By Manuela Burki, IMS Marketing Director & Strategy Analyst
As consumers, we brace ourselves against thousands of publicities every day. In response, about 2/3rds of the emails we receive never get opened,1 25% of us have downloaded ad blockers to our smartphones,2 and almost 90% of us will fast forward TV adverts.3
Advertising fatigue has not gone unnoticed by companies: content marketing is used by 91% and 86% of B2B and B2C marketers respectively, and almost 40% of organisations readily identified content generation as critical to engaging customers.4 Yet many organisations are still underperforming when it comes to delivering their content marketing strategy. In this article, we look beyond the essentials of content marketing to understand why your strategy is not as effective as you think.
1. You conduct incomplete content marketing audits
Did you know that producing relevant, value-adding content is a game-changer for SEO? Simply reviewing your content inventory is not enough. A methodological review should help you determine the characteristics that most effectively meet the needs of your target audience, while delivering on KPIs. These indicators should cover the aspects of your content marketing strategy that are most important to you, and can include:
There are free software tools available that enable you to ‘crawl’ across website URLs to retrieve key information that help with content inventory analysis. Key things to consider include title, topic area, text length, content format, meta data, calls to action, conversion metrics, readability scores, and social shares. By integrating analytics that cover both qualitative and quantitative aspects, such as bounce rate or unique page views, you will be able to identify the common features of your top-performing content and eliminate low ROI content. Don’t forget to pay attention to feedback that users provide directly, either through comments or further discussion on social media.
2. You over-prioritise gated content
The consumer is king. In 2018, your audience will be accustomed to having their needs put first. Imagine their indignation when they are asked to fill in a form with their email address, business-size, and mothers’ maiden name – only to find out that they get nothing of value at the end.
The general rule is that content on its own should not be gated unless necessary (say, an email address in exchange for an e-book). Preserve trust in your brand by not frustrating your consumers. Similarly, how many times have you been enjoying a blog post when an annoying pop-up asks you to register or purchase something? There are more innovative (and subtle!) approaches to using pop-up windows, such as to suggest similar content when the reader scrolls to the bottom of the page.
The bottom line here is to let your consumer know you are in it for the long haul: don’t sacrifice brand-consumer relationships in the hope of snatching a few more email addresses.
3. Only your content marketers are invested in content marketing
We have argued passionately that structural changes are necessary to embrace the transition from the traditional sales funnel to the new consumer journey. Marketing and sales teams must work together seamlessly, using pragmatic processes, to seize and understand lead opportunities.
Failed communication is cited as the number one reason contributing to sales and marketing misalignment. Sales teams can provide marketers with invaluable feedback and on-the-ground insight into how different products are received by customers, any pain points in the consumer journey, and recurring trends in consumer queries. For example, if sales discover that prospects decline a company’s products or services due to perceived complexity, marketing can publish content to support usability.
The proliferation of social media use for pre-purchase research has enabled sales teams to seize opportunities to build long-lasting relationships. Content marketing is a powerful tool to reinforce brand loyalty and create interest. Alignment of tone, focus, and timing is essential to optimize your company’s social media activity.
Finally, you can present content in a creative way that provides value to the consumer and information for your sales department. For example, you can present assessment simulations within educative content. By using interactive content, you are 93% more likely to succeed in educating the buyer than if you were using static content,5 and your sales teams can obtain invaluable insight into the mindset of the consumer.
4. You underestimate the value of content marketing tools
Too often we shoot ourselves in the foot by failing to sufficiently prepare our strategy. Anxious to prove the business case for content marketing, we rush through the first crucial stages and dismiss marketing tools as gimmicks.
Trust the process. Using customer personas, for example, can result in almost a 200% increase in marketing-generated revenue and reduce lead conversion time by 72%.6 In content marketing, understanding the diverse needs and behavioural patterns of your target audience weeds out unnecessary efforts to help you consistently deliver on the content you produce. Do your prospects or consumers prefer video or text-based content? Are they more likely to use their mobile devices to browse or a home computer? Do they value more advice or entertainment? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you don’t know how to satisfy potential clients.
A sound content marketing strategy will generate more than three times as many leads as traditional approaches, at less than half the cost.7 By aligning sales and marketing, doing the necessary groundwork, avoiding gated content, and conducting regular audits, you’ll help ensure that your company’s content marketing strategy works hard on your behalf.