Forrester and Business Marketing Asociation research shows that B2B marketers are still not seeing satisfactory returns on their content marketing efforts. 51% claim their content marketing is "somewhat effective" and 27% were neutral.
Even with lackluster results 75% of B2B marketers plan to increase 2014 content marketing budgets. This would indicate that they see value in content marketing, but haven't devoted time and budget to master it. We will have to assume that they were testing the waters with minimal budget and the results met the criteria they set to increase efforts and budget.
14% said their content marketing efforts were "very effective" at delivering business value.
The problem they noted was in execution. Writing effective messages for online distribution channels is still baffling many B2B markets. Email and marketing automation tools provide the power to reach out to customers, but allocating the time and resources to create content is not always a priority for many companies.
Online success depends on meeting the requirements of Google and other search engine measurements for authority. Google wants you to continually add quality content and update your website. If you haven't been devoting budget or time updating and adding content to your site you are not alone. It will not be wise to continue along that path.
Changing How You Communicate
This is the age of the consumer. Providing information on who you are, what products or services you provide is not enough. Rushing to get the website up and using the easy information from corporate brochures and collateral met a deadline. That content is "informational" not "compelling". The primary focus has to be on customer benefits. Creating quality messaging requires thinking about what is compelling and interesting to your audience.
What can you keep in-house?
My smaller clients who are new to SEO, blogging and online marketing are fearful. Understandably, this is all new and out of their area of expertise. But communication streams have changed. To stay competitive we all have to adapt and incorporate new tools in our marketing tool box.
For instance, email is the modern form of direct mail. It is a cost effective solution that can easily be implemented with the right customer data and systems. You can subscribe to Constant Contact or some web platforms include email functionality in the system. There are other online platforms that can simplify automating communication along with tracking leads, visits and SEO ranking.
Evaluating marketing methods with your marketing budget and staff isn't a new process, but adding the new marketing tools can cause stress in deciding what and how to implement. Some clients tell me they don't want to spam their customers. Being customer focused means asking your customers how often you can reach out, what they would like know and what they are missing.
Content marketing, blogging, SEO, email marketing are all necessary to capture keep customers engaged to grow sales. B2B lead generation benefits from these efforts just as well as B2C. Content strategy is not exclusive to B2C marketing. Establish a clear goal and marketing strategy that uses the lead generating tools that make sense for your business operations. Then evaluate how to leverage resources, employees and outside professionals, to allocate budget.
Your team and organization may not need to implement all social media options or marketing tools to achieve results. Implement the content marketing efforts that most effectively target your core audience with the budget you have. As you grow sales have a plan to add the marketing tactics that will deliver the fastest and/or best ROI. Your marketing bag of tools can grow with your business. Some companies will get better results from Facebook, others from Twitter and some will implement those later in ther marketing plan. Following the pack does not guarantee ROI.
There are online platforms that can further simplify automating communication as well as pushing content out to the various media that supports your online marketing. There is a cost but it may be less expensive than adding an employee. Hiring a professional to write and implement content strategy may be more economical than a new hire especially when you account for the knowledge and skills it requires to be effective.Technology is pushing us to change how we work and promote our business. Market smarter and more efficiently by engaging online, delivering content that motivates and drives more traffic to your site.