Most B2B companies have come to recognize the benefits of content marketing and have been stepping up their efforts around developing and promoting content assets, including whitepapers, eBooks, research reports, infographics, case studies and buyers’ guides (e.g., Smart Decision Guides).
In fact, according to preliminary research findings from the upcoming 2015 B2B Content Marketing and Lead Generation Report, more than half (52%) of marketers allocated a greater portion of their budgets to content marketing over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. What’s more, more than one-quarter (26%) plan to more than double their spending on content marketing over the next 12 months.
To drive engagement, content and related landing pages need to be not only search-engine optimized, but also highly relevant and compelling based on the differing wants, needs and objectives of prospects and customers. Indeed, these wants, needs and objectives can vary dramatically. A content asset that resonates with one target segment may fail to engage a different target audience. Generic, one-size-fits-all content generally fails to move the needle on marketing ROI.
Until recently, content assets were typically developed in a vacuum. Marketers would simply take their best guesses at what content would resonate most effectively with their different target audiences. The efforts were often a crapshoot and the results were often disastrous.
With advances in social listening and data analytics, companies now have the opportunity to gain real insights into what matters most to prospects. Marketers can understand at a granular level what information they may be seeking, and also how best to present that information. Social data can reveal how prospects are going about conducting their research. It can reveal what questions they’re asking and where they’re getting answers. It can even reveal what specific levers reside at the forefront of people’s purchase decisions and what factors are influencing those decisions.
Beyond informing content development activities for future programs, marketers can analyze social data to track and measure consumer response to campaigns already in progress. They can understand what content is connecting with different intended audiences — as well as what content may be missing the mark. They can measure audience engagement – or lack thereof – against intended or expected behaviors. They can measure program uptake and even predict the likelihood of success in terms of triggering the desired calls-to-action, be it new website registrations, content downloads, social media shares and “likes” – or, more importantly, financial metrics like new customer acquisition and increased sales revenue.
Today, social listening and analytics can go a long way toward improving content marketing activities, systematically identifying emerging topics by narrowly-defined audiences and providing marketers with the insights from social data they need to drive effective content development.