Why are some companies more successful with content marketing than others? You can find some insights in the 7th Annual B2B Content Market Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report published by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs. The report is based on the answers of 1,102 B2B marketers in North America who responded to survey conducted in the July and August, 2016.
Firms that rated their content marketing strategies as successful seemed to have a few traits in common. They were:
- Extremely committed to content marketing
- Clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like
- Consistent in delivering content
- Realistic about what content marketing can achieve
Many of the successful B2B content marketers also said their leadership provides ample time to produce results.
Building a Loyal Audience Is Hard
These findings aren’t surprising to anyone who has ever worked in traditional magazine or newspaper publishing. Publishing and disseminating good content has always been harder than it looks to the audiences of the content.
If a publication is informative, a pleasure to read, factually accurate, and well-designed, it’s because the staff paid meticulous attention to details during every step of production – from article selection and illustration to final delivery of publication.
The explosive growth of digital marketing has removed much of the complexity of publishing and disseminating content online. Today, millions of individuals and businesses can easily publish their own magazines, books, articles, white papers, infographics, videos, slideshows, blog posts, and presentations whenever they choose.
With the proliferation of content marketing and social media, your customers and prospects can now consult dozens of sources of information, recommendations, and reviews while researching the type of products or services your company sells.
Building a loyal, engaged audience for your content has become far more difficult.
Even so, 62 percent of the B2B marketers in the Content Marketing Institute report said they were much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were one year ago. Many of the respondents in this group attributed the improvement over last year to these factors:
- High-quality and/or more efficient content creation
- The development or adjustment of a strategy
- A commitment to making content marketing a greater priority
- Spending more time on content marketing
- Better targeted content distribution and greater identification of what works
On the other hand, many survey respondents who said their content marketing results were stagnant believed their firms didn’t devote enough time to it. Other reasons cited were:
- Challenges related to content creation
- Issues with the strategy
- Organization changes
- Inadequate budgets
- Content measurement challenges
- Inadequate use of content marketing technologies
- Lack of training or education
An 8-Step Formula
In December, I attended a half-day workshop on “The Proven 8-Step Formula” for content marketing as part of the Digital Summit in Dallas. The presenter, Quinn Whissen of Vertical Measures, emphasized that achieving success in content marketing is a continuous process. It starts with (1) strategy development, and proceeds to (2) ideation, (3) content creation, (4) optimization, (5) promotion, (6) distribution, (7) lead nurturing, and (8) measuring. As the results are measured, the strategy is adjusted and the cycle begins again.
Defining a set of “best practices” for content marketing is impossible because the specific audiences your company wants to reach may be different from the audiences that companies similar to yours may be targeting (e.g. While you may be targeting well-established brand marketers; your competitors may be trying to reach young start-up digital marketing firms.)
Despite all the effort involved in continuously improving your content marketing efforts, the payoff of developing good content can be huge. Whissen highlighted a swimming pool company that attributed more than $2.5 million in sales from the leads generated from a blog post entitled: “Fiberglass Pool Prices: How Much Is My Pool Really Going to Cost?”
These types of results don’t happen overnight. Whissen pointed out, “It takes courage to trust that your customers and prospective customers will reward you with attention and sales and loyalty at some point in the future. It takes courage to play the long game, not the short game.”
Over the past few years, I have tackled content-marketing projects for clients in different segments of the printing business.If you need some ideas for improving the content-marketing efforts at your company, send me an e-mail and we can schedule the best time to talk.
If you are new to content marketing, I encourage you to visit the website of The Content Marketing Institute. You’ll find helpful articles, checklists and planning templates, and information about their Content Marketing World conference and other educational programs.