Content Marketing Trends: Not Effective But Doing More?
Marketers love content. However, many feel there is much room for improvement in their content marketing programs. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, seven out of ten marketers are doing more content marketing this year than last year. However, only 38% report being effective.
So what gives? If less than half of the B2B marketers surveyed don’t think they are successful, why are they planning more content marketing?
Actually, it’s pretty simple. B2B marketers are increasingly recognizing that B2B customers are behaving less like their past selves (think huge sales force, relationship driven sales, and lengthy enterprise procurement processes), and more like B2C customers (i.e., online research, reliance on word of mouth and social media for product and company information, and individuals who are making their own purchasing decisions).
Savvy B2B marketers see content marketing as an opportunity to differentiate their products and reinforce their brand while meeting the needs of their modern, always connected, content hungry customers.
Why the dissatisfaction with content success?
The role content marketing has been asked to play in organizations likely has a lot to do with the reported dissatisfaction with the results. The survey asked marketers to rate the importance of each in a list of goals. The top five:
- Brand awareness (84%)
- Lead generation (83%)
- Engagement (81%)
- Sales (75%)
- Lead nurturing (74%)
Those are some pretty hefty goals. Marketers, who see the value in content marketing, know there is a huge opportunity with this focus when they get it right. While looking into those who ARE successful with content, a pattern for success emerged, regardless of program focus.
So, how do the best of the best get it right, move the needle and feel successful?
They focus on Strategy and ROI.
It’s About The Strategy
Getting a content marketing program right means, first and foremost, having a strategy. Of the companies surveyed, 83% have a strategy (35% have a documented strategy, and 48% have a strategy that is not documented), and most follow that strategy. Forty-two percent follow their strategy pretty closely, and half the companies (51%) follow it somewhat.
Having a strategy is good. A lack of any formal strategy, whether documented or not, seems to be a clear path to failure, only 7% of the companies without a strategy consider their content marketing programs successful.
Having a formally documented strategy is better than a non-documented strategy and a predictor of success. Only 35% of the marketers in the survey report documenting their content marketing strategy. But for those that do, one difference is clear: Success. Sixty percent of companies with a documented strategy consider their organization to be successful at content marketing, while only 32% of those with a verbal strategy consider themselves successful.
The content lesson: get a strategy and stick to it.
Return on Investment
Another key to B2B content marketing success is finding a way to effectively measure return on investment (ROI). Only 21% of all the companies surveyed consider themselves successful (5% very successful, 16% successful) at measuring the return on their content marketing investment.
The companies that have a strategy drive this metric, 35% of companies with a documented strategy and 26% of those with a verbal strategy consider themselves successful at measuring ROI. This is compared to a rather dismal 5% of the companies without any kind of content marketing strategy who consider they are successful at measurement.
The content lesson: learn how to measure your content ROI.
For the most part, B2B content marketers understand the benefits of creating and sharing content, which is why they are producing more and more as a way to reach their audiences and make their brand and products stand out.
Companies that are successful with content marketing know the value of creating and documenting, but take it one step further by following a strategy and successfully measuring ROI.
If your brand falls on the side of the fence that feels unsuccessful with content marketing, there’s good news; it will only take a few reasonably simple steps to make a real difference.