Content marketing is hard. There, I said it. We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that we’ve admitted the truth. Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t relieve us of our duty to create fresh, engaging and conversion-worthy content. That means we have to come up with a plan—a good plan—for creating not just quality content, but content that improves our bottom lines. Content we can be proud of.
If the first step is admitting the problem, the second step should be identifying the culprits. According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, content marketers, like all of us here, still struggle with creating top-notch content. Top content marketing challenges for B2B companies include:
Overcoming these challenges boils down to one thing: good ideas. When the creativity is flowing, it is easy (well, easier) to create a range of engaging content consistently.
To that end, let’s take a look at some companies—big and small, B2B and B2C—getting content right. Perhaps it will spark some ideas of our own.
Even if you haven’t heard of KISSmetrics, you’ve likely heard of Neil Patel, the software’s founder. He is a one-man brand with clients we’d kill for. It seems like all of his content is downright amazing. But here’s (one of) the reasons readers keep coming back: the content on KISSmetrics is insanely actionable.
Check out some of these headlines:
You can read these articles, and then apply actual tips and ideas to your work. Remember, engaging content isn’t a megaphone for your thoughts; it is a resource your buyers can use to make their jobs easier, their work stronger or their lives better, as KISSmetrics does here.
I hate watching television shows without using my DVR to fast-forward past commercials. So when I paused the other night to watch a commercial about printer ink, I knew it had to be good. For a product so mundane as ink, HP really took an emotional approach to its marketing, and it worked. Check it out for yourself:
It is so important to think bigger than your product or service. Find out how you can truly impact your buyers’ lives and run with it. They will be more than willing to pause to take a look.
I must admit, I am a little jealous of GoToMeeting’s “Meeting is Believing” video series. These videos feature real GTM customers rather than just a “talking heads” approach. Engaging B-roll and upbeat music certainly add to the viewer experience, but the real magic comes from the messaging.
The videos showcase the GTM platform in use, but it's not the focus of the videos. Instead, the benefits the software provides—better meeting dynamics, face-to-face interactions, happy customers—are at the heart of these 1-minute stories. Focus your video content (better yet, a consistent series!) on how lives are improved and, if possible, let your customers do the talking.
While Moz may be best known for its Whiteboard Friday videos, the brand should also be recognized for its skill incorporating data into its content. Blog posts, such as “How Big Was Penguin 3.0?” and “Eye Tracking in 2014: How Users View and Interact with Today’s Google SERPs” were chock-full of useful data.
Data helps thought leaders back up their points, so include research, surveys and statistics whenever possible. But don’t fall into the trap of data-vomit; your readers don’t want to be overwhelmed with numbers, they just want to know why and how things they care about work. Additionally, don’t hesitate to dig through your own data for nuggets of information your buyers will find helpful—a constant supply of fresh data means consistent new content topics.
Big data is a big topic as of late, and for a lot of professionals, it can simply be overwhelming. To combat that, IBM created The Big Data & Analytics Hub. It's like a huge online library where everything you ever wanted to know about big data lives. More than just a blog, the company segments the content into areas of expertise as well as types of content, including infographics, presentations, reports and events.
To get noticed in world of content overload, we must experiment with new ways to package and present our content. How can you make your content stand out to your audience? Find out how your buyers want to interact with your content, then strategize around those insights.
HubSpot is perhaps one of the top companies when it comes to producing non-promotional content (the brand has a handful of different blogs for goodness sake!). However, HubSpot does not shy away from sharing its accomplishments. Click here—you’ll be greeted by a seemingly never-ending display of customer success stories.
Now don’t misinterpret what I am saying; plastering case studies all over your blog will not help with your engagement factor. But including this type of content in your strategy will help diversify the types of content you are putting out there, as well as keep a steady flow of content going. And the truth is, at some point in the buying process, your buyers will want to see how your solution has helped others. Why not provide that information in black in white?
“Grit and Grace” is nothing short of a native advertising masterpiece. Cole Haan truly took its paid post in The New York Times to another level. Through a compelling essay and gorgeous videos, readers are taken behind the scenes to the world of ballet they were never before given access to.
The multimedia project was a first in many ways: It is the first NYTimes.com paid post to feature full-bleed images, and it’s the first paid post from a fashion brand that was produced by T Brand Studio. It was a full production effort with a writer out in the field, video, photography, illustration and technology—one of the first native advertising content efforts of this magnitude.
Don’t be afraid to be the first to try something—instead, strive to be the first. To stand out from the crowd, you must create unique, fresh content; you can’t copy what other brands are doing. Become inspired? Yes. But your ideas must develop into new ways to engage your target audience.
I hope these examples were a jumping off point for your own variety of engaging content produced on a regular basis. What brands have inspired fresh content ideas for you? Share with us in the comment section below.