What’s the #1 mistake that B2B content marketers make?
We put this question to our expert panel of B2B content consultants. Here’s what they told us.
Tip #1: Use sales copy to promote content
Steve Slaunwhite is a marketing consultant and veteran B2B copywriter who’s written many books about writing and marketing.
He says the #1 mistake B2B content marketers make is thinking that great content sells itself.
“It doesn’t,” he says. “The competition is too fierce.”
It’s true. With 88% of B2B companies using content marketing, and 76% pumping out more content than last year, it’s getting noisy.
“For content marketing to work, marketers need to ‘sell’ the content. That’s why effective sales copy is the fuel that drives content marketing… if only content marketers would get that.”
In other words, for a knockout punch, give your prospects the old 1-2.
Start with sizzling sales copy to get prospects excited about your content, then follow up with helpful information to position your company as a trusted advisor.
Tip #2: Take down the gates
Sally Cole has worked with companies like Google and Adobe to analyze data, develop strategies, and write white papers.
Her #1 complaint: gated content.
“B2B content marketers make content too hard for their audience to access,” she says.
“They put their best content in downloadable formats that can only be read on desktop PCs. And they have their best conversations in private webinars or at private events.
“As a result, they reach and influence fewer prospects.”
Ouch. But what’s the alternative?
Cole urges B2B content marketers to make their content available across all devices with no registration gate. They’ll reach a larger audience and have more to show for their efforts.
“But giving up the registration gate is hard for B2B content marketers, because they like to prove their value by showing the number of leads they generated.
“I can assure you, there are much better ways for prospects to show interest,” she says.
“For example, put a live chat window by your content to let people converse with your company at their convenience.”
In fact, Cole recently talked to a sales director who landed a client in the Fortune 100 through live chat.
She says B2B content marketers should ask themselves, “How can I meet the needs of prospects in the moment, instead of making them conform to my old routines?”
Tip #3: Keep your messages consistent
Casey Demchak is a seasoned B2B copywriter and marketing consultant.
He finds the biggest mistake content marketers make is a lack of preparation before a campaign.
“Too many moving pieces need to come together to meet a launch date,” he says. And too often, the basic messaging is not developed before it’s time to start cranking out content for a campaign.
“When this happens, marketing messages are created on-the-fly with each new piece of content. The result is inconsistent messaging,” Demchak says.
And when prospects are hit with inconsistent or murky messaging, their instinct is to say “no” and move on.
What’s the solution?
Demchak advocates creating a 12-15 page “core message platform” to pull together the best thinking and most effective messaging for a product.
This copy platform becomes the springboard for creating all the other content around that product, from case studies to video scripts.
“By working from a completed platform, your messages will be strong and consistent across all of your marketing channels,” he says.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Tip #4: Don’t spread yourself too thin
Casey Hibbard has written more than 1,000 case studies, also known as “customer stories” or “success stories.”
And she wrote the first book on creating, managing, and leveraging customer stories.
Her company is called Compelling Cases so it’s no surprise that her answer contains a compelling question:
“There are so many content marketing formats today. How do you decide where to allocate budget?”
Marketers struggle with this question, under pressure from colleagues to use certain forms of content. But she says too few look at the real numbers in their organization or industry.
What’s really driving web traffic and leads? What’s really contributing to sales? Some of these stats are accessible, while others are harder to pinpoint. Surveys can show what buyers consume and consider valuable.
“In this age of data, many content marketers are not basing their decisions on the numbers,” she says. “Ultimately they may be spreading themselves too thin, when they really just need a few key types of content.”
Tip #5: Do deeper research
Bob Bly has written more than 85 books on copywriting and related subjects, and we have several on our shelves.
He’s also written many successful direct-response campaigns, and content for hundreds of B2B products.
He has some harsh words for the worst practices in content marketing.
“Some content marketers do superficial research, just cobbling together articles from half a dozen other articles they found with Google—without adding any original ideas or deeper understanding,” he says.
The resulting “clickbait” is thin soup that doesn’t satisfy anyone. How can they do better?
“Be less like the typical low-rent online article writer and more like a New York Times reporter,” he advises. “Dig in. Do deeper research.”
Tip #6: Stretch your budget by repurposing
The Online Marketing Institute included Rachel Foster in its 2014 list of Top 40+ Digital Strategists in Marketing.
One big mistake she sees B2B marketers make?
She says it’s not repurposing their content.
“Many B2B content marketers spend a lot of time creating a piece of content, such as a blog post or white paper. Then, they let it collect dust on their website.”
It’s important to adapt your content for other channels. For example, turn parts of an e-book into blog posts, infographics, and SlideShare presentations.
“This gets your message in front of a much wider audience—and it doesn’t take that much more effort on your part.”
We couldn’t agree more. Repurposing helps marketers stretch their budgets and engage more prospects.
The bottom line
So there you have it: Use sales copy to promote your content, ungate it, create a copy platform, base your decisions on the numbers, dig deeper, and repurpose big assets like white papers.
That’s a great set of tips you can use quickly to get better results from your B2B content marketing.
What mistakes do you see in B2B content marketing? What mistakes have you made that you’ll avoid in the future? Please leave your Comments below.