The production of content is increasing rapidly. Some 79% of marketers intend to produce more content in 2017 than they did last year. But this brings challenges for B2B marketers.
We've identified five of the most common hurdles they face, along with some practical tips on how to tackle them.
1. You're serving up content in the wrong format
Planning, preparing and producing a compelling piece of content is only half the battle for B2B marketers. An equally important consideration is how you’ll serve that content up to your target audience. And don’t forget to consider what your competition is up to either.
A study of UK content marketers found 93% are using blogs, 80% are creating content to go on social media, and 78% are filling email newsletters. If you’re also considering using these channels, what’s going to make yours stand out from the competition? Not much, probably.
From the same survey, just 28% said they would be using interactive tools, research reports (22%) or digital magazines (16%). Using one of these less common formats might give you the edge over your rivals.
Matching the format to the audience
If you’re targeting senior members of the c-suite, long-form content appears to be the way to go. Research carried out by Forbes Insight found c-suite executives like engaging with shorter, visual forms of content, and then subsequently go into more detail with longer content.
And almost two-thirds of c-suite execs surveyed by B2B marketing agency Grist said they preferred shorter articles of around 800 words.
2. You're not maximising reader engagement
So you’ve managed to get the reader to pick up your piece of content. The tricky part is making sure they stick with it so they can engage with your messages. How long do you think the average attention span is? One minute? 30 seconds, perhaps? Less than that? It’s believed to be just eight seconds – so well done if you made it to the end of this sentence.
This illustrates the challenge of keeping people's attention. There are so many distractions to take readers away from your content, how are you going to hold their attention? Sparkling copy packed with insights they're looking for is crucial – but even that might not be enough to stop them clicking away when their attention begins to drift.
Here are five tips:
• Put the message up front
• Ask questions
• Be clear on your messaging
• Make it easy to read
• Make it interactive
The power of pictures
Using images to transmit information has been around since the dawn of mankind, starting with cave paintings, and later the hieroglyphics and pictograms of the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians. Most of the information we process is visual. Studies have shown where content does not feature an image information recall after three days is only 10%. When an image is included it rises to 65%. How we read and consume content is changing rapidly with the advance of technology.
3. You haven't got the time or resources to produce more content
Ask marketers what they’re struggling with, and three challenges appear repeatedly: lack of resources, skills, and time. No matter the project, these three obstacles seem to get in the way. For B2B marketers, it’s often the same old story – too much to do, and too little time. 74% of businesses have a small or one-person content team to serve the entire organisation, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
How do these obstacles affect success?
• If you lack time - What’s the underlying cause? Do you have too many other competing priorities? Are you constantly distracted by more urgent problems? Try blocking out specific time in the diary for content creation – even working from home if possible to allow an uninterrupted period for concentration
• If you lack resources - Where does this hit you hardest? Is it at the writing or design stages? Perhaps there's technology that can help. Could you create templates that would cut your workload?
• If you lack the skills - How can you develop these quickly? If you can't afford formal training, the internet is a great place to start. There are numerous videos and blogs that provide tips and advice to improve your skills quickly
4. Your content is not consistent with your brand
With content frequently being created by multiple teams and individuals, it’s often difficult to make sure everyone is in harmony when it comes to messaging. Research by Acrolinx analysed content across 170 corporate websites looking at how consistent it was. More than half (54%) recorded a score that indicated inconsistency that could cause the brand to suffer, with just 19% rated both consistent and high-quality.
The potential consequences of a lack of consistency across content could be harming your brand.
So how can you keep your content consistent?
• Apply your brand guidelines to your content
• Get buy-in from the wider business
• Make it easy for staff to comply
• Put a bounty on identifying inconsistency
5. You're creating content just to meet your deadlines, not your objectives
Many marketers are stuck on a hamster wheel of content creation.
They've moved on to creating the next piece before even looking at how the previous piece performed. Before too long they're stuck on the treadmill producing content for content’s sake, beholden to your deadlines to produce the next piece, whether you need to or not. And how much value is that really providing your reader with?
It’s time to take a step back and consider your reasons for producing content marketing in the first place. You (presumably) set out at the start with a number of goals around what you wanted to achieve.
By Andrew Frater, business development manager at Turtl
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