Ready or not, it’s already time to start planning next year’s marketing roadmap. What do our experts see on the horizon for marketing content in 2019?
Our word for the content marketing year is strategy.
Here are our five tips for thinking strategically about content; discovering where you might have gaps and how best to fill them; and determining whether you’ve succeeded.
1. Take Your Teamwork to the Next Level
No surprises here: Better alignment leads to more effective content. After all, the purpose of marketing content is to drive sales—or at the very least, create positive impressions of your brand. Improving communications between your marketing and sales teams helps to ensure that you are focusing on sales’ greatest needs and developing programs that accomplish the right goals.
Another area of alignment that we’re focusing on in 2019 is the alignment of internal and external marketing teams. Whether you utilize an agency or individual contractors to cover skill gaps or time crunches, be sure to establish clear lines of communication. Also consider:
Will you assign certain projects or tasks to the external team?
How often will your teams coordinate?
Who reports to whom?
Who has what level of responsibility for each project?
Coordination is essential and can turn your agency partnership into a real powerhouse. (And we’ve got some tips for optimizing joint efforts.)
2. Continue with Content Marketing
No matter which new projects or endeavors you plan for 2019, don’t neglect your content marketing plan. Content marketing is a long-term effort and your returns typically grow with time, starting after 6 months to a year and really picking up after Year 2.
To make the most of content marketing, you’ll need a documented strategy, say MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). But according to their research, only about a quarter to a third of B2B marketers have one. If you fall into the majority, put creating and documenting a strategy on your to-do list for 2019.
Focus on your ideal audience. What do they need? Which problems are they trying to solve?
Make sure your plan covers every stage of the buying cycle. This should mean a mix of asset types: white papers, ebooks, case studies, blog and social media posts, videos, testimonials, buyers’ guides, and so on.
Consider developing a method for quickly finding content according to type, purpose, format, audience, and so forth. By doing so, you (and sales) can find assets more quickly.
To get your content-development strategy started, return to the basics of evaluating your personas and using content mapping to see where you can fill critical gaps.
3. Prioritize Personalization
We come back to this point a lot in our blogs, but that’s because it’s vital: Even when you’re in B2B marketing, your audience members are still people. And people respond to stories, emotions, and—okay, we’ll say it—a little bit of selfishness. They don’t want to hear about your great product; they want to hear about their own needs and aspirations. It’s just human nature.
It’s also the key to personalization. And with the increasing interest in account-based marketing (ABM), personalization is more important than ever.
Yet, according to CMI, “only half of manufacturing marketers always or frequently prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their sales/promotional message while creating content.” (This data comes from CMI’s Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019 research; the organization’s broader B2B Content Marketing 2019 data was a bit rosier, with 73% of respondents meeting these criteria.)
Regardless, successful personalization requires several preparatory steps:
Develop audience personas that clarify your audience’s needs, priorities, and pain points.
If you plan to use personalization as part of an ABM effort, align with your sales team to discover this information for strategic and lite accounts as well.
Make sure your customer-centered messages are consistent across your site and across all your extended channels.
When you have created customer-centered content, it serves as a foundation for more advanced personalization efforts going forward.
4. Take a Look at Technology
In 2019, technology will affect the way we plan and create content.
First, voice searches are on the rise. According to CMI, nearly three-quarters of adults under the age of 28 years use voice assistants and voice search has increased 75% since 2014. What does this mean for B2B marketers? It’s probably too early to call a time of death on keywords, but it’s probably smart to start thinking about voice search–friendly alternatives. That means longer, conversational (i.e., long-tail) keyword phrasing and natural language. One approach that can have positive results is to expand an FAQ.
Another content-related technology relates to the previous tip—personalization—as part of an ABM program. Aside from creating personalized content, you’ll need a way to effectively deliver that highly targeted content, preferably with minimal complexity and maximum flexibility.
This topic is evolving quickly, so look for more from us on SEO for voice search and ABM tools and techniques as we move into the new year.
5. Make Sure to Measure Results
Our final tip should be a vital part of your content strategy: Measure your results. Your content marketing plan should define the KPIs you’ll use to determine your content’s success. Typical KPIs include traffic, blog or newsletter subscriptions, social media shares, and conversion, bounce, and clickthrough rates.
But don’t forget your main goal: to support sales. So also measure lead generation, revenue, and open rates along your content timeline.
Remember, content marketing and ABM results tend to improve over time, so allow at least 3 to 6 months before expecting much from your measurements. As you begin to see results, adjust your content.
Make It a Great Year
Keep an eye on our blog for more ideas for 2019—and let us know if you need help implementing your plans.