Content Marketing: Seeing What Sticks?
There’s plenty of commentary about content marketing available these days. That’s probably due in part to the fact that many marketers are nervous about whether they’re creating the right content. When you don’t have a strategy behind the effort, there’s good cause to be sweating the details.
According to one survey, by Theory Global, 86% of 201 marketers (primarily across Europe) are “somewhat worried” about whether they’re generating the right content. And almost a quarter of those indicate they’re very worried. “Companies often produce too much content (up to 75% goes wasted) or distribute the wrong type of Content and/or in the wrong stage in the buyer’s journey,” says Theory Global.
That view is backed up by the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report that found only 30% of surveyed marketers considered their content marketing strategy effective (down from 38% in the previous year’s survey). Overall, 76% of surveyed marketers plan to produce more content in 2016 than in 2015 and the least effective plan to produce even more content!
The only possible takeaway here is that many, if not most, are focusing on volume and just hoping that if they’ll hit some targets with at least a portion of what they’re generating – sort of like tossing a bunch of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. More than half in the survey expect to increase spending on content marketing in 2016, while 35% predict it will stay the same as 2015.
Can you imagine trying to justify this at budget time: “Hey Boss, I want to spend more money generating even more content that’s only going to hit a relatively small slice of our target segment!”
Unfortunately, we’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar problem. According to a report by Gleanster and Kapost, “B2B firms in the US alone spend over $5.2B a year on content creation efforts; this accounts for quantifiable content marketing investments in internal resources, agencies, technology platforms, and production processes.”
Part of the problem, asserts Erica Lindberg, writing on The Marketeer, is that as more stakeholders have become involved in B2B buying decisions, the marketing effort has become more disjointed.
“Every role within your organization—even roles within marketing—have their own tools, content types, and channels to manage,” says Lindberg. The result: “lack of communication, or a clearly defined integrated strategy to execute upon, causes ad hoc content creation, off-brand messaging, and a disparate customer experience.”
Lindberg offers some practical advise on mapping the customer journey and identifying which team is responsible at each stage, as well as the need to audit your target personas. Those definitely are needed steps, as the CMI report indicates just 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
It’s not clear though how many are actually ready to take that journey and it may be that the content challenge seems so overwhelming that many just don’t know where to begin. Gleanster and Kapost, not surprisingly, make the case for more investment in content marketing platforms, but I think the problem goes deeper than inefficient processes.
When asked by CMI to identify their top 5 challenges, 60% of the respondents identified the issue of producing engaging content as number one, while measuring content effectiveness and producing content consistently tied for number two, each with 57%.
That, to me, says there’s a fundamental disconnect between the B2B marketers and their targets. Without addressing that, mapping the customer journey and using content marketing for sales enablement is going to be tough sledding.
Increasingly, marketers need to connect with decision makers in key accounts to gain actionable insight into what is motivating their buying processes. Our approach focus on building prospect surveys to gain account intelligence that not only provides insight into what type of content will work with them, but also generates fruitful leads ready to talk to your sales team. Check out our paper on Solving the Content Challenge.