Using content marketing as a source of B2B lead generation?
You’re not alone – an impressive 88 percent of your peers engage in content marketing, according to The Content Marketing Institute’s latest report.
In case you’ve stumbled upon this article by chance, let’s quickly define content marketing: Content marketing is a strategic way to enhance B2B lead generation; focused on consistently distributing relevant content that attracts (and retains) a clearly defined audience of people who are interested in your products and services.
The study, B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, surveyed 3,714 recipients from a large range of industries, functional areas and company sizes around the globe. The most surprising revelation actually had NOTHING to do with the prevalence of content marketing and everything to do with the lack of confidence behind it.
When asked – In your organization, is it clear what an effective content marketing program looks like? – only 44 percent of respondents said yes. The data went on to suggest a strong correlation between successful content marketing initiatives and clearly developed plans.
Unsurprisingly, the more experienced the content marketer, the more clearly developed the plan! Which begs the question: How do you know if you’re working with a content marketer who can truly enhance B2B lead generation? Based on the findings, there are several characteristics to look for that often point to more successful outcomes:
Qualities of Successful B2B Content Marketers
- They understand what successful content marketing looks like.
Successful content marketing begins with establishing clear goals. Not only do you need engaging, relevant content and a plan for distribution, but you also need a plan for gauging effectiveness. How else will you know what’s working, what isn’t and if you need to change course at any given moment?
Adaptability is the name of the game: Research, hypothesize, test, evaluate and repeat. One of the biggest traits that separates novices from experts is consistently tracking the right metrics and translating their relevancy across the organization as a whole.
Over the past 6 years, B2B marketers have cited Website traffic as their most often used metric. This year, marketers ranked lead quality, sales and higher conversion rates (in that order) as most important.
- They document their content marketing strategies.
You know that old adage “a goal isn’t real until you write it down?” Well, the same might apply for content marketing. Research consistently shows that those who document their strategies are more effective in nearly ALL areas of content marketing (i.e. content curation, social media and paid methods of distribution).
A mere 32 percent of respondents surveyed said they have a documented strategy. While there is no one template for documenting a B2B lead generation strategy, there are several topics that should be addressed (the more specific, the better). Use these questions as a starting point:
- What exactly do we hope to accomplish with our content marketing?
- Do we have one target market or several?
- What are their psychographics and demographics?
- What does our sales funnel look like?
- What is our brand story (ie. why should people care)?
- What types of content will we introduce and when?
- They document their editorial mission statements.
Only 28 percent of respondents surveyed said they had a documented editorial mission statement; another 30 percent said they had one, but it had not documented it. Let’s get honest: How likely is your mission statement to be consistently executed if you never write it down?
Again, the key to running a successful campaign is consistency. You want your content to have a familiarity that your prospects look forward to. Contrary to popular opinion, writing a mission statement doesn’t have to take an entire weekend! But it should include: A brief description of your intended audience, a core message (focused on the key point you want customers to walk away with) and the primary goal you hope to accomplish.
- They communicate frequently with their teams.
According to the report, 61 percent of the most effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly. The reason being? Online marketing is about adapting your plans according to what’s working.
As new data emerges, lead generating strategies should be adapted to meet what works. Further, sometimes the most valuable pieces of information – that end up inspiring the most interesting content – come from those weekly check-ins. The bottom-line: Consistently communicate with staff members who are regularly interacting with the customers.
Again, content marketing is showing no signs of slowing down. A reported 76 percent of B2Bs surveyed said they will increase the amount of content they produce in 2016.
Will you be joining them?