According to this year’s first Content Conversations meet-up in Singapore hosted by Outbrain, the two things B2B marketers can work on in 2015 are putting emotion into content and demonstrating ROI to top executives.
Anthony Hearne, Outbrain’s regional director for Southeast Asia, India and new markets, said that in many of the company’s conversations with enterprise clients, there’s still a “reluctance to get emotional”.
“They are missing a huge opportunity to connect,” he said. “Even if they are B2B, they are still people.”
According to one client, it’s a laser focus on quarterly performance that’s hindering companies from investing in content marketing. “We’re emotional about what we do,” she said. “But no one’s telling that story.”
Lauren Bartlett, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s regional marketing and communications manager for East Asia, said it’s about brands discovering their voice. “Many B2B companies struggle with how to jazz up their content, as they often don’t have in-house writers. That’s where content agencies can help.”
Even for a government agency looking to speak to other governments and businesses, good content is at the heart of those conversations.
Bartlett gave an example of how storytelling and finding a connection with audiences can sell a product. Riding the wave of interest surrounding the release of the second Hobbit film, ARANZ Medical highlighted the fact that its scanning technology was used in the development of the Lord of the Rings franchise. Attracting the attention of the BBC, the broadcast on ‘How the Hobbit films boost New Zealand businesses‘ also showed how the wound surveillance system benefitted healthcare professionals in an actual hospital.
Outbrain was roped in to promote the content to hospital CIOs, while the company later used white papers on its website to generate sales leads.
Brand engagement is the first step before the seeds of content marketing can be harvested, according to Amit Elisha, Outbrain’s vice-president of products. Therefore, it’s important to look at indicators and predictors of engagement.
“If I ask my wife whether I love her, I think she will say yes,” Elisha said. “She can’t really measure that, but she gets a good indication. I come home every day. I call her. We’re having good conversation. It’s a good indication I’m pretty engaged. We need to find these indicators that show people love our brand.”
When combined, KPIs like clickthrough rates and time-on-site offer good insight into whether readers are engaged with content.
Elisha offered two other tips for measurement.
Customise the definition of bounce
Officially, the definition of bounce is when the entry and exit points are the same. This does not take into account the fact that a reader may be opening and closing the page after reading it and copying the URL to share with their friends. On Google Analytics, it is possible to define a time frame so that if, for instance, someone was on the site for more than 15 seconds or more, it would not be considered a bounce.
Measure over a longer period of time
According to The Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study by Google, the average shopper uses 10.4 sources of information before making purchase decisions. It also becomes easier to measure when there is retention because you can connect all your activity to an actual identity and lifetime value, according to Elisha.
Ultimately, when it comes to convincing internal stakeholders of the investment, Anne Phey, marketing director for IBM Systems Asia-Pacific, suggested “showing that revenue and conversion rates” are increasing over time.
It may even be a case of sitting down with the company’s business leaders and CFO to explain what marketing does, how conversations on social media can offer insights into customers and content trends, and how online activities such as web traffic and downloads are monitored against targets, as well as showing the opportunity pipeline for conversion to wins.
“Our business leader understands that content doesn’t have to generate revenue straight away,” Phey said. “It’s like having a relationship. You’ve got to start dating and wooing the prospect before he becomes a customer. As of 2015, we’ve appointed content marketing managers. That’s a breakthrough for us.”
Content strategy is king
Here’s another recommendation from us to help prove your content marketing is making an impact: develop and document a content strategy.
Having a content strategy could boost your success levels, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute. Of those who have a documented strategy, 60 per cent consider their organisation to be effective. On the other hand, just 32 per cent of those with only a verbal strategy say they are effective.
It’s obvious, right? If you don’t have a strategy, how do you know if you’re on track?
If you need some ideas on how to achieve this, take a look at our content strategy guide, which outlines how to map your content to your business objectives.
– Gracia Chiang, Content strategist