Right now, it’s all about content marketing. Producing original content is one of the best tools a digital marketer can use to generate awareness, nurture interest and ultimately capture data that can be converted into solid leads.
The 2013 B2B Content Marketing Trends Report, prepared by the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn, highlights the following top 5 trends in content marketing:
1) Content Marketing is going mainstream and is becoming more sophisticated to help marketers generate more leads and enable thought leadership.
2) The popularity of white papers as a content marketing format is declining relative to interactive, easily digestible formats such as video.
3) More than 82% of B2B marketers are increasing their content production over the next 12 months.
4) YouTube is gaining popularity as a social media platform to reach and engage B2B audiences – Facebook is losing ground.
5) Marketing automation is on the rise. 61% of marketers use marketing automation platforms, up from 43% last year.
To get your content marketing plan up and running, you need to produce an editorial calendar. Spend time planning what content you need to produce, in what format, and decide where / how you will distribute it. These elements are all key to success.
Sounds simple?! Sadly not. Not only does it take time, it takes considerable thought and management.
So, what are the big mistakes in content marketing, and how can you overcome them?
1. Customer focus
The CIM definition of marketing highlights the need to identify, anticipate and satisfy customer requirements. Always put the customer first. Listen to their pain – either formally in meetings or informally over a cup of coffee. A wealth of information will be revealed. Turn their problems into your opportunities. Let your customer know how you (and only you) can solve their issues. Use social media to actively listen to what the marketplace is saying, and respond appropriately with good content.
2. Quantity vs Quality
Quality always wins this battle. One piece of poor content can damage your overall strategy. Use your editorial calendar to plan and prepare content that is focused on the objectives you have set. It’s all too easy to get carried away with producing reams of content, but a lack of quality will quickly switch your audience off. Quality content will ensure they return to see what you have to say next.
3. Not writing to share
All content should be written with the objective of sharing. Make it easy to share by leaving characters spare on a tweet (allowing for a retweet) and by including share to social icons on your website, for example.
4. Once only? No! Re-purpose…
A piece of content can be used again and again. For every survey question you can prepare a thought leadership piece. For every white paper or blog you can create a plethora of tweets. Every single message can be cross-promoted. As you prepare your editorial calendar, ensure you prepare content to meet your various objectives – from lead generation to lead nurturing.
5. …and repeat
The fast-moving nature of social media means that messages are not always received first-time. Share your messages persistently.
URL shortening service Bitly carried out some interesting research into the half life of a social media post (the time it takes a link to receive half the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak):
• The mean half life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours.
• The mean half life of a link on Facebook is 3.2 hours.
• The mean half life of a link via ‘direct’ sources such as email is 3.4 hours.
• The mean half life of a link on YouTube is 7.4 hours.
6. Finding your audience
Great content is not so great if it’s not reaching your target audience. At the strategic planning stage ensure you do your research and know where to find your audience and what their needs are. Marketing is all about reaching the right people, in the right place, and the right time.
Consider each and every part of the sales cycle and the buyers involved at each stage. If you need help to build a complete and comprehensive picture of your technology buyers so that you can communicate with them more effectively then develop some buyer profiles.
7. Not gating and over-gating
By ‘gating’ we mean locking the content behind a data capture form – a key tool in lead generation. Depending on the type of content you create will depend on whether you want to lock it away or give it freely. There are different reasons why you might choose to do either.
Where it goes wrong is when you’re giving away the crown jewels and not getting anything in return. Likewise, closing off all your content isn’t a great solution either. This nicely ties into content mapping and knowing when to gate content and when not to.
8. Creating just one type of content
It’s easy to get stuck in a groove and focus on creating all the same kind of content, but not everyone wants to see the same type of content over and over again. It’s about a balance between visual, written, audio and video as well as long and short form.
People like to consume information in different ways. Some are visual, some prefer the written word. Some have more time, others are low are on time. Some want detail, some want top line. Find out what your buyers want and meet their needs, adding a bit of variety into the mix. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Knowing what success looks like is the key to enhancing your content marketing strategy. Which means tracking and measurement at every part of the journey: from initial touch to final conversion. What was the route the journey took and how did content play a part? Ultimately, begin to gather a picture of what works and what doesn’t.
As highlighted above, content marketing takes time, a lot of thought and plenty of planning. There isn’t a magic formula to getting it right; it’s about knowing your niche, your sector and your buyers. Add in a bit of test and learn finished off with measure, track and review.