Business-to-business marketers say they want to produce more content. The problem is, they just can’t seem to make it work well as part of their lead-generating B2B marketing strategies.
Only 12 percent of B2B marketers rated their content marketing efforts as high-performing, lead-generating engines, according to a Q2 report from the CMO Council and the Content ROI Center. Instead, most say their content marketing process is “ad hoc, decentralized and driven by internal stakeholder interests.”
Choosing the Right Content at the Right Time
Part of the problem comes from not optimizing content mix. B2B marketers apparently fail to leverage the most effective content types, instead investing time in less productive content.
For example, product brochures are the content type marketers turn to most for lead generation—even as only nine percent of the same marketers say brochures deliver great leads, eMarketer reports. Slide presentations were the second-most popular content type, even though only 15 percent said they delivered great leads. Digital content like white papers, videos, analyst reports, and webcasts took the top slots for generating leads.
The inability to measure lead generation effectiveness with certain content types complicates things—many marketers said they don’t know the rate of leads generated by white papers, analyst reports and eBooks, eMarketer reports.
Building Better B2B Marketing Strategies
Despite these challenges, B2B marketers realize the importance of content. Seventy percent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.
But in content marketing, more content isn’t necessarily better. To boost effectiveness, marketers need to shift their B2B marketing strategies toward the most effective types of content. More content doesn’t always equal more results—what matters is how the content connects with the target audience.
One of the first and most effective steps B2B marketers can take is to create a documented content marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute found that only 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented strategy; another 48 percent have a verbal strategy that is undocumented. However, research shows that writing down a strategy pays off: Sixty percent of marketers with a documented strategy rate their content marketing efforts as effective, compared with 32 percent of those with a verbal strategy.
To start strategizing, Neil Patel of KISSmetrics suggests B2B marketers ask themselves three simple questions:
WHO ARE YOU?
Before developing content, marketing teams need to understand who they are as a company and what they value. What does the company offer the world? How do the brand, product, culture, or ideas define the company? Answering those types of questions can help ground any approach to content marketing.
WHO ARE YOU REACHING?
Marketers should envision their ideal end user—who they are, where they are, and how their habits and behaviors intersect with the company’s product or service. Discussion of audience personas could ultimately dive into customer journeys, too. All of this information on how the audience behaves ultimately shapes content, making it more relevant.
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?
Ultimately, content should help change a user’s behavior. While every piece of content doesn’t need to include a call to action, every piece of content should be connected to a call to action, Patel advises.
A clear, documented strategy will lay the groundwork for content marketing that’s more effective than ad hoc efforts.