According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 89 per cent of US based Business-to-Business (B2B) marketers use content marketing. And 75 per cent of them considered being successful in achieving their organisation’s content marketing objectives.
The popularity of content marketing among B2B marketers is breaking new records every year. According to CMI‘s annual survey, every year since 2014 approximately 70 per cent of marketing organisations reported to have a plan to increase content production in the year to come.
There is a reason for its popularity. Content marketing perfectly matches today’s buying behaviour of B2B buyers. More and more of the B2B buying process takes place without contacting vendors’ sales representatives. B2B buyers are technology-savvy professionals able to collect and compare information about competing technologies and offerings. Vendors are typically contacted only at a later stage after preliminary short listing.
Consequently, it is of utmost importance for vendors to build a top-of-mind brand and an industry thought leader image, which is highly visible on social media forums and key industry media to stay on the radar of potential B2B buyers whenever they activate their buying processes. Also, material provided online should serve buyers farther down the process as the first personal touch point with a vendor takes place later. For vendors, this means increased production of high quality materials with more details and topics covered.
The flip side of the coin is that content marketing is very resource intense. Planning, research, writing, visual design and overall production eats up resources and requires many skills, let alone content distribution and monitoring on multiple channels. In the CMI content marketing survey, half (52 per cent-49 per cent) of the respondents admitted that lack of time and other challenges limited their ability to produce content marketing, even to the extent that 25 per cent respondents could not prioritise content quality.
As a result, B2B buyers are blasted with low quality content, irrelevant blogs, online ads and Ebooks, which fail to provide the needed brand visibility, thought leader image and let alone address buyers’ key concerns.
Too often opening an ebook is a turn-off for a reader. By producing low quality content which is not providing answers to a customer’s key pain-points at each stage of a buying journey, companies risk becoming disqualified on the evaluation process before their sales reps even receive a contact request.
Lead generation, one of the main objectives of content marketing, has largely been based on providing downloadable content for B2B buyers in exchange for their contact details. Unfortunately, due to the past experiences with bad content, people have stopped giving out their real contact details, which has reduced the effectiveness of content marketing.
Bad quality content does not only turn off human readers. Since 2011 from its Panda release onwards, Google started to remove so called thin content sites, i.e. sites full of keywords and copy without real information, from its search results. This and several other search engine algorithm functionalities penalise bad content, while sites with high quality content are rewarded with higher rankings.
The cluttered B2B content marketing reduces its effectiveness and Return on Investment (ROI) and its days as the most popular B2B marketing concept are soon over in case marketers do not start investing in content quality, instead of quantity.
Building a world-class in-house content marketing capability is not an option for many companies as it requires specialist resources from a range of disciplines: Content strategist, writing, graphics, layout, marketing automation, online publishing, search optimisation and public relations.
This however is not a good enough excuse not to invest in better quality as the entire company’s financial performance is often at stake. Over 60 per cent of companies are now outsourcing content creation to freelancers and agencies to get access to specialist skills, without the cost and risk associated with employed resources.
A tailored outsourced end-to-end content marketing process combining formulation of content strategy, research, creation, publishing and distribution is easy to integrate into a company’s marketing organisation. If in addition the agency provides sufficient industry substance knowledge, outsourcing instead of in-house organisation brings faster results and the only thing needed from the company is to review and approve the content to be published.
Mikko Nurmimaki, CEO, Grip Marketing
Image source: Shutterstock/Bakhtiar Zein