Content marketing is a very exciting channel for business to business. More B2B marketing departments than ever before are exercising their content muscles, and as we approach the half way point of 2018, now is the perfect time to look to the future. As the world of online marketing continues to advance and shift, new opportunities open for content channels, to help improve lead generation results and boost brand credibility. So let’s get excited about the content marketing of tomorrow!
For quite some time, a content marketing approach has been focused on the creation of insightful, innovative content. This has seen exciting effects, with infographics now being 800% more popular than they were 2 years ago, however the tables are starting to turn (as they so often do in a digital word). Whilst the creation of great content has been beneficial for businesses everywhere, content marketing results for lead generation and pipeline benefit have started to flat-line. The results are there but they aren’t game changing, and as organizations look to grow, something very apparent has been revealed. Content marketing lacks in strategy.
This doesn’t apply to every content marketing team everywhere, 38% of marketers in the UK have a fully formed and documented strategy for this channel, but when we look at how costly creating high-caliber content can be in both time and money, unless strategies start to go hand in hand with content creation, organizations may begin to lose money on this promising channel.
But this where the opportunities lie! As systems for strategizing content are in demand, the business world discovers new ways to tackle content startegy and opens up fresh paths to generate new business- here are a few of our favorites:
- Optimization of content– This isn’t exactly new, many marketers creating content will have an SEO strategy to slot the content into, but that doesn’t mean we have it perfectly nailed. Properly optimized content is easier for people to find, so a wider audience can discover your brand, which means your chances of conversion climb. Though content marketing is seen as a softer approach, your call to action must still always be strong, so people can easily inquire about your product and services further- so use keyword optimization to boost everything content creates!
- Automated workflows– By setting up automated responses to content interaction, you can easily work leads through a journey that inevitably ends with them becoming a client; you’re not just publishing content when it’s ready to go, you’re drip-feeding it to your audience in such a way that they receive it as and when they need and want it. Depending on the content you have available, you can even run a few different workflows at one time to be specific to job title or industry. This allows you to test what works best for your buyers and perfect the ultimate workflow for your content strategy.
- Campaign based content– A great way to strategize content is to run campaigns, whereby you look into target industry pain-points and trends, then theme a collection of assets around that specific topic. Done properly, you can reach new audiences, and hold their attention by offering the exact assets they need in quick succession. Once they’re engaged, you can send them a strategically worded email, pulling them over the line and onto a call with your sales team. You already know what they’re looking for because of the assets they’ve engaged with and they already see you as an expert with the knowledge and services they need- a win-win!
- External publications– Though some organizations may get the odd piece of content published externally, 95% of assets are often published on our own websites, shared and distributed on the appropriate platforms, then that’s that. However as more competitor noise creeps up, we need to go a step further, and the opportunity is there! With a bit of digging, it’s easy to find external places to get your best content published. Try striking up deals with other businesses who appeal to similar audiences, see if they’ll publish a piece of yours if you return the favor, and even look to some paid channels to broaden your content reach. But never forget the secret weapon right in front of you- your colleagues. Content shared by your team no only reaches a wider audience, but on average gets a better reception and drives great results!Personalized content
We know personalization is on the up; 78% of B2B buyers will only respond to marketing emails or messages if they include their name. It’s a huge part of marketing, as has started to make its way into the content channel. Once again, as systems for organizing and using data advance for B2B marketing, opportunities for ultra-personalized content come in to play!
We’re not just saying slap someone’s name on it, and you’re done. Content is often most successful when it is relevant, not just in subject matter, but also in timing. Technologies are starting to offer advanced solutions to content personalization, enabling you to speak so closely to every individual prospect in question. From something as simple as adding a name, to furthering assets to be industry and sector specific or even adhere to location and season, now is the chance to explore the options available to you and your content team. Full content personalization may not be a priority for many just yet, but it’s certainly due to have impact, so make sure you’re first on board!
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Converged media offers content marketers an exciting way to strategize the widening their audience and lead pool through further publications. Many of us are familiar with the knowledge of “Paid media” + “Owned media” = “Earned media”, whereby media we pay for (such as PPC, social media adverts and external email sends) along with media we own (like our website, content and SEO strategy) creates an additional form of marketing in earned media, offering word of mouth and recommendations/referrals.
This makes sense, and is still very valid; however Rebecca Leib and Jeremiah Owyang recently derived that in the case of content marketing, this equation begins to blur, and we end up with converged media. This is where at least two of the three media types mix to offer a new marketing tactic or strategy; a simple example being the paid distribution of content you own, but with social media offering a “share” function, owned media and earned media start to cross wires too. The possibilities of converged media continue to grow, and the more thought you put into the blending of these 3 media types within the content channel, the quicker you’ll discover new and exciting ways to boost your B2B marketing.
This idea is still very fresh, but definitely offers an opportunity to content marketers, allowing a rethink of current content strategy and distribution to go one step further, benefiting results and avoiding that current flat-line.
We can’t discuss B2B marketing of the future without a nod to artificial intelligence. We’ve already touched on its capabilities when discussing workflows and personalization, but the truth is, we’re still very much on the brink of possibilities available. Automation as a concept continues to make our lives easier, saving marketers time and money, but it doesn’t stop there. By 2020, it’s predicted almost everyone will expect bands to constantly remember personal preferences, previous movements and details, continuing to provide that sense of ease, and artificial intelligence definitely has the power to offer that solution. The question is- how do you plan to use it to drive brand awareness, credibility and revenue growth? Start thinking about it now, and when the high-tech solutions arrive at your door, you’ll be ready to use them to the max, instead of learning on the job.
If you want to know the true tech of tomorrow, then augmented reality is right up there! And there’s no doubt it offers content marketers an incredible opportunity to bring their brand to life in a totally new and inventive way. Not to be confused with virtual reality (which aims to create an entirely new world), augmented reality creates additions to the real world, leaving it easy to distinguish what is real and what is not- it’s the perfect combination of online and offline. Think of Pokémon Go- augmented reality at its best!
This technology is still very new, and much like AI, we’re still discovering it’s incredible capabilities, but it will soon be an invaluable addition to a B2B marketer’s arsenal. Bringing your incredible, relevant content to life isn’t just a pipe-dream, it will soon be fully doable, so get excited and start planning ahead.
So there you have it! Just a few of the incredible opportunities content marketing has to look forward to. Some of them are ready for you to take full advantage of, and some need a little time, but what’s certain is content marketing has a big future in B2B, and I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited to see what happens next!
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