Content marketing: ten tips for B2B prospect engagement
This post was originally published on the Novacom blog.
With research indicating that only 60% of any marketing content is read before prospects or customers abandon it, client side marketers are then faced with an important question: what went wrong?
Of course, most marketers are in their own right pretty skilled copywriters, but today the savvy ones know copywriting and engaging marketing content - particularly if it also forms on-page search marketing content optimisation - SEO - is a different ball-game.
Seeking structured prospect engagement
But a careful analysis of your marketing content and it's engagement performance statistics will normally inform on a number of rapid remedial steps that can be taken to optimise the situation and help put an effective communications structure in place.
And the starting point as always is ensuring that the digital agency you are working with fully understand not only your products but also your company culture; your target market audiences, what they think, and how to communicate with that thinking.
Keep it simple
We will leave alone SEO techniques as they are covered here, and we'll put multi-language content - critical though it is - to one side as we need to focus on the fundamentals, and not cloud the question, as the issue here to is learn how to get prospects to engage with you.
I will therefore confine this purely to ten points on what to look for in your agency's approach to marketing content and prospect engagement, as successful marketing communications - or content marketing - revolves around structure:
Whatever else, marketing content must be written from an interesting perspective, and this means engaging an experienced and expert agency who are subject matter experts (SMEs) and truly understand your products, services and communication with your marketplace.
The notion of carefully briefing your (inexperienced) existing agency to become SMEs to a point where they are highly proficient in successfully communicating with your prospects and converting them to customers, is probably a daydream.
An agency who are SMEs in your sector, will deliver marketing communications - whether banners or email links in a confident and professional manner with messaging inferring that engagement will lead to B2B professional success.
Outbound communications of this type, along with website marketing content and other inbound communications will - through SME involvement - be perceived as thought leadership communication and quickly develop a target prospect following and engagement.
Talk to your agency about developing a specific, brand-centric marketing communications perspective, as this will allow for a focused, discrete and distinctly unique approach to the target prospect's perception of your brand.
This is a critical point, as if you have commissioned a new digital agency who are proven SMEs in your sector, your agency contact there may be more SME than strategic marketer - so remember you'll need SME input as well as strategic marketing expertise to succeed in crowded marketplaces.
Humour, emotion, and aspiration are - to my mind - closely linked in that mild humour strengthens recipient engagement and the need to understand what subject-specific content is communicating - and that can be an emotional element around your product or a service.
Marketing content that produces an emotional response, captures readers' attention and creates a higher level of engagement with the - now expertly-produced - subject matter, elevating interest to enthusiasm.
When briefing your agency on complex or highly technical aspects of your marketing communications objectives, description through product or service analogies can be a useful tool in conveying concepts to ensure they are fully understood.
Similarly, analogies can be used to great effect in marketing content, and where this is ineffective in the delivery of complex concepts, video can deliver fast communication on subjects otherwise difficult to access.
Keeping it brief. We know that reader drop-out is high and that only 60% of content is likely to be read unless it is highly engaging. So there's an argument for writing 40% less and making it stunning.
Yes, recipients are time poor and can also suffer from Internet-induced attention deficit, but that is no excuse for reader drop-out. Get your agency to keep content brief, focused and fascinating in a way that keeps readers engaged, and returning.
An important part of skilled communication is to draw people toward the message, and this means making the message easy to approach visually.
The use of short sentences, short paragraphs, with plenty of informative sub-headings to maintain pace and interest is critical to engaging with readers, and ensuring they not only understand the message but want to learn more as they read.
Every picture tells a story. Breaking up textual content with images, be they photographic or infographics, will draw readers to content, when they see it is not just slabs of potentially dry, uninspiring drivel, and visual content will introduce another layer of information and interest in another form.
In this context, visual information can significantly augment marketing content effectiveness, greatly adding to reader's positive perceptions, and level of engagement with your marketing story.
Recognition, aspiration and interaction with some of your other prospects and customers will help both your outbound recipients and visitor prospects gain a closer understanding of what it is like to work in partnership with you.
Here the use of podcasts, interviews, moderated webinar group discussions, and of course social media can build great interactivity and engagement with prospects through the aspirational effects of group dialogue.
Court controversy. Telling it like it really is, is my job: I can't take people's money for nothing, and what I have noticed when I do tell it as I see it, often clients seem to appreciate my viewpoint more, and in the case of this blog, read more.
So, don't be afraid to court an little controversy. Life is a complete spectrum of differing perspectives and preferences, so to have an objective standpoint - an opinion - may just make you seem more approachable and trustworthy, and therefore, a better bet.