Marketers are feeling a lot of pressure to create more content, faster. They’re also feeling the heat from their sales cohorts (62%), the C-level (50%) and demand generation (44%) to prove the value and bottom-line impact of the content they’re creating.
Feeling this pressure from all ends can mess with a marketer’s head. After all, we all know it takes a lot of time, effort and manpower to create great content. We need to brainstorm, think about what our buyers want and need, and think of new ways to tell our stories using different formats and media.
The entire process is even more difficult when marketers create interactive content. Timelines are inherently longer, and there are more layers in the planning and development process. This ultimately puts a lot of strain on editorial and design resources.
Because many marketers wear several hats, manage numerous deadlines and have to put out daily fires, they sometimes can’t give their content strategy the time and attention it needs. Being in a constant time crunch means the content team usually ends up losing track of deadlines, scrambling to throw content together and pushing it out the door in time for a campaign’s official launch. Other times, marketers end up falling into their typical writing, design and promotion cycle, which means they go another campaign without pushing creative limits and bringing their content strategy to the next level.
The numbers point to a significant gap between marketers’ content marketing investments and their success: Nearly all B2B brands are creating content (89%), but only 22% are extremely or very successful.
But there’s a solution for brands that want to further improve their content strategy and experiment with new formats and approaches — without putting too much stress on their internal resources. Outsourcing interactive content creation can take the pressure off internal teams while helping brands ramp up their content marketing results.
Strategy: The Underpinning of Powerful Interactive Content
Creating content in-house poses one significant challenge: Every day, you need to navigate internal politics, manage stakeholder expectations and incorporate feedback from sales, demand gen, the C-level and even your branding and legal teams. The sheer volume of input is enough to make your head spin.
While it’s definitely important to get buy-in from the necessary parties, they’re not always completely in tune with buyer preferences, content marketing trends and best practices. If you only listen to their thoughts and opinions, you’ll fall into the trap of creating content designed to only serve your business, not your buyers. (And in this day and age, that’s definitely a no-no.)
When you outsource your interactive content creation, an agency partner brings extensive knowledge and expertise to the table, helping you create more compelling, buyer-focused content. They help you expand your horizons and identify new formats and storytelling methods that may align perfectly with your target audience.
For example, interactive content is the hot new thing, but it’s still new to many buyers. In fact, white papers (82%), case studies (73%) and E-books (67%) are still the top content formats among B2B buyers, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey. Make no mistake, buyers are increasingly saying their content consumption habits are changing. For one, they prefer shorter formats (88%). They also gravitate to more interactive/visual content (84%) and audio/video content (73%).
But how do you take the plunge into a new medium when you’re not even sure it’s a fit? An agency can take the guesswork out of your content decisions. Using foundational information, such as your target audience, your campaign goals and how you will measure the success of a piece, a knowledgeable third -party will help you select the right interactive content formats, build your messaging and storytelling approach, and execute on your plans.
Scalability: Enable Fast and Easy Content Creation
More than half (51%) of buyers say they rely more on content than they did a year ago, according to Demand Gen Report research. That means you need to be able to satiate your buyers’ appetite for great content, but without risking content quality and creativity.
Crafting a cool infographic or E-book is one thing; but if you want to build a compelling quiz or immersive storytelling experience, it takes a lot of careful planning.
A content creation agency can and should help streamline the content planning and creation process so you can create content faster and easier. They tap into your internal subject-matter experts (SMEs) to better understand your industry, target buyers, unique expertise and value propositions. Third-party research and insights are then added to the mix, so they can start to brainstorm preliminary content themes and ideas.
Then you and your content team come into the fold: After looking at the preliminary ideas, prioritize your topics and projects based on your marketing goals. And as the agency starts to craft and design each asset, your company branding, legal requirements and your team’s feedback can be incorporated every step of the way.
Your team may not be completely involved in the day-to-day process, but you’re still in tune with each step and have complete control over what the final product looks like. When you leave most of the work to an outside party, you’ll be able to pivot your time, attention and brainpower to longer-term, more strategic projects that drive growth.
Creativity: See Your Content Through a New Lens
Content creation partners and agencies can help brands better understand target buyers so they can focus on the topics, formats and tactics that truly resonate. This isn’t just valuable when you’re trying to determine what story you want to tell; it’s also extremely valuable when you’re trying to figure out how you want to tell that story to the world.
Agencies have experience working with myriad clients who have different goals, audiences and branding guidelines. These brands also take very different approaches to their creative and design work. Agencies can bring these experiences and examples to the table, ultimately helping you recharge your creative battery and find new ways to present your information and insights.
With the right partner, brands can see beyond the four walls of their business and brainstorm new storytelling methods. Can they make content more approachable and easy to understand by using universal themes or referring to pop culture trends? Can they cut down on copy and instead make your case using data visualization, word clouds or custom images? Can they add interactive layers, callouts and embedded content elements to create a more immersive experience? These questions all present new opportunities for your brand to push the creative limits.
Plus, breaking down the creative conversation into more succinct questions and considerations can make the creative process more turnkey (and even fun) for your team. When the time comes to actually execute, an agency does all the heavy lifting, and your team only needs to offer feedback and edits within a specified timeline.
Accountability: Come Full Circle in Your Content Journey
Earlier in this piece, I noted that an agency partner should always do a level-set with clients to discuss the goals of a piece of content and how they’ll be measuring its success. After a piece is created and launched, marketers and their agency partners should revisit these goals and discuss preliminary results.
Data such as number of downloads, number of leads generated and even content consumption patterns like engagement/dwell times, links clicked and video views, paint a powerful picture of buyer engagement. Having this context can help brands and their agency partners determine whether they need to alter their content promotion and activation plans, or if any changes need to be made to the content itself.
The right agency partner doesn’t just help streamline the content planning and creation process; they act as a beacon of inspiration, insight and best practices that will help you see more successful content results.