Report: Most companies can better leverage content marketing

CMO Council study confirms businesses aren’t doing enough to effectively generate sales leads through compelling thought leadership content

With content marketing becoming a key buzzword, the pressure to produce quality, business-driven content has been most keenly felt in the B2B space, where content has a direct and immediate impact on lead flow.

But a new report by the CMO Council reveals only 12 per cent of B2B marketers believe they have high-performance content marketing engines strategically programmed to target the right audiences with relevant and persuasive content.

The report, Lead flow that helps you grow, features findings from a survey of more than 200 senior-level marketers across a broad range of industries. Responses showed a fundamental disconnect between development strategies and what the intended results of demand-generating campaigns should be.

Only two per cent of respondents said they had a highly effective demand generation strategy that delivers high-quality leads. A third of respondents said their strategy was somewhere in the middle, effective at times and ineffective at others.

There was also disparity in content created most by businesses, and what generates the most leads. While most created product brochures (84 per cent) and slide presentations (79 per cent), whitepapers actually came out on top as generating the most leads, followed closely by video content.

According to the report, while this shift is noticeable, what was most readily revealed by marketers is the extent to which they simply don’t know how content is faring specific to lead generation.The report revealed the top six factors killing lead flow success were:

  • Content generated was not developed for target audiences
  • There were budget limitations
  • Content lacked relevancy for the audience
  • Content did not reach the right decision maker
  • The right distribution channels were not leveraged
  • There was no content strategy that tracked to business

Vice-president of content and messaging at CA Technologies, Mike Paradiso, one of the respondents to the research, said that as marketing embraces new technologies and channels that provide new opportunities, greater complexity is added to the marketing landscape.

“We understand the content development must align with the buying cycle,” he said. “We have a true content research and content cycle based around the buyer’s journey and we know where the content fit in that journey.”

According to Paradiso, CA technologies built its content marketing and demand generation strategy with the customer’s needs, challenges and pain points in mind. He places priority on understanding exactly which piece of content has been accessed and consumed in order to better develop more targeted and customised content.

“Everything is put through a content flow system,” he added. “For example, we use a platform to help us understand where customers are in their buyer journey, how they’re leveraging content and how we can nurture them to move further along in their journey.”

Another respondent, IBM’s vice-president of content strategy and systems, Rudy Chang, saw the need for the company to embrace a cohesive content marketing strategy that follows the customer journey from early discovery right through to advocacy. According to Chang, IBM’s content efforts have been primarily focused on the early stage of the customer journey and there is a need to deliver diversified content experiences that engage users at every opportunity.

“As content marketers, we need to understand buyer behaviour and attitudes so that we can craft the appropriate messaging and value proposition that resonate with those audiences,” he said. “It’s about being much more specific around the role and the buying behaviours of that role, as well as understanding who we’re trying to market to.

Chang highlighted repurposing marketing content as a major strength that has proven to provide sustainable value for IBM.

“Availability of content performance through KPIs allows us to achieve scale and realization of business value very quickly,” he added. “That’s another big initiating that we’re emphasizing.”

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