Article

Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 25 May 2016

Your Content Marketing Strategy Is Broken - Here Is Why and How to Fix It

Content marketing is everywhere and it is not going away anytime soon. A survey conducted by IDC found that CMOs at some of the biggest technological companies in the world regarded building content marketing competency as the second most important initiative in their organizations, just after ROI. However another study from the CMO council shows, less than 2 percent of marketers believe their content marketing strategy is highly effective.

Content marketing is everywhere and it is not going away anytime soon. A survey conducted by IDC found that CMOs at some of the biggest technological companies in the world regarded building content marketing competency as the second most important initiative in their organizations, just after ROI. However another study from the CMO council shows, less than 2 percent of marketers believe their content marketing strategy is highly effective.

One of the primary reasons behind this disappointing figure is the lack of clear objectives. A survey by Content Marketing Institute asked B2B marketers what they thought an effective content marketing program looked like in their organizations. The responses ranged from building an audience, generating leads and sales to publishing content consistently, elevating brand perception, and better traffic (!). Content marketing, just like any other forms of marketing, should have one very clear objective - to generate leads that convert into customers. Secondary goals, like publishing content consistently or elevating the perception of the brand, are merely drivers not objectives.

But understanding the core objective is alone not enough to succeed with content marketing. The underlying reason very few marketers find their content marketing strategies effective is because the audience experiencing the content find it irrelevant and therefore do not convert.

Swimming in the red ocean

The strategy adopted by the vast majority of businesses today is to churn dozens of static and generic articles related to their industry and what need they try to solve. Most are very traditional spray and pray initiatives, that rests on the hope they bring relevant referral and search traffic back in return.  With more than 2 million blog posts being written every single day,  this is plainly wishful thinking - and praying for luck has never been an effective strategy.

Most Content Marketing is fundamentally flawed

Content marketing strategies deployed today often include PPC advertising, SEO and email marketing outreach in the initial steps. These are extremely targeted as they reach the customer when they are searching for the product and intent is high or the message (email) is highly personalized to increase relevance.

In contrast to the targeted outreach, the content experience itself is too often not meeting the reader's expectations. The effort fails simply because the content itself is not targeted. I is still only a static piece - it lacks personalization and is often not perfectly aligned with the initial outreach.

Bridging the gap between outreach the content experience

To be relevant, the content you produce should be targeted to the individual you are reaching out to. If that is done, the engagement increase and so does the conversion rates from content to the call to action - either in the form of leads or sales.

Personalizing your content to the individual reader is simpler than most expect. The requirement comes down to content creators who knows how to ask the right questions and write conditional content.

This is how it works:

  1. Define the main reader types (roles, needs and value to your business).
  2. Identify the questions that define your reader types (eg. “What is your role in your business?”)
  3. Write your generic content (blog post, article, whitepaper).
  4. Write variations of sections, paragraphs and sentences that address your readers role, needs and value to your business (eg. “Being a C-level manager you are familiar with the choice between building internal knowhow or outsourcing parts of the organization's service deliveries….”). Remember to write variations for each possible answer to each of your reader questions. Also write variations that cover readers not answering the question - typically you would use that as the generic version.
  5. Create a simple web survey with your questions and the answer options and code your generic content with the conditional content variations so they match whatever the reader have answered to your questions. This can be done in simple javascript if you have the skills or you can use a web personalization platform like Monoloop.
     

The flow of the content marketing initiative changes to something like this:

  1. Reader respond to your outreach initiative.
  2. Reader arrives on your landing page where the questionnaire is served.
  3. When questionnaire is submitted, your content is rendered with all the right variations that match the reader's profile.

Depending on how good you are at aligning your core pitch to the reader profile - you will drive the reader further through your content than any generic content would ever be able to do. Simply by addressing the readers answers….yes, it is that simple. Suddenly the readers content experience is perfectly aligned with the targeted outreach or the search the reader did in order to reach your content in the first place.

Personalization is the future of content marketing

Of course, this is only the start. If you are using a web personalization platform, you would benefit from a rich visitor profile that covers the visitor's entire prior interaction with your site(s) and any information you may have collected during those visits (purchases, downloads, goals etc). Using this profile information in your content creation only increase the relevance of the content experience you deliver. You can also use the web personalization platform to reflect the visitors latest content experience and whether the visitor did or did not convert to the next step or goal in the content marketing flow - effectively building experience journeys directly into your existing website.

Businesses executing content marketing strategies often rely on email capture as a means to achieve their lead generation target. But a lead captured off content that is not uniquely targeted to a customer often ends up as a bad lead - and bad leads kills your business. By focusing on capturing leads solely off content that is personalized and targeted to an individual visitor, businesses should see vastly better leads  and a database that convert better.

Web personalization technology is already mature. This year is likely to see this technology graduate to other areas of marketing, including content marketing. This way, the content your visitors consume and click will become increasingly personalized and targeted. Leads for the sales funnel will also be significantly more qualified based on the self profiling done in the content marketing initiatives.

Could this be the answer to challenges that marketers face with building lists of relevant leads? We will have an answer this year.

Kresten Bergsøe
Monoloop

Fes Askari
Fes Askari

Hi Tracey, here is our example of this in action [Research]: http://blog.strategic-ic.co.uk/how-often-should-a-business-blog

Michele Montonati
Michele Montonati

Interesting article Kresten. THRON (www.thron.com) mission is matching many of the mentioned points. THRON mission is indeed to provide our customers with the most efficient and effective platform to deliver a relevant and contextual one-to-one communication to their audience. Thanks for the article!

Tracey Garrett
Tracey Garrett

Hi, great article, please can you post an example of this in practise? thanks

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