Content marketing is certainly not a novelty concept, but it may feel new to plenty of marketers. At least, that’s what 2017 research from The Content Marketing Institute revealed. Although a vast majority of polled organizations—89%—said they were using content in their B2B marketing approach, only 22% considered their efforts to be “mature.” In fact, most see themselves as “adolescent,” meaning many marketers think they could use some tools to grow their efforts and advance their content marketing strategy.
But what makes for mature content marketing? The short answer – resources plus knowledge. The more information you can eek out about your customer base, the more targeted your content will be. Here are a few strategies you can use to modernize your content approach into a more sophisticated game plan.
Push for a Larger Budget—and Back Your Request with Data
While content marketing is a fairly cheap solution to attract and captivate customers, research shows that your company’s effectiveness is tied to the amount it spends on such efforts. For instance, teams that spend 15% or less of their total marketing budget on content, have the least successful campaigns (for reference, the average spent is 28%). On the other hand, companies with mature content marketing teams, devote about 42% of their annual marketing budget to these endeavors.
And content budgets are on the rise overall. Surveys conducted by digital advertising gurus at Pulsepoint suggest that budgets should grow by 59% by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, 60% of brands view content as an integral part of their marketing strategy.
But it’s difficult to push for a larger budget when you can’t measure your content marketing’s effectiveness. You’re probably already using Google Analytics to track traffic and engagement. Either way, it’s important to implement traffic and organic search reports to gauge your impact, and configure your site to measure visitor conversions, as well.
With a robust B2B social media management platform like Oktopost, you can measure your content’s performance across social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – and compile these results into easy-to-understand reports. Oktopost dives even deeper, tracking clicks as well as conversions that each post, network, and campaign generated. Such a platform can provide powerful insights into audience behavior and lead generation—making the case for your content marketing’s ROI.
Nurture & Score Leads with Content Marketing
Your buyers are constantly scouring the web for answers. That’s why you must provide them with relevant information, or else, they will go to your competitors. But it’s not enough to provide them with any piece of content. For a really mature content marketing program, you need to be strategic.
From blogs to infographics, your content must be tailored to buyers’ needs and interests at every stage of the journey. Such a process can easily be achieved with a marketing automation platform. Among the key things marketing automation does best, is lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is the process of developing a long-term relationship with buyers by providing them with the right content, at the right time. For example, if John demonstrated interest in a blog post about ‘employee advocacy’, you can send him a webinar that discusses this topic.
If nurturing is the backbone of successful content marketing, then lead scoring is the muscle. In order to create a strategic nurturing program, you must first build a scoring model. Such a model allows you to pinpoint where leads are in the buyer’s journey and whether they are ready for purchase. To determine how ‘sales-ready’ leads are – or how well they match your ideal buyers – you can evaluate their activities, geographics, demographics, firmographics, and psychographics.
To remain competitive (and sophisticated!) in this new digital landscape, you’ll need to get on board with marketing automation early and learn to see your customer engagement through more sophisticated lenses.
Understand the End Game of Your Content Marketing
Of course, mature and novice teams tend to define success along different measures. Newer groups are overwhelmingly more focused on sales over lead generation, whereas mature teams are more likely to concentrate on leads. Still, they both cite customer loyalty and retention as their number one goal. And certainly those goals impact whether or not your team finds your efforts successful.
As your business and customer base mature, your focus should naturally shift to more long-term goals. But how do you get from point A to point B? Several recent content marketing trends may provide the answer. For instance, this year, there’s an emphasis on quality over quantity. Your blog posts and infographics should be chock full of unique information presented in creative formats. Considering that original statistic, that 89% of organizations use some kind of content strategy, it’s easy to understand why original, unexpected content makes a big impact.
Buyers are themselves maturing, at least when it comes to content and search. Customers are more likely to use more refined search terms to locate exactly the right solution—so a “one-size-fits-all” strategy won’t work. Instead, you should capitalize on niche groups within your consumer base. That again makes the case for more intelligent platforms and research into your customers—particularly when it comes to search terms—and more refined targeting overall.
With anything this tech-based, there’s an omnipresent feeling that you need to be ahead of the latest and greatest new thing, but a thoughtful and reasoned approach to content marketing—one that includes a long-term roadmap—will set you up for eventual success. Pair that with a sophisticated effort to drill into consumer analytics, and you’ll be ready to take on a new era of content and promotion!