B2B content marketers are under the gun to prove that content marketing performance is tied to business value—namely revenue. This has been difficult to achieve, however, likely because of a few misconceptions about content marketing.
Let’s clear those up first, and then we’ll look at how to use content marketing more effectively.
3 Myths About Content Marketing
Myth 1: If I publish content, I’ll reap the rewards.
Just becoming a publisher is not enough. Research conducted by Forrester sums it up.
Myth 2: If I publish more content, I’ll get buyers to move through the purchasing process faster.
However, research from Track Maven disproves this idea.
Myth 3: If our content helps buyers understand more about our products, we’ll sell more.
Research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that executive buyers want content that helps them learn about business ideas (75%) more so than information about products and solutions (16%).
Solve These 4 Problems to Make Your Content More Productive
These three common misconceptions cause four problems that inhibit your B2B content from contributing to revenue.
Problem #1: Content Relevance
Assumptions are dangerous for you and your content marketing.
For instance, B2B marketers often assume they know their buyers. Perhaps they even assume that what they like is a barometer for what their buyers will like. (I’ve seen this happen.) Trust me when I tell you that neither of those assumptions are necessarily true.
Knowing your audience is the single biggest need I see—from small companies up to ultra-large enterprises. True insight into your customers doesn’t just happen; it takes concerted effort. But these insights are critical for helping you produce content that buyers find compelling, valuable, and persuasive.
This is why I continuously promote the value of buyer personas as tools that help inform content marketing strategies across the continuum of the customer life cycle.
Customer journey mapping has also become a hot button for many B2B marketers. We think that if we can identify the channels and types of information needed at each step and stage of the buying process and customer experience that we’ll be more effective.
Related Content: The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Managing the Customer Experience
With personas, this is a good start. However, what is lacking for many companies is the next piece: what’s the storyline and messaging that will connect the dots across the process as you incorporate each channel and format? What does it look like, and how will you connect the dots for your buyers?
Doing this work is integral to producing and distributing content that will have an impact on revenue.
Problem #2: Content That Contributes to Revenue
Look at it this way. Views and clicks are nice, but they aren’t the real objective of content marketing. The objective is always what comes next. What action do you want your audience to take after viewing your content? And have you provided your buyers with a clear path toward taking that action?
Content marketing can be a messy business: it has a lot of moving parts spread across a long timeframe. Technology can assist with the workflow, process, and visibility that your team needs in order to track where the customer is—as well as what’s working and what’s not working—across a lengthy buyer’s journey.
We need to look at our content marketing program as a mentor that helps customers move forward in their journey, with our help. Content marketing works best when it showcases your company’s expertise and proves that you can help the customer along, each step of the way.
Content that contributes to revenue is based on understanding your customers’ goals and producing the momentum needed for solving them.
Problem #3: More Is Not Necessarily Better
Publishing content every day at 9 a.m. is not a business goal. In fact, the “need” to publish quickly leads to useless, irrelevant content.
Content marketing that boosts revenue isn’t about page views; it’s about getting your audience to take the next step forward in the buyer’s journey.
If, for example, five customers view a content asset and clicked the “see also” link (the CTA you established for that content), that asset is much more likely to contribute to revenue than if you had 500 people view the content and click off without taking any action.
Producing high-quality content that’s capable of inspiring customers to engage takes more effort. It must address key concerns and business ideas, issues, or objectives that your audience is interested in.
I’ve seen clients distribute one highly targeted content asset a month that drives millions of dollars in revenue. It’s not the quantity, but the quality of the content that contributes to that outcome.
As indicated by the Track Maven research above, more content with less engagement is not a sustainable or profitable practice.
Related Content: Use Agile Marketing to Quash the Quality vs. Quantity Conflict
Problem #4: Talking Business Ideas with Buyers
We all know our company’s products extremely well. Producing content about features and functionality is easy. Unfortunately, it can also be ineffective.
Like I mentioned in Problem #1, knowing your buyers is incredibly powerful. There’s just no way to create content that will be relevant to them without doing the research.
By doing this work, your sales team will also be able to lead valuable conversations using your content, which reinforces the relationships they’re working to build.
Turning content into revenue is an achievable goal. When you put your customers at the core of your content marketing, meeting business goals becomes infinitely more possible—both for your buyers and for your marketing programs.
There’s no better outcome than for a salesperson to arrive at a meeting where the buyer pulls out an article or paper they’ve printed out from your content marketing program and says, “Show me how to get this for my company.” That’s exactly what content marketing programs should inspire.
I’ll be talking further about what it takes to turn content into revenues in a webinar on April 21. You can learn more about it and register to attend here. I look forward to seeing you there!