As we head into 2015, we’re also heading into the heart of the predictions season. Rather than dusting off my crystal ball and throwing my own (probably wildly inaccurate) predictions onto the pile, I’d like to take a different tack with this post. Instead of predicting what might happen next year, I’m going to offer three things your B2B marketing team should be doing – no matter what else happens.
In no particular order, here’s my contribution to your B2B content marketing to-do list for 2015:
1. Plan a balanced content attack. New interactive content platforms like Uberflip, SnapApp and HTML5 infographics are getting a lot of attention right now. We use a number of these platforms ourselves, and we think they’re a valuable addition to a balanced B2B content marketing mix.
The key term to focus on, however, is balanced. I dislike proclamations about the “next big thing” in content marketing because they often imply that everything we’re currently doing is old-fashioned and unproductive. The truth is that long-established formats like white papers and blogs are still relevant and useful, and I don’t think that’s going to change.
It’s up to B2B marketers to use all of the tools at their disposal to ensure that your customers are getting the right content mix to suit their business needs, media channels and personal preferences. Keep experimenting with the latest content formats and platforms, but treat them as additions to your content toolkit – not as replacements.
2. Get on top of your metrics and tracking. Marketers say that measuring content effectiveness is their top initiative for 2015. Many of them, no doubt, face pressure from above to demonstrate just how their content marketing investments are generating measurable ROI – preferably in terms of sales pipeline and revenue contribution.
Before these marketers start running toward their ROI measurement goals, many of them need to learn how to walk, or even crawl, first. That means understanding how to optimize and manage their existing tracking and measurement tools, including those built into their marketing automation platforms. It means reaching some agreement on which metrics to track and why to track them. In many cases, it also means working with the sales team to establish closed-loop tracking and reporting systems to capture and attribute lead generation and revenue lift.
3. Establish consistent internal processes and set reasonable priorities. It’s easy to kick off an ambitious content marketing campaign, especially when a B2B marketing team is working with an outside partner. The real challenge is sustaining that campaign; in too many cases, competing priorities and shifting organizational responsibilities cause these ambitious projects to take far longer than expected or even to stall out completely.
Perhaps we’re biased on this point, but we believe that a well-planned B2B content marketing campaign can have an enormous impact on a company’s lead-generation and revenue goals. These campaigns deserve to get an organization’s full attention, and they certainly deserve the resources required to sustain the momentum required to complete them.
When your B2B marketing team plans a campaign, look carefully at your internal processes: Are the resources in place to keep content projects moving on schedule? Will these projects keep a high priority with key stakeholders? Are the timetables for executing them realistic? Asking these questions up front – preferably in collaboration with an agency or other content marketing partner – can save a marketing team a lot of time and trouble in the long run.