3 Barriers to Successful B2B Content Marketing

Content has proven to be a highly effective driver of revenue, both directly and indirectly. Each year B2B organizations spend more than $5.2B on content creation and distribution. Additionally, 77% of marketers say content is core to business success. For most marketers, the emphasis has long been on producing content of high quality and value. As such, marketing organizations continue to create and spend more and more on content development initiatives. Frequently neglected is how content will be utilized post-production.

As a result, many assets never live up to their full potential. They stay hidden in content management systems or cloud storage platforms where they are not utilized in the sales process and fail to provide true return on investment. Here, we will describe how marketing organizations can activate their content to improve its findability, maximize content spend and stop leaving revenue on the table. Let’s start by understanding what’s holding content back.

No one can find it

Content that is stored on an internal portal or server, or cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, is essentially hidden from view. It’s like putting it in a black box where it will never see the light of day again. This explains why sales reps can spend as much as thirty hours per month searching for and organizing content for customer facing meetings. Most marketers will tell you that they’ve been approached countless times by sales reps to create content for a specific objective, only to have to explain that such an asset already exists.

For someone who needs to find a relevant asset to present to a prospect or customer, this creates a real challenge, as there is no easy way to surface the content they need when they need it. Such systems are rigid and unintuitive, with only one mode of categorization. To find a piece of content, someone would need in-depth knowledge of every file on the system, as well as an understanding of how to navigate its folder structure. Even then, there would be no way of knowing what is in a specific file without opening it.

Most of this inefficiency stems from how companies share content internally. Stakeholders often receive assets via mass emails, which can create a “tribal knowledge” effect that makes it hard for newcomers to find and understand the value of content that predates them. Additionally, content announcements can get lost in the noise of day-to-day life and remain hidden in employees’ crowded inboxes. When this happens, employees simply continue to use out-of-date or inaccurate content because they aren’t aware that an alternative exists.

Lack quantitative feedback on content performance

What marketer doesn’t appreciate positive feedback? We love to hear how customers enjoyed our content or how it helped a rep explain our company’s value proposition. However, anecdotal comments only give us a glimpse of the information we need. And sometimes, the information we get is a complete outlier pointing us in the wrong direction.

This leaves marketers in a dilemma when they want to improve their existing content or make plans for future content efforts. So, the question becomes how do marketers derive insights with holistic content analytics? The answer is they can’t, not if they continue with the status quo.

There are many different ways to measure single facets of content performance using marketing technology platforms. These single data points include stats like the number of downloads, the duration of engagement, the number of shares, the number of total views, and so on. But keep in mind that there are also contextual lenses to use for looking at each of those data points.

  • How is the content being used? (lead generation, sales enablement, etc.)
  • What are the demographics of its audience? (senior or junior roles, geography, industry, etc.)
  • When is the content being used in the buyer’s journey? Before a salesperson is introduced or afterwards?
  • What happens before, during and after the content is used?
  • Did the content achieve its objective? (lead generation, education, partner enablement, etc.)

All of these data points are interesting. But without the context of multiple points, they do not provide enough information to guide the creation of new content. We need to be able to track, measure and analyze a full set of data points to derive meaningful insights about our content and its usefulness.

Content delivery and management stuck in ‘analog’

Today’s content delivery and management methods are the equivalent of an analog television signal. We create content with a B2B copywriter, put it on the airwaves and hope for the best. Marketers have no streamlined way to collect many of the data points mentioned in the last section.

Think about the differences between analog television and ‘smart’ television — cable vs. streaming media like Netflix or Hulu. Regular cable television shows the same content to everyone, on a set schedule, with the same advertising. Streaming networks can show customized, tailored ads to viewers based on other data sets like their social media profiles. They make recommendations to viewers about what type of content they might appreciate based on previous consumption behavior.

These same streaming networks also provide a feedback loop to the network about content consumption, advertising engagement and other behaviors that can then be used to improve the overall experience. The difference is that streaming networks have fully activated their content experience. These networks have taken analog content and enhanced it with an activation platform that makes content delivery and content management smart. Now, wouldn’t you like to do that with your company’s content?