Almost every other article in the marketing newsletters we receive these days touches on some aspect of content marketing. Experts have, of course, been coming out of the woodwork with their opinions, advice and guidance for the last several years. The Content Marketing Institute has become a major industry force. And a new set of business authors have been on tour promoting their books on the subject.
Truth be told, strategic content marketing has always been important for b2b marketers. It’s just that now we have more ways to deliver it than we ever dreamed possible. Thus, it has become a growing investment in b2b marketing budgets.
Check out these stats
Enterprise b2b marketers have jumped all over the content marketing bandwagon – 87% say they are using it and while doing so, employing, on the average, 16 different content tactics (ie video, blogs, infographics, social media, in-person events, just to name a few.).
However, only 22% of these marketers say that their content marketing efforts are effective; while 52% claim neutrality on its effectiveness and 26% actually admit to their efforts being ineffective. Despite this, 74% of these enterprise marketers (1,000+ employees) say they will produce more content in 2016. And 47% say they will increase their budget for content marketing.
So what gives?
We all know the marketing game plan:
- Do research to better understand what’s important to customers when making a purchase decision for our type of product or service.
- Try to develop content that supports the customer’s “journey” as they make the purchase decision (or not).
- Attempt to deliver the right kinds of content to the right person at the right time in the right manner.
- Aim to insert our brand earlier in the decision process rather than wait until the prospect is finally ready to call us in.
- Measure and track every one of these content tools to determine what’s effective and what isn’t. (66% of enterprise content marketers say it is a top priority to better understand effectiveness.)
So why are we spending so much time and money on so many tactics that we are not necessarily sure are working the way we intended? Are we measuring these tactics in the wrong way? If a particular piece of content does not deliver a quality lead, is it a failure? Are we really listening to what our customers and prospects are saying, or are we just hearing what we want to hear in order to justify what we already intend to do with our marketing dollars?
Is less more?
Perhaps we need to rethink what we are doing in terms of content marketing. Do we really need to be futzing with 16 or more different tactics? What if we just focus on the types of tools and tactics that according to the research report are more effective for b2b marketers? Things like:
- In-person events (76%)
- Research reports (65%)
- Videos (65%)
- Webinars/webcasts (65%)
- Case studies (64%)
If the top challenge for enterprise content marketers is producing engaging content (63% say it is), then perhaps it is time to focus on the top four or five tactics that are most effective for your brand. And turn them into successful tools that make your brand more engaging, memorable and the natural choice for your target audience.
Lastly, make a plan, Stan
According to the research, only 35% of enterprise b2b marketers have a documented strategy for their content efforts. Of those, 75% actually claim to have effective content marketing efforts. So it is pretty clear: a well-documented plan will help your content marketing be more effective.
While content marketing has evolved into its own giant playground as a part of the overall marketing and communications function within the organization, its success is really based upon how well you play. Are you strategic and focused in how you implement the content tactics you feel are best for your organization, or are you taking a shotgun approach and hoping some portion of these efforts hit your target? It seems pretty clear which approach makes the most sense as we all become more mature in our content implementations.