Though everyone agrees that “content is king,” only 2 percent of marketers believe their strategies are highly-effective, according to new research by the CMO Council.
While 44 percent of the 213 (mostly B2B) marketers surveyed consider their content marketing strategies at least moderately effective, 20 percent believe the opposite. One-third are “somewhere in the middle” and 2 percent don’t even know whether they consider their strategies effective or not. Given how much content marketing is on the rise – B2B marketers spend roughly 28 percent of their total marketing budgets on content, according to the Content Marketing Institute – these numbers are problematic, says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.
“The problem is that [content is] very fragmented across a multiplicity of areas,” Neale-May says. “Good content is authority, leadership-driven content. Good content comes from customer-centric conversations and reflects issues, needs, problems, requirements. Too many companies develop content that’s totally self-serving and has no relevance with different decision-making audiences.”
Effectiveness boils down to the results desired from content, which in many cases is high-quality sales leads. Nearly half of respondents defined high-quality leads as “detailed request for contact initiated by the prospect, including specific details around what products, services or solutions the prospect is interested in.”
According to Neale-May, that attitude puts the onus on the customer to engage, rather than the marketer to be engaging. He attributes that, in part, to eager salespeople who are quick to consider everyone a potential customer.
“I think the tendency of marketers is to take business cards and provision that to the sales channel as a lead when it really isn’t a lead; it’s a contact,” he says. “Everybody who downloads content knows that if you give your contact information, 24 hours later, someone’s going to call. In most cases, these people are calling to sell, rather than to converse. Marketing folks have to be better at investing in the follow-up and then utilizing that access point to build more context and get a much richer understanding of what that customer’s need is.”
When asked about the lack of lead flow success, 48 percent of respondents attributed it to content not being targeted and budget limitations. Other derailing factors cited include content lacking relevance, not reaching the right decision-maker and not leveraging the right distribution channels. Nearly 40 percent also mentioned a lack of content strategy.
Forty-four percent of the marketers surveyed have specific content strategies, with only one-third of those deploying targeted content. Most of the others create content on a case-by-case basis, while 10 percent view content marketing as “the wild west” of the industry and have no strategy.
Beyond tailoring the lead approach, Neale-May recommends marketers focus on targeting, measurement, and “snackable content.”
“You can break it down so content is consumed in smaller pieces,” he says, adding that a big report can be separated into a smaller series of observations. “We’re finding that people are overwhelmed with how much content is out there and what they’re looking for is a little bit of a factoid here, an affirmation there. People like to graze.”
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