After two years of pivoting, many companies are rethinking what matters most when it comes to their content marketing strategy. The pandemic revealed so many inefficient processes, outdated technology, or just plain ineffective approaches. Some companies have experienced significant turnover and are adjusting to smaller, leaner teams; others have grown so fast, they’re having a hard time keeping up with day-to-day demands.
While there’s no shortage of content marketing trends and predictions experts share at the beginning of each year, it can be difficult to translate them into actionable plans. Just because something is a trend doesn’t mean it aligns with your company’s marketing goals or your budget.
Virtual reality and augmented reality experience will no doubt be part of the future of content marketing, but if your brand doesn’t have an app or a platform to host them (or a large budget to experiment), these trends probably won’t make sense for you yet.
Here’s where our clients are spending their time and money this year.
Watching the ads during the Olympics and the Super Bowl is a great reminder of what the biggest consumer brands do so well — and how many B2B brands are missing opportunities to do the same. I’m not planning to buy a new car anytime soon, but because of Toyota’s “Start Your Impossible” campaign, I know what’s coming when I see an inspiring 30-second story about a Paralympic athlete who has overcome the odds.
When I see skiers lined up at the starting line, I know that Visa is powering participation. And, thanks to a Super Bowl commercial starring Matthew McConaughey, I now know Salesforce has a new advocacy campaign called #TeamEarth that focuses on driving change and promoting inclusivity and sustainability.
As both B2C and B2B brands recover from the pandemic and fight for attention at a time when almost everyone is experiencing screen fatigue, they recognize they need to create truly memorable moments to get back on the radar.
As you think about how to re-invigorate your brand, consider:
Need ideas? Check out some of these innovative B2B content marketing campaigns.
Sales teams are struggling. A 2018 report by The Bridge Group found the average tenure for a sales development rep was just a year and a half — well before the “Great Resignation”. Assuming it takes several months to onboard and train new SDRs and the average B2B deal can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, this is a pressing problem. To help with these challenges, our clients are focusing more on partnership programs. They’re targeting resellers and companies within their industry whose products and services complement theirs.
Successful partnership programs are powerful revenue drivers. A Forrester study of 450 companies commissioned by partnership platform Impact found that companies with mature partnership programs grew revenue almost twice as fast as those that didn’t.
If you’re considering creating a partnership program or expanding on an existing one, consider what kinds of companies align with your mission and your goals. Structure it in a way that makes it clear what’s in it for them, and designate someone to take the lead on partner outreach, onboarding, training, and deal registration. You can use content marketing to support these efforts, including:
HubSpot has successfully developed extensive partnership programs for marketing agencies, service providers, affiliates, and others. Salesforce is another good example of a company with a mature partnership program. If partnerships haven’t been a priority for your organization in the past, there’s never been a better time to start developing them.
We all consume content on a variety of different devices, platforms, and channels. We’ll check news notifications from an app on our phone in the morning, read a few email newsletters at our desk when we’re ready to buckle down for work, and likely see a handful of retargeting ads pop up as we check our social media feeds that afternoon.
In the evening, we’ll hear more ads on our favorite podcast, flip through the commercials as we casually watch TV, or skip them entirely on our favorite streaming service (unless they are connected TV ads.) When we’re actually thinking about buying something, we’re likely going back to our smartphone. By that point, it’s 9 p.m., and the last thing we want to do is call someone to start the process.
Omni-channel marketing recognizes the need to create a unified customer experience that works across platforms. It means having a consistent message everywhere, but calibrating the voice and tone to fit specific channels. It also gives customers the opportunity to interact in several ways and focuses on removing barriers in the process.
For instance, research by McKinsey shows two-thirds of buyers now prefer to interact with someone remotely during the sales process, while 83% of B2B leaders believe omni-channel selling is more successful than traditional approaches.
As companies move toward a more omni-channel marketing experience, they are becoming laser-focused on the customer journey. They’re hiring people with expertise in user experience, customer experience, and conversion rate optimization, or they’re developing those skills in-house.
They’re going through the process of customer journey mapping to better understand every interaction, from the time someone first hears about you and lands on your website to the way they purchase your products or services. This is a valuable exercise and a good way to improve conversions. Before you launch your next big marketing campaign, it’s worth evaluating what the customer journey looks like when someone gets to your site. For instance:
Heatmap tools like Hotjar record video of how people actually use your website so you can see where they’re clicking and where they may be dropping off. A marketing agency with user experience expertise can help you analyze this data, provide recommendations, and update your design to maximize conversions.
It’s much more cost-effective to keep existing customers than to attract new ones, but many companies haven’t focused on customer success as a content marketing priority as much as they should.
Now more than ever, they’re recognizing the value of having dedicated customer success managers and incorporating customer engagement into their content marketing efforts.
Traditionally, content marketing trends have focused a lot on attracting leads and converting leads to customers, but they have overlooked an important part of the journey. HubSpot calls this “customer delight,” and it goes beyond just keeping customers satisfied. Customer satisfaction is about meeting expectations, while delight offers the element of surprise. It’s going several steps further to offer an experience so amazing, they can’t resist telling others about it.
Think about the last time you experienced delight from a brand. Maybe it was when you opened a package that came with a free gift. It may have been the simplicity of the sales process or the quality of the support you received later. These elements may not be built into the B2B sales process in the same way as you experience them when you buy something for yourself, but the delight element is just as important.
For B2B companies, that could come in the form of an amazing user conference (whether it’s virtual, in person, or hybrid), a gift to recognize them when they renew a subscription, or a video from your team thanking them for a great year.
Content marketing trends may come and go, but there’s no substitute for a strong strategy that supports your company’s goals. Developing and executing that strategy in a way that engages people across channels, removes friction, and continues to delight them over time requires specialized expertise your team may not have in-house.
You may need help summarizing your value proposition in just five words. You might have a great message and a strong marketing team, but the last website design project you did was five years ago, and the team members who led that effort have since moved on. Maybe you need powerful videos to share on social media to stop people from scrolling past your posts.
Or you may need guidance on how to budget for paid advertising and the best way to spend that budget, based on what your competitors are spending and what you want to achieve.
The Kuno Creative team can help in all these areas. We’ve helped companies we believe in develop their brand strategy, design websites that convert, create a content marketing plan to attract and educate buyers, and accelerate their efforts with paid advertising. Check out our case studies to see how we help our clients get results.