. So much so that almost all of them do it. The overwhelming majority — 87 percent of B2B brands and 84 percent of all organizations — conduct content marketing, according to a new eMarketer report. The 2018 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks study from the Content Marketing Institute reports that 91 percent of B2B companies use content marketing.
Just because almost everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean everyone does it well. Simply creating content and sharing content without a clear purpose isn’t enough for B2B brands to be successful. There must be a refined and documented strategy to stand out in a crowded digital landscape, experts agree. As content marketing reaches the saturation point, only those who follow recommended best practices will get their content in front of the audiences they seek.
Marketers’ Measurement Struggle
Many marketers struggle with measurement. More than half (55 percent) say measuring content marketing success and determining ROI presents the biggest challenge, followed by driving content to traffic (41 percent) and accessing the right audiences (32 percent). Almost half (47 percent) of respondents to the CMI survey say they don’t measure content marketing ROI. Top reasons cited include “no formal justification required” and “we need an easier way to do this.”
Jillian Ryan, eMarketer senior analyst suggests marketers seek “deeper metrics” including revenue-driven KPIs, and track how their content impacts the buyer’s journey. Qualitative measurement can offer valuable information. Company sales staff can provide qualitative insights when they input feedback into the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.
These are some of the other recommendations Ryan presented in a recent eMarketer webinar on its report.
Develop a plan. “Random acts of content don’t work. There needs to be a strategy,” Ryan said, quoting Convince & Convert founder Jay Baer.
Emphasize quality rather than content production quotas.
Be original. As the internet becomes more crowded with content, creating original research or studies becomes more valuable.
Build a team. Good writers are essential for effective content marketing. Ryan suggested that professional writers comprise a fifth of the staff. We think it should be an even higher percentage – like half.
Work with other departments. Too often content lives and dies in the marketing department. Effective content marketing entails integrating content with public relations, advertising and sales. For example, company sales persons or other customer-facing staff can provide content the marketing department produced to prospects to meet their particular needs.
Understand the buyer. Learn about their companies, their jobs, and their pain points. Craft content that helps them solve those challenges and that address all stages of the buyer’s journey, including awareness, consideration and decision.
Tell customer stories. Actual customer success stories offer original content that is more convincing that mere product claims. Customer testimonials are more trustworthy than product descriptions.
Listen to Find their Hot Buttons
Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide recommends that marketers monitor social media to determine their target audience’s hot buttons. Listen to your audience and that of your competitors. Social media now refers more traffic to websites than search engines, notes Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
“Social media is where we seek people and information. This reflects a change in our habits. We spend our time on social media,” Cohn states. “More importantly for marketers, we trust our family and friends most.”
Bottom Line: As almost all B2B firms jump into the content marketing game, winning the customer’s attention becomes increasingly competitive. However, many organizations don’t follow an organized game plan and many struggle to measure their content marketing results. Marketers who follow recommended strategies will be more likely to develop solid relationships with customers and drive sales.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.