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content challengesI’d nominate CMO Council’s “Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field” for the clunkiest white paper title of the year, but it’s also an informative wake-up call.

The paper reports findings from a survey of 400 B2B “content seekers” to identify what is and isn’t working in today’s new media noisefest.

But should you actually care about content marketing?

Content marketing is a lot more than the sweetheart trend of online media today. It’s the multimedia megastar of many a company’s marketing strategy for increasing awareness, lead generation, conversion, sales, customer loyalty, and advocacy.

So it’s not the least bit surprising B2Bers are now investing more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing initiatives and upping the ante each year.

You would think content marketing is a sure thing—a consistently effective way to go. But you’d be wrong.

While some companies get serious and master it, far more muck it up. The authors of the white paper I cited delivered this gem:

Too many organizations are still engaged in random acts of content development.

They claim most companies are in the early stages of building strategies and processes required to be effective content marketers.

The good news is iffy.

In addition to putting together a super informative white paper, CMO Council and Netline delivered a statistical summary in the form of an infographic, which kicks off with this…

87% say online content has major or moderate impact on vendor selection.

However, a breakdown reveals only 27% went with “major impact” while the majority, 60%, went with “moderate.” Focus on that and the data isn’t nearly as impressive.

Content impacts b2b graphic


But let’s say as an effective content marketer you could convert half of your “moderates” to “majors.” You’d have the opportunity to strongly influence a majority of prospects with your content. So, how do you become a more effective content marketer?

It’s time to examine what does and doesn’t work.

Access. When asked what characteristic do you dislike most regarding content, the survey participants’ top answer was “too many requirements for downloads.” Difficultly in website navigation was another major complaint. To be successful with your content efforts you must recognize the user’s intolerance and impatience. It’s imperative your content is easy to find and get.

B2B content

Touch points. Mobile now plays a monumental role. Consider too, the varying preferences for media types and respond to the different tastes of your target audience by offering content in different forms for consumption across all popular devices.

Trust. With so many companies rushing to amplify their reach by multiplying their messages, content marketing now faces the same scrutiny and skepticism of traditional advertising. The only way to engage prospects and gain their trust is to be genuinely helpful.

Depth. Your content consumers want breadth and depth. Skim the surface with information they can get elsewhere and you’ve lost them.

Clarity. Charting the characteristics participants most value in B2B content, ranking just a few percentage points behind “breadth and depth” was “understanding and readability.” Is your content 100% clear 100% of the time?

Originality. According to the survey, content seekers value original thinking. Are you offering it? The report claims too few companies have well-conceived, customer-relevant themes with “strong content origination.” It’s a challenge you have to step up to.

Timeliness. Of course, there’s value in delivering timeless lessons, but timely insights score points with content consumers. Your content team should be on top of the market and nimble enough to report on what’s going on now.

Content production capabilities. Too few companies have the partnerships, capabilities, and effective delivery networks to consistently perform well. Take a hard look at your people and platforms.

Personalization. Marketers struggle to find the ideal channels to reach key buyers and influencers. The reports claims content must be produced and personalized to optimize consumption, influence and action. Having the ability to get specific information to the right decision maker on a just-in-time basis is a weapon few possess.

Process. The report says a strategic and rigorous process for developing relevant and compelling platforms, ideas and research is deficient in many organizations.

Customer engagement. Some companies are now creating customer discovery groups focused on staying in touch and engaged with customers. You have to understand who needs what—and when. This takes some serious effort.

Integration. The most effective digital content providers have successfully integrated the right people, processes and technology. Meagen Eisenberg of DocuSign, says sales and support need to be enlisted to help map the customer journey.

Customer focus. You’ve heard it many times before and it was stressed throughout the report. Self-serving and promotional content turns off buyers.

Measurement. Continuous refinement is all-important. A wide variety of metrics should be considered and reliable tracking tools must be used to gather the data that informs the content marketer’s strategies and tactics.

More spending doesn’t ensure better results.

Online content is essential. However, reaping in ROI is hardly automatic.

Realizing greater content performance requires creating content that excites and motivates buyers at every phase of the engagement process. Self-serving content continues to turn-off buyers and threaten its effectiveness.

You need to understand where customers will go to access valued content and what information drives their decisions.

As I’ve pointed out to you here, your challenges are many. Commit to improving all aspects of your content marketing plan—from strategy, to messaging and platform development, content origination, distribution, reach and, or course, response.

strike a chord

Learn how to make your content resonate with your audience. Download “Strike a Chord: Lessons for Making Your Web Content Resonate.”