Content marketing continues to dominate more of B2B marketing strategies and budgets everywhere. But while adoption of content marketing is on the rise and confidence in its effectiveness is growing, B2B marketers still face some major ongoing challenges.
In October, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report. Included in the report is a list of twelve content marketing challenges that B2B marketers face. In this post, we’ll address the top three major B2B content marketing challenges and share a few ideas on how to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Lack of Time
At the top of the list of content marketing challenges that B2B marketers face is the lack of time to “do” content marketing. In fact, a clear majority (69%) struggle to find (or make) the time to focus on their content marketing programs. So what can be done to remedy this issue?
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Make it a bigger priority
As the old saying goes, you make time for what’s important to you. And I would argue that for many B2B marketers, while they understand the power of content marketing and would like to have robust content marketing programs, they struggle to commit the time, resources and budget to make their efforts successful. In order to be successful at content marketing, you have to commit to the long haul and prioritize your efforts.
Develop a roadmap
Only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy in place, and without a roadmap, it’s no surprise that B2B marketers find themselves pinched for time. A content marketing strategy should outline your overall goals, metrics, audience profiles and content needs among other things, as well as lay out a plan for how your content marketing program will be executed. This includes who will be involved, what will be required of them and how much time will need to be accounted for.
Better time management
With limited time, you’ve got to make sure you use the time you have wisely. Obviously, it starts with prioritization and a documented roadmap, but managing each deliverable, whether it’s a blog post, an eBook or an infographic, involves setting a deadline and working backwards to ensure everyone stays on target. Time management can be accomplished using something as simple as an Excel editorial calendar, project collaboration tools like Trello or Basecamp or a full-fledged content marketing platform like Kapost.
Challenge #2: Producing Enough Content
Unsurprisingly, 55% of B2B marketers listed producing enough content as a major content marketing challenge. Google has made it very clear that the days of manipulating their search algorithms for higher rankings are long over and instead marketers should focus on creating fresh, quality content. And a successful content marketing program inescapably requires producing a great deal of quality content. So what are some ways this can be accomplished?
It’s no secret that repurposing is a great way to get as much mileage as you can from each piece of content. But I’m not sure that every company is utilizing repurposing as fully as they could. A good approach would be to think about how content will be repurposed before you start writing and creating. You’ll want to consider every possible way that the same topic can be repurposed and populated in a variety of different formats and channels. Your content marketing program should include a healthy mix of repurposed content and new content as well.
Produce evergreen content
Certainly you’ll want to produce content that covers trending topics, industry news and the latest research reports. But the majority of your content should have a long shelf life and speak to topics and information that audiences will find valuable throughout the year and beyond. Just because an eBook or blog post seems old to you, doesn’t mean it’s old to a new visitor. Evergreen topics can be a steady, ongoing stream of social media content, website traffic, lead generation and can be easily repurposed for future content uses.
Outsourcing content creation
According to the report, nearly half (44%) of B2B companies overall outsource some or all of their content marketing functions. And the majority of B2B companies that outsource content marketing functions specifically outsource writing (64%) and design (54%). The fact is, producing remarkable content requires not just time, but specific talent as well. And not every B2B company has the internal staff with the skillsets necessary to produce quality content on an ongoing basis. This is where outsourcing some or all of your content creation to an experienced content marketing agency or freelance content creator could provide the resources needed to create enough content.
Challenge #3: Producing the Kind of Content that Engages
So it’s clearly a challenge for B2B companies to devote the necessary time to content marketing and, once they do, creating enough content is obviously a challenge as well. But the goal isn’t to simply create heaps of content; the goal is to create remarkable, magnetic content that engages your audience and accomplishes the goals that you’ve put in place for your content marketing program. So what are some ways B2B marketers can produce the kind of content that engages?
Focus on the audience
It goes without saying that to be successful in content marketing, you have to focus on your audience. So engaging content focuses on what the audience is interested in and searching online for, as opposed to just talking about your company. Be sure to leverage buyer personas in order to create engaging content that identifies and addresses the problems, challenges, questions and information gaps your audience might have and provides them with valuable information about those topics.
Map content to the customer lifecycle
The average company’s content is almost entirely focused on the purchase stage of the customer lifecycle, assuming that everyone is ready to stroke a check. But you need to create content that meets the needs of your audience where they are in the customer lifecycle—whether they are an unknown visitor on your website for the first time, a recently identified lead, a brand new customer or a valuable long-term client.
Share, don’t sell
Content marketing is not about creating content that’s a little more than thinly veiled sales propaganda. Content marketing is not about selling, it’s all about adding value by sharing relevant information that informs, educates and guides your prospects and customers—instead of simply pitching your products and services.
Make your copy and design outstanding
The price of entry for engaging content is outstanding copy and design. You can focus on your audience, map content to the lifecycle and share helpful information, but if your copy lacks substance, is poorly written or is riddled with misspellings and punctuation errors, your content will fall flat. Similarly, if your copy is remarkable, but the graphics, layout and overall design are generic, amateurish or non-existent, it will absolutely impede the success of your content.
Content marketing is certainly a marathon, not a sprint, and should be viewed as an ongoing program and not a short-term campaign. Because of that, challenges will continue to persist because while content marketing is a simple concept, the execution can prove to be difficult. Hopefully these ideas will help you overcome these top challenges.