Content Marketing is no longer the “next big thing.” Having firmly grabbed its position as a mainstream marketing activity, many organizations have embraced content marketing, with more companies recognizing its value daily. And yet, many companies still feel they’re just not doing it right.
Most marketers know they should drive new customer acquisition through content, but an effective strategy for content marketing often eludes them. Seventy six percent of organizations are increasing their investment in content marketing. However, only 30 percent of B2B marketers rate their use of content as “effective” or “very effective.” Why the disconnect?
With a minority of B2B marketers feeling confident about the success of their content, we find the disconnect to be the result of common frustrations.
Three major frustrations
There are three common content marketing frustrations for marketing teams.
- Insufficient resources: There never seems to be enough time, staff, or money to create the required content.
- Limited productivity: It’s hard to create enough content. Fifty percent of marketers find it challenging to create a sufficient quantity of content.
- Lack of focus and strategic direction: A documented strategy increases focus, alignment, and content’s ultimate impact. While 80% of B2B marketers have a content strategy, almost half (48%) fail to document that strategy.
The third item in this list is the primary reason why marketing teams feel they aren’t effective. With a documented strategy in place, marketing teams can accurately prioritize their resources and maximize their content’s effectiveness.
3 Strategies for success and your content
Here are three things you should consider when developing a content strategy to ensure your content marketing program’s success.
1. Trust is key to attracting customers
As digital has displaced tightly-controlled media channels like TV, radio, and newspapers, consumers have rapidly assumed the driver’s seat in curating their own content. Clever jingles and repetitive ads — the classic “sales pitch” — are no longer as effective a means of attracting new customers. Today, the old-fashioned hard sell drives consumers away.
Instead, today customers seek trust.
Trust in the product or service being offered. Trust that the people behind a product or service understand their needs and challenges. The trust that comes from authenticity. So it’s easy to see why content and trust are so closely intertwined, as professional speaker Andrew Davis argues:
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
Today’s customers are not only buying the initial product or service, but also a company’s expertise. It’s this expertise and understanding of a customer’s needs that keeps companies successful in a rapidly changing and hypercompetitive marketplace. Customers are buying “value” more than features, so much so that 71 percent of consumers surveyed say they trust brands that provide useful information without trying to sell them something.
Here are three things you can work into your content marketing strategy to increase your audience’s trust:
- Be consistent: Drive top-of-funnel content like blog posts to landing pages with related content. Creating landing pages related to your content improves lead generation. As HubSpot shows, companies that increase their number of landing pages from 10 to 15 see a 55 percent increase in leads.
- Create an emotional connection: Creating an emotional connection with your audience not only builds trust, it increases social sharing. According to Buffer, “campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% versus 16%) as those with only rational content.”
- Incorporate existing customer recommendations into your strategy.
Building a relationship with prospects at each stage of the funnel can go a long way in nurturing prospects from visitor to lead, and lead to customer. This leads us to the content you offer your audience.
2. Create relevant and valuable content
Digital content that is relevant and valuable provides a powerful avenue to build trust with prospects.
Forrester defines content marketing as a strategy whereby “brands create relationships with customers by producing, curating, and sharing content that addresses specific customer needs and delivers visible value.”
Jason Miller, author of “Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing up to 11,” suggests building a strategy around a significant asset — what he calls “Big Rock” content and Curata calls core content. This significant asset should consist of primary or secondary research, usually in the form of an eBook or white paper. Regardless of the asset, it should be valuable and relevant to your prospects, unless you want to lose that trust you worked hard to establish.
To create a Big Rock asset of real value, Miller suggests “start simple by answering the biggest question your prospects are asking.” For example, with landing pages, if your audience continually asks for the best ways to optimize for conversions, you can offer them 35 Landing Page Techniques. Or, if users struggle with the landing page publishing process, show them this Landing Page Publishing Checklist.
If you don’t understand what content you should create and why it will be ineffective content. Without a clear purpose and strategy, companies find themselves among the 51 percent of marketers who tell Forrester their content marketing efforts are only “somewhat” effective.
With a clear strategy in place, you can use metrics to determine the most effective content and approach. You can then establish a cycle of strategy, production, distribution, and analytics. The key to this cycle are the analytics, which continuously provides consistent, important input on how to improve your strategy:
Experimentation also plays a major role in discovering effective approaches for reaching prospects and building trust and relevance. Try reserving some portion — possibly as much as 20 percent of your content marketing activity — for approaches that aren’t driven by a formal, structured strategy.
3. Avoid creating a fractured customer experience
“In order to be successful, you need a marketing culture that includes both a strong marketing and publishing core and a keen understanding of how consistent editorial content can maintain or change customer behavior.”
― Joe PulizziThe cost of an ineffective strategy can be significant to your brand and marketing as a whole. A lack of strategy leads to poorly executed content, disconnected touch points, and inconsistent messaging. Rather than building trust, customer confidence erodes. Without an effective strategy, your content has a short shelf life, gets either repeated or under-utilized, your budget is depleted, and you fail to grow the company’s bottom line.
An easy fix to improving your customer’s experience is including links to landing pages within your content. Landing pages that are customized for the piece of content that precede it give the viewer a seamless transition from one piece of content to the next (more about that here).
Get started with your strategy
Curata’s Content Marketing Pyramid provides a cohesive and comprehensive framework to execute an effective strategy. It ensures each piece of content performs multiple roles across a variety of formats and channels, and creates the kind of customer experience that ensures a growing sales pipeline of leads and conversions.
About the author
Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based content marketing software company. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SXSW on Content Marketing in 2011 and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year.