When we make strategic and tactical content marketing plans for a new year, we only have an educated prediction of what the next four quarters will bring. Trends change, customer pain points shift, team resources ebb and flow—when you hit that mid-year mark, do you really want to spend two more quarters creating content that doesn’t make an impact?
Measuring B2B marketing ROI and making adjustments to improve performance is an essential component of strong executive leadership. In this mid-year B2B marketing check in, we explore ways that you can make small shifts in your strategy now to save significant effort (and dollars) later. Keep reading for four content marketing considerations to make the second half of your 2018 content year the best it can be.
Check your metrics
Metrics provide the data that lays the foundation for understanding the ROI of your content. Not all metrics are created equal, however, and not all metrics are meaningful. There are three main types of metrics to consider when measuring content marketing effectiveness:
- Consumption metrics: show how many eyeballs your content has been in front of
- Engagement metrics: show how many people have interacted with your content in some way
- Conversion metrics: show how your content played a role in closing a deal, earning revenue, etc.
While sudden large increases in consumption metrics can seem impressive, they aren’t terribly significant to the success of your content marketing strategy on their own. Does your consumption trend upward in month-over-month or year-over-year reports? Dips and spikes in consumption are normal but should demonstrate an overall increase over time.
It’s best to look at consumption metrics alongside engagement metrics, because people seeing your content only helps your bottom line if they interact with it. Revisit your important engagement metrics, like click-through rates, bounce rates and social shares and see if high engagement rates match up with content pieces that have high consumption rates. If the two are misaligned, work to optimize content that drives engagement to perform better in organic search results and focus on improving its reach.
If content pieces with high engagement rates aren’t driving conversions, determine if the gaps lie elsewhere. Do you need better landing pages? Quicker, more personalized follow-up? Improved internal link building to keep potential customers on your site longer? Consider where the disconnect is between interacting with the content and moving down the sales funnel.
- Measure consumption and engagement metrics month-over-month and year-over-year for big picture scope.
- Identify important engagement metrics and focus on those
- Determine if there are any gaps between engagement and conversion: need for better landing pages, quicker follow up, improved internal link building, etc.
Evaluate your content mix
53% of B2B marketing companies have only a very small team or just one person who creates content for the whole company. They may have started off the year with a detailed schedule for creating a variety of high-quality content, but priorities shift and content output changes.
To ensure your content mix stays fresh, consider adopting a “hub and sub” strategy to create variety with minimal resources. Leverage one big meaty content piece like a dense eBook, industry report or white paper that can be reformatted or spliced up as a “hub,” with correlating “sub” blog posts, social media posts, infographics, etc. pointing to it.
As much as marketers preach the power of video, people still read content, and regular blogging can dramatically increase your site traffic. Complement your videos with blogs, articles or gated resources that pack a lead gen punch. Include a “If you liked this video, you may also like…” section in your video description to keep people engaged with your content.
Even content that isn’t primarily lead-generation oriented (e.g. blog posts) can help to drive lead generation. Providing high-quality ungated content like blog posts, articles, infographics or certain videos can build brand authority and increase customer trust. Since 94% of B2B buyers do online research at some point in the buying process, having informative, action-oriented content that isn’t reserved for late-stage leads or people ready to fill out a lead form is crucial.
- Adopt “hub and sub” strategy to create content variety with minimal resources
- Don’t abandon written content for visuals; complement it instead
- Ensure that content is optimized to drive lead generation, brand awareness and customer trust.
Revisit your lead scoring strategy
For most B2B organizations, how leads interact with content plays a role in building a solid lead scoring strategy. If you have not yet adopted either a formal or informal lead scoring strategy, consider taking necessary steps to put one together.
Content scoring can be an important part of lead scoring and contributes to your understanding of which leads become MQLs. Examine cross sections of leads in various stages of your sales funnel and see if there are any trends in how these leads interact with content. If leads are interacting with your content, is it in the way you expected?
For example, downloading case studies may give the lead a higher score, because case studies are more directly linked to buying behavior. Are leads who interact with case studies consistently converting? If not, there may be something wrong with your case studies—perhaps information is too old, there are errors, information is poorly written, etc. Or, your organization may have other content, like a white paper or industry report, that is more effective and impactful at moving leads down the funnel.
- Look at cross sections of leads in various stages of the funnel and evaluate impact of content
- Determine if engagement with various content pieces matches up with expected behavior
- Adjust either content score or the content itself depending on your findings
Identify new opportunities
Sometimes, what’s old can be new again by optimizing previously published blog posts and updating outdated statistics or practices. 70% of Hubspot’s blog traffic comes from posts that were published more than a month ago. Generate traffic without putting in significant amounts of work by looking at high-performing but outdated content and updating statistics, adding new trends or providing updated tools.
Sometimes, it’s not a matter of how much or what kind of content you are creating, but where to place it to have maximum impact. Think about how your target audience interacts with content—in their car? On airplanes? At night after the kids are asleep? Are you meeting them where they are?
Ways to tap into new platforms and boost content consumption include:
Audio content: Record interviews, thought leadership pieces or industry reports and host on platforms like SoundCloud; include links to audio versions within the digitally published pieces
Podcasts: Record high-quality audio when shooting video interviews or educational videos and turn into a podcast
Presentation sharing: Break up articles or blog posts onto slides, add visual elements and publish on a platform like LinkedIn SlideShare
Modern RSS feed: Repost content on Medium or another content sharing platform—lots of busy execs subscribe to the blogs they want to read on these third-party platforms
It’s also important to take a look at how your team resources, budget and tools have changed. Evaluate your human resources as well as your technology resources—did you lose one of your best writers? Did budget free up to hire a freelance content writer? Are you investing too much time in social media with not enough payoff? Time and money may need to be shuffled around to take into consideration staff changes or shifts in your tech stack.
- If you don’t have a healthy slate of content topics queued up for development, update and republish older blog posts
- Find fresh ways to get thought leadership content in front of your audience: SlideShare, Medium, podcast, Soundcloud
- Reevaluate resources for content marketing and determine if any shifts in focus/workload need to be made
Taking time to check in with your content strategy performance demonstrates good will and thoughtful leadership to your team by ensuring they have solid strategic direction that will help them meet their goals. Measuring content performance requires a lot of nitty gritty details—get your team on board with this process so you can focus on the bigger picture. Consider implementing a content marketing dashboard that can be referenced on a continual basis to inform next steps or needed shifts.