With the New Year upon us, the marketing statistic are coming out, and the numbers on content marketing remain confusing. The content marketing platform is becoming more pervasive, as nine out of 10 business-to-business marketers (b-to-b marketers) use content marketing to drive customer engagement.
The Engagement-Layer Connection in Content Marketing
The latest annual survey produced by Content Marketing Institute MarketingProfs states over half of b-to-b marketers said it’s unclear what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like to them.
What’s missing? Maybe marketers are not managing the true gap that exists in the buyer’s journey. Buyers may not even know what the solution to their issue is, much less what the right set of vendors is.
The irony is, if you are selling a business-to-business or business-to-customer solution today, your buyer is only getting more involved, not less so. But buyers don’t go directly to your company from general awareness of having a problem. Typically, vendors are contacted as late as 75 percent of the way through the purchase process, because they don’t want to be hounded by hungry reps.
Companies already realize these tendencies in themselves. As a client describing the lack of a connection point between brand awareness and sales activities once said, “We say, ‘That was a nice first date. Would you like to plan our wedding now?'”
After they’ve become aware of their true problem, buyers want proof that you can have an intelligent conversation about the issues that drive the need for solutions like yours in the first place.
Yet many companies are still lacking the engagement-layer connection between brand-level messaging and solutions detail. Even brands with content platforms often have content that is outdated which comes from their own sales and marketing leaders, all of it only weakly supported by paid or organic search.
How B-to-B Marketers Can Tap ‘Influentials’ for Content Marketing
Seeking out voices that are passionate about the issues in your market is the first step toward a true content platform. These are your “Influentials” and they exist both inside and outside the walls of your company.
On the inside of your company, they could be technology executives, product developers, enterprise architects, emeritus staff or members of your board. While outside your company, they could work for partners, customers, academia, analysts, even competitors. They believe in the importance of what companies like yours are doing and that’s what unites them.
Once you have identified your Influentials, consider inviting them into a group and making it official. There’s been proven success in structuring this as an editorial board, where people are valued for their topic expertise and get exposure to peers. And they will usually make more time for communities that are discussing issues in a more strategic way.
Content communities work best when your writers sound confident, supportive and authentic so participants and readers know, like and trust your brand as a sponsor.
An example of successful content marketing efforts is The Red Hat Enterprisers Project. They publish new stories daily on topics of interests to CIOs which are read by nearly 70,000 IT executives and practitioners every month.
Here are a few principles to be aware of if you’d like to build something similar:
- Editorial independence. Content should not be guided by a product or promotional agenda, but should be consistent with what you sell.
- A peer-driven board. Choose the right experts, make it a good experience for them, and the community will self-perpetuate.
- Third-party partners. They will lighten the load as sponsors and give the project more credibility.
How does content like this dictate engagement-level marketing? As Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon states, “The world is increasingly social, and increasing numbers of decision-makers are engaging in social dialog where they see value. The Enterpriser’s Project enables us to engage in a dialog with IT decision-makers that provides value to them and allows us to grow our relationships with them. This strikes me as the essence of modern marketing.”
Our Content Marketing Platform Proves Success
People don’t read websites, they interact with them. And in order to be effective, website content needs to work with the design. Content is designed to be user-friendly, as well as search-friendly. This is where our team of designers and writers at Centennial Arts have proven success in the content marketing platform.
Throughout our process, our team of designers and writers work together to design a desired experience. Information is prioritized and structured for the ease of quick scanning and action-oriented navigation. Content drives user interaction, and this is where content marketing plays a key role in how effective a website is.
Content attracts and retains a clearly-defined audience—and ultimately, drives profitable customer/client action—when done in a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. Without the value and relevance in content you cannot market the content properly or effectively. Consistency will give the content a sense of flow and ease for readers as well. Good content makes readers actually stop…read…think…and behave differently—and good marketing has been accomplished once this is achieved.
The reality of marketing and its future is clear: Customers trust peers far more than they trust the brand selling a solution. Does your marketing plan have a way to connect the two? Contact us at Centennial Arts for more information on how to get started on your successful marketing via our content marketing platform!