No matter how mature you think your B2B content function is, no matter how large or small the team, as a marketer, you are inevitably slammed by demands for more and new content that needs to be personalized across every stage of an increasingly complex buyer’s journey.
But is the content you’re working so hard to create actually doing its job? After all, SiriusDecisions has reported nearly half of B2B content goes unused, while other studies show that B2B organizations waste almost $1 billion annually on ineffective content marketing efforts.
Content operations is being touted as the way to save the day. Defined as the processes, people, and technology set in place to produce a repeatable, scalable way to create effective content, there are now multiple technology platforms purpose-built to help align content strategy and content marketing with broader business goals.
Unfortunately, martech on its own rarely delivers what’s promised. Marketers mistakenly think the problem with production is the process, buying into vendor sales pitches that tools can magically fix the chaos of ad-hoc requests, or a content factory that never produces enough, fast enough.
The real culprit that stands between marketers and the dream of a smooth content-production engine that unifies the customer experience is the lack of effective decision-making around content goals.
Here are three major areas where most content operations fall short, and how to fix them so marketers can achieve more impact with the same (or less) effort.
Three Areas Where Most Content Operations Fall Short
1. Your content goals and messaging aren’t aligned with what sales and customers really care about.
The ultimate goal of marketing is the same as that of sales: to create a customer. Therefore, good content marketing is about developing content that matches a customer who has a problem with the solution to that problem.
But despite the fact that the number of touchpoints required to close a B2B deal has risen by 52%, with a roughly 50/50 split during the pre-sales and sales cycle, most marketers are still putting the bulk of their attention on top-of-funnel content for lead generation.
However, the buyer’s journey is messy, with prospects doing self-education on their own terms, rather than following a straight path. And yet, sales enablement and nurture strategies are often treated as afterthoughts, ad-hoc requests, or additional tasks that strain writer capacity and result in lower quality work overall; when in fact, they are equally important to achieving greater marketing ROI.
In order to create a content operation that addresses all stages of the funnel without straining existing resources, you need to begin with strong messaging that is laser focused on calling prospects to action. (Tip: We draw inspiration from StoryBrand.) What are your customers really worried about? How do they define success? What’s your action plan to help them get to where they want to be? Content marketers usually ask some of the important questions, but not all of them.
A deeper understanding of the value your product or service offers prospects will function as a North Star when a content item or campaign performs poorly, and requests mount to try wild new angles and to insert yourself into trending conversations. The right move isn’t to take more shots in the dark, but to go back to the drawing board and figure out if you’ve got the right message to begin with.
If you already have content, we recommend doing a content audit to get more bang for the bucks you’ve already spent. Through a customer-focused messaging lens, you can discard what doesn’t work, and refresh or reposition what does.
Ultimately, a good story will appeal to customers as many times as you tell it (well). After all, if your customers’ core problems haven’t changed, why should your messaging?
2. You aren’t doing content analytics.
Gaining visibility into what content is effective, and for what purpose, will reduce redundant and ineffective marketing efforts on top of improving marketing ROI.
Tracking how many impressions, opens, clicks, and downloads your content receives is just the tip of the iceberg as far as content analytics is concerned. Even comparing the results of one campaign against previous ones and setting a benchmark isn’t truly actionable. While that can help you develop best practices, it won’t provide deeper insight into how to evolve your message or content strategy as you zoom out and move beyond demand-gen and further down the funnel to a sale.
Many tagging taxonomies—assuming an organization even has one—are fairly rudimentary, and don’t allow for robust analytics that tell you what kind of content is most effective for targeted prospects or customers in a particular stage of the funnel.
To discover what is effective instead of what you think is effective requires you to tag and track the right metrics across a range of campaigns. It can include how often sales is using a piece of content, as well as lead-to-meeting conversion, but the point is to track who is responding to what and gain long-range intelligence into whether a particular call to action or value prop resonates with a particular prospect segment during any given stage of the buyer’s journey.
As content goals skew toward more personalization, the strategy should shift away from more attempts to fewer, but more targeted attempts based on analytics. The bonus is that this way, every campaign is an opportunity to gain insights that enable greater marketing impact, in a time when prospects are looking for reasons to opt out, and rules around privacy are tightening.
3. You’re not being strategic about the content you’re creating.
Even if you’ve got detailed persona profiles and a process for content atomization, let’s face it: the default mode of content marketing isn’t agile enough to shift with business needs. Content requests are often made without clear sales or business objectives in mind, and remain in place long after business targets evolve.
Why is there a suggested ratio for content atomization? Is there a reason you’re writing three blogs instead of one? In fact, if you’re struggling to fill content gaps that you’ve identified, are you sure your writers wouldn’t make more impact working on something else?
Content analytics should enable you to move away from the attitude that getting the most value possible from your marketing means creating a greater volume of content. The metrics you’ve tracked will reveal insights that help you decide what type of content to create going forward, what type of messaging prospects are responding to, and what sales needs most urgently.
Armed with this information, you can decide if the six-month effort that goes into creating a new “Ultimate Guide” is worth it. The data can be gathered to show which prospects respond best to infographics, and if specific messaging in an ad works exceptionally well in moving leads down the funnel.
Allowing data to inform impact means you spend the effort and energy in the right place, allowing a big-picture view to guide content creation decisions that are the most valuable use of your limited writing capacity.
How Martech and Marketing as a Service Work Together in Content Operations
When it comes to content, 2X operates with the goal of creating more impact at less cost with smarter, more efficient ways of producing it.
According to Kapost’s benchmark survey on content operations, less than half of content creators have visibility into how content aligns to organizational priorities. But a common trap B2B marketing leaders fall into is buying a content operations platform with good intentions, but being unable to leverage it properly because of a lack of knowledge and skilled staff to manage it. Worse, it may become nothing more than an incredibly expensive storage and workflow tool.
That’s where marketing as a service (MaaS) can step in to fill the gap. Our expertise with content analytics can answer the question of whether or not your content production efforts are meeting greater business objectives, and help you align content marketing and sales functions.
Contact 2X to see how we can help elevate your content marketing department from an overwhelmed production house to a strategic function with measurable revenue impact on the business.