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The Struggle is Real in B2B Content Marketing [UML]

The Struggle is Real in B2B Content Marketing [UML]

If you peruse enough surveys covering the challenges of marketing, you begin to see that three common themes among the findings:  budget, ROI and production.

There is never enough budget, the pressure and time necessary to measure ROI is ever more pressing and yet production is expected to rise.

The Struggle is Real in B2B Content Marketing-eMarketer-lead-gen

Marketing Budget Predictability

Marketing never thinks it has enough budget, and while there’s probably truth to that thought, there’s probably also truth to the idea marketing will never have enough. What marketers can and should do is lobby for budget predictability.

Many businesses do one of two things:  It stacks the marketing budget with deep pockets in the beginning, and then takes it back, demanding cuts over the course of the year.  The flip side is keeping the marketing budget too lean at the beginning of the year, and then throwing money at the department in Q3 with a short suspense to spend it all.

The former demoralizes staff and demolishes momentum, while the latter is a sheer waste of marketing budget.  Imagine managing an investment portfolio or a 401k this way…you’d miss the compounding returns and so too does the business when the marketing budget swings wildly in either direction.

The Struggle is Real in B2B Content Marketing-eMarketer-ROI

Measuring Marketing Returns

Measuring ROI is always a challenge because the buyer’s journey is rarely linear.  Especially in B2B, multiple decision makers from multiple departments, including procurement and IT, weigh in on any given decision. I often think marketing ROI is a bit of a paradox – both harder and easier at the same time.

There are calls out to the industry to merge sales and marketing departments and I’m of two minds on this initiative.  On one hand, I’m a strong proponent of sales and marketing alignment, but on the other, a merged department may lead to group think.

In other words, a single merged department will be too reliant on sales, or too reliant on marketing, where a natural but professional tension is probably best for the organization.

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B2B Marketing Struggle

The B2B marketing struggle comes full circle in production.  While businesses demand leaner budgets and a greater emphasis on ROI, marketing is left with fewer resources with which to produce more.

More content, more followers and more leads – it’s a hamster wheel for marketing – the struggle is real!  And so the B2B marketing struggle is the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links (UML).  Here are three data intensive and thought-provoking pieces on B2B content marketing.

1) B2B Marketers Struggle with Effective Content Marketing

Content marketing continues to grow as a trend. Virtually every discipline in marketing sees the value – from PR and SEO to demand generation and digital advertising.  As the eMarketer chart and report cited nearby suggests the top goals for content marketing usually center on increasing leads, engagement, awareness and traffic.

Yet realizing that more content (assuming quality is the minimum barrier to entry) is needed, is very different than producing it:

“But even though B2B marketers recognize materials such as research reports, blogs and videos are effective, producing them is another matter entirely,” according to eMarketer.

 The solution, according to the report is:

“The recognition of these difficulties is leading many B2B marketers to focus on outsourcing some of their work to specialists.”

Citing data from Ascend2, the report says roughly 75% of B2B marketers have “either outsourced all of their content marketing work or used a combination of outsourcing and in-house resources.”

Also see: B2B Solved the Biggest Content Marketing Challenge Yesterday 

2) 25 Experts Share Top 3 Content Marketing Trends

It’s the churn and burnout the comes with feeding the content monster, along with a general need to do things differently in order to stand out that leads me to these content marketing predictions.

My predictions focus on a) a serious corporate marketing reflection of content output, where more content and better content seem to be two divergent trends; and b) a renewed focus on content distribution, including channel development, maturity and content re-purposing.

Some of the other predictions that stood out for me include these four:

  • Budgets to match content expectations. “Content marketers will be demanding AND receiving much larger budgets for content promotion and distribution.” Chad Pollit of Relevance
  • Long-form back in style. “Less is more – Longer, more in-depth content is the bar for entry now – the 300–500 word warmed over blog post, no matter how often it’s posted, won’t cut it. 1500–2000 words with lots of value. The good news is you can write less often and still benefit.” John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing
  • Outstanding in density and deluge. “The most important trend is the increase in information density. A few years ago content was a still a novelty, but now it is harder to compete and stand out. So the second trend is that content is no longer the finish line. It is the starting line. Most businesses will need a promotion and distribution strategy.” Mark W. Schaefer of {grow}
  • Seeing is believing. “Visual content continues to dominate. As a society we are consuming more visual content. This will push brands to define strategies and to hire experts in the fields of design, photography, videography, data visualization, and visual storytelling.” Michael Brenner of the Marketing Insider Group

 Also see: One Bold Content Marketing Prediction for 2016

3) How You Can Conquer These Three Negative Content Trends

In the olden days of digital marketing – when email was the only viable digital channel – the solution to poor open or click-through rates was…to send more email. Then came the spam filters, blacklists and laws.  Suddenly more email was a dangerous course of action for an email marketer.

Jacob Warwick reminded me of this in a recent piece in MarketingProfs observing marketers are a noise bunch prone to over promotion and excessive automation. “You mean I can get three months of automated social content out of one whitepaper? Sign me up, please!”

He explains:

“Though I enjoy efficiency as much as the next marketer, let’s pump the brakes a bit. Careless republishing, automation, and excessive scheduling can be greatly undermining your return on marketing. I’m not suggesting that those are necessarily bad tactics: They just need to be applied thoughtfully; otherwise, you may be spreading your marketing efforts too thin.”

Also see: PR is the Best Kept Secret in Effective Content Marketing

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Less budget, but more production and ROI.  There’s got to be a better way, and I’d say that rests in systems and process.

Need help feeding the content monster?  Today, effective content marketing means more than just banging out content.  It requires skills that blend earned, owned, paid and shared media along with a sound strategy based on data.

Sword and the Script Media, LLC delivers seven services including content marketing that deliver results. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your marketing needs and goals.

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Photo credit:  Flickr, mollybob, unicorn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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