Content marketing isn't anything new but it has proven to be an effective marketing strategy for companies of all sizes. For 2014 the Content Marketing Institute reports that overall amounts spent on content marketing is segmented by B2B companies allocating 30% of their marketing budgets, while B2C companies earmark 24% of their marketing budgets. In 2012, midsized organizations spent 22% of their marketing budgets on content marketing.
Midsized organizations are using content marketing to support multiple objectives:
- Brand awareness – thought leadership and trusted source of quality information
- Customer retention and loyalty – nurturing ongoing relationships
- Lead management activities (lead gen, nurturing, presales buyer journey touchpoints)
- New customer acquisition
- Improving website traffic and eCommerce activity
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We see a lot of articles about how organizations go wrong when it comes to content marketing.And most of what's called out is not surprising: failure to write properly on topics that customers prefer or to even find out what customers want to read; poor writing quality and non-engaging material; promoting marketing brochure-ware instead of useful, thought-provoking material. Organizations can fail to understand how to match the right content to the right channel, or lack the knowledge as to which channels different customer segments prefer for various kinds of content. These organizations may not even have clear customer segmentation for their products.
The existence of these missteps usually indicates the lack of a cohesive long-term strategy for content marketing. And it's just as likely that there is no overarching marketing strategy that ties into corporate goals and objectives. This may mean that not only does content marketing lack executive backing, but the overall marketing function is suffering the same fate.
So before an organization can create a well-crafted content marketing strategy, upper management must make the commitment to be customer-focused and marketing savvy. The value of content marketing to reach the customer-as-buyer must be given credence, support and enablement. Content marketing is not a short term campaign or project; it's a strategic commitment that impacts the entire enterprise.
Content marketing (if done well) keeps the company focused on understanding and meeting the needs of customers – something companies should be doing anyway. Align the business with the customer, align content with the customer. Content marketing is a natural progression from recognizing that the customer-as-buyer drives more of how, when or even if sales happen. The work to be done to understand how to deliver the right content to customers and prospects is the same work that organizations should be doing to deliver the products and services that customers and prospects want and need.
Strategic decisions need to be made regarding the technology tools to assist content marketing initiatives. For well-targeted content, marketing teams need sophisticated analytics for customer segmentation and behavioral insight to create the right content for the right customer segment, delivered where the customer wants to find it. Digital marketing technologies interoperate with content marketing initiatives, including marketing automation and omnichannel experience management platforms.
A comprehensive content marketing strategy provides a wellspring for all company content so that organizations connect with customers consistently and clearly. The content marketing strategy pulls together individual marketing programs and initiatives resulting in a more seamless transition for the customer from channel to channel. Connecting the tactics of marketing to a content strategy makes it more possible to construct metrics that track the effectiveness of quality content, that then can be mapped to functions such as lead gen, sales funnel and overall marketing ROI.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM's Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective