Does your company offer products or services to other businesses? If so, you’re a B2B (business-to-business) marketer.
Does your B2B business offer online content to attract potential customers? If so, you’re engaged in “content marketing.”
Now ask yourself: how effective is our content marketing? Very effective? Somewhat effective?
But here’s the big question: Do you really know how effective your efforts are? If the answer’s no, and even if you don’t even know how to begin answering this question, you can take some comfort — you’re in the majority. Most B2B marketers (55%, see survey results below) are stumped, too.
Here’s more comfort — help is available. A great place to begin is to understand how other B2B companies monitor and master content marketing effectiveness.
A recent article by Joe Polizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, analyzes some findings from the recently released B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America (jointly published by CMI and MarketingProfs). As Polizzi says, “…what’s great about the research is that we can examine how the most-effective marketers are going about their business so we can learn from them.” Polizzi’s discussion and conclusions can be summarized by focusing on the following keys to success drawn from his article.
Keys to Content Marketing Effectiveness
The keys to self-reported (i.e., self-perceived) effectiveness at content marketing:
1. A clear understanding of how you define “success.”
- Polizzi asks: how many companies even know what effectiveness looks like?
- The answer: To 55% of B2B marketers, “it is unclear within their organization what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like.” But, the report flips that same number to the positive side: 55% of companies that report being clear on what success or effectiveness looks like also show a higher effectiveness rate.
2. Experience in the practice of content marketing.
- Effectiveness also increases as the organization’s content marketing grows in maturity.
- 64% of those who rate themselves as “sophisticated” or “mature” content marketers say they are effective at content marketing, compared with 23% in the “adolescent” phase and just 6% in the “young” or “first-steps” phase.
3. Documentation of your content marketing strategy and editorial mission.
- 53% of the most effective marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 40% of the least effective marketers have no strategy at all. Further, while only 28% of all companies surveyed reported having a documented editorial mission, 48% of the most effective respondents had one in place.
4. Regular communication within the organization about content marketing plans, actions, and results.
- 61% of the most-effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team, either virtually or in person. Furthermore, those who meet daily or weekly find the meetings to be more valuable (70%) than those who meet biweekly or monthly (49%).
Clearly these findings based on self-reporting aren’t scientifically demonstrable. But, if one adds up the factors that contribute to a “successful” content marketing self-image — clarity of goals and results, experience, documentation of practices, and internal communication — clearly those businesses reporting the most success are best positioned to make an accurate assessment.
So, when Polizzi points to a possible growing disillusionment (38% of B2B content marketers self-reported as effective in 2015 vs. 30% in 2014), it’s also pretty clear that avoiding or escaping the trough is tied to the Keys to Success outlined above.
It’s not “content marketing” that’s the culprit, it’s a flawed or incomplete process. B2B practitioners need to be diligent and deliberate in their efforts, and follow the Keys to Success. And — since “experience” is one of those keys — they need to be patient with their process if they’re to harvest the results they seek.