Lately, recent studies and reports on the effectiveness of content marketing have been sobering. Content marketing ineffectiveness continues to be a hard-pressed issue for B2B organizations making substantial investments in content strategies. A new study indicates content may just be playing a hit or miss game.
Mikal Belicove, a columnist and contributor to Forbes.com, authored a post, Content Marketing Study Suggests Most Content Marketing Doesn’t Work, which alerted me to another perspective. Mikal’s well-written article referenced a recent study conducted by InboundWriter, which suggest online content marketing is showing little results online. The study involved examining traffic patterns for a one-year period from June 2012 to May 2013. A total of 110 million pages and 32 million page views, from over dozens of websites, were examined.
What caught my attention was this quote by Skip Besthoff, CEO of InboundWriter:
“Our research proves that in content marketing and online publishing, the subjective ‘hit or miss’ approach is a ‘miss’ 80 to 90 percent of the time”
InboundWriter is aimed at the one key word in this sentence – subjective. They hope to change content marketing perspectives to a more objective approach with predictive analytics. I do believe this will be helpful and reduce the high percent of misses.
Mikal, as well as I, can reach a conclusion based on results such as these. Which is, most content marketers today are struggling with understanding why created content will succeed or fail. Sparking a repeating cycle of more content overload – to see what hits and what misses. So far, this type of guessing is working only 20 percent of the time this study would suggest. It is little wonder why, as indicated in other studies, content is turning off buyers.
There Is More To This
While analytics can help us to understand what works or not, the issue is much deeper than this. There are two areas where there is significant shortfall:
- Buyer Understanding
- Content Creation
The number of studies and reports in the past year all point to a voice of the buyer highlighting the magnitude of these shortfalls, which sound like this:
“Look, you do not understand us. It is obvious you do not by the amount of content, which has nothing to do with what we are facing. It still proves you do not get it.”
These two related shortfalls are at the core of why there is much guessing and missing happening. The stem of these issues is related to deep-rooted lack of understanding about buyers.
Throwing Good Dollars After Bad
Many organizations are and have been jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. And, some of the outlandish promises of jumping on board amount to drinking a glass of Kool-Aid. There are no easy fixes and no easy diets, which will make an immediate connection to buyers.
B2B organizations and CMO’s, trying to withstand quarterly pressures, have to be careful about throwing good money after bad. A counterintuitive move right now would be to scale back content marketing until you can determine two very important elements:
- Deeper buyer understanding: today, much of buyer understanding is at the surface level. Mostly dominated by conventional sales intelligence, which lacks contextual understanding. B2B organizations must determine the deeper layers of contextual and behavioral understanding related to how buyers attempt to accomplish their goals.
- Goal-directed content creation: deeply rooted in the consciousness of buyers are their desires to achieve goals. The information and insights provided to buyers must raise their conscious levels on how their goals can be achieved. B2B organizations must learn what I call Goal-Directed Content Marketing™. Creating content, which informs on goal achievement.
Stop The Cycle
With many organizations caught in the throes of the buyer revolution, it has set up a perpetuating cycle of creating more content each time a miss is experienced versus a hit. If you are experiencing an 80% miss rate on your content marketing efforts, I would look for the brake lever. Stop throwing good money after bad and put it to use learning to understand your buyers. Then, when you put predictive analytics to work, you will truly know what content works or not. Stop the guessing game.
(Need help with stopping the cycle of hit or miss? Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you. I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how you can be more effective. Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are trying to swing and hit.)