Will Bigger Budgets Increase Effectiveness?
The content marketing question most marketers are wrestling with these days is not whether or not to invest in content marketing, but rather how much to invest.
According to a pair of studies from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, B2B Content Marketing, 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America and B2C Content Marketing, 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America, 93 percent of B2B brands and 86 percent of B2C brands are using content marketing.
Content is attractive to marketers because it provides more control over the brand story and new ways to connect directly with prospects and customers. Content is also extremely versatile and can play a central role in an integrated marketing campaign. It can attract new customers searching the web for solutions, enable sharing through social media, fuel media relations, support calls-to-action in advertising and direct marketing, and help nurture prospects through the sales process.
But there appears to be a conflict brewing around content marketing budgets. According to the Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends studies, only 42 percent of B2B marketers believe they are effective at content marketing, yet 58 percent plan to increase their content marketing spend in the coming year. The same pattern holds true for B2C brands: 34 percent believe they are effective, yet 55 percent plan to increase their content marketing spend.
Why, with the current emphasis on metrics and ROI, are some marketers increasing their investment in something they aren’t sure is effective? One answer is that they are simply getting swept up in the hype surrounding content marketing – but let’s give them more credit than that.
More likely, they believe bigger budgets will help solve the effectiveness problem. Considering that many organizations are still building their content marketing teams and maturing their processes, that seems like a reasonable assumption – but only if those dollars come with some change. Here are three suggestions for brands seeking to increase the effectiveness of their content marketing:
Do less with more.
This might not be the easiest concept to sell internally, but the fact is the market is being flooded with content, and a lot of that content is bringing very little educational or entertainment value to the potential customers who access it. It’s time to raise the bar on content quality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending more on production. Quality problems are more likely attributable to shortcuts at the front end of the process: failing to understand the audience’s interests and issues or not doing the legwork required to deliver content that addresses those interests and issues. Right now, the market doesn’t need more content; it needs better content.
Understand how your customers make decisions.
The right content can help define needs, shape plans and create brand affinity. But, particularly in the long sales process typical for complex products, it usually isn’t going to move a prospect all the way through the sales process. Yet brands using content to generate leads get disappointed when they find few hot prospects in their content marketing leads. Content such as white papers are generally accessed early in the sales process. Evaluating how those leads perform in the first 30 days after they are received can set an unrealistic view of content effectiveness.
Promote and repurpose your content.
If you’ve invested in quality content, you do everything you can to get that content seen. That might mean integrating search-friendly terms in your content, featuring it prominently on your web site, sharing it through social media or promoting it through direct marketing and content syndication. You can also extend value by repurposing content – transforming blog posts into an e-book, or turning a white paper into a series of byline articles or a webcast. In either case, the more people that read your content, the more effective it is.
Content marketing budgets are on the rise this year, but unless marketing organizations can address their concerns about effectiveness, they will be challenged to maintain that growth in future years.