More than half of B2B marketers surveyed as part of a research project between PAN Communications and Heinz Marketing said their content marketing efforts aren’t being attributed to revenue, which may explain why less than 32 per cent said they feel confident in how they measure such work.
Boston-based PAN Communications, which focuses on PR for B2B tech firms, partnered with Heinz to survey more than 100 marketers for its six annual Content Fitness report. On the plus side, 62.5% of marketers defined their strategy as fully integrated, which represents a nine percent increase from the year before. How their buyers’ outlook is reflected in those programs, however, may still need some more. Only 30 per cent said they had something that could be called a “voice of the customer” program in place today, even though improving customer experiences was cited as their No. 1 priority.
The report’s authors suggested that too much content marketing attention was being aimed at blog posts, white papers or videos to accomplish things like lead generation, versus premium or evergreen content that could be used later in the sales cycle.
“‘Voice of Customer’ programs are essential to customer longevity, advocacy and trust. Losing sight of post-funnel content will only cause marketers to reassess and reframe their content marketing strategy,” the report said, noting this could prove especially problematic for those developing account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. “Sales might be more concerned with new business prospects, but marketers must pay attention to current clients and celebrate their success stories via content and social media.”
Of course, content marketing can cover a lot of different assets, and the study suggested many B2B marketers were continuing to experiment with formats and touchpoints. For example, 30 per cent said their top budget priorities was channel diversity and moving into areas such as videos and podcasts. Sixty-one per cent, meanwhile, specifically called out the need to create thought leadership-style content featuring insights from their executives and other subject-matter experts (SMEs). The authors warned, however, that even the best content doesn’t mean much if no one consumes it.
“Paid social and syndication are being overlooked,” the authors wrote. “Marketers need a refresh on the importance of content amplification. We can no longer rely solely on organic traffic when content competition remains so fierce.”
The challenge around measurement and attribution may be explained by a lack of alignment with the C-suite, the report added, and that CMOs and their teams might simply need more time to master the art of using analytics and data to assess the impact of their efforts. There’s also a demand for continuing staff development. Storytelling, for instance, was the top skill set that those surveyed said they were hoping to build among those within the marketing department.
“Focus on educating team members so they can foster engagement and dialogue, and also infer that feedback into the most effective content marketing program,” the report said.