Content Marketing No-No’s

1 Jul

Don’t Let Your Company Make These Content Marketing Mistakes!

Do vs. Don't

Content is easy, right? All you have to do is write a couple pages about a product you sell and people will want to read it, right?Because what you have to say is just so interesting, right? Anyone can do it, right? It’s so easy, right?

Not so fast. Those of us who do it often know that creating useful, interesting content that is relevant to your audience at the exact moment they need it is not as easy as it looks. I talked about that at length in my last blog post, focusing on the importance of bringing together Buyer Personas and the Buyer Journey for a complete 360° view of your audience before ever beginning to create content for them.

While it’s a common mistake not to look at your audience from both of those angles, there are other content marketing mistakes you can make just as easily. A recent articlefrom MarketingProfs highlighted a few:

  1. Not Knowing Your Audience: This one is similar to what I talked about in my last blog post. The biggest mistake a content marketer can make is creating content that doesn’t entertain, educate, or solve a problem for your customer. If you’re treating content like it’s all about you and your brand, it’s a surefire way to create disinterest in your audience—especially if they’re just beginning their Buyer Journey.
  2. Not Having a Brand Voice: Develop one, and keep it consistent. While you might make minor tweaks in tone depending on the tactic or type of content, all your content should ultimately sound like the same person is speaking. A good tip from this article is that you should even go as far as creating a style guide and performing “content audits” to see where inconsistencies occur.
  3. Not Enough Distribution: Blogs and social media aren’t the end-all be-all, especially in B2B content marketing. How you distribute your content marketing is just as important as the content you produce. Remember: if you write it, they will not necessarily come. Consider high-traffic areas of your website, industry association websites, and trusted industry publications.

Content marketing is tricky. As much as we want to simplify it into easily digestible steps that produce great leads and even greater sales, it doesn’t always work that way. It’s trial and error. It’s trying different distribution methods and different types of content. It’s testing and—well, more testing. But what it isn’t is “easy.” Regardless, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain mistakes we can all avoid as marketers. For more about content marketing mistakes to avoid, read the full article or check out my last blog post.

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B2B Vendors: Make Sure Your Website Delivers

23 Jun

What Your Customers Really Want from Your Website

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Are you a B2B vendor? If so, your website probably isn’t delivering what your potential customers actually want—at least, that’s according to a recent study from KoMarketing, Huff Industrial Marketing, and BuyerZone.

A blog post by marketingcharts.com recently broke down the study and some of the important insights into online customer behavior. So what are some of the most important areas for improvement B2B websites can improve on?

  • Thorough contact information
  • Research reports
  • “About” information and team bios
  • Case studies and whitepapers

Content marketing has also been a recurring theme among many of our blog posts lately (see some related blog posts here, here, and here) and the blog post revealed no shortage of content marketing insights. Most notably, it broke down the content types that B2B customers are most likely to complete forms to receive:

  • Trial offers: 62%
  • Product demos: 48%
  • Product evaluations: 48%
  • Research: 41%

So good content is as relevant as ever, and now B2B marketers have some insights into what qualifies as “good” content. But there are some deterrents to form completion that we need to consider, such as excessive field requirements and requiring a physical address or phone numbers. Fortunately, relatively few were against sharing their email address, presenting a great opportunity for nurture campaigns and further email marketing.

Want more information from the survey to help with your content planning and website goals? Click here to read the full article.

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Is Your Content Marketing Self-Serving?

16 Jun

360 Buyer Persona/Journey

Then It’s Time to Focus on the Complete View

360 Buyer Persona/Journey

Companies are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. In theory, that means that more people than ever are consuming content to educate themselves. The problem is that the content is homogenized, and rarely adapted based on the audience. Many companies are still talking to all their audience the same way rather than based on their personas.

But in order to fully understand who the audience is, you need to know what kind of personas make up the audience. It’s not just tombstone data, either (name, address, business, etc.). It’s about the problem they’re trying to solve, their role in the organization, and what they expect and need from your product or service.

For the small segment of content marketers who actually do take into account their audiences’ Buyer Personas, it usually stops right there. But as a veteran in the B2B marketing space, I’ve come to realize you need more than half of the equation, which Buyer Personas offer. You also need to look at the context of each persona as it relates to the Buyer Journey.

Most B2B buyers go through some type of journey when they are choosing which products or services to purchase—or companies to partner with. Whether its exploration, then information, engagement, and ultimately, a sale, or some completely different path, there is no question that most B2B buyers are already far down the sales funnel by the time they sit down with a sales rep to make a deal.

The Buyer Persona has to change based on their stop in the Buyer Journey. If a company only looks at one of these two components (a 180 degree view), their audience may miss the perspective of the overarching message. This is what we call Buyer 360: the intersection between Buyer Persona (who you’re selling to and what is important to them) and where they are in the sales funnel (shallow search or deep dive).

I recently read an interesting article from Business2Community about the need for content marketers to shift their thinking when it comes to Buyer Personas. Its argument is similar to mine: a lot of content B2B companies are producing is purely self-serving, and that has to change. Give it a read here for an additional perspective.

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Renovation ROI = Marketing ROI

10 Jun

The top home renovation values for marketers to capitalize on in 2015.

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As building products marketers, it’s easy to get swept up in the features and benefits—or even just the aesthetics—of a new product. Beauty shots, clever copy and more all combine together to market a new product. But it’s important to remember the financial benefits these building products can provide customers, from pros to homeowners all the way down the channel. That’s what makes the 2015 Cost vs. Value report from Remolding Magazine such an important read for building products marketers: it helps us learn what payoffs can be gained from simple home renovations that use the very products we market.

Reminding customers that there is potential ROI to be gained from many home projects is a great way to move building products. Although not every home renovation project is done to add monetary value to a home (some are just for the homeowner’s own benefit), when it comes to prioritizing long lists of projects, looking at the cost vs. value of certain renovations can help. This year, the Realtors who contributed to the report increased the value of 17 projects by up to 11.6%.

So which projects offer the most payback?

  1. Entry Door Replacement (20-Gauge Steel)
  2. Garage Door Replacement
  3. Roofing Replacement
  4. Vinyl Siding Replacement
  5. Entry Door Replacement (Fiberglass)

These five projects are the only projects to see their cost-value ratios rise for 2015, while the other 30 projects declined. This means that homeowners wanting to add actual resale value to their home need to select their renovation projects carefully, and prioritize them. As marketers, this is a prime example where professionally-produced content is needed to aid them in making these kinds of decisions. (Think home renovation timelines, guidebooks, etc.)

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The fact that all of these projects regard the exterior of the home is not that surprising, given the outdoor living trend that I covered back in March. As some of the traditionally-accepted value-boosting interior projects fall in ROI (master suites, large kitchen remodels, etc.), building product manufacturers (particularly in exterior doors, vinyl siding, roofing, and garage doors) that focus on exterior products are presented with a timely opportunity to capitalize on a growing trend towards outdoor living and curb appeal.

More importantly, this year’s numbers revealed that simpler and lower-cost projects drove higher cost-value ratios. In other words: building products manufacturers who specialize in simple replacement items like front doors could feasibly produce content straight down the channel to homeowners. Any building products manufacturers that don’t require highly specialized pros for the installation or use of their product should take advantage of this opportunity.

For more information about this year’s home renovation payoffs, read the full article here.

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B2B Is Only as Boring As You Make It

4 Jun

It’s Not B2B—It’s You.

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B2B is boring. B2B is dry. “You can’t do that in B2B.”

These are just a few of the common statements I hear as a B2B marketing professional. And while none of these statements reflect the reality of today’s B2B marketing environment, the sighs they produce from me are very real.

That’s why I was excited to read a recent article from Business 2 Community, focusing on “What ‘Boring’ Industries Can Do to Spice Up a Content Marketing Plan.” As a B2B marketing firm ourselves, we’re constantly looking for new ways to make content more exciting and interesting to read. (For one example, check out our series of blog posts, “What Trade Show Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3—or simply download the fun whitepaper here.)

The article lays out some great tips for B2B marketers that they can follow to create compelling content:

  1. Tell a story: Frame the information within the context of a story, rather than a smattering of unrelated facts.
  2. Create “human interest:” While human interest may not always lay out all the facts and figures, it creates a personal connection and a large-scale case for why those products are useful.
  3. Make it relatable: Don’t let complexity translate to inaccessibility. (Ex. Rather than trying to sell a product for the solutions it can provide, tell the story of a customer who actually solved a problem using the product.)
  4. Use infographics: They’re highly sharable and can be fantastic at driving traffic to a site. We created the incredibly simple summary infographic below as a visual aid within a client’s whitepaper. The twist? It unexpectedly drove most of the traffic for the content via social media, increasing the overall success of the campaign and making it the most successful one to date. Why? Because it summarized the piece, giving a high-level look at the content within, and as a result, made people want to read more.
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  5. Use memes or cartoons: Using humor can show a company’s personality while also offering opportunities for interaction that didn’t previously exist.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your content more exciting and disprove the notion that B2B is boring. And remember, if you think B2B is boring, it might not be B2B—it might just be you.

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