Do you consider content marketing to be an important part of your marketing strategy? Is it consistent with your brand and differentiating you from your competition?
For many B2B businesses their content marketing is ineffective – is it time to get back to some basics?
Many businesses churn out ‘content’ through the many different channels on offer in the hope that if you ‘throw enough out there something will stick’. With the growth of automated marketing and sales tools, easy and cheap access to digital tools and other changes in mass marketing, it is easier than ever for businesses to think that this increase in activity is going to make a difference.
But new surveys from Tomorrow People and the Content Marketing Association indicate that all this furious activity means that businesses are losing the plot.
It must be time to get back to some basics.
Content marketing is a key communication tool for B2B marketing, but for it to be effective there are some fundamental rules that many businesses seem to have forgotten. Whatever channel you are using and whoever you wish to target, the rules are relevant to all.
- The content must be helpful, with purpose and relevance
Our inboxes fill up far too easily with irrelevant junk, even from businesses who should know better. If you want your target to read what you have written it needs to be helpful, interesting and with purpose. Perhaps most importantly, it also needs to be relevant. If you want the reader to react – it needs to stand out. You need to differentiate your business from the competition by showing thought leadership and by strengthening your brand. Whether you wish to improve the experience of current customers, attract new ones or increase customer loyalty, providing helpful relevant content is crucial.
- Target the content at a specific individual or group of individuals
Businesses have spent a fortune over the last couple of decades investing in CRM systems, analysing data gathered and segmenting their data into useful subsets. They then create ‘personas’ or profiles of their targets – often to a fantastic level of detail! But at the end of the day, how much effort then goes into the content targeted at each group? The new research suggests a shockingly small amount of time. My own experiences confirm this – surely this is a fundamental error! Time spent tailoring your content to your specific audience, or preparing fresh content for each – even down to the individual where possible – is a cornerstone of effective marketing. Why has everyone forgotten this in their efforts to target as wide an audience as possible? Perhaps because it is now so easy – everyone thinks they can ‘do digital marketing’. And perhaps that is why the reader switches off so easily.
Supermarkets seem to be able to predict my shopping patterns and send me vouchers for my next shop personalised to my needs – excellent, if a bit unnerving! But when I buy on Amazon or book with Booking.com I get annoying adverts for ‘similar’ purchases for the next few weeks whenever I go online. Automated sales and marketing in B2C are reaching a point where we now tend to switch off or get annoyed!
Sadly, B2B companies seem to be moving away from understanding the needs of each individual within a business who might be relevant to the purchase cycle, in favour of mass content for all. Surely the needs for information are still very different for a CEO, FD or QA Manager. One-to-one marketing is an unrealistic utopia for most B2B businesses, but it must be in your mind at all times. So, make sure each group receives a different message, content and even a different tone. Take the time to send them something that they will value and that will help differentiate you from the competition.
- Consistency across your brand
My views on consistency within a brand start right with the very basics of content – grammar and spelling! The standard and quality of content has plummeted in recent years. If a relevant business sends me some interesting content containing basic spelling and grammar mistakes, then they will instantly have lost my attention and their brand will plummet in my estimation. Sadly, this comes back again to the drive for more and more content, which is being produced in a never-ending gushing stream! Wouldn’t you agree that a well-written and well-structured blog will have more impact than something wishy-washy that is stuffed full of errors?
So, make sure you double check your content and make sure your brand is consistent in the use of abbreviations and acronyms – and please don’t use Emojis unless they really suit the profile of the reader!
Today, more than ever, B2B marketing needs to prove its worth. The key metrics for content marketing come from the actions and interactions from the reader which lead directly or indirectly to an increase in sales. These metrics can be gathered in many ways including from opens, click throughs and other direct responses. Harder to measure is the emotional engagement and opinions of the reader. Are they engaged? Will they give a positive reaction to further contact?
So, I’ll get off my hobby-horse now. Content is king! Don’t spend hours analysing your data, segmenting it and drawing up impressive profiles of your target only then to send them badly written or irrelevant content.
Perhaps less is more.
An interesting, relevant blog or newsletter carefully targeted to catch the eye of the reader will enhance your brand, differentiate you from the competition and stimulate a positive reaction.
Make sure your content marketing strategy is working FOR your business!
Let’s get back to some basics!
Sue Dormer Director
0118 976 0543 or 07774 267280
- Dare to be different: the state of B2B content marketing differentiation 2017 – Tomorrow People (September 2017)
- The CMA Measuring Effectiveness Industry Report – Content Marketing Association (4/9/17)