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Content Mistakes

Biggest Mistakes CMOs Make with Their B2B Content Strategy and How to Avoid Them

April 30, 2020

Strong B2B content has the power to boost lead generation, increase conversions, and even raise lifetime customer value, yet most B2B companies struggle to achieve success with the content they create. 

Despite the fact that 89% of decision-makers say content influences their perception of a company, 29% also say that most of what they read is mediocre or poor. At the same time, 94% of companies have difficulty seeing any real ROI on their B2B content marketing.  

Too many companies have no coherent, data-based B2B content strategy, causing meaningful insights to get lost somewhere between marketing and delivery. Content marketing is a long-term game, so without a definition of success, clear KPIs, and constant course correction from up-to-date data, even Pulitzer-prize-worthy content will fail to deliver the desired results. 

Strategy, budgeting, data insights and distribution are just as important as content creation, so without investing in the expertise, content marketing optimization tools, and data analytics, companies will continue to miss their targets for measurable content marketing ROI. 

B2B Content Marketing Points of Failure

Just like in every area of business, the old adage holds true: if you fail to prepare a content marketing strategy, then you’re prepared to fail. There are 5 specific areas where B2B content marketing strategy tends to fall short: 

  1. Establishing clear goals and KPIs
  2. Creating a B2B content strategy
  3. Poor writing and/or execution 
  4. Realistic budgeting for distribution
  5. Lack of organizational “buy-in”

1. Failing to Establish Clear B2B Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

What is it you want your content to do for your company? Think about what you’d like to achieve with your content, and how you’re going to recognize that achievement. It’s impossible to get anywhere without measurable KPIs, and your B2B content strategy is no exception. 

Some common content marketing goals and KPIs include:

  • Increasing company website visitor numbers by % within a given period of time
  • New lead generation
  • Increasing number of blog viewers and time on blog (actually reading)
  • Increasing % of shares and engagement on social media
  • Increasing brand awareness in the form of mentions and direct visits
  • Nurturing leads down the funnel, especially for your named accounts (ABM)
  • Adding more subscribers to your newsletter

What you want to achieve will determine your strategy. For example, if increasing visitors to your website and blog is key, then you will need to write content that is more top of the funnel and has enough average monthly searches, based on your SEO research. If nurturing leads is your goal, then you will need more middle and bottom of the funnel content that is educational and relevant to helping your leads to convert from MQL >> SQL >> Opportunity. You will definitely need input from your sales team regarding the type of content to produce. 

Remember that every KPI you set has to be both measurable and realistic. 

2. Failing to Create an Effective B2B Content Strategy

Once you’ve set your goals and KPIs and you know what you want to achieve, you can begin to plan your strategy. This of course means that you’ve decided on your target audience and persona and you’re now researching what they are interested in, determining what’s already been written 100s of times and where there are gaps. There’s an excellent blog that details how to create a B2B content strategy here, that can really help you out.

Too many companies believe that a list of blog topics and titles constitutes a content strategy but that is far from being the case and often causes ineffective content to be written. The golden pillars of any B2B content strategy are establishing:

  • What are your goals and KPIs
  • Which problem you are solving and for who
  • What your target audience is searching for and where
  • Which asset, pillar page or eBook (or similar) will help answer their need
  • Which blogs/videos/emails etc. will support it
  • How will it all be distributed

Marketers need to apply data-driven practices to content marketing, using tools to track email open rates and white paper downloads; heat mapping visitor behavior on blog posts and case studies; cross-referencing demographic information with click-through rates and view rates, etc. 

Content strategy is about good planning and consistent execution around a predetermined group of keywords that you want to focus on for the next 6-12 months.

Building an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy

3. Failing with Poor Writing and/or Execution 

There are excellent B2B content plans that are perfect on screen and then absolutely flop in execution. Common failures include:

  • Poor writing and / or writing style: The tone and language need to resonate with your target audience and also with your company’s brand. You should absolutely experiment with styles but you should also test before you move to create all your content based on a style that no one relates to. Too short? Too long? Too technical? Too shallow? Filled with jargon?

AB test titles, writing styles and tone of voice; release content and read the feedback. Ask for feedback from trusted advisors and your sales teams. Look at your analytics -- how long are folks staying on the blog and on site in general? Are your articles being shared and liked? These are all hard indicators.

  • Poor execution: All too often, it was a great idea in theory and then the execution of the video or asset was just not good enough. Did you skimp on production? Was the storyline too thin? Does the actor sound like your old chemistry teacher? Was a zoom video good enough for this?

You don’t need to produce the highest quality content every single time, but your audience will want to know what to expect, so try to be consistent. Again, test it before repeating and creating all the content, dooming you to failure. Poor execution will not lead to meeting KPIs.

4. Failing to Set a Realistic Budgets

Content marketing takes a relatively long time to write, create and achieve its goals. Whether you keep your B2B content marketing in-house, or decide to outsource it, there are associated costs. If you choose to go in-house, bear in mind an in-house writer comes in at around $82,000 for the first year of employment. A Content Manager costs roughly double that and videographers’ costs can be significant too.

When you outsource content marketing, you only pay for the content you receive. You usually pay either per article, or per hour of work, so you won’t be paying a salary when there’s nothing for your content worker to do. It also allows for greater flexibility to scale production up or down whenever you need to. 

Your content marketing budget isn’t all about content creation costs. Expect to spend approximately three times as much on content distribution as you do on content creation, so allocate your funds accordingly. There is a lot of excellent content out there that is untapped as marketers have not allocated sufficient funds to its distribution. 

You’re better off producing less content and distributing it effectively, both organically and on paid channels, than producing a large amount and not promoting it sufficiently.

5. Failing to Secure Organizational Buy-In

Lack of buy-in to the content marketing vision is the biggest handicap of all. 

Successful B2B content marketing depends upon a cross-departmental buy-in from everyone in the organization, but this doesn’t always materialize. One of the biggest fallacies in B2B content marketing is the belief that it’s all the responsibility of the marketing department. Without a clear understanding that content is the main growth driver for MQLs and SQLs, your content strategy will founder. 

Content marketing should be a shared responsibility for shared gain that spans the boundaries of all departments. B2B marketers need support from senior executives; interesting case studies from customer support; and assistance from all colleagues in sharing new content on social media. 

Developing cross-functional teams is a highly effective method of coordinating content marketing initiatives across an enterprise in a collaborative way, rather than having each department creating its own content in isolation.  

Sadly, what often happens is that content is created and published in discrete sections of the organization and its impact goes to waste. Silos mean that the content marketing team can’t draw on the insights of people in different departments. Even within the marketing department, you’ll find barriers between social media marketing, public relations, email marketing, and SEO teams that impede the implementation of a cohesive and effective content marketing strategy. 

When content is dispersed across a wide range of platforms, channels, and teams, it’s impossible to produce any kind of holistic marketing campaign. You end up with stories that don’t connect to an overarching narrative, contradictory messages that confuse customers, and wasted efforts that either overlap or undermine each other. SEO can also fall by the wayside as different teams focus on different keywords. 

In contrast, when everyone in the company buys into the one content marketing strategy, you can produce a series of interlocking content pieces that work together to get your content in front of more eyes. Employees can share content on their personal social media channels at the right times to boost your campaigns, supplementing content shared from the company page and website. 

Content marketing can be extremely effective, but only when you approach it the right way. In order to create strong, successful B2B content marketing campaigns, make sure that you do the groundwork by setting KPIs, establishing B2B content strategy, agreeing on a realistic B2B content marketing budget, and implementing your plans wisely, as well as ensuring that you have cross-departmental support and basing your marketing strategy on data-driven insights. 

If this all sounds like too big an ask, it’s time to consider outsourcing your B2B content marketing. 


About the Author

Billy Cina

I've been around the B2B tech and start up marketing scene long enough to claim veteran status. Nostalgia aside, I've become pretty good at what I do, which is why in 2014 I Co-founded Israel's leading tech marketing agency, Marketing Envy.

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