Typical content marketing strategies have revolved around getting as many people to view your message as possible. For the most part, that worked for many companies who wanted to grow awareness of their brand. However, new research released by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and sponsored by Sitecore, suggests that focusing on top-of-funnel clients should no longer be the goal of any content marketing strategy B2B brands deploy.
The survey results indicate that, while most B2B marketers use content to successfully achieve top-of-funnel goals, fewer report they use it successfully on activities that deepen customer relationships.
While 66 percent of all survey respondents believe prioritizing the information needs of the audience is more important than the organizations promotional message, 84 percent of companies are looking to outsource that content creation. Quality content not only converts readers, it also keeps them engaged for longer periods of time – which is not easy to do.
Creating engaging content that gives readers not only what they want, but what they need, requires;
- Well-researched ideas
- Insightful personas created by the entire business
- A cross-functional focus on customers
- A well-orchestrated content production process.
All that requires commitment.
Content Marketing Not a Priority
If the survey results are any indication, a commitment to content is what is lacking for most B2B content marketing companies. Only 35 percent of survey respondents said they had a team of two to five people who were dedicated solely to content creation, while 32 percent of respondents do not have anyone on their staff dedicated to the task.
What’s more is that 36 percent of B2B marketers report having a 2019 annual content marketing budget of less than $100,000. The average content marketing annual budget for all respondents was $185,000.
How can a company create content that is both meaningful to the brand and meaningful to the audience if they have no one on hand to own that role and no budget to truly be successful?
Perhaps this is why half of all B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity with 84% indicating that content creation was the first thing to go. Regardless of company size, budget or overall content marketing success, the survey results suggest that most B2B marketing companies don’t want to deal with content creation.
Could it be because the average number of personas for which a B2B marketer creates content is four? That’s four different iterations of each message that will need to be created internally. Maybe this is why more than half of companies surveyed only focus on creating content for the early top-of-funnel stage of the customer journey. While this type of content tends to convert a higher number of users, they may not be the customers your company really wants.
Loyalty is King
Customers want to feel engaged and build emotional connections to the brands they interact with and creating engaging content is the best way to do that.
Last year, Facebook IQ surveyed 14,700 adults in the US, looking at the state of loyalty today and found that 77 percent of people surveyed are returning to the same brands again and again. While price matters to repeat purchasers, brand loyalists are driven by emotion.
According to the Harvard Business Review report, a whopping 57 percent of the executives surveyed were looking to build an emotional connection with the brands they engage with and building loyalty is one way to do that.
Content marketing helps build trust in a way that no other technique can. When you regularly publish high quality content that is relevant to the interests of your target audience, you achieve three important things that help your audience trust your brand:
- It positions your company as an industry expert or an authority that people can count on
- It helps your target audience figure out answer/solutions to complex niche focused problems
- It converts repeat purchasers into brand loyalists.
To secure repeat purchasers, brands must meet basic functional needs like price and a convenient path to purchase. But to convert repeat purchasers to brand loyalists, brands must over-deliver on customer relationships. This is again achieved through personalized, engaging content before, during and after a buyer purchases your product.
Brands must to rethink their definitions of loyalty and reinvent their strategies for incentivizing it. If you’re looking to strengthen your post-purchase customer relationships through content here are three ways to do it:
1. Build Trust
Trust that leads to lasting loyalty likely won’t be forged on a single interaction, a temporary discount, or a free gift. Rather, it will take an ongoing commitment to delivering a satisfying brand experience – something that loyalty-driving content efforts like chatbots, how-to videos and customer testimonials can help you accomplish.
2. Enhance User Experience
The demand for a unique experience is growing. Many consumers are favoring experiences over more material purchases. According to Forbes, popular brands do this by creating content that could make users laugh, or cheer, or lean forward and take notes.
3. Incentivize Loyalty
Traditional marketing and advertising simply happen to us. We receive content visually, we might read it, but most likely we just move on if the message doesn’t engage us. Today however, customers want to actively take part in your messaging program and this build loyalty. Expand your view of the loyalty value proposition, including how to quantify it, reward it and how to maximize returns from it.
The CMI survey has plenty of valuable insight into the B2B content marketing world. We think it shows that content creation is difficult for a lot of brands, but it’s worth the effort. Engagement builds loyalty and brands should begin to leverage that more in order to be successful.
Most of the companies surveyed know content marketing is valuable to their company but only 46 percent of organizations feel they will prioritize improving the quality of content in 2020. This is an opportunity for companies to step in and do content marketing the right way to win audiences over, increase loyalty and boost your brand.
More Content Creation Stats to Note