It’s clear that marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to getting the most value and ROI on their content marketing efforts, both in the B2B and B2C arenas. For one thing, the content marketing landscape is getting increasingly challenging. For another, customer attention spans are dwindling. According to SiriusDecisions, between 60 to 70 percent of the marketing content produced by B2B marketers is either unused or not seen by the intended audience. This calls for a rethink on the part of marketers when it comes to their content marketing strategy.
Marketers must make some hard decisions, especially if resources are limited for content development and promotion. The first step is to thoroughly carry out a content inventory based on available assets, and map it to the key stages in the buyer’s journey - from education to selection and purchase - for each targeted vertical. This effort will reveal the gaps, if any, in the kind of content that is needed to target buyers at each stage. Next, you must prioritize the most important segments of your target audience and develop a robust strategy that is aligned with your marketing objectives.
How to develop an effective content marketing strategy
In a survey, over 600 B2B marketers were asked to name the top three goals for their content marketing program. Lead generation topped the list (59%), followed by thought leadership and market education (43%) and brand awareness (40%).
According to Forrester Research, adopting proven and practical approaches to content development can produce consistent results. Here’s a broad overview of their recommendations for successfully designing, producing, and publishing marketing content:
- Discover: This starts with understanding how content marketing is a key part of your marketing strategy, and learning about your consumers’ needs and expectations. These insights can often help you uncover unaddressed opportunities to better engage with your consumers. This also involves getting senior management buy in for running content marketing initiatives as well as developing strategic and targeted content assets.
- Plan: You must use the knowledge gained from the discovery phase to design and develop content. The insights gained in the discovery phase often reveal the internal strengths and capabilities that you have at your disposal and help you decide whether to rely on internal teams or engage marketing services providers to kick off or accelerate content marketing campaigns.
- Act: After an internal assessment of your content development abilities, you will need to entrust your internal experts and/ or consumer-oriented employees with the responsibility of broadly outlining useful and persuasive content, based on their knowledge of consumers’ needs. These experts can also work with external content development agencies to generate targeted content across their customers’ life cycles. Choosing the right agency partner is a serious process in itself. We will examine this in greater depth in a future blog post.
- Optimize: This involves proactively monitoring content marketing activities and subsequently gathering metrics and feedback to deliver optimal results. Building strong relationships and open communication with your chosen content development partners can go a long way in getting the results you are looking for. As content is ideated, developed, and disseminated, you must learn how to take advantage of powerful tools available that can help you benchmark your efforts and identify how your KPIs (key performance indicators) are faring. According to this content marketing report, survey respondents used the following metrics to measure the effectiveness of their content marketing strategy: web traffic (63%), views and downloads (59%), and leads generated (42%). Sharing on social media surprisingly came in at just 36%.
Make your content marketing count
Getting optimal results through content marketing is all about understanding your target market and its expectations. Content that provides potential customers with useful information (even if they aren’t ready to buy a product or service) is likely to result in greater brand recall and favorable impressions. Metrics matter too, and must be closely tracked to make course corrections. So, do you have a content marketing strategy for 2017?
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