Who’s Naughty & Nice in B2B Marketing This Year?

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We had so much fun producing this video series with Vidyard GoVideo for the 2018 Holiday Content Marketing Calendar. Now it’s time to sum up all the insights our team shared about what’s naughty and what’s nice in B2B marketing in one central place. (But we don’t blame you if you want to click on the videos one more time to watch our experts in action! Just click a photo to open the video.)

Naughty & Nice Video #1

Content Audits, Personas & Messaging Maps

Brenda Caine
Brenda Caine, Senior Content Strategist

If you’ve ever tried to start a campaign without first doing a content audit, you’re on Brenda’s Naughty List. Sure, we’ve all done it. But unless you have unlimited budget and unlimited time on your hands, you should really take stock of what you’ve already got before you start building more. By doing a content audit (or at the very least, a quicker and less expensive gap analysis), you’ll be able to see what you have that you can use or that you might be able to repurpose, and you’ll definitely be able to identify for the gaps where you really do need to create new content.

If you’ve got a campaign theme where you’re trying to assess your ready-to-use content, you can add custom audit criteria to see how well your existing content aligns with the theme. You might be surprised by what you’ve got hiding in the back on those dusty shelves.

Want to make it to Brenda’s Nice List? Do your personas and messaging maps. If you don’t have the budget to go really deep into personas, talk to your salespeople, do some research on your own, and if you can, talk to a couple of customers who match a given persona to get their insights.

If you do have the budget to go deeper, personas are incredibly valuable. They’ll tell you what excites your target personas, what scares them and what challenges they face every day on the job. That’s the critical foundation on which you build your messaging maps. Messaging maps will give you insights into what’s going on in your buyers’ minds. What are their concerns? What are the questions they ask throughout their journey? Once you have that in place, you’re ready to start building buyer-focused content.

Naughty & Nice Video #2

Audience-Centric Messaging & Gated Content

Lisa Wallace
Lisa Ladle Wallace, National Key Accounts Director

Stay off Lisa’s Naughty List, or she’ll give you a Grinch. Grinches consider their content a cost center or simply a box to check. We’re passionate about content at Content4Demand, and we believe it really matters. Your content is you. It’s your brand. It’s what story you’re telling to the key people in your world: your customers and your potential customers.

When you’re creating content, you need to truly examine your audience, their pain points, what their key insights are, where they are in the buyers’ journey, where your content will play in the buyer’s journey—early, middle or late-stage content? Is it static or interactive? Does format matter?

Of course format matters, but let’s not create format for format’s sake. Your content also needs to work with your clients where they work. Will it be viewed on a mobile device, a laptop or a desktop? Do you want it to be shared and engaged with? Do you want potential clients to be able to create their own journey?

When you work with C4D, we’ll be very passionate about the content we’re creating with you: who we’re creating it for, why we’re creating it and making sure it really truly tells the story that you need to tell.

Want to make it to Lisa’s Nice List? Simple. Wherever possible, ungate.

Naughty & Nice Video #3

Credible Content & Unique Research

Tonya Vinas
Tonya Vinas, Director of Content Strategy

Content credibility. We know it’s important, because our sister publication Demand Gen Report surveys buyers regularly about their content preferences. In their most recent survey, 65% of respondents said they prefer credible content from industry influencers. Another 75% said they hope content producers start including more research to support their claims in content. So how do you build up content credibility? Here are three ways to get on Tonya’s Nice List:

  1. Use influencers. Influencer content has become very popular, and our clients have seen great success with them. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using internal or external influencers, as long as they’re credible experts.
  2. Do you have s strong library of case studies? We know these can be really difficult. You have to get client buy-in, and they usually take a long time to produce because there tend to be a lot of revisions. But they are the mother lode of content credibility. The time and effort required to build a library of credible content case studies and keeping it up to date is worth it.
  3. Are you using research to support the claims you make in content? (Say yes.)

Ironically, you could find yourself on Tonya’s Naughty List if you’re relying only on third-party research sources. Think about it. Although these names are highly regarded, they’re producing general research for the public. So that means your competitors are likely quoting them as well.

Tonya challenges you to consider conducting some of your own research. Doing a small survey that’s tied to your value proposition or messaging is not a difficult undertaking, and it can feed a tremendous amount of content throughout the whole year and beyond—content for promotion, content for amplification, content assets.

It can even help align sales and marketing teams, because salespeople will be quoting those research results. Salespeople are always happy to get this kind of information from their marketing teams. So Tonya’s challenge to you in 2019 is to identify an area where you can start to do some unique research, and build up credibility that no one can copy.

Naughty & Nice Video #4

Engagement Metrics & Interactive Content

Kelly Zahoudanis
Kelly Zahoudanis, Account Manager

Kelly dove straight into her Naughty List. Are you measuring the success of your content? If you are, what does success mean to you—metrics like increasing traffic, engagement or conversions? If you’re not, you’re on her list. How can you be sure your content is resonating with your audience? This information is essential to a successful content strategy.

One way we’re supporting our clients in tracking the success of their content is through interactive assets. If you’re using interactive content, good for you. You’re on Kelly’s Nice List. It’s not just that interactive is where content is headed. It’s because it allows you to track how your audience is engaging with your content, where they’re converting and what is most valuable to them. This is great information to inform your content strategy going forward for better engagement and better results.

Naughty & Nice Video #5

Influencer Content & Podcasting

Alicia Esposito, Content Strategist

There’s been a lot of buzz about influencer marketing over the past year, and rightfully so. B2B marketers think they help them connect with their buyers and that they can tell stories in a more authentic way. That’s what your buyers want. They want content that’s trustworthy from credible sources such as industry influencers.

But here’s where influencers could land you on Alicia’s Naughty List. There’s an assumption that influencer means shelling out big bucks, but that’s just not true. Sure, the Kim Kardashians of the world pull six figures for one social post with a brand partner. But that’s simply not the case in B2B. There are some sources you’ll need to pay to participate in a piece of content or a campaign, but you’re on the naughty list if you’re not using your own social circle to get these credible, authentic influencer insights.

Whether it’s subject matter experts, partners or power users, they will likely be thrilled to be involved in sharing their insights or best practices in your campaign. So if you want to get on the Nice List, you’ll need to come up with ways to engage these thought leaders and turn them into the stars of your next campaign.

Alicia’s Nice List trend is podcasting. Influencer insights in particular are extremely valuable for a lot of different promotional vehicles, and podcasting is one of them. So as we head into 2019, think about testing a podcast. Some things to think about:

  • Is this something my buyers really want?
  • What story am I trying to tell?
  • What format would be best suited for telling this story?

Interview-style episodes and series are extremely popular right now, because they’re easy to turn around. But there are brands experimenting with more storytelling-type series like what you hear in “Serial” or “Dirty John.” The reality is, podcasts are here to stay. We’re listening to them in our day-to-day lives, and creating one of your own gives you the opportunity to be more top of mind or ingrained in your buyer’s everyday life.

Naughty & Nice Video #6

Blogging & Continued Learning

Dana Harder
Dana Harder, Vice President of Strategy

You’re definitely on Dana’s Naughty List this year if you’re not blogging. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Study, blogs are the most used piece of content when making a purchasing decision. And they’re the number-one most shared type of content among peers. That tells us that if it’s not part of our long-term strategy, then we’re going to be in trouble heading into next year. 

The other emerging trend from blogging is long-form blogging— anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 words. When we sit back and look at it, that’s basically an e-book or a white paper, not just short snippets of information. If you’re writing on a topic that deserves some depth, you’re likely to make some readers happy.

And on Dana’s Nice List: Continued learning. In the space we’re in, content marketing technology and trends are changing all the time. We’re seeing the emergence of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and things like 360° videos come into play in content. We’re seeing new technologies allowing us to create even more interactive and immersive experiences for our prospects and clients.

One of the ways that you can continue your learning into 2019 is by attending B2B Marketing Exchange, hosted in Arizona every February by our sister brand, Demand Gen Report. If you aren’t already registered to attend, Dana is offering a very Nice prize to anyone who wants to join us: Send one sentence to dana@content4demand.com explaining why you should get a free pass to attend B2BMX 2019, and she’ll choose up to five winners. (Now that’s a Nice List!)

Happy holidays from the Content4Demand team, and best wishes for 2019!

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