In the marketing world, content marketing is crucial for businesses to scale, or even get discovered. We all know that; so, what we are NOT going to discuss in this post is the importance of content marketing. Instead, we’ll talk about how to avoid six pitfalls in your B2B content strategy.
Let’s proceed with two eye-popping quotes regarding content marketing investment:
- “Content creation is the area of content marketing where there has been the most reported increase in spending over the last 12 months (56%).” —Content Marketing Institute
- “Almost 40% of B2B marketers were using content with no particular strategy.” —B2B News Network
Kind of baffling, isn’t it? We spend more money on content creation, but around 40% of us are squandering that money away, aimlessly.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to the point:
Pitfall #1: Writing Blog Posts Without SEO
Without a proper SEO strategy that aligns with your brand, you aren’t fully leveraging the power of blogs.
In this day and age, we have quickly moved from optimizing for rankings to optimizing for discoverability. It’s really about understanding user intent, emotion, state of mind, extrapolation of thoughts, semantic connections, understanding entity-relationship models, etc.
It’s about figuring out what your users want, even when they don’t know that your business solution can be the answer to their prayers.
We live in a demand generation world, where our leads or prospects have completely redefined marketing. We have to first show how our solutions can help, and we hope they’ll consider us—amongst the ten other vendors they’re researching.
There is much competition and information overload, so it’s essential to make your B2B blog stand apart. From my experience, clients do focus on branding and tone (which is absolutely critical), but SEO always comes second—which always has been the most significant missed opportunity.
Hire someone else to create your blog strategy from an SEO perspective, suitably a content marketing agency, or an agency that does SEO AND creates content.
For us, typically the points-of-contact we interact with are not only responsible for blog content (not to mention other types of content such as infographics, videos, webinars, etc.) but other online digital activities as well.
In such instances, one cannot afford the time to appropriately focus on blogs. The same applies to in-house teams as well. Eventually, you’d scale to a point where you’d need to leverage the digital content creation services of experts that are outside of your organization. While you do that, also look into SEO strategists that have prior experience in your industry—especially with blogs.
Writing blog content is a heavy investment. Add outside help, if not for writing, then certainly for SEO strategy. Ultimately, 57% of B2B marketers expressed that SEO generated most number of leads than any other marketing channel.
Pitfall #2: Not Having a Documented Content Strategy
What is a “documented content strategy,” you ask?
In plain terms, it’s a living and breathing document that highlights your content marketing goals, the efforts you’d have to make to achieve those goals, and how you’d measure the success or failure.
But that’s only a good documented content strategy. A great documented content strategy addresses the roadblocks and challenges your business faces that prevent you from being number 1 in your industry, and how you’d use content to overcome those challenges.
A great documented content strategy addresses the roadblocks and challenges your business faces that prevent you from being number 1 in your industry, and how you’d use content to overcome those challenges.
Sorry, but not sorry. I had to write that twice to show how essential that is. And to all the CEOs reading this, you simply have to be a part of this process!
If you aren’t, you’d only have yourself to blame for the doom of your content marketing efforts. The direction of where you see your organization of content needs to come from you, and your executive team.
I know what you’re thinking! This sounds like hosting meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
Honestly, you’re right! It does. But the only solution here is to get started on this ASAP.
Time is money!
Seriously, have a documented content strategy that adapts and evolves, just as your organization does. I cannot get more direct than this!
Pitfall #3: Not Having Personas
This could also be a part of your documented content strategy. 77% of the most successful B2B content marketers use personas to create valuable content.
It makes sense.
They’re directly communicating with their customers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audiences’ needs and wants.
Plus, personas help with more than just content. It creates a brand experience that is unique to your business’s solutions, and believe it or not, it will help you attract the right kind of talent for the job openings you have.
As said, while creating your documented content strategy, you could create personas too. In this particular instance, involving your sales or customer support team might be beneficial—as they’d have firsthand knowledge on how customers/leads reach out to your business.
If you have personas, evaluate if they’re on par with your marketing goals—especially concerning content. If you don’t, get moving, now! And remember: personas need to evolve too, as and when your organization does.
Pitfall #4: Ignoring Changes to SEO and Search Algorithms
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B marketers expressed that changes in SEO/search algorithms are one of their top content marketing concerns.
Can you blame them?
After all, Google and all prominent social media platforms are designed for their users, not for websites. Further, Google ranks pages, not websites (a fine distinction that many marketers often forget). Consider this: Have you ever encountered a top Google search result, where the page you went to only had a paragraph written?
Yet, it ranked number one? Do you know why?
Google felt that the page would be the most capable candidate for answering the user’s query. So is it always about writing long blog pieces, fluff, and producing content for the sake of producing?
Again, the most recommended solution here would be to hire content marketing services of an agency who understands search behavior, and it’s part of what they do. It can be a game changer! If not, as said, hire them for content strategy, another reason for considering SEO in your content.
In our experience here, writing content isn’t necessarily the number one problem our clients have. The problem revolves around producing quality content frequently, and most definitely about a lack of SEO in their content strategy.
To thrive organically, you need to have an SEO strategy that bolsters your content performance; it’s as simple as that.
Pitfall #5: Ignoring Video
We live in an instant gratification marketing world. In other words, if there is a problem, we need a solution NOW!
Don’t know how to make pasta? You’ll probably YouTube it, or even better, Google it first.
Are you aware of how to install a new RAM on your desktop computer? It’s very likely you imitate the same behavior. You’ll search for a solution.
Think about it, videos are the best way to demonstrate how to fix a problem, or more accurately, provide a better solution. You may know how to make pasta, but maybe you’re looking to make pasta quicker and better. Unlike textual content pieces, videos directly present an answer; however, this can be tricky in the B2B world. You may not be able to easily record your product and present to your clients. You need to have a teaser and show what your products or services can do, as opposed to revealing the entire system or solution. Still, video could be your biggest converting asset.
Think this is baloney? How about the fact that video marketers get 66% more qualified leads in a year? Without a doubt, videos are the perfect medium to communicate what you have to offer. I mean, haven’t we all gone to a movie at the theater, because we liked the trailer we saw beforehand?
Here’s the kicker. Videos aren’t limited to only your products. You can incorporate them in your blogs, conduct interviews, create webinars, join discussions, appear on television, share company culture, and more. There’s a ton of source material out there to learn from and develop your own strategy.
If you don’t know where to start, ask! Tell your marketing department to look into what video development looks like and see what your competitors are doing.
Look into the infrastructure you have in place that will support your video marketing efforts. Do you need to get a CDN, do you need to buy more servers? What can you do with LinkedIn and Facebook? Is it time to hire outside services for videos?
Aren’t sure how to start with video marketing? That’s fine, start with questions!
Pitfall #6: Not Thinking About Customer Journey & Engagement With Content
Remember what I said about “optimizing for discoverability…”? Let’s dive into that a little more.
The biggest problem I’ve seen with content is that sometimes, the top dogs in the organizations look at content as a direct sales channel. There is a huge lack of patience here concerning the time it takes before content does anything. The issue really originates from the fact that a single content piece that is produced is primarily evaluated against how much money it has made (and how quickly), versus how much engagement it generates.
Wait, isn’t sales the end goal here? Yes, it is, but you need to be subtle about it with content. You need to nurture the relationship you’ve built with your audience and convince them that what you’re saying is beneficial.
Imagine this, you go to your boss, and say, “Hey, by the way, let’s spend 50k on content this quarter. However, let’s not evaluate those efforts directly against how much money it’s making, but rather how much engagement it’s generating.” Tough conversation, right?
I’m here to tell you that it’s important to have that conversation, and it sounds tough, but it shouldn’t be. In my experience, I’ve rarely seen content make money without engagement. It’s precisely the essence of content. Will users convert if they don’t find your content useful? Will they play your video if they aren’t curious? Will they click on that internal link to your product page, from your blog post, if they aren’t piqued to learn more about what you have to offer?
Also, will Google continue to rank a page in its SERPs if no one clicks on it? Will it also continue to rank a page if users quickly bounce? Will it rank a page that takes 20 seconds to load?
You need to pay more credence to engagement and user experience with content—as a measurement of performance. Keep track of what kind of content creates most opportunities, what kind doesn’t, and what you need to do to optimize engagement, address user needs, and become a trusted voice in your industry.
Being perceived as reputable, trustworthy, and an expert is an intangible benefit. I challenge you to go to your tools and to use whatever method you’re using to track content performance. I bet that in 90% of the cases, the content that made money, performed well, or generated leads would be the pieces that had engagements.
If your content has had engagement but isn’t contributing to leads, the problem then lies with mismatch user expectations, which in itself is another investigation to find out the disconnect.
Write content for discoverability, engagement, and knowledge nourishment. Become the go-to source for your clients and your prospects (before and after you close the deal).
Trust me, money will follow these tactics. Change your thinking on how you evaluate content performance and remember money comes second. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you will make more money if engagement comes first.
Content will be a very big piece of the marketing puzzle in 2019. Use it wisely, but more importantly, stay in the hunt for unique content opportunities. Experiment, try new tactics and create an identity.
Content is an investment that will reap benefits in the long run. If you’re looking at it as a method to make quick money, then you’re no better than the person who judges an elephant by its ability to climb a tree.
To end, I’d like to invoke Henry David Thoreau, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Don’t fall into the 40% of people who do content without a strategy. Realize and introspect what you’re really trying to accomplish with content and what value you want to create for your B2B organization—through content.