Content marketing has officially turned the corner from trend to cornerstone of an effective marketing strategy. Most companies are doing some form of content marketing. Unfortunately without a clear view of what you are trying to accomplish and how you’ll measure the impact, this can often result in limited results and wasted investment.
For B2B companies, the challenges look a little different than B2C. The B2B customer journey is unique. Many stakeholders and unique roles are typically involved, and their level of involvement varies based on where you are in the buyer journey. For example, senior executives may not get heavily involved until initial research has been completed. The sales cycle is longer (often 6 – 12 months or more), so there are many more touchpoints at which to engage a target account. Personal and firm risk associated with the purchase are higher, so there is a heavy reliance on content that lends credibility from sources such as peers, market influencers, third party experts and existing customers.
Content marketing to a B2B audience can seem like a daunting black box, considering multiple account segments, sales channels, buyers and influencers, audiences and geographic considerations. In our own client work and research, we’ve found a few universal building blocks to an effective B2B content strategy:
First, you need to actually document your content marketing strategy including target audiences as well as business and marketing objectives. If you haven’t done this yet, know that you are in good company – less than 1/3 of B2B firms have a documented content strategy. A critical part of this strategy is having a clear view of your customer journey. In the B2B world, this includes both the B2B journey as well as the end customer’s journey.
Second, to justify investment and drive for continuous improvement, you then need to continually measure effectiveness and efficiency of your content marketing program. In 2015, 57% of B2B marketers note that measuring content effectiveness is a top concern.
Lastly, companies that try do it all in-house get over their skis in a hurry. If developing content in-house is a challenge, consider outsourcing content development. In 2015, less than 60% of content was generated in-house, with syndicated and outsourced material gaining in popularity as the market matures.
The reality is that content marketing is not going away so it’s time to tackle this black box. Depending on how far you are down the path, your needs and best next steps will vary. At Lenati, we’ve developed this Content Marketing Maturity Assessment to provide companies a step-by-step guide tailored to your content marketing sophistication level. Take the free online assessment to get your tailored report with recommendations on where to go next.