There’s no shortage of articles heralding the benefits and potential payoffs of content marketing. The drumbeat has drowned out some of the realities of just how hard it is to create messaging that is compelling enough to connect with today’s discerning and time-starved buyers.
Over the past three years at Content4Demand, we’ve seen a shift in focus among our new clients that attests to this challenge. Where our first clients primarily wanted a resource center with a menu of content to fuel their growing number of demand gen campaigns, the majority of our new 2014 clients sought a better understanding of their buyers and their information needs.
This more sophisticated approach requires a more disciplined, holistic approach to content strategy — a reality also identified by the new B2B Content Marketing Report, sponsored by Spiceworks. Featuring input from more than 600 marketing professionals, the report found most are still struggling to create high-value content that connects.
Specifically, the report found the Top 5 challenges are:
¬ Lack of time/bandwidth to create content (51%)
¬ Producing enough content variety/volume (50%)
¬ Producing truly engaging content (42%)
¬ Measuring content effectiveness (38%)
¬ Developing consistent content strategy (34%)
We see some consistent themes among these top challenges. The reality is you can’t have a consistent strategy without first understanding what makes your target buyers tick. This must inform every part of your strategy. It will help you create more engaging content and ultimately make your effectiveness easier to gauge.
Another interesting finding from the B2B Content Marketing Report was the disparity in effectiveness between organizations that have a documented content strategy versus those that are still chasing the latest shiny object. The survey showed 36% of companies with a documented content strategy ranked their programs as very effective, versus only 11% without a clear strategy.
Marketers still need help creating content, and we’ve had great success filling that bandwidth gap. However, we are seeing longer-term success with partners where we help put building blocks in place that start with understanding the buyer.
Unfortunately, many organizations still haven’t realized how critical this buyer-centric approach is to their success. Another key finding from the survey showed 53% of companies are still segmenting their content by product/service category, while only 40% are segmenting by buyer persona, and only 32% are segmenting by stage in the buying cycle.
Regardless of how much additional budget companies put towards content, the issue of measuring effectiveness of those investments will continue to be a problem and a roadblock to success if marketers don’t start by building their strategies around the buyer.