Content Marketing: The Art & Science

Content Marketing: The Art & Science

If you’re a b2b marketer having trouble winning content marketing budget from the C-Suite, I have a stat for you. According to The Future of Content Marketing: The Age of Content Science, a report newly released by Aberdeen Group, the most successful content marketing organizations are winning “five times higher revenue from content efforts than their peers.”

Best-in-Class Content Marketing

Aberdeen describes the top performing content marketers as “Best-in-Class.” But what is this exactly? The Aberdeen report found that the best marketers excel in 4 critical areas:

  • Content Marketing Documentation: As I’ve written before, the marketers documenting their strategies are far more successful than their peers. The Aberdeen report confirms this, revealing that only 7% of the “Best-in-Class” content in an ad hoc fashion while 47% of the lesser performers are working impulsively. “The “Best-in-Class are clearly not creating content on a whim,” reads the report. “They have a plan and are focused.”
  • Aligning content to the buyers Journey: The research found that 52% of the “Best-in-Class” are creating content that maps to the buyers journey. A large number of these companies (41%) are using “progressive profiling” which is the strategy of getting users to sign up with a simple form and obtaining more and more data from them as their engagement deepens.
  • Designing content to meet the needs of buyer personas: Of the “Best-in-Class,” 67% have created content and are writing for their target personas.
  • Manage outreach across social channels: The report reveals that 60% of the best in class use scheduling tools to manage their output on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook while 80% of the “Best-in-Class” marketers employ buttons to allow readers to share content from email campaigns.

Aberdeen’s “Best-in-Class” designation is based on business-critical metrics, including:

  • Percentage of marketing-qualified leads attributed to content marketing
  • Percentage of revenue generated by content marketing efforts
  • Year-over year percentage change in marketing’s contribution to revenue

Data-Driven Content Marketing

As indicated by the title of the report, Aberdeen insists that excellence in content marketing requires a scientific approach. The “Best-in-Class” marketers they surveyed are using “data to make informed decisions about content strategy, not just overall, but on a personal level for each buyer.”

Aberdeen breaks the concept into four sections:

  • Audience: Have clear data about their target audience to allow for better targeting and segmentation.
  • Placement: Ensure that your brand shows up everywhere a buyer goes for information.
  • Message: Adjust your message based on the data you’ve gathered throughout your interaction with them
  • Timing: Understanding where a company and a buyer is in their buying cycle is critical. Behavioral data (such as Intent Data) can help you identify buying cycles

In short, the report states that “Best-in-Class marketers are building capabilities around data that allow them to adapt their message to have the biggest impact.”

Keeping Up With the Best-in-Class

The biggest takeaway from The Future of Content Marketing: The Age of Content Science, is that the gap between the Best-in-Class and the rest of the lesser performing marketer is widening and if their competitors fail to keep pace, the best will “leap ahead of their competition by building community and advocacy for their brands.”

Brands that want to keep up will need to establish strategies that leverage data that will improve their content marketing efforts. This will allow companies to adjust content timing and channel. What’s more, with a deep understanding of data marketers can create highly personalized data that matches the buyer personas.

To support this, marketing teams must combine the best of art and science. Teams must make a concerted effort to employ data in their own practices and/or establish partnerships with data-driven vendors who can help move those just getting started to the next level.

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