Content marketing is hard. It could be due to having limited time or lack of a talented staff – but something is going on out there. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 9 percent of B2B marketers consider their content “very effective.” Just 9 percent!
Think hard about your own content marketing practice. Where do you stand? What is keeping you from being the best content marketer you can be?
In this post we’ll look at what you might be doing wrong if you’ve been left out of that rarified 9%.
You Haven’t Defined a Content Marketing Strategy
We love it when a plan comes together.
But if you don’t have a plan, how do you know if it comes together? And what’s more, how do you know what’s working?
A content marketing program lacking a plan is like traveling without a map; you’ll just blunder forward, uncertain whether you’re headed in the right direction, burning gas (and money) by making wrong turns and wasting time.
A strategy is crucial, which is why it’s surprising that a whopping 48 percent of marketers have an undocumented content marketing strategy, according to the most recent Content Marketing Institute report.
But what constitutes a content marketing strategy? Here are a few tips to getting started:
- Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). What constitutes success? Often this depends upon the type of content your producing. For videos you may be looking at views, for downloadable whitepapers it may be leads. If you’re not achieving these KPIs with your content, shift your strategy.
- Define Your Audience. What is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). If you don’t know who your audience is, how do you know you’re reaching them? Just because they attend your webinar or download your eBook doesn’t mean they are prospects. An ICP helps you understand who is a lead, and who is not.
- Write an Editorial Statement. An editorial statement should be an overarching guide to all the content you produce, a sort of litmus test to determine how to create content. For example, here’s Madison Logic’s editorial mission statement: “Madison Logic provides b2b marketers with webinars, videos, infographics, whitepapers and articles that can help them better do their jobs.” In other words, if our content sounds too sales-oriented, it gets thrown out.
You’re Not Properly Promoting Your Content
If you write a blog post, but nobody reads it, does it exist?
It may sound silly, but that’s truly an ontological question. If you’re prospects are not reading your content, no, it doesn’t exist. Content marketing is a prime SEO strategy. Google loves content that is actually helpful. The closer it comes to answering the question your prospects are asking; the better result you’ll have in a search.
But SEO is hardly enough. Your competitors are optimizing for the same keywords, they’re producing their own content. You can’t trust an algorithm to do all your marketing for you.
Here’s what we consider the best tactics for content promotion and delivery:
- Social Media – LinkedIn, Twitter, and yes even Facebook are powerful tools for a B2B marketer. Using a tool like LinkedIn casts a wide net, but at least you can define the fish that are in the net. You can define the tiles, industry, and even the companies that you’ve defined as your ICP. This strategy works best at the top of the funnel, when you’re trying to peak interest. As they move deeper, you need something else.
- Targeted Advertising and Content Syndication – This may sound self-serving coming from Madison Logic, but hear me out. With deep pools of data behind your targeted advertising and content syndication program, you can put your content in front of the prospects who are actively researching products and services like yours. This strategy works well as prospects proceed through the funnel.
- Email – Email can be successful at any point in the funnel, but you have to consider the content you’re delivering. At the top of the funnel, begin with something light: a newsletter or a video, something that peaks interest but isn’t overbearing. God forbid new lead receives a demo offer if they haven’t yet asked for one.
You Aren’t Listening to your Prospects
Marketers can be egocentric. Often the expectation is that both content and marketing collateral must tell the brand story, breakdown the benefits of products and proclaim your superiority over that of your competitors.
This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Content should be about the customer, their issues and concerns. To succeed, content marketers should not be talking; they should be listening.
But how? I have four points for you:
- Social Media – You should already be using it to push out your content, but are you using it to listen to your prospects? Hashtags, trending topics, and blog posts are key to informing content creation.
- Search Engine Optimization – You know the topics that are important to you, but tools like Google Trends help you understand the topics that are actually being searched.
- Site Analytics – Your site is a great resource. What are the terms people are using to get to your site? Are they interacting or bouncing away? Take a lesson from your analytics. If they’re not downloading that whitepaper, dump it for something new.
- Intent Data – The points above are all essential, but they’re really only your best guess as to what your prospects are researching. Intent data, by contrast, can pinpoint exactly what topics users are researching in the marketplace. With this information in hand you don’t want to create content about the “finance,” instead you can focus on the terms “investment software” and “online and mobile investing”, which are surging in the marketplace. Create content based around your customer’s intent signals and you’re on your way to success.
Usually, these are the three core things that derail a content marketing program. We’ll try to address more in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, feel free to add your personal content challenges in the comments. If we see anything we can help with, you’ll see it in a future post.
To learn more download our account based marketing whitepaper.
Image via Nasrul Ekram.