I joined a couple other B2B Marketers for a meal a few weeks ago, and the topic of content marketing and blogging came up. This came as no surprise – I know they occasionally read our blog and can see that we are passionate on the topic. They recounted some of their challenges with blogging, including some common challenges:
- Getting content from subject matter experts, when these experts are also required to focus their energy on billable hours
- Occasional missed deadlines and the need to build a backlog of content before this happens
- Varying levels of commitment from different authors
While I’ve seen many companies experience some or all of these challenges at one point or another, as I listened and started to ask questions I realized what was happening to them – blogging had become hard because they weren’t getting anything back from it. The above challenges really were just addressable symptoms presenting themselves from the larger malady – they hadn’t established a content strategy that showed them direct return on investment from their blogging efforts.
They needed Better Content, Not Just More Content—this broke down in to three main areas:
We Don’t Know What They Want to Know About
Simply put, my colleagues didn’t know what their audience was looking for anymore. I think each of us at one time or another has hit a temporary wall when it comes to content ideas, but in this case they were really stuck. Initially they turned to their Analytics, but there was no clear indication of the types of posts that performed better than others. The solution here was easy – go back to the basics of why you are ultimately blogging for your business.
Think of the stages in your buyer’s journey and where there are most often questions, where people get stalled, or where they have objections that can best be addressed with a great piece of content. If you think about What’s Missing in Your Content Marketing Approach – for many companies it’s creating content that functions as a part of your sales team. This isn’t the self-promotional overt selling piece we all dislike, but instead content that is designed to subtly overcome objections and move people to the next stage in the buying cycle.
We’re Not Sure We Know What Their Buying Cycle Is Like
Thinking about content as part of the buying cycle, however, only helps if the marketing team knows what the buying cycle is like—a problem for this group. Sure, they had suspicions, they had spoken with members of their sales team, and even relied on published research from an industry think tank, but they still didn’t have anything concrete.
In this case, the best thing to do is to find a way to ask your clients. While your own marketing department can call some clients and prospects to get insights, it’s often effective to engage an outsider, as many clients will open up more to a 3rd party.
I’ve had a number of these conversations recently on behalf of our clients. In addition to learning about the buying cycle and selection criteria, I have heard that our clients’ fees could actually be much higher than they currently are, and in one case, learned that there was a big opportunity about to open up.
We’re Not Turning This into Business
While we all like to help and educate people, most corporate content budgets are predicated on the idea that at some point it leads to business. If your content marketing program isn’t generating any business, in most cases it’s only a matter of time before you can’t fund your content marketing program.
If you are suffering from the first 2 challenges we outlined above, then it’s not surprising that you can’t turn your blog posts into business. However, even when you do iron out these issues, too often I see companies missing the basics. If you take all that time to create a great blog post, and it addresses a key buyer, at the right time, at the right stage, in just the right way, you absolutely need to ask them to provide some basic contact information to access another, more extensive piece of content.
It’s critical to map out key anchor pieces of content (white papers, eBooks, recorded webinars, email newsletters, other content valuable enough for readers to provide their contact information) and match them to themes or topics of posts. You can them use these anchor pieces as calls to action to take buyers to that next step.
So, if your buyers are reading about content marketing, you can suggest they can also learn more in a recent webinar, The Anatomy of a Content Marketing Strategy (hint, hint). Or think about how Amazon does it on the Kindle: when you finish book 1 of a series, it automatically asks you if you’d like to buy the second book. By taking people to the next step with a clear call to action, you convert some of the anonymous readers into interested, named visitors, and can determine which readers are valid leads and ultimately which may turn into business.
If you start turning blog visitors into new clients, you’ll certainly feel like you are getting something out of blogging again.
What other tips do you have for solving these issues? Are you getting anything back from your blogging efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.
For more about Content Marketing, download our free content marketing webinar: What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come? – The Anatomy of a Content Marketing Strategy (See how I did that again!).