In the marketing world, content marketing is crucial for businesses to scale, or even get discovered. We all know that; so, what we are NOT going to discuss in this post is the importance of content marketing. Instead, we’ll talk about how to avoid six pitfalls in your B2B content strategy.
Let’s proceed with two eye-popping quotes regarding content marketing investment:
“Content creation is the area of content marketing where there has been the most reported increase in spending over the last 12 months (56%).” —Content Marketing Institute
“Almost 40% of B2B marketers were using content with no particular strategy.” —B2B News Network
Kind of baffling, isn’t it? We spend more money on content creation, but around 40% of us are squandering that money away, aimlessly.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to the point:
Pitfall #1: Writing Blog Posts Without SEO
Without a proper SEO strategy that aligns with your brand, you aren’t fully leveraging the power of blogs.
In this day and age, we have quickly moved from optimizing for rankings to optimizing for discoverability. It’s really about understanding user intent, emotion, state of mind, extrapolation of thoughts, semantic connections, understanding entity-relationship models, etc.
It’s about figuring out what your users want, even when they don’t know that your business solution can be the answer to their prayers.
We live in a demand generation world, where our leads or prospects have completely redefined marketing. We have to first show how our solutions can help, and we hope they’ll consider us—amongst the ten other vendors they’re researching.
There is much competition and information overload, so it’s essential to make your B2B blog stand apart. From my experience, clients do focus on branding and tone (which is absolutely critical), but SEO always comes second—which always has been the most significant missed opportunity.
Hire someone else to create your blog strategy from an SEO perspective, suitably a content marketing agency, or an agency that does SEO AND creates content.
For us, typically the points-of-contact we interact with are not only responsible for blog content (not to mention other types of content such as infographics, videos, webinars, etc.) but other online digital activities as well.
In such instances, one cannot afford the time to appropriately focus on blogs. The same applies to in-house teams as well. Eventually, you’d scale to a point where you’d need to leverage the digital content creation services of experts that are outside of your organization. While you do that, also look into SEO strategists that have prior experience in your industry—especially with blogs.
Pitfall #2: Not Having a Documented Content Strategy
What is a “documented content strategy,” you ask?
In plain terms, it’s a living and breathing document that highlights your content marketing goals, the efforts you’d have to make to achieve those goals, and how you’d measure the success or failure.
But that’s only a good documented content strategy. A great documented content strategy addresses the roadblocks and challenges your business faces that prevent you from being number 1 in your industry, and how you’d use content to overcome those challenges.
A great documented content strategy addresses the roadblocks and challenges your business faces that prevent you from being number 1 in your industry, and how you’d use content to overcome those challenges.
Sorry, but not sorry. I had to write that twice to show how essential that is. And to all the CEOs reading this, you simply have to be a part of this process!
If you aren’t, you’d only have yourself to blame for the doom of your content marketing efforts. The direction of where you see your organization of content needs to come from you, and your executive team.
I know what you’re thinking! This sounds like hosting meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
Honestly, you’re right! It does. But the only solution here is to get started on this ASAP.
Time is money!
Seriously, have a documented content strategy that adapts and evolves, just as your organization does. I cannot get more direct than this!
They’re directly communicating with their customers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audiences’ needs and wants.
Plus, personas help with more than just content. It creates a brand experience that is unique to your business’s solutions, and believe it or not, it will help you attract the right kind of talent for the job openings you have.
As said, while creating your documented content strategy, you could create personas too. In this particular instance, involving your sales or customer support team might be beneficial—as they’d have firsthand knowledge on how customers/leads reach out to your business.
If you have personas, evaluate if they’re on par with your marketing goals—especially concerning content. If you don’t, get moving, now! And remember: personas need to evolve too, as and when your organization does.
Pitfall #4: Ignoring Changes to SEO and Search Algorithms
After all, Google and all prominent social media platforms are designed for their users, not for websites. Further, Google ranks pages, not websites (a fine distinction that many marketers often forget). Consider this: Have you ever encountered a top Google search result, where the page you went to only had a paragraph written?
Yet, it ranked number one? Do you know why?
Google felt that the page would be the most capable candidate for answering the user’s query. So is it always about writing long blog pieces, fluff, and producing content for the sake of producing?
Again, the most recommended solution here would be to hire content marketing services of an agency who understands search behavior, and it’s part of what they do. It can be a game changer! If not, as said, hire them for content strategy, another reason for considering SEO in your content.
In our experience here, writing content isn’t necessarily the number one problem our clients have. The problem revolves around producing quality content frequently, and most definitely about a lack of SEO in their content strategy.
To thrive organically, you need to have an SEO strategy that bolsters your content performance; it’s as simple as that.
Pitfall #5: Ignoring Video
We live in an instant gratification marketing world. In other words, if there is a problem, we need a solution NOW!
Don’t know how to make pasta? You’ll probably YouTube it, or even better, Google it first.
Are you aware of how to install a new RAM on your desktop computer? It’s very likely you imitate the same behavior. You’ll search for a solution.
Think about it, videos are the best way to demonstrate how to fix a problem, or more accurately, provide a better solution. You may know how to make pasta, but maybe you’re looking to make pasta quicker and better. Unlike textual content pieces, videos directly present an answer; however, this can be tricky in the B2B world. You may not be able to easily record your product and present to your clients. You need to have a teaser and show what your products or services can do, as opposed to revealing the entire system or solution. Still, video could be your biggest converting asset.
Think this is baloney? How about the fact that video marketers get 66% more qualified leads in a year? Without a doubt, videos are the perfect medium to communicate what you have to offer. I mean, haven’t we all gone to a movie at the theater, because we liked the trailer we saw beforehand?
Here’s the kicker. Videos aren’t limited to only your products. You can incorporate them in your blogs, conduct interviews, create webinars, join discussions, appear on television, share company culture, and more. There’s a ton of source material out there to learn from and develop your own strategy.
If you don’t know where to start, ask! Tell your marketing department to look into what video development looks like and see what your competitors are doing.
Look into the infrastructure you have in place that will support your video marketing efforts. Do you need to get a CDN, do you need to buy more servers? What can you do with LinkedIn and Facebook? Is it time to hire outside services for videos?
Pitfall #6: Not Thinking About Customer Journey & Engagement With Content
Remember what I said about “optimizing for discoverability…”? Let’s dive into that a little more.
The biggest problem I’ve seen with content is that sometimes, the top dogs in the organizations look at content as a direct sales channel. There is a huge lack of patience here concerning the time it takes before content does anything. The issue really originates from the fact that a single content piece that is produced is primarily evaluated against how much money it has made (and how quickly), versus how much engagement it generates.
Wait, isn’t sales the end goal here? Yes, it is, but you need to be subtle about it with content. You need to nurture the relationship you’ve built with your audience and convince them that what you’re saying is beneficial.
Imagine this, you go to your boss, and say, “Hey, by the way, let’s spend 50k on content this quarter. However, let’s not evaluate those efforts directly against how much money it’s making, but rather how much engagement it’s generating.” Tough conversation, right?
I’m here to tell you that it’s important to have that conversation, and it sounds tough, but it shouldn’t be. In my experience, I’ve rarely seen content make money without engagement. It’s precisely the essence of content. Will users convert if they don’t find your content useful? Will they play your video if they aren’t curious? Will they click on that internal link to your product page, from your blog post, if they aren’t piqued to learn more about what you have to offer?
Also, will Google continue to rank a page in its SERPs if no one clicks on it? Will it also continue to rank a page if users quickly bounce? Will it rank a page that takes 20 seconds to load?
You need to pay more credence to engagement and user experience with content—as a measurement of performance. Keep track of what kind of content creates most opportunities, what kind doesn’t, and what you need to do to optimize engagement, address user needs, and become a trusted voice in your industry.
Being perceived as reputable, trustworthy, and an expert is an intangible benefit. I challenge you to go to your tools and to use whatever method you’re using to track content performance. I bet that in 90% of the cases, the content that made money, performed well, or generated leads would be the pieces that had engagements.
If your content has had engagement but isn’t contributing to leads, the problem then lies with mismatch user expectations, which in itself is another investigation to find out the disconnect.
Write content for discoverability, engagement, and knowledge nourishment. Become the go-to source for your clients and your prospects (before and after you close the deal).
Trust me, money will follow these tactics. Change your thinking on how you evaluate content performance and remember money comes second. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you will make more money if engagement comes first.
Content will be a very big piece of the marketing puzzle in 2019. Use it wisely, but more importantly, stay in the hunt for unique content opportunities. Experiment, try new tactics and create an identity.
Content is an investment that will reap benefits in the long run. If you’re looking at it as a method to make quick money, then you’re no better than the person who judges an elephant by its ability to climb a tree.
To end, I’d like to invoke Henry David Thoreau, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Don’t fall into the 40% of people who do content without a strategy. Realize and introspect what you’re really trying to accomplish with content and what value you want to create for your B2B organization—through content.
More and more these days, I find myself searching for “The Magic X.” “The Magic X,” of course, is the fastest way for me to skip all of the useless & irritating things that pop up and get between me and the content I came here to consume. To an advertiser, this is obviously unwanted behavior. But to the content marketer, this could be exactly the behavior you should hope your reader is doing every time they come to your site. But how do you make content that the consumer actually wants to read? The answer is simple and may have been around for generations before “The Magic X” ever existed. That answer is to create the content that your reader is trying to find in the first place.
Nobody knows how to produce quality content that readers actually want to read more than journalists. For years, journalists have been crafting stories—in newspapers, magazines, television, and the internet—that readers actually want to see. So what can the successful content marketer learn from journalists? It’s easy: learn how to tell a good story.
As a former journalist, I’ve put together a list of eight journalism concepts that every content marketer can learn from the age-old craft of telling good stories.
1. Be Relevant and Useful to Your Audience
Business Week writes to business people. Sports Illustrated writes to sports fans. Vanity Fair writes to the vain (just kidding). Journalists write stories that are of public interest and public service. Likewise, your content should be of interest to your readers and provide them value. Serve readers first and yourself second. Readers and search engines can see right through content that is self-serving and not pertinent to your audience.
Complicated words and complex phrases can confuse your reader. Keep it simple, easy-to-read, and avoid too much unnecessary jargon, without sacrificing your voice as an authority in your field. The greater the complexity, the higher you set the bar, and that means potentially alienating readers. Strike a balance between finding the lowest common denominator and dumbing down your article to the point it is no longer useful.
3. Stories Can Be Told Many Different Ways
Your readers are complex and unique individuals who consume information in different ways. Therefore the more ways you can meet those needs and preferences, the broader your audience base will be. Interesting copy, compelling photography, engaging videos, and informative podcasts are the types of content you can provide.
Keep in mind though that you must use different tools for different jobs. Understand each medium’s strengths and weaknesses and aim to provide the right content on the right platform. For example, dense, long-form copy might not hold a reader’s attention for long, but that same information could be much more easily and passively digested in the form of a more casual, one-hour podcast instead. The why informs the how.
4. Don’t Bury the Lead
While marketing strategy often tries to keep the reader on the site as long as possible, don’t forget to put the reader’s needs and desires first. Burying the lead can frustrate a reader looking for you to “get to the point” and in this age of short attention spans, that could quickly lead to lost readership.
Think of your story like a three-course meal. The appetizer should do just that: appetize. It shouldn’t leave them sated, nor deprive them of what they came for, but rather excite the reader and leave them wanting more. We call this the inverted pyramid style. Start with the big picture (appetizer), fill out the details (main course), then provide background and context to understand why it’s relevant (dessert). Your job as a storyteller is to intrigue the reader. Open with an interesting premise and the important facts so that they will be compelled to read on. Your content is worthless if nobody is reading it.
5. Work Your Angles
Stories are rarely one-dimensional, and while it serves to be thorough, breaking down the many facets of your story works both to simplify, and give you more potential content without becoming repetitive. Learn to look at your story from different perspectives. Why does this matter, not only to your reader but your reader’s customers, managers, and subordinates? What will make this relevant and useful to them? Look at ways you can tell the story from an analytical angle, but ask yourself how you can flip that same story and address a more human interest angle. Your readers are humans with feelings and experiences, as well as being professionals in their respective fields. Give them something to relate to, someone to root for in one story, and data and numbers and concepts in another.
6. Seek the Truth and Report It
Accuracy is key. Be extremely careful not to misquote your sources to neatly fit words to a different context for the sake of convenience, but try and get your sources to speak directly to the topic you are addressing. Spell names correctly, give people their proper titles, and let no fact be called into doubt. You have a responsibility to represent your sources with the utmost respect and accuracy while still telling a good story. Statistics should be cited, and news stories should be linked to, leaving no room for a reader to question how you came to the conclusion that you assert.
7. Be Curious
Journalists are rarely subject matter experts in a vast majority of topics that they write about. Likewise, when you find that you lack the necessary credentials to speak about a topic, go find someone who does. Ask them all of the questions that your readers are likely to ask themselves. But get it in their own words. If there’s something you don’t know about a topic, chances are some of your readers will not know them either. This gives you an opportunity to seek out those answers and give your readers some new information, useful tips, and interesting facts. Doing this helps to expand the pool of content you can write about, without sacrificing your authority as a source of reliable information.
8. Be Timely
Journalists often report both on trends and unusual occurrences in a given subject, and both are uniquely tied to the times. An analysis of industry trends from 1998 when the internet had yet to reach ubiquity is not relevant to an industry insider of 2018. This is an increasingly important point, given the rapid turnover of popular applications and websites and the constantly changing climates and attitudes toward certain industries.
Be careful about falling for the trap of being the first at the expense of being right. Being first is great, but being accurate is still the number one concern of any good journalist. This requires being deeply attuned to a certain topic or industry, but also far enough back to observe (or at least be aware of) the big picture as it shifts and evolves. It also requires that you be diligent and obsessed with ensuring that what you’re reporting is the truth.
Brand Journalism Defined
The key to being a trusted source of information is to be as impartial as possible. Sometimes that idea seems to run counter to the goals of a marketer, but if you can establish yourself as a credible & realistic storyteller, you can ensure that your readers will continue to trust you as a source of reliable content, rather than someone simply trying to push an agenda or sell a product. Transparency and a commitment to avoiding the perception of bias help to establish you as both a thought leader and a source of trustworthy information.
This doesn’t mean you need to be crediting your competitors for whatever they’ve done right. It means avoiding leaving your readers with the impression that your brand is above reproach. Making light of one’s own mistakes is a great way to provide useful anecdotal information while still giving the impression that your company is, in fact, built upon people, and people are by nature fallible.
In the past, blogs served as fun platforms where people could write about their opinions on a variety of topics. While this still holds true today, more and more businesses have recognized the importance of blogs to their overall success. To remain competitive in the digital landscape, companies have realized more than ever before that they must provide some sort of value to their customer base. This is where a business blog can help.
In fact, there are many great reasons why businesses should add a blog to their website, and the following 10 reasons are some of the best.
1. Blogs Can Establish Companies as an Authority in Their Field
The internet has become one of the first places that consumers go to when they need information. The great thing about blogs is that they can provide the information that consumers are looking for. Furthermore, by creating various informational or instructional blogs, businesses can prove that they are authorities in their field. This, in turn, can gain the respect of current and future customers through thought leadership.
2. Blogs Can Serve as Effective Customer Service Platforms
Blogs that answer common questions customers may have about things such as products, services, refund processes, or shipping issues can serve as affordable and effective customer service platforms. Allowing replies on these types of blogs can encourage interaction and strengthen consumer trust.
3. Lighthearted Blogs Encourage Sharing
One of the goals of most businesses today is to increase their customer base, and one way to accomplish this is through the creation of lighthearted blogs. Lighthearted blogs consist of content that is entertaining and fun. When consumers enjoy these types of blogs, they often share them with their friends on social media making this a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool.
4. Blogs Can Improve Search Engine Rankings
One of the best things about blogs is that they can help to improve a company’s search engine rankings. By adding the company’s name or brand and a few keywords or phrases to blogs, search engines will be able to recognize the content easier and quicker. Adding fresh content each week can help to keep rankings high.
5. Blogs Can Direct Users to Various Website Pages
Another terrific thing about blogs is that they can be used to direct users to various website pages of the business. This can be done through the use of hyperlinks within the blog’s content or by adding links above or below the content. Links can lead to such things as pages on the company’s website, the business’ Facebook or Twitter page, or even another relevant blog.
6. Blogs Can Solve Issues with Products and Services
At times, businesses may see declining sales related to a specific product or service. In the past, it was difficult to determine what caused declining sales. However, blogs designed to describe a product or service and ask for opinions on that product or service can quickly help to solve the mysteries of declining revenue. In this way, businesses can use blogs to develop or eliminate certain products or services.
7. Blogging Is an Affordable Method of Marketing
Perhaps the most important reason businesses should consider adding a blog to their website is because blogging is a highly affordable method of marketing. Content can be created with a minimum of funding and can be used for a variety of promotional purposes. For example, new blogs can be created to introduce new products or services, special events, new outlets, or new apps.
8. Blogging Places a Face on Businesses
In today’s competitive marketplace, more and more consumers are looking to interact with those businesses who seem more “human.” What this means is that people want to feel like they are dealing with other persons and not just the business as a whole. Blogs that provide real communication and not preset messages can help to make businesses more human by placing a face on the companies.
9. Blogs Make Fantastic Social Media Content
With social media usage on the rise, companies need to make sure that they are consistent in providing fresh content on their social media pages. Blogs make excellent material for these pages. By adding a brief description of new blogs and a link to direct readers to the blog, businesses can keep consumers engaged.
10. Blogs Can Help Businesses Grow Their Email Lists
By including an opt-in email button on blogs, blogging can help businesses grow their email lists. Going further, when users choose to receive emails, companies can send links to new blogs directly to the users’ email addresses. This can help to keep consumers abreast of any new products or services as well.
Blogging is no longer simply a platform for individuals to state their opinions on various products. Today, businesses have found that blogs can be powerful marketing tools. There are many reasons why companies should consider adding blogs to their websites, and the 10 reasons described above are among the most important.
In the marketing world, content is at the core of everything we do. And for demand generation activities, in particular, it’s content that fuels nurture campaigns, content syndication, and retargeting ads. It also can help arm your sales team with the collateral they need to seal the deal. It’s hard to think of an area of the customer journey that content marketing doesn’t touch. But there’s a core piece of this content puzzle that marketers have been getting wrong—or perhaps missing altogether.
Looking at how much content is out there, unused, makes me think about a conversation my Uberflip co-founder and I had nearly six years ago. Content marketing was on the rise, and we wanted to start a company that empowered marketers. But it felt as if everything by way of an authoring tool had already been done. This got us thinking about what happens after. What do marketing teams do once they’ve created all this new content?
I apologize in advance to any content marketers reading this, but according to SiriusDecisions, 60 to 70% of all content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused. When we think of that from a demand generation perspective, there’s so much missed opportunity in that content that’s just sitting.
Your content team may take a step back once the “publish” button is clicked, aside from a few social posts. But for the rest of the marketing team, there’s so much more that needs to be done.
Rethink What You Already Have
Instead of having your content team create more and more content to meet your demand generation goals (I’m talking webinar follow-ups, content syndication, and display ad campaigns), what if you spent your time rethinking the way your existing content is consumed?
First, look at your existing content to see if it can be repurposed by your content team. Why have your team spend time creating something from scratch if you can leverage what you already have? (And, bonus: If a piece of content already exists, chances are your team will be able to turn your request around faster.)
While you’re at it, look at your company website and blog to see if the content is organized in a way that is optimized for lead generation. Is your best performing top-of-the-funnel content easy to find? Is your middle-of-the-funnel content directing your prospects to customer stories and case studies and your bottom-of-the-funnel content to the demo page? The way you organize your content can guide your prospects down the funnel.
I’m going to throw out another stat that might make you want to take on this job: Organizations are 57% of the way through the purchase decision process before they engage with a sales rep. In other words, you should make sure that the content your team is offering does the talking for you.
One of the things we often see is marketers organizing content by publication date. The articles on your blog from 2016 may still be valuable, but I’m not scrolling through years’ worth of posts to find them.
And if not by date, some marketers organize by resource type—infographics, blogs, ebooks, videos, podcasts. But it’s unlikely that someone coming to your site with a question about SEO or social media will care what format they find their answer in. Take this into account when evaluating your website and encourage your content marketing team to start organizing using topics instead. They’ll get more views on their content, and you’re likely to get more leads from it.
The way the content is structured on your website is where content meets user experience. Optimizing the way your content is organized will it easier to discover your assets and help your team to meet your marketing goals. It will also guide your prospects through the buyer journey.
Create Personalized Content Experiences
Much like how marketers must strategically organize their content, they must also think through the experiences they create with that content. Rather than looking at each blog article or video as an engagement resource on its own, we need to take a step further and think of how that asset fits into the larger content puzzle. When we send someone to a blog post through an ad or email, where will they go next? What elements on the page compel them to engage further?
These are a few ways you can create highly personalized experiences that will make your audience want to consume more:
Contextual calls-to-action: Place a targeted, and relevant CTA below or beside an asset someone is already consuming; the user is more likely to consume more because it directly applies to the content they just interacted with.
Overlay calls-to-action: Rather than sending users away from your content to a dead-end landing page, why not gate your assets with an overlay CTA instead? This creates a more integrated approach to lead generation because you’re creating the feeling that the answer they need is “just out of reach.” And it doesn’t disrupt their experience.
Content recommendations: Using automated suggestions and recommendations, you can make sure your audience’s interactions with your content are meaningful, and guide your prospects along the path to purchase.
To truly engage your audience, you’ll want to create experiences that make them feel as if your content is exclusively for them.
Involving the Rest of Your Team
Just as content and demand partner to create and distribute content experiences, you’ll want to include the rest of your team. After all, the best way to market your content is to get your entire organization to start marketing with your content.
Content no longer lives exclusively in the content marketer’s domain. Your sales team should leverage content when prospecting customers, and your customer success team when engaging customers. To have the most impact, use it at every stage, with everyone on your team.
So, while I wouldn’t suggest telling your boss that they should “F#*k Content Marketing,” I’d recommend reevaluating how your content is used across your website and organization. And while you’re at it, start focusing on the content experience.
B2B companies are relying more and more on content marketing to promote and sell products. In time, brands hope to build a content library full of assets they can use to inform, educate, and persuade people to act. Your content library’s digital assets—including ebooks, images, videos, podcasts, and other useful files—play such a vital role in sales that it’s not difficult to see why digital asset management solutions are so important. Beyond merely serving as an online filing cabinet, digital asset management solutions can provide valuable safety, back-up, and metadata that details the asset’s content, ownership, means of encoding, and access rights. Content libraries that have implemented a cloud-based digital asset management solution can allow access from any device at any time—even mobile devices.
Providing on-demand content to sales reps, prospects, and customers can improve engagement, answer questions, and convert faster than has ever been possible.
Ready to build your content library? Here are some guidelines to get you started.
Auditing Content: Determining What You Already Have
Auditing your current stock of content will require you to use consumption metrics to see what channels prospects are using to find your content, how frequently they’re viewing it, and the depth of their consumption. To audit the consumption of the content on your website, Google Analytics is a go-to tool. You can get pageviews, find out how long someone stays on your site, determine where your traffic is coming from, and find out which pages they’re spending the most time reading.
Using digital asset management solutions to audit your site content serves a couple of purposes. First, it shows you the weakest points in your site’s search engine presence. That might lead you to optimize the keyword content itself, change title tags, or update the content with more timely information. Second, it can help you determine if your marketing efforts are paying off. Are people sharing your infographics? Downloading your white papers? Signing up for newsletters? If not, it may not be the content; it could be the marketing isn’t stirring up enough interest.
If you’re going to invest in digital asset management solutions, use your findings to make changes. Consider the information you gather from your content audit to be an opportunity to create lasting and profitable change.
Identifying What Content Your Audience Wants
If you’re having trouble determining what content will engage your audience, you’re not alone. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 51% of experienced B2B marketers are challenged with producing engaging content.
So how do you get inside the head of your audience?
Read reviews. What did they dislike about the product or service they bought to try to solve their problem last time? Address that concern in your content.
Pore through industry survey results. What are your prospects’ pain points? Explain how your product or service can address that challenge.
Use social listening tools. Hootsuite is just one example of a company that monitors what’s said about your brand and your competition with real-time social analytics to give you insights you can turn into content.
Find out what topics in your industry are getting shared the most. Buzzsumo is a simple tool that analyzes what content performs best within a related subject.
Once you have content ready, you need to schedule it for publication. Ideally, you’ll have a bank of content that you can schedule ahead of time. Working proactively is the best way to go. You never know when a coworker, who was responsible for writing a blog post, might call in sick, or you have tech problems that take your blog down.
Pick a cadence that makes sense for your company. If you have limited staff and resources, you might only be able to post one article every other week. Don’t set an aggressive content calendar. You want something you can adhere to without stress. There are content calendar tools that can help. Look for a tool that can help you assign tasks like content creation and publishing to team members. Assign tasks early, hold your team accountable, and keep a steady cadence of content published.
Managing Content and Media Assets
As you create content, you’ll have a lot of different assets to manage. You might use multiple different file types such as Word docs, .jpegs, and HTML5 files. You might use file-sharing software like Google Docs or Dropbox so multiple people can contribute to one piece of content.
Essentially, you can have content everywhere. You have to keep it organized, and there are tools to help. Content management tools can help. If you’re working with a lot of video and images though, you’ll need something more heavy-duty. By organizing your digital assets in a central location, you can give anyone access to the pieces anytime, anywhere and from any device. Sophisticated search capabilities mean less time spent searching for assets. Managing your content and media assets with a digital asset management solution also allows you to place watermarks on images, automatically embed copyright or contact info on images, and set embargo dates to control when image collections or press kits expire.
According to Marcom, 98% of top performers say that they measure marketing asset management in terms of revenue growth. It may seem like a generalization, considering that revenue can be impacted by so many factors, but consider that these same top performers report generating two to three times greater local revenue after implementing digital asset management solutions.
Besides revenue, one solid metric appears to be whether projects are delivered on time and on budget. Decreasing your marketing spend (compared to total revenue) is also a good metric. Digital asset management solutions can use big data to identify your ROI on individual assets by looking at who created them, how long it took, how much they’re paid, and what resources were needed.For metrics that will matter to your C-suite, look at how much your content is contributing to your revenue and how much pipeline is generated. your content is driving and how it is contributing to your pipeline.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
Sometimes you don’t even know you have a problem until you apply a digital asset management solution and realize how much easier everything is!
As you start to build your B2B content library, you can nip some of these common problems in the bud by asking yourself questions like:
Who needs to access these files and from which devices?
Where do our current processes get slowed down?
What functions do we wish we had?
Are we running out of storage space?
How easy is it to find digital assets now?
What permissions do we need on our assets?
Do our current collaboration features meet our needs?
Do we lack in real-time updates and notifications?
Is our current security an issue?
Just asking these questions can help you troubleshoot common problems with your existing content library and help you determine which digital asset management solutions can fix these issues.
How do you manage your content marketing? Tell me about it in the comments.
It’s hard to keep track of everything new in content marketing, especially if you consider that 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers indicate they are using content currently as part of their overall marketing strategy. There are many articles with best practices, proven strategies, and statistics. But there’s one thing that can beat them all: Clear, actionable, real-life examples. But good content marketing case studies with excellent results can be hard to come by.
That is why in this blog, we’ll cover five extremely successful content marketing case studies including the tactics used, results measured, and why it matters to you as a marketer.
1.Increasing Blog Referral Traffic by 58% with Onsite Retargeting
The growth hacking tool iSpionage runs a pay-per-click marketing blog. By investing in content marketing, they had hoped to capitalize on additional visits. But despite publishing new articles regularly, they weren’t seeing a lot of referral traffic towards the main website. In this case study, they explain how they managed to increase that traffic by 58.09% in just one month by using an exit intent popup.
Tactic:Onsite retargeting with an exit intent popup. By simply asking a yes/no-question, people answering “yes” were redirected to another preferred page. As soon as blog visitors showed an exit intent, or behavior indicating they were about to leave the page, they got redirected to a page containing content they might be looking for.
Results:5.47% CTR on their retargeting ads & 58% increase in blog referral traffic.
Why this matters: iSpionage knew what the majority of their visitors were looking for: to download competitors’ keywords. So that’s what they asked in their exit intent popup. Additionally, to avoid cold leads, iSpionage made use of some well-timed triggering. They only let the popup appear to visitors who had spent at least 10 seconds on the blog, making sure their conversions were coming from an engaged audience.
2. Uncommon Infographic Creates over 11K Additional Website Visits in 2 Weeks
When the Game of Thrones series was in full swing, it generated huge buzz online. Lawrence of Morocco, offering tailor-made holidays, took advantage of this as much of the series was filmed in Morocco. By creating related content linking back to their product offering, they generated tons of extra traffic to their website.
Tactic: Creating one flaming-hot piece of content that is extremely shareable. SEOTravel did so by creating an infographic-style map, indicating every single real-life location where the popular TV show was filmed. Sending this to Game of Thrones-hungry journalists made it spread like wildfire!
Results: An increase of 11K+ website visits in just two weeks, with 12 continuous days of all-time high traffic. Coverage in big media outlets like the Washington Post, Mashable, Business Insider, … And more than 100 new domains linking to their site.
Why this matters: SEOTravel managed to jump onto a very popular topic and create relevant content for Lawrence of Morocco’s audience. Their smart outreach made the piece successful. They gave the map as an exclusive to a single media outlet, and as soon as it was online, they created additional buzz by reaching out to geekier outlets. These generated a lot of shares initially, which could then be used as social proof to tackle larger media outlets.
Extra insider tip: If you don’t manage to get an exclusive with one source, it’s likely your content isn’t up to par just yet and won’t generate the buzz you expect.
3. Quick Wins from Content Built with Publicly Available Data
In this content marketing case study, YesOptimist helped a startup, CollegeRaptor, to get from absolutely no organic traffic to 100K visitors per month in just one year. They created a highly relevant piece of content using nothing but publicly available data which was picked up by several big blog sites, giving them the initial boost in high-quality backlinks.
Tactic: Generate links to the website to help improve rankings and search visibility. As College Raptor’s main focus is on matching students with the right colleges, their content should relate to that topic. They simply searched Wikipedia for common information (where US senators went to college), did some analysis and compiled it into an infographic map which was sent to multiple outlets.
Results: After being picked up by the Washington Post, dozens of other outlets started sharing: The Houston Chronicle in Texas, The Deseret News in Utah, Minnesota Public Radio, and Time magazine. The content was even cited for a U.S. Supreme Court case.
Why this matters: This case shows us that you can create some content that delivers valuable insights with publicly available data. There’s no need to invest in expensive studies because there’s a ton of useful data out there that will allow you to create a wide range of content from infographics to deep research.
Extra tip with this type of content: It doesn’t always have to be created for your primary audience. The real goal of College Raptor was to increase backlinks, which will result in building traffic to more relevant content for that main audience.
4. Find the Right Content Topics for Less Exciting Industries
LawnStarter is a company which focuses mainly on homeowners who are looking for professionals to take care of their lawns. The important lesson to learn from LawnStarter is that the most obvious content for your audience is not always what they care about.
Tactic: Create content your audience actually cares about, even if it’s not entirely focused on your product or service. By doing extensive research to understand your audience, you can find more ways to reach out to potential customers by looking for influencers that your prospects listen to. These influencers, individuals, or blogs, can easily be researched to uncover what their most popular content surrounds.
Results: Steady growth by building a relevant audience based on content that people WANT to read. Use your influencers wisely! For example, including quotes from influencers within an article can encourage them to share those pieces with their networks, increasing your reach without spending another dime.
Why this matters: It’s less about how to make a boring subject interesting and more about finding interesting topics and angles to engage your prospects. A structured approach using tools that are readily available to back up your hunches with actual data will make this approach a dream for anyone who loves logical processes.
5. Scale Marketing with Content Loved by Search Engines
Fieldwire, a web and mobile collaboration platform for the commercial construction industry, had a stronger focus on product and engineering but was lacking marketing-focused content. CanIRank helped them shift their focus from conversion to traffic generation and got them to rank in the top three search results for all their main keywords.
Tactic: Boosting the most high-potential pages with data-driven optimizations such as what keywords were they ranking for. Based on currently used keywords, they created well-chosen content that toed the line between traffic value and ranking difficulty. They combined these tactics with influencer outreach campaigns varying from reviews, company profiles to founder interviews. All giving the new pages their initial boost.
Results: These optimizations and new creations lead to higher conversion rates and additional search engine rankings. In just six months, they boosted all their primary keywords to top three positions, added 100 new keyword rankings, and increased 200 existing rankings.
Why this matters: Before heavily investing in a sales- and marketing team, Fieldwire could use a couple of simple processes to move the needle. These initial efforts made them grow in all their marketing efforts and saved them over 10K in Google AdWords investments.
While it’s easier than ever to generate new types of content, it isn’t always easy to find the right direction for your industry or audience. These very different cases show you how different approaches can help, even when the task seems daunting at first.
Which content marketing case study did you find most relatable? Tell me about it in the comments.
If you’re a B2B marketer, odds are that creating content is an integral part of your inbound strategy for attracting prospects. After, all inbound marketing costs 61% less than traditional advertising, while producing 54% more leads. Because of this, however, everyone is investing more in content marketing. This raises the bar, meaning that creating more content is not enough. To reach your intended audience, you need to differentiate your brand and rise above the noise by offering value.
In the past, inbound marketers spent 80% of their time creating content and 20% promoting it. With all the noise out there, that formula is flipped, meaning that content promotion is now the priority. To communicate effectively with your audience, you must provide the right content in the right place at the right time.
Previously, we looked at four ways to promote your content to increase engagement. Let’s go through four more.
1. Amplify Through Influencers
Getting influencers to share your content is a great way to increase its reach. They have large established audiences, including many of the very same people that you want to communicate with. There are a few ways to gain access to these industry megaphones. The first is to get a quote from one of them as you are creating your content. For instance, you could have an influencer provide their thoughts as a subject matter expert for your upcoming blog post. By getting their quote in your content, you have the necessary foot in the door to have them share the post to their network. In reaching out to potential commenters, make sure to cast a wide net, as many of them will be too busy or not interested.
For your biggest and most influential advocates, consider asking them to create their own piece of content (likely a blog) in reaction or response to a longer asset of yours, like an ebook. This is a bigger ask than simply having them share your content, of course, so be strategic about when you deploy it. While quotes and shares can be solicited from new influencers, you will want to stick with people that you have established relationships with for this type of request. Whichever path you choose, promoting through influencers is valuable by helping you both reach new people and enhancing the reputability of your content through its association with them.
2. Be Savvy with Social
We all know that social media is vital to getting your content in front of your audience. Just posting and walking away is not enough though. Here are some ways get the most of what you’re putting out there.
Facilitate Sharing: Make it easy for users to share your content using Click to Tweet, a free tool that allows you to create pre-populated tweets that readers can share with a simple link click. Not only are you making it easier for your content to spread, but you can control the messaging around it.
#Hashtags: As long as you don’t overdo it, hashtags can be an effective way to broaden the reach of your content, serving as a mini search engine within social media. Research the most important hashtags for your industry or topic and go from there.
Repeat Posts: Social media moves fast—I’m sure we can all think of a time when we missed a piece of news or a friend’s life update because it got buried under other stuff. If you want your audience to see your most important content, it will take multiple postings. Make sure to create a promotion schedule so that your audience doesn’t get oversaturated with the same messages.
3. Repurpose Existing Content
Creating new content requires time and resources, so it makes sense to squeeze as much out of what you have as you can. The easiest way to do this is taking excerpts from existing content and repost them to sites like LinkedIn Pulse, Quora, and Reddit. This opens you up to potential new audiences with minimal effort.
If you want to be more ambitious, consider creating derivative pieces from some of the larger assets you have. Webinars can be great for this—you can turn session slides into a SlideShare, make an FAQ sheet out of the Q&A questions, or even make social media posts out of quotes or key stats. For more ways to repurpose your webinar content, check out this great blog post from our partner, GoToWebinar.
Ebooks are another great source for derivative pieces. At Marketo, we accompany our definitive guides with blog posts, cheat sheets, infographics, and more. When you create smaller pieces out of your big rocks, it makes it a lot easier to promote them. If a prospect isn’t ready to read your 50-page ebook right away, reading some of the associated shorter content may help them get there.
4. Don’t Forget About Email
is still an effective method of promoting your content because of the speed with which you can reach large numbers of people. Sending a monthly newsletter to people who have opted into receiving your content can be very effective—it’s frequent enough to keep you top of mind but doesn’t risk feeling spammy. For more specific content types, make sure that you are segmenting your audiences properly. People have opted in to hear from you and further crowd their already cluttered inboxes, so you don’t want to abuse that trust. Remember that to be GDPR compliant, you will need to have clear customer consent and data privacy policies in place. For a refresher, check out our resources on the subject.
At the end of the day, your content is only as valuable as who sees it. Without the right content promotion strategies, it can’t stand out from the crowd, and will be useless. What other content promotion strategies do you use? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Customers are the heart of your businesses. After all, they provide the revenue to keep your establishment running strong—the fuel to your engine, the peanut butter to your jelly, the milk to your mustache—too much? Jokes aside, have you given much thought to how your customers can actually contribute to helping you grow your customer base?
In this blog, I will share with you 6 ways you can begin to include customers in your content.
1) Customer Case Studies
If you visit any business website, you are likely to come across a collection of customer case studies either displayed on the homepage or collected under a dedicated tab. Case studies provide the most compelling way to share with your audience how their industry peers have overcome similar challenges with your solution in a relatable structure—a story. In fact, it’s been proven that storytelling can have a profound impact on the decisions we make. However, just like bad stories exist, bad case studies exist.
From my experience through the case studies I’ve been involved with at Marketo and the feedback I’ve gathered from sales (because they are on the frontline of feedback—and we’re all about that marketing and sales partnership!) I can share a few things I have gathered that every good case study has:
Real Results—Improved tactical metrics are good and all, but certainly not a compelling enough for your reader to base her executive buy-in pitch on. Take it a level deeper and dig for real, strategic business impact such as ROI, cost savings, or revenue growth. A great way of doing this is to continue the conversation and ask, “Why is this metric important?” or “Where has it gotten you?”
A Relatable Challenge—Your audience can take many different angles, but one thing that these stories should have in common is a relatable challenge for your potential buyers. If your audience is the banking industry share how your solution has helped Bank X boost home loan cross-sells, or how Non-profit Y had converted 4x more donors into members over the past year, or how Company Z has enjoyed greater functionality and therefore improved output and ROI after migration from a competing solution.
Visual Use Case—Sharing specific use cases (making sure to not get too in the weeds) helps to paint the full picture of how your customer got from A to B—and how your reader can too! It builds credibility and helps your reader visualize how they can similarly use your solution—it even may spark new use cases they can adopt with your solution.
2) Open Your Blog to Customers
Your customer base is a rich pool of knowledge just waiting to be shared, and customer blogging is an excellent way to do that. With a variety of different industries and personas who all have something in common, your blog provides a great platform to share new ideas, perspectives, and grow a community.
If you have a robust guest blogging program already in place, think about your editorial calendar and what customers may have a great piece of thought leadership to add to your blog. Remember that link-stuffing and blogs that are focused on selling your products can turn off potential buyers—even if the links that are stuffed in there are not for your own products.
Consider what you learned about your buyers during the sales cycle and reach out to them to write a blog about a particular pain point that they have. You can also use this as an opportunity to reach a new audience if you ask your customer to cross-promote or republish on their own channels with an attribution link to your blog. As blogging can be a relatively low budget channel, this is an excellent opportunity to maximize your content team’s time by giving them a reprieve from having to write every blog themselves! This is also a unique opportunity to give your customers an opportunity to tell their story and build their own brand up as one that focuses on thought leadership.
3) Feature Customers on Webinars
Similar to customer blogging, you can launch a customer webinar series. This is a neat way to feature customers as guests or even invite them to speak on topics they are well versed in. If you market to a variety of different industries, or if you have a built-out product suite, it’s a great way for your customers to share with their industry peers tricks of the trade, how they find success using your platform, or their point of view on common challenges.
The great thing about webinars, differing from the previous content channels mentioned, is that your guest speaker has the time to go more in depth, show live visuals, and interact with your audience through live chat. Giving a voice to the content adds a dimension of credibility—something not easily portrayed in written content mediums.
4) Go Live on Social Media
If you haven’t noticed yet, live streaming is not-so-quietly beginning to take over social media. It offers a fresh, exciting, and cost-effective way to engage with your target audience like never before. While live streaming is still a fairly new market given that many companies are still trying to fine-tune their approach, it’s certainly a craze to be a part of. In fact, so much so that spectators predict this industry to be worth over $70 billion, by 2021.
But why the craze? Numbers show that 80% of customers would rather watch a live stream video than read a post from a brand—But why you ask? Just like the trill that comes along with seeing your favorite celebrity hop on Instagram live or an influencer respond to your tweet, live streaming provides a new level of trust, transparency, and authenticity.
If this is something you haven’t yet explored—I encourage you to do so. And guess what? Featuring customer is a great way to get started. Think of how you can incorporate live streaming through live events, Q&As, interviews, announcements, or even behind the scene opportunities.
5) Promote Self-Recorded Video Content
Similar to live streaming, self-recorded video content is another cutting edge way to enrich your customer community online. Video submissions are a new and fun approach our team has recently begun to embrace, and it’s exciting to see how our customers have responded—Check out the team below!
Camille Crandall, account executive at Marketo takes advantage of the Marketing Nation Summit to launch a three-day mini-interview series of impromptu videos featuring customers and their daily takeaways. This was a really fantastic way to document the event!
Also leading up to Summit, our customer marketing team launched the Fearless 50 nomination challenge. Our customers eagerly took to this challenge through their very own video submissions.
6) Never Stop Gathering Quotes
And of course, we can’t forget the golden nuggets that enrich every piece of content our marketing team comes out with: customer quotes. The amazing thing about these pieces of treasure is that we can (and we do) include them everywhere—sales slide decks, battle cards, ebooks, white papers, social media. It’s probably the easiest and most impactful way we involve our customers in the content we produce.
One of the greatest marketing challenges is deciding on what message will truly resonate with your audience—and what better way to do this than through peer-to-peer marketing.
There are countless ways to include customers in your content marketing strategy, beyond the traditional case study or press release. Furthermore, with the continued adoption and development of technology we have the freedom to do what we do best and get creative, try something new: be fearless. Sound familiar?
What are the most exciting ways your team involves customers in your content? Share with us in the comments below.
Imagine only watching movies done by a single director. Steven Spielberg might be incredible, but after a while, you’d probably get tired of seeing his work. It’s why we watch movies performed by different actors, telling different stories, and directed by different individuals. Too much of the same becomes dull, trite, and repetitive.
Often, companies get into a rut where only one or two individuals at the company create all the content. And while this can be valuable if you have an exceptional writer on your team—a Spielberg, so to speak—in the end, it will feel staid.
But here’s the bigger problem: Employees will become less and less likely to share, like, and retweet content if it’s all coming from the same individuals. It’s too repetitive. Variety is the spice of life, so you need to capitalize on all the different voices in your company when creating content if you’re going to have an effective employee advocacy program.
To further this point, we want to share a few battle-tested tips on creating a more effective, sustainable employee advocacy program with content as the foundation. To do this, we’ll examine the marketing operations of some well-known brands in the B2B space, and take a closer look at what’s worked for them.
#1. Find Internal Subject Matter Experts
Sending out a mass company email asking for your employees to contribute to your blog will, likely, result in the sound of crickets chirping.
People get busy with their jobs and see writing a blog as an extra assignment that is only required if they have time. This leaves too much to chance.
Instead, consider starting an employee blogging program to coach your coworkers through the process or creating an incentivized system for when employees contribute. Whether the incentive is swag, gift cards, or a trophy of some sort, employees like (and deserve!) to be rewarded.
For example, the blog you’re reading right now, Marketo’s blog, has over 20 different topic categories and nearly 50 internal bloggers. While the content team is heavily involved in topic coaching, editing, and content creation, subject matter experts are tapped to create a variety of voices that all fit within the brand. This takes the pressure off of the willing few and spreads it more evenly between groups of individuals who are all considered experts on a certain topic.
Lastly, the more topics your brand covers, the more relevant (and shareable) it becomes to other employees. Depending on the size of your organization, this can be a major advantage in getting employees to spread the word on their personal social channels.
#2. Make Content Creation Attractive
In a study by the Harvard Business Review, 72% of businesses admit that recognition for high performers had a significant impact on employee engagement. Take advantage of this when it comes to content creation.
First, show your employees how creating content and becoming an advocate can benefit them. Talk about promotions and increased recognition as a thought leader in their field.
Then, make sure you recognize every employee for his or her work. Clutch.co does this well.
On the Clutch.co Blog, the header image for each article includes a small picture, name, and expertise of the post author. This immediately personalizes the article while also ensuring that the writer is given credit for their work. Everyone likes to see his or her picture somewhere, and this is a great way to do it.
You can also offer additional incentives for content creators such as an “employee of the month” program for the contributor who created the most-read or most-viewed content. The more attractive you make content creation, the more willing your employees will be to participate.
#3. Establish Social Media Guidelines
Every content creator will, most likely, share their own content, but that’s not enough. You want your employees to share all of your content on a regular basis. Don’t leave this up to chance.
Instead, create a social media guide that dictates:
How often employees should share content.
The best way to communicate—language, responding to comments, tone, etc.
Where employees can post content and how.
The key is to create a social media policy that takes out the guesswork and answers any questions that your employees might have.
For example, OpenView Ventures has a very professional tone on their blog. They rely on statistics, research, and experience in all of the content they share. This means that the company would want to ensure that employees adopt the same formal tone when sharing on social. The last thing OpenView would want is an irreverent tone that risks the company’s reputation.
It’s for that reason that OpenView makes it so intuitive to share their content on social media. At the top of every blog, there are share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Email, and Google+. The tweets are auto-populated with content, and the other posts include the header image and descriptive text for the article.
This ensures that all employees are on the same page when sharing while also encouraging it because it’s so easy to do.
#4. Simplify the Contribution Process
Finally, it’s important to simplify the contribution process as much as possible. If you require employees to come up with their own content ideas, write the content, find images, and post online, it can be too much work, and make them less likely to contribute.
Instead, create a process that makes it as easy as possible to contribute. The first step is to consider adopting an employee advocacy platform—such as Oktopost—that allows your employees to effortlessly discover, filter, and share content all from one interface. This also helps you keep all of your work in one, easy-to-access location for open communication, ease of editorial review, and more.
Other ways to simplify the content process include:
For employees who are not talented writers, offer them the ability to share their thoughts in video or podcast. Or, interview those employees and bring on a ghostwriter to complete the article.
Have an editor ready to polish any finished articles before they go online to ensure that only the best content is published.
Place your marketing and graphic design team in charge of images, so that they remain professional and in keeping with the company image.
Send out company-wide emails after new content is created with example social media posts to encourage sharing.
The more you can do to make creating and sharing content a comfortable process, the more likely you’ll get company-wide participation.
Employee advocacy is vitally important to the success of your company, and the hardest part is often its execution and getting your workforce involved. By following the tips we’ve laid out above, you should have a much better opportunity to get everyone to contribute content.