The Content Marketing Institute just released the B2B Content Marketing 2010: Computing/Software Industry Report, representing the experiences of 121 computing/software firms, mainly in the small- and mid-size business category.
In general, marketers in these organizations expressed dissatisfaction when it came to the effectiveness of the top 10 content tactics used to achieve the key goals of lead generation, brand awareness, thought leadership and lead management/nurturing. Taking a look at what these marketers cited as their biggest content marketing challenge might help us unravel the reason for this confidence gap. These marketers said they struggle most with:
- Producing engaging content (41%)
- Producing enough content (25%)
- Budget to produce content (16%)
- Lack of executive buy-in (9%)
- Producing a variety of content (6%)
Here’s one explanation for why computing/software marketers might find it difficult to produce enough engaging content: most of them appear to develop content based on company characteristics and profiles of individual decision makers. A minority (34%) of these marketers align content with the buying stages – a critical step when selling a fairly high-priced offering (average of $47,000) over a lengthy buying cycle (six to twelve months or more for most of these marketers). In other words, they’re churning out content that probably fails to answer the distinct needs of buyers throughout the decision-making process.
So how can these marketers – and others like them – better connect with prospective buyers?
Understand the buying cycle
The first step is to develop a deep understanding of the information and content prospects are seeking at each stage of the buying cycle. Marketers usually glean these insights while developing buyer personas or profiles. One source of this information is the sales team and other customer-facing personnel. Computing/software marketers can also take advantage of research conducted by content syndication companies such as TechTarget into how technology buyers consume information during the research/purchase process.
Map the buying process
An equally important exercise is mapping out the buying process. Whether marketers do this at a basic or complex level, the key is to understand how prospects and customers think of the buying cycle, who is involved, and what their information needs are at each stage. Create a grid or spreadsheet that maps the questions and concerns of each buyer, in that particular stage of the buying process. Each buyer concern or question represents an opportunity for content.
Conduct a content audit
With this knowledge firmly in hand, the next step is to conduct a content audit that helps pinpoint needed content. By assessing how well existing content satisfies – or doesn’t satisfy – prospects’ needs, marketers can make informed decisions about what content needs to be created, which content needs to be updated and which can be repurposed.
Create an editorial calendar
Creating an editorial calendar helps you stay on target with the content plan. By thinking and acting like publishers, marketers can avoid fire-drill mode and instead develop efficient processes for pumping out content of interest to prospects and customers.
Finally, marketers should measure how well their content is helping them to achieve their goals. For example, assuming the goal is lead nurturing, the key is to determine how well content is engaging prospects and leading them down the path to purchase.
Do you have any other strategies or techniques that you’ve used to increase the impact of your content? Share them in the comments below!