To kick off the New Year, I talked about the 2016 ahead for Content Marketing, as a whole. The potential for this to be an impressive 12 months for Content is high, especially within the b2c realm. But what about b2b? The outlook could best be characterized as lukewarm. Since b2b marketers are still just dipping their toes into the concept of programmatic anything, trying to plan a heavy and robust content strategy might not come to fruition. As frustrating as it can be for Content Evangelists, perhaps we can use the fact that b2b and b2c operate in different time zones to our advantage. Learning from the pitfalls of b2c content strategies could help us as business marketers to strengthen our products, services and offerings.
Per Usual, B2B Lags
While there has been an explosion of growth in the b2c Content Marketing realm, per usual b2b is again late to the party. The same issues that prevent other strategies and marketing resources from directly translating from b2c to b2b have plagued the content space. Business marketers are still in the midst of defining the best metrics for market strategizing in general, let alone in something as new as content marketing. If there is a trend amongst business marketers for 2016, it’s ambiguity and confusion. The numbers seem to back up this assertion as well. A recent study conducted by the CMI (Content Marketing Institute) in partnership with MarketingProfs found that less than 30% of b2b Marketers believe their content strategy is effective.
Content Strategy is Chaotic, But Imperative For B2B
Content strategies for b2b marketers are complex and utterly chaotic. Trying to make sense of numerous platforms, creators, buyers, influencers and publishers can be mind-boggling— then, throw on the fact that most content marketing resources available are inherently structured for b2c. In her recent piece via Adage, EngageSimply Founder and CEO, Judy Shapiro emphasizes that “B-to-b revenue results rest on the back of hard-working content.” And this is true. Large-form marketing collateral and content are not usually applicable in a b2c capacity. This can lead many marketers used to working within a b2c environment to fail at comprehending their importance in the marketing funnel.
Why is Creativity an Afterthought?
One big problem with Content Marketing’s current pitfalls is the fact that the industry as a whole operates under the assumption that content is inherently engaging. I run into this problem frequently with clients who haven’t consciously acknowledged that creation and curation of content must be the FIRST step, not an afterthought. Retaining an engaged audience throughout the entirety of a blog post or white paper is the only true way to connect content with conversions. It’s frustrating to see companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars boosting web traffic to their corporate blog, only for it to land upon a maze of confusing, unorganized posts. One pillar of my personal strategy is that less can be better. Clear, concise, but lean content beats out fatty long-form posts. Setting editorial goals, and recognizing that content should be a reflection of your contextual relevance to more broad industry trends are great places to start. Luckily, b2b marketers seem to be recognizing this assertion. 72% reported that creating more engaging content is their top priority for their 2016 content strategy.
So it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards). Let’s make 2016 the year business leaders build exciting and engaging content that boosts sales, and keeps our customers coming back.
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