Actually, your content is engaging—at least, it has the potential to be engaging. But for some reason, it’s just not getting many views, it’s not getting liked or shared, it’s not bringing in leads, and it’s certainly not producing any sort of traceable ROI. “But why?” you ask yourself. “Our content is really high quality. We even hired an agency to produce some badass stuff for us, and we paid them a lot of money to do it.” train-content-marketing-express

All Aboard the Content Marketing Express!

Truth be told, your content probably is high quality—and you probably have a lot of it, too. Since the launch of Google’s Panda update in February 2011, companies have been boarding the Content Marketing Express like it’s the last train out of a ghost town. Unfortunately, this high-speed train is a one-way ticket to Irrelevantville if the content is not reaching its target audience. As it turns out, creating catchy content is only half the battle. Without strategic digital placement and promotion, the cry of your content will fall on deaf ears.

Last week the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their fourth annual B2B Content Marketing Report. This 2014 edition compares findings with years past, focusing especially on differences between marketers who rate their content marketing as effective and those who rate it ineffective.

Key Takeaways from the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report b2b-report-1

  • 93 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing
  • 73 percent of B2B content marketers are producing more content than they did a year ago
  • 42 percent of B2B marketers say they are effective at content marketing

It’s clear that content marketing is picking up steam as companies both large and small are increasing their budgets and creating more content. Additionally, the use of social media has increased across the board. Confidence in content marketing is undoubtedly growing, and 91 percent of B2B marketers plan to maintain or increase their content marketing budgets over the next year. However, an undeniable disconnect remains: Why are only 42 percent of B2B content marketers effective at content marketing?

According to the report, 41 percent of B2B marketers are indifferent about the effectiveness of their content marketing and an additional 16 percent believe it is ineffective.

The #1 reason content marketing is ineffective: Low engagement

This report determined that 86 percent of the most effective B2B marketers have someone designated to oversee content marketing strategy, whereas only 46 percent of less effective marketers do. However, this statistic simply addresses the issue of investing in a talented person to steer the content strategy. And while this data may be helpful to small companies under 99 employees, it does not address the most important issue for large companies (1000+ employees): Large companies claim that their biggest B2B content marketing challenge is not lack of budget, talent, or time. Instead, they have the most difficulty “producing the kind of content that engages.”

biggest-b2b-marketing-challenge

This study found that 72 percent of large companies outsource content creation, compared to only 33 percent of small companies. Are large companies hiring content marketing agencies that are creating crappy and un-engaging content? Not likely, given that content marketing agencies have one job: creating remarkable content. So, what is the root cause of this engagement problem?

The #1 reason your content is not engaging: Lack of promotion

If a content tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Too many companies are struggling with content marketing—not because their content quality is bad, but because it is not reaching its target audience. Promotion is key—the best content in the world is not going to promote itself and it’s not enough for content to be “engaging” as an adjective; it must be “engaging” as a verb, too. This means content must be strategically conceived, created, placed and promoted in front of target audiences that will engage with and share the content.

Digital PR: The solution for content engagement

This targeted outreach and promotion concept, known as digital PR, is an essential piece of the marketing puzzle that will become increasingly more important as the Content Marketing Express rolls onward. The resulting content, known as earned media, is the secret to the success of digital marketing. Wielding a variety of benefits including increased web traffic and conversions, brand awareness, social media buzz, search engine optimization and online community building, earned media answers the distress call of companies everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Here are the B2B marketers’ top metrics for content marketing success:

b2b-content-marketing-success-metrics

Companies need to focus less on content creation and more on content promotion, straight and simple. Neither is valuable without the other. 90 percent of web traffic comes from unpaid earned media and when businesses start taking advantage of targeted content promotion they will wonder how their content strategy ever survived without it. Our free Earned Media Guide is a great resource to kick-start your content strategy and learn how digital PR can grow your brand.

Will you let your content tree fall in a forest where no one is around to hear it?

Image credits: Business Insider, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America