Content is king in the modern marketing toolbox with many organizations shifting a large chunk of their effort—and budget—toward content marketing strategies. In fact, nearly a third of marketing budgets are now dedicated to content marketing and it’s becoming a powerful tactic for both B2C and B2B brands.
Why? First, content marketing can be more efficient and effective in driving down the cost of lead generation and driving up ROI than outbound marketing efforts. In today’s Era of Content Engagement, luring audiences into actually wanting to receive our messages is a refreshing change from the days of push marketing where the most common strategy was to simply pour money into buying lists, cold calling, mass mailings and online ad buys.
Unlike outbound lead gen tactics that stop delivering new leads the moment you turn them off, content lives on
Even better, consumers tend to trust editorial content more so than paid advertising, and many value the content provided as educational and useful. In fact our e-books, how-to videos, product reviews, presentations and free webinars have become a driving force in social media engagement, with “interesting content” being one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media.
Finally, content marketing has long-term value. Unlike outbound lead gen tactics that stop delivering new leads the moment you turn them off, content lives on—on your website, in the social sphere, in forwarded emails and as references in other content (like this article, for example). That means the content you create can continue to deliver new leads for months or even years after it was first published.
As content marketing has exploded, the proportion of budget allocated to inbound marketing has grown steadily, and nearly half of marketers increased their inbound budgets for this year. However, what many brands are discovering is that successful content marketing can be much more difficult than conventional outbound tactics. As a result, less than one-third of B2C marketers believe they are effective at content marketing, while only 36% of B2B marketers are confident in their skills.
Why is content marketing so difficult?
- Good content is hard to build. While most marketers are experts in lead generation, branding and perhaps even public relations, very few have experience as publishers. Nearly 65 percent of B2B marketers say developing interesting, varied and engaging material is a primary hurdle for their business.
- It’s tough to produce enough content. A flash in the pan approach simply will not do. Marketers must churn out an astounding amount of content to hold their audiences’ attention. Those who fail to create sufficient, impactful content are unable to deliver expected results.
- The ROI is harder to measure. Conventional outbound marketing is predictable, measurable and easy to control. But, the majority of marketers say they either cannot or do not calculate ROI, or they have seen no positive ROI on their efforts.
- There’s never enough money. More than half of B2C marketers say lack of an adequate content marketing budget is their biggest challenge. Content generation can be costly, especially when it must be outsourced in order to meet volume demands.
Given these challenges, managing a successful content marketing approach takes a great deal of work, long-term strategy planning, foresight into your audience’s interests and perseverance. If your content strategy is stuck in a rut—or has hit a brick wall—it may be time for a reboot. Here are five proven tactics that can fix a failing content marketing program.
- Fine tune your targeting. Precise targeting is essential, and a scatter approach only dilutes your message and your budget, so be sure to expend your effort and dollars where it will do the most good. Carefully identify your target audience and focus only on addressing those with the highest-value.
- Identify your ideal buyer. Analyzing your existing customer base can bring common attributes to the surface. Use this data to create ideal buyer personas, figure out who’s a decision maker and who’s an influencer. Learn where these key target personas congregate online.
- Listen to their needs. Once you’ve identified your audiences’ online watering hole, gather as much data as possible from their behaviors in these online communities. Digging deeper into your audiences’ online community and social media activities can reveal contextual details to help drive content creation and spark new ideas.
- Automate the process. We already know that generating and disseminating content takes a tremendous amount of time, so you may be wondering how on earth you’ll add all of this ideal buyer research and modeling to your already overflowing plate. Technology is critical. SaaS tools for lead gen automation, social lead targeting, content recommendation and social media management can streamline vital parts of your process, giving you more time and resources to focus on generating top-notch content.
- Don’t put all your eggs in the content basket. While inbound marketing has proven quite valuable in filling the sales funnel, it would be a mistake to completely abandon outbound efforts. An appropriate mix is a must for accelerating growth. In fact, many successful companies have achieved impressive revenue growth rates through “old school” cold calling, fueled by social lead targeting technologies that help them effectively acquire highly targeted lists to run precise mail drops, email marketing campaigns and better leverage social media.
While content marketing is an extremely effective strategy for delivering real, business results, savvy marketers understand that, like any other strategy, it takes precise audience targeting, persistence of valuable messages, an appropriate skill set and adequate budget. Automating the process can maximize efficiency and reduce costs, enabling you to dedicate more time and money to developing great content that will keep your audiences engaged and hungry for more.