Why invest in content marketing?
A content marketing strategy helps well-informed consumers enter the sales process closer to a purchasing decision. As existing customers and prospects become more educated through content marketing, they will begin to know, like, and trust the organization as a resource and brand hence increasing the likelihood of purchase. Ultimately, they’ll buy more and become a brand ambassador. Together, sales and marketing deliver the right resources at the right time to the right people to progress and close new sales. Engaged customers will buy more and advocate, not churn. These were foundational tenets as content marketing emerged over ten years ago. Do they still hold today?
"The power of today’s marketing technology is our ability to achieve a mindset of measurement"
In 2014, ISTMA asked recent B2B technology buyers how they consume information when making an investment. The most credible, trustworthy sources that informed a recent purchase were organization subject matter experts (SME) and websites, along with industry analysts. Sales people and peers/ colleagues had the same rating, rounding out the top five. Valued information, whether delivered online, or in person by a SME or sales person builds trust and credibility and influences buying decisions. If your marketing team is not creating content that establishes credibility, authority, and leadership to build trusting relationships, you are missing an opportunity to deliver value to your customers and wider audience.
Chances are you have a content marketing plan. The 2018 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) B2B Content Marketing survey found 91 percent of B2B respondents use content marketing, though only 37 percent have a documented strategy. Today, blogs, white papers, research, infographics, quizzes, videos, podcasts, webinars and lead generation forms abound. You may be finding it difficult to stand out. CMI also found that 44 percent agree that “it has become increasingly difficult to capture our audience’s attention.”
We can’t ignore ‘content shock,’ an expression Mark Schaefer coined in January 2014 as a warning that the early boom in content marketing would create an unrelenting need to invest in capturing attention and engagement. Organizations are increasingly moving to Account Based Marketing (ABM) – to build on the success of aligning marketing and sales and stand out. Your next platform investment may enable more personalization for customers and more sophisticated engagement orchestration according to Forrester’s 2018 report.
Investing with a Measurement Mindset
At Wiley, we have made several investments in marketing technology. Our toolset includes a CRM with integrated marketing automation, a social media management platform, email and platform analytics, and a new content management platform, architecture and brand for our blog, The Wiley Network.
We rely on platform reporting analytics and marketers’ own analysis to understand how audiences engage with content. We can measure engagement and conversions through the customer journey. The technology offers a feedback loop that rewards marketers with a strong measurement mindset, an important part of our organizational culture.
Other investments to consider: time spent on content strategy and the time and cost of content creation. In the early days a strong content marketing strategy delivered with organic search and discoverability.
There are complexities – the hidden costs of new solutions – but our marketers keep a “life-long learning” attitude. The tools create efficiencies and better results. Marketers can set goals based on past campaign performance, discover what messages are inspiring, and consider the types of content that lead to another desired action. We also assess the channels that are attracting engaged audiences – and which aren’t.
Without the technology investment, the feedback loop breaks. Then it is incredibly inefficient or impossible to understand the ROI of content marketing. The analysis helps us create more effective campaigns and customer journeys. The continuous development of marketing technology platforms also improves day to day efficiency too.
The ROI? Trust, credibility, and relationships
We are measurement-minded and rely on marketing technology, but content conversion metrics don’t distract us from our main focus—our customer. The ISTMA findings indicate that customers still look to human relationships to establish trust and credibility. Marketers helps organizations to provide valuable information from diverse voices including corporate leadership, subject matter experts and sales people – and the most powerful voice - our customers’ voice. Contributors across our organization share their voice and experience on our blog, guided by a structured approach to content themes. Visibility to the people and discussions that lead our organization and our industry forward builds more relationships and recognition for our subject matter expertise.
Respondents to the CMI B2B survey indicated that after email, their blog is the most effective format for content distribution. Our investment in a new platform enables visitors to quickly personalize the content themes they want to follow. We learn more about their interests which inspires us as we plan our content calendar. Visitors can change their interests easily as they progress from student to professional.
What makes a stand out content marketing strategy?
Listen to your customers. Content marketing and marketing technology help your organization find the strongest signals in the feedback loop between your customers, sales and marketing. Technology may eventually help calculate attribution and the lifetime value of a customer as they move from student to professor, author, or professional leader, but the relationship will always be priceless.