More and more marketers working in the tech B2B space are jumping on the bandwagon and attempting to engage customers, win trust and generate leads through content marketing. And when done right, it can be incredibly powerful. According to the Content Marketing Institute, it gets three times more leads than paid search advertising, while costing 62% less. But when mistakes happen, it can all come crashing down.
Below are just a few common mistakes that can stand in the way of your content marketing goals. As the saying goes, knowing is half the battle. Are you making any of them?
Jumping into content creation without a strategy in place
Every campaign, whether you’re training for a marathon, contesting an election, or running a customer programme, needs to be built upon a plan of attack. There need to be goals in place, a system to analyse and test if those goals have been met, and of course the day-to-day, month-to-month plans to achieve said goals. Think of a content marketing strategy as a strategic outline of your objectives, customer needs, and implementation roadmap.
CMI’s annual Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research has consistently found that a clear, articulated and written-down strategy is the one thing that separates successful marketers from their peers.
And creating a useful strategy is not rocket science. It can be done simply and efficiently: read Isoline’s blog on painless content strategy creation here.
Creating content without a buyer persona
Rule one of all marketing is that you need to understand and communicate specifically with your audience. The messages and information you are putting out there about your business are all about their interests and needs. If you are going to provide materials that your readers want to read, you need to write directly to them.
The most common way to get a feel for the intricacies of your audience is to create buyer personas. Buyer personas are like small case studies on the companies and more specifically, people within those organisations who make up your customer base. They are based on in-depth research and real data that you collect. You want to discover who your customers are, what they want and what they are looking for from you. Make notes on their background, demographics, goals, challenges, fears, objections… you name it.
If you create content without knowing who you’re talking to, the chances are that you won’t reach your audience, let alone start a meaningful conversation with that audience. Think of it as going to a party and just speaking out loud to the room, hoping that someone will pay attention and start a conversation.
Buyer personas provide insight you will use as a basis for all of your marketing efforts, from advertising to emails and blog posts. If your budget does not run to formal research to understand buyer personas, at least engage with frontline teams to understand your audiences and create a rough image of those your campaign seeks to address.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to creating buyer personas? There are some great tips, templates and examples here.
In the tech B2B world, we’re often dealing with complex technologies, use cases and implementations. Some of the tech B2B companies out there are bringing some truly ground-breaking technologies to market and have achieved remarkable things to develop sophisticated products, that have capabilities that have never been seen before. They are naturally keen to tell everyone exactly what they have achieved, and how.
This is one of the most common mistakes tech B2B marketers make.
The sad reality is that buyers don’t care! The only thing they are interested in is what a solution can achieve for them.
It’s important that you don’t get caught in the trap of focussing on the complex technical details of your product or service. Audiences engage much better when you simplify a concept and present it confidently and in a manner that your target persona is comfortable with – another reason why you should always start with the audience.
Sadly, being in love with one’s own technology does not automatically guarantee that others will see it the same way, too.
‘They will come to us’ mentality
If you build it, they will come? … Not exactly.
Many companies focus all their efforts on creating great assets, and then hide it away in the third layer of their website, hoping that audiences will click on it. It is no surprise, then, that they are not successful at reaching or engaging audiences. It’s not only about creating compelling content, but also about placing it where the right audiences can find it.
Your output not only needs to be relevant and powerful, it also needs to be findable. And this means strategically using the four major avenue channels – owned (your website and YouTube channels, intranet and extranet, etc.), paid (promoted by means of advertising, investment in discovery platforms, sponsorship activity, trade shows, sponsorships), shared (social channels, collaborative marketing) and earned (PR, speaking opportunities and more).
Expecting in-house people to do it all
Another very common mistake that marketers make in tech B2B is giving product managers and engineers the responsibility for content creation. This attitude is understandable from one perspective – the technology is very complex, and so it is possibly easiest to ‘hear it from the horse’s mouth’, as they say. However, this approach tends to create unoptimised and inconsistent output. Staff are already busy with their core job responsibilities, and the reality is that writing takes time. So that writing task often gets pushed to the bottom of the list and the sad but familiar follow-up loop begins. It is also often done from a very text-centric and inside-out perspective.
Content for marketing is a unique and specialised field and should have a dedicated team handling it, whose focus is not on ‘what do I want to say about this product’, but rather on ‘what will our audiences find most compelling?’ If you don’t have a dedicated in-house team, it’s time to outsource.
The fact is that 62% of companies are outsourcing content creation work. No matter the reason, do research and pick a specialist tech partner that has experience and a track record in your sector and can be a truly value-added partner. We’ve recently wrote a blog detailing why tech B2B businesses should outsource in this area, check it out here.
If you want to chat about any of the pitfalls we’ve discussed briefly in this article, or if you want to talk about letting us deal with the other half of the battle… get in touch!