It’s only the start of a new year, and already there is quite a bit of chatter about content and how it can affect the success of a business. There are debates about the continued effectiveness of content marketing as a strategy, and arguments over whether technology can actually fix anything.
But as we look at marketing -- and how the use of content plays into that -- one of the drivers we have to examine is changing the way we think of success. Rather than looking at “more engagement” -- whether it be “visitors,” “likes” or “followers” -- we should start to examine how content can be tied together to generate revenue.
2014: Time To Focus On Content Revenue
Every year the Content Marketing Institute releases their Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey. In this year’s release, they found that 93 percent of marketers are actually using content to drive marketing results, but that only 9 percent consider their efforts as “very effective.”
Further, marketing analyst firm SiriusDecisions reports that 70 percent of the buying process in complex B2B sales is already complete before prospects even think about engaging with a live salesperson. Just to back up that research a bit, a CEB study figures that it’s nearly 60 percent.
What these numbers tell me is that marketers recognize the importance of content, but are still struggling with the true purpose of content and how it should work together to drive success. Many organizations still look at content as a direct marketing tactic, rather than an integrated way to help guide a customer down a journey. They treat pieces of content as discrete “ads” that don’t actually sell but rather engage. This ultimately has the same efficacy as an advertisement -- meaning some “content ads” perform better statistically than others at producing views or likes or engagement. However, none (as far as the marketer can tell) really contribute holistically to the strength of ALL the content in the buyer’s journey, help deepen the relationship with them and contribute to the bottom line.
Integration Is Key – Both Technology and Process
Anneke Seley, co-author of the best-selling book "Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology” said that she has defined Sales 2.0 as “a more effective and efficient way of buying and selling.”
Certainly, this means sales and marketing have to work better together in order to align all the content being created to feed this revenue engine. But it also means that marketing needs to work with sales, customer service, executive leadership, product development and every other department in order to synchronize the content creation and management process with the buyer’s needs and wants (where they are in their journey).