How to tell if your content marketing is likely to hit the mark

In the next 12 months, 51% of B2B marketers will spend more on content marketing, with many calling out ‘understanding what content drives results’ and ‘creating engaging content’ as their biggest challenges. Which begs the question: if you’re not sure what works, then why spend more? Content marketing effectiveness isn’t about how much you spend. And it’s not just about writing outstanding content. It’s also about the process that goes into creating and promoting that content – an area that often gets overlooked. Kapost’s infographic does a great job at showing the split between the art and science of content marketing and the mix required to create ‘strategic game-changing’ content. Unfortunately, there’s no formula to create winning content every single time. However, the process doesn’t need to be a stab in the dark. Here are some indicators that will help pinpoint why your content may not always hit the mark. 1. Your content feels too comfortable You’ve done your buyer personas, you know your prospect’s hot buttons, and your content addresses these needs. But can you hold your hand on your heart and confidently say that your content is offering something truly unique? If you don’t feel the hair at the back of your neck stand up when you read your content, then it’s likely you are not challenging the norm. Your content will get lost amidst the plethora of pieces already out there. Tips for success:

  • Think like an editor. Rather than discussing a topic in general, think about what the best angle is and take a stance
  • Be niche. Don’t dissolve your ideas to try and appeal to the masses. Find your sweet spot and work from that
  • Don’t focus on your products/services. Instead, provide advice, ask for opinions and demonstrate your knowledge.

2. Your content is factual Your content may be perfectly constructed with a logical argument to counter every potential objection. And while focusing purely on the facts may help your prospects justify where to spend their budget, it may not get them any further in their decision making. It’s well documented that emotion plays a big part of decision making and it’s at your peril that you don’t incorporate this into your content strategy. Tips for success:

  • Look for an emotional connection. So many content strategies are about getting the prospect to do something. But what do you want them to feel? Emotional triggers can often be more powerful than logical ones
  • Justify your reasons. Really think about why you are sharing this content and bake this into your strategy. Simon Sinek’s TED talk ‘Start with Why’ really nails the importance of this

3. Your content strategy is linear Many content plans rely on a methodical journey from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel. But your leads could come and go at every stage, so your content plan needs to account for that. If your promotion and nurture strategy isn’t made early enough in advance of production, then you’re at risk of wasting your time and money. Tips to success:

  • Form follows function. In the planning stages, think about the best content formats for each funnel stage, or consider offering the same piece of content in various formats to help attract more interest
  • Explore user routes. Look at the different paths you could take the user through. Allow for periods where they may be less engaged and create nurture content to fill these gaps
  • Consider channel. Bear in mind which platforms are best to promote each type of content, as this will affect audience reach. It’s important to keep testing so your content and messaging doesn’t get stale

So, what’s the proof? We work with Projectplace, Planview’s brilliant online project management and collaboration software tool. It’s got some well-known competitors in a crowded market. Our goal was to build credibility and generate new business leads. We collaboratively wrote a six-month content plan, which involved lots of creative thinking about the type of content and plenty of logical thinking about how best to promote it. Our content strategy really honed in on one thing – to rely on trustworthy, expert sources that would back up the creative idea and make it believable. The first eBook of a three-part series relied solely on advice from seasoned project management professionals around the theme of ‘how to get things done’. Sounds pretty simple but that was exactly what we wanted – a core message that was succinct and pragmatic (the factual stuff), as well as empathetic of the prospects’ challenges (the emotional bit). But above all, the content was memorable. The target was to get 350 form fills a month from the first three content pieces. Did we do it? On the first morning of release, the first eBook generated 200 form fills, which became 431 within a day, and at the time of writing, stands at 1175. So our content strategy nailed it. It took us 24 hours to beat our monthly target. The third eBook is still in the works, but by the time it’s published, we hope to have thousands of form fills, representing serious sales pipeline for Projectplace. They’re super excited, and so are we.