Content Marketing: Make Small Changes for Big Results

Content MarketingProspects are swimming in content today — from you and your competitors.

The flood of popularity for content marketing makes it harder each month to stand out from everyone else.

How do you avoid content commoditization? You can use a number of techniques to burn your light brighter than the competition and do it without significant expense.  Most of the tips I suggest in this post don’t require much in upfront costs, just some additional time for brainstorming and production.

Let’s dig into the ways to add value to your content.

Make their job easier

In an average workday, prospects and customers have limited time to consume content.  They often have a computer folder loaded with marketing material they need to read and evaluate.  A vital method to differentiate your company is developing content that’s interactive or quickly absorbed.

While there’s nothing wrong with producing white papers and case studies, also create checklists, cheat sheets, and templates that can reduce and simplify a customer’s workload.

My favorite is templates. You can develop them as content calendars, customer questionnaires, buyer personas, and many other useful tools.

Content Sharing
HubSpot produced a PowerPoint template that lets you add snappy graphics for your content sharing.
Social Media Swipe File
Digital Marketer developed this swipe file of headlines for social media.
Quick Reference
At the end of a white paper for the heavy equipment market, this quick reference table delivers important load material info with an easy, at-a-glance format.


Where to next?

Your content marketing shouldn’t exist in a silo. If you have similar content that may benefit them, tell your prospects and customers where to find it. You often see this in books, with a Further Reading list.  Or online articles, with hyperlinks to related topics.

If you create a SlideShare presentation, do you have additional info on the subject? Then include a link to it.

SlideShare
At the end of a SlideShare presentation, I included a link to my blog entry with more details on the topic.


Adjust your company biography to fit the content

When you read B2B marketing documents like white papers, you see at the end of each document a brief biography of the company that produced the content. 

These bios contain the same text from one document to the next.  They include information about years in business, products and services, and, if a public company, stock market information. 

Sure, it’s easier to cut and paste this section into every document, but you’re wasting an opportunity to position your company. Instead, remind your prospects in the bio section how you solve problems discussed in content they’ve just consumed.

Create customized content

Before the Internet, you had few options to personalize marketing, other than writing your prospect’s name in the salutation of a letter.

The evolution of web analytics has gone far beyond names. It can now analyze a customer’s behavior on your website and other marketing channels, which allows you to develop content that is personal and relevant. In fact, Demand Metric reports, “78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing.”

Custom Content
It may require extra time and resources from your marketing department, but personalization’s positive impact on ROI can pay for itself.


Your company’s reward is better engagement and increased revenue. For example, HubSpot remarks, “personalized calls-to-action result in a 42% higher conversion rate than calls-to-action that are the same for all visitors.”

Here’s another vital reason to personalize content. Google co-authored a study last year that revealed 46 percent of B2B buyers conducting research on future purchases are millennials. This generation expects content tailored to their specific needs and interests. They’re resistant to the mass communication model of marketing.

Conclusion

Even small changes to your content marketing can boost engagement and relevancy. With so much information racing through the Internet pipe every day, it requires nimbleness to adjust content so it distinguishes you from the competition.

Have you discovered other ways to make your content unique in your business sector? Please share them in the comments section.

Free-Content-Audit-Template

Additional Resources:

The Marketer’s Guide to Getting Started With Content Personalization

Content Marketing Personalization: When and How to Use It

The Talking Billboard: Introduction to Personalized Digital Advertising

 

Word cloud image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

4 Common Mistakes in B2B Marketing

So what do B2B companies get wrong when they charge into the marketing ID-100267774arena?

In this post, we’ll look at four of the frequent missteps we marketers make, including producing content we think customers want, relying only on inbound marketing, and why focusing too heavily on lead generation can be costly.

Also, you’ll discover the surprising statistic on how much cash companies allocate to their marketing departments.

Let’s start with the biggest blunder:

1) Never test and measure marketing campaigns

One of the biggest puzzles I find is what marketers say they want versus the action they take to achieve that want.  Possibly the greatest contradiction is a majority of  B2B marketers claim they wish to measure the response to their campaigns, but only one-third measure and calculate their return on investment.  Even when they track their initiatives, a surprising number of marketing departments never share the information with the executive level.

Why aren’t marketers persistent on measurement activity?

Financial resources appear to be a prominent factor. Recent stats show nearly 70 percent of B2B organizations allot five percent or less of revenue on marketing.

Hmmm. This is troubling. I suspect it’s because of an enduring mindset that marketing is an expense and not an investment in driving growth. 

This lack of tracking leaves marketers confused about what works and what doesn’t. When asked by Webmarketing123 which promotional channel was their primary revenue generator, 32 percent of B2B marketers answered, “Not sure.” Yikes!

2) Never try print marketing

Digital marketing is so pervasive that it seems to marketers as the only game in town. But print has advantages. 

For one, there’s less of it than there used to be, so while your email competes with others for a customer’s attention, sending marketing material through snail mail helps you stand out from other companies. 

Most companies post their white papers and case studies as pdfs on their website. Instead, why not carefully select a few high-quality prospects and send them a printed copy of your content marketing pieces?

Today’s printing technology has made it possible to create personalized marketing documents and produce in smaller quantities than previously available with traditional offset printing.

Print can deliver a good return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association conducted research that reveals that direct mail ROI outperforms digital marketing.

Studies also suggest you can boost the impact of your digital campaigns by including complementary direct mail.  Research shows elevated open rates and increases in average sale orders than using online marketing alone.

In Direct Marketing News, Richard Rushing, senior director of digital strategy at agency Epsilon remarked, “Brands with a compelling message or offer that link direct mail and digital can expect a 10 to 30 percent uplift in conversion when combining the two channels.”

Here’s a new print approach to try.  The website Minibuk  lets you produce 3.5″ by 5″ booklets. They’re small enough to mail in a business envelope or carry easily for distribution at trade shows.  Your booklet can contain text and graphics of a presentation, webinar, case study, special report or just about any other type of marketing content. 

 3) Too little focus on customer retention

 You may have heard the business maxim that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. But is this true? Yes, according to research conducted by marketing firm Gartner Group. The statistic proves the importance of keeping your customers happy to prevent defection to your competitors.

However, as you can see on the B2B Marketer’s Accountability chart below, customer retention doesn’t get as much focus as lead generation. This stat is mystifying considering marketing to current customers is significantly cheaper than acquiring new customers.  And according to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

B2B_Marketers_Accountability
Customer retention ranks near the bottom among B2B marketers in medium-size companies.


Even marketers give themselves poor grades in this area: 70 percent rated their retention activities as either “average, poor, or needs improvement.”

To boost retention, you should audit your current content marketing assets. As well as creating content for customers, look at what you have that you could repurpose.  What could you use to upsell, cross-sell, or keep your company top of mind? How about sending customers case studies that introduce products and services they have yet to purchase?

4) Producing content for marketing channels your prospects rarely use.

A major mistake in content marketing is relying too heavily on what your competitors create. Unless you have a spy working in a competitor’s firm, you don’t know for sure which of their content is successful. While every industry has best practices, nothing beats testing the waters with your prospects before producing a load of content in a channel they don’t access.

Wrong_Marketing_Channel
Choosing the wrong marketing channel for distributing content can waste valuable time and resources.*


For example, buyers from diverse business sectors may have different preferences on content formats.  A study published by Eccolo Media on B2B influencers and decision-makers in the tech sector revealed:

 “More than half of respondents (57%) said they had looked at product brochures/data sheets from B2B technology vendors in the past six months, the most engagement with any content type.”

This may be surprising considering all the attention that digital marketing receives, but when you put tech prospects under the microscope, it makes sense.  Where a consumer might rely on a friend’s product recommendation in a social media post, a technology buyer requires in-depth details datasheets provide, particularly if they need to ensure compatibility with current corporate systems.

Conclusion

Marketing is complex, more so than many people realize — even marketers.  It has to appeal to both logic and emotions of your prospect and customers. That’s no easy task.  For a B2B marketer, you have the added burden of trying to persuade both influencers and decision makers. You’re unlikely to hit the bull’s-eye every time.

Making mistakes shouldn’t embarrass you, as they’re crucial to helping you see what appeals to your target audience and what doesn’t. Mistakes can serve as the best marketing intelligence you could ever hope to uncover!

References:

*[Infographic] Why are B2B Content Strategies Important? – CMO Council.  

Stop sign image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Are You Overwhelmed by Your Content Marketing?

I recently came across an article on the site Social Media B2B about making content marketing more manageable. In the research report B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, 64% of marketers stated that their biggest challenge is creating enough content. It got me to thinking what techniques and resources I use for managing both my content production and client projects over the last several years.

I’ve found I employ a combination of cognitive techniques, software and templates to keep the wheels of production turning and the workload under control. Test these yourself:

1) Implement a Time Management System. I never used any specific system until I found Pomodoro. It breaks your activities into 25-minute segments, and it emphasizes focusing on a single chore rather than the more common approach of multitasking. Recommended!

2) Use Boiler Plate Templates. Speed up the structuring of your content with preformatted shortcuts. Although not the only copywriting format I use, the motivating sequence is one of my favourites. Download The Motivating Sequence – Cheat Sheet. Also give these templates from the Content Marketing Institute a look.

3) Determine Your Optimum Times for Productivity. I do most of my challenging creative tasks, such as writing, in the morning when I feel my brain is fresh. I reserve my slow period for less taxing activities, such as answering emails, filing client info and returning phone calls.

4) Write It Down. Developing an outline of major projects keeps things running smoothly. I break down tasks into more manageable chunks. It may sound like extra work, but this technique has really helped me keep on top of projects.

5) Use a Social Media Dashboard. To manage your content posting and distribution, use a program such as HootSuite or Sprout Social. This saves time jumping from one account to another.

I’ve been involved in content creation for two decades, and it does take some time to discover what process works best for your personality and habits. Be open to experimenting.

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus