Content Marketing Reality Check: 5 Ways to Improve

B2B marketers have gotten the message that content is currency in the ongoing quest for qualified leads. With 63% of marketers extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to a new DemandGen Report survey, content has certainly become a prime weapon in the B2B marketers arsenal.

Why then, have so many experts, pundits and B2B prospects been raising the flag that today’s marketing content relates less to currency and far more to something flushable?

It’s a particularly serious dilemma when 70% of marketers plan to produce more content than ever this year and tell the Content Marketing Institute they have committed nearly a third of their overall marketing spend to content creation.

At least part of the answer may be found in the recent DemandGen 2017 Content Preference survey report. Respondents claim they are overwhelmed with the amount of content available in today’s marketplace. They have less time to devote to reading and research than in previous years. They are also hungry for content that gets to the point, touches them directly and delivers prescriptive advice to drive success penned by a trusted industry expert.

An honest appraisal of the information many marketers have been churning out in the arms race to “out content” competitors easily demonstrates that B2B marketers are falling way short of satisfying prospect needs.

So how do you transform your content from crud to currency? Here are five absolute musts:

Be brief

Face it. Time is what most of us want more of and none of us has the ability to alter. So be respectful of your audiences’ time and give them shorter content that dives directly to the punchline. Keep your content interactive and visual and tell a story. Just make it a short story rather than a novella.

Be credible

DemandGen found that 75% of buyers placed a high value on the trustworthiness of the content source when deciding what to consume.

The bad news for marketing content creators is that while 99% want content from analysts or industry experts, only 34% were willing to consider vendor-related content as trustworthy. The way to win this battle is to deploy one or both of the following strategies: 1. Rent an expert or 2. Build your own expert brand.

Marketers for years have hired industry experts with a following to draft content, participate in webinars and make presentations at live events. This can get expensive but it will absolutely increase the value of your content and drive higher engagement.

Finding a subject matter expert within your own ranks and launching a social and PR blitz to promote the content that individual develops can help you avoid the “hired gun” expense.  It takes longer to execute but is obviously more controllable.

Be relevant

No one has the time to slog through a fourteen-page white paper to find the one or two nuggets of wisdom that help them with their particular problem. Do your homework. Invest in the research to understand your potential buyer’s particular problem, how it impacts their job and where it likely ranks on their pain threshold. Then create targeted content that deals only with that pain point.

It takes more work and might cost more, but this isn’t a contest to see how many pieces of content can be produced in a year (we think HubSpot may have won that one already!).

Be Easy

We’re not talking about a shaky moral code here. It’s all about reducing the friction between prospect and content. In other words – give up the five-page, tell me your life story, form and ungate your content. A vast majority of buyers told DemandGen that they wanted easier-to-access content and fewer forms.

With the tools available to marketers today we should be able to build buyer profiles without the need for multi-page forms. Ungate your content and you’ll improve engagement.

Be helpful

As B2B marketers, we shouldn’t be trying to be Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or James Patterson. The goal should be to create content that helps buyers solve problems. Prescriptive blog posts that offer tips and lists, ROI calculators, benchmarketing tools, case studies (preferably with real metrics from identified companies) are all examples of the type of content buyer are looking for, with case studies leading the way.

By Micky Long – June 22, 2017

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