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Content marketing adjustments to make in 2014

Content marketing has skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years, but there are still improvements to be made to increase the long-term sustainability of this strategy. As B2B marketers continue to favor content as a lead generation technique, some adjustments are necessary to keep attracting new prospects and moving them through the marketing funnel. 

Content isn't new, but it is evolving. It's no longer enough to use content exclusively for search engine optimization efforts. While a content strategy can complement SEO, the real purpose needs to be user engagement and usefulness, according to Forbes. However, there can be some disconnect between these two objectives. Marketers may fall victim to sacrificing relevance for entertainment. While humorous, unique content can spur more shares on social media, it may not help B2B buyers get closer to a decision. On the other hand, dull content is not likely to be read. Marketers need to strike a balance between engagement and educational value for the best results. 

Despite the fact that many companies are utilizing content marketing, some marketers are losing sight of the primary objective: to gain new customers, Search Engine People stated. In 2014, content marketing strategies need to focus on delivering value to leads.

Content marketing resolutions to make in 2014
B2B marketing teams will need to continue changing their content strategies to maintain high levels of lead generation. Here are some tips to consider for the coming year:

1. Focus on customers, not sales
While content marketing is ultimately about new customer acquisition, to boost effectiveness, marketers need to take a customer-centric approach, ClickZ said. Because of the complex nature of B2B buying, this will increase the need to create customer segments and target content appropriately. Using content as a lead-nurturing tool is likely to grow in popularity. In addition, content marketing should aim to answer clients' questions. Marketers often believe they are writing about topics that customers want to read, but they could be neglecting to speak to leads' questions and concerns. Answering inquiries in the form of content can be a way to create a more engaged audience and attract new visitors.

2. Shift away from the link-building aspect of content
Modern content marketing is moving toward relevancy. While links will still be important for search engine results, they shouldn't be the primary objective of content strategies, according to Search Engine People. Marketers need to know their audiences and create relatable content for these groups.

3. Use content as a conversion tool
Different types of content are relevant at various stages of the sales funnel. Prospects in the early stages of the decision-making process will not want to read the same types of materials as leads who have narrowed the selection down to two or three vendors. Providing the right kind of content for each step in the marketing funnel can improve lead-nurturing programs and conversion rates. Marketers can start by creating five to seven pieces of content for each stage in the customer's journey, Forbes said. For more reluctant prospects, social media interaction and authoritative blog posts can build credibility. Leads who have registered to download content on the website can be targeted with more specific materials, such as how-to's and case studies. Demonstrations are highly effective for prospects in the later stages of the buying cycle. 

4. Find new ways to tell stories
Brand storytelling is an increasingly important aspect of content marketing, ClickZ stated. Many organizations are finding creative methods of connecting with customers that do not come across as a sales pitch, and this may be a valuable lesson for B2B marketing teams. Crowdsourcing materials from a broader audience may be a growing trend in the B2B sphere.

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.