Content marketing is one of the biggest trends in B2B lead generation, and it's only expected to increase this year. Content is especially popular in B2B marketing because of its capabilities for lead nurturing and increasing brand awareness, which is why tech marketers are investing more in this technique than any other, according to a recent survey from IT Marketing World and UBM Tech's CreateYourNextCustomer.com.
Despite the popularity of content marketing, many B2B firms are struggling to find a balance in their strategies. Chief marketing officers are increasingly being held more accountable for demonstrating return on investment. In addition, a high number of companies are not performing any lead nurturing activities.
"The biggest hurdle for marketers this year will be increasing and proving their impact on revenue," said Michelle Novy, chief editor of IT Marketing World. "Tracking the success of a campaign – let along a year's worth of campaigns is often muddled from lack of bandwidth as well as a lack of tools. When 41 percent of technology marketers are still not nurturing their leads, it's clear that B2B marketers are a long way from mastering the science of successful digital marketing."
How to refine content marketing
Many companies have been concerned with adapting their content marketing strategies along with search engine optimization changes. However, the principles of good content are the same in spite of Google's algorithm changes. Content marketing still needs to deliver value to visitors to generate good SEO rankings. With ROI remaining a top priority for executives, it may be time to assess content strategies to make sure they are providing the desired results.
One simple way content marketing can lose effectiveness is if the messaging isn't aligned to the target audience, Business 2 Community said. Speaking the same language as customers will be essential for SEO success because Google's Hummingbird algorithm places emphasis on content that reflects conversational speech. While it may be worthwhile to check that keywords are in line with what potential buyers use to search, having relevant content is far more important than optimizing for keywords.
In addition, buyers are growing more skeptical of unsubstantiated claims, so it's critical to provide factual evidence. This gives marketers credibility and establishes customer trust. B2B marketing teams need to ensure they continue to create content that reinforces their distinct brand value propositions. One way companies can better highlight this information is to boost sales and marketing alignment. Salespeople have great information about the brand proposition, which can help marketers refine their content to better match what buyers are seeking.
How to measure the effectiveness of content marketing
Once B2B firms have a content strategy in place, they should define what they hope to get from this tactic and regularly monitor results. AllBusiness.com listed some of the common things marketers gain from content marketing, including SEO value, building more backlinks to the website, generating brand awareness, increasing engagement, creating authority and thought leadership and attracting a higher number of sales. If marketers utilize an editorial calendar, it can be easier to work some of these performance indicators in.
Even though content marketing and social media have separate considerations, engagement levels on these sites can be a powerful indication of how well content is performing. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus all have built-in analytics tools for marketers, which can help B2B companies measure engagement. If a high number of people are sharing articles on their own pages, it is a better metric for interaction than the number of likes. Content marketing isn't a singular strategy; it needs to be considered in conjunction with SEO and social media.