Content marketing is far from being a new concept. It may continue to be the term du jour, but the reality is that content forms the basis of the vast majority of advertising campaigns we run on behalf of our clients and that has been the case for a great many years.
In this time the type of B2B content being created has changed however, as have the campaigns that have been built to support this activity. Whereas a decade or so ago some businesses would attempt to reach prospects by promoting a bland corporate brochure, today it’s more likely to be a series of interactive webinars on a relevant industry topic or event. Clearly the phenomenal change in technology within this time has created a wealth of opportunities for quality engagement, but this has also been aligned to a more subtle, yet more effective approach from marketers – essentially that of moving away from pushing a corporate message to having a conversation.
So if the majority of today’s campaigns are based around content marketing, what can we learn from more recent history that will enhance the results of future campaigns?
Document your content marketing strategy
In previous posts we’ve said that it’s all in the planning, but a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) provides powerful food for thought here… 83% of marketers claim to have a content strategy, although only 35% actually document it. What is significant however, is that of those who have a documented strategy, 60 percent consider their organization to be effective. In contrast, only 32 percent of those who have a verbal strategy say they are effective.
Social media continues to be a highly effective tactic…
It’s far from headline news to say that campaigns should be supported by social media activity, but in the same CMI report it was identified that social media is the most popular content marketing tactic (used by 92% of B2B marketers).
In our own Digital Marketing Landscape report earlier this year, we found that 82% of respondents claim to have an active social media community, yet just 77% have a dedicated social media policy. Interestingly, social strategy featured as the lowest priority area for improvement in our study, allowing us to presume that most organisations are confident with their approach. Whatever stage a brand’s social prominence may be at (i.e., whether it’s follower numbers are in the hundreds or the tens of thousands), the benefits of integrating social into any campaign will only serve to enhance the reach of engagement.
…but remember it’s just one of many initiatives
B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics according to the CMI report and, while social media may be the most popular, ultimately it is merely one tool in the marketers arsenal. The table below (pulled from the CMI report) serves as a useful reminder of the many elements of content marketing that are regularly integrated into a B2B campaign. Indeed the popularity and volume of these tactics further highlights the importance of planning and documenting a strategy – without doing so it will be virtually impossible to form a cohesive and fully effective plan which encompasses multiple elements and optimises campaign success.
Monitor, measure and analyse (then make real decisions!)
When it comes to metrics the most common measurements tend to be based on website traffic and sales lead quantity or quality. This certainly reflects our own experience that brand awareness and lead generation remain the most popular goals for content marketing activity. Of course, if you’re not actually measuring metrics (and there are still some who aren’t) then it will be virtually impossible to record campaign results and therefore provide any real idea of a return on investment. Fortunately for online publishers such as ourselves, digital campaigns are entirely measurable in a very immediately way. It’s not enough to record these results and file them away however. It’s all too easy to gather data and fail to analyse or make any kind of business decisions off the back of the info you have at your disposal. So, document your strategy from the start, integrate the most effective and appropriate content marketing tactics, set metrics and analyse the data to inform your next campaign.