The latest report by Marketo reveals that 65% of marketers publish content at least once a month. According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Study, marketing spend is on the rise for the third consecutive year. Yet Kapost’s B2B Customer Experience Benchmark Report reveals only 12% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “very effective.”

Where’s the disconnect?

It’s time to connect your content efforts to real results. These ten tips will ensure your organization achieves its marketing goals this year.

1. Don’t just prove ROI. Improve It.

CMOs are measured on their ability to drive growth and revenue for their company. While Kapost’s survey found that lead generation and revenue were top priorities, only 41% of B2B marketers consider their organization to be truly data-driven.

Content metrics should deliver insights that help marketers make strategic, data-driven decisions. When speaking to the CEO and board, rather than highlighting soft metrics like click rates and page views, focus on revenue, margin, profit, and cash flow. Set goals for marketing investment and expected outcomes, evaluate best and worst case scenarios, and determine what marketing investments make business sense.

The investment will pay off. While HubSpot reports that 43% of marketers say proving the ROI of their marketing activities is their top marketing challenge (HubSpot, 2016), it also finds that marketers who calculate ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets.

2. Align Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing must work together to accurately forecast revenue and expenditures. Yet BrightTALK reports that 24% of marketers don’t know whether their efforts resulted in closed-won deals.

Because buyers have access to more information than ever before, 70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with sales. This presents an incredible opportunity for marketing to “own” early stage prospects and re-invent itself as a key player in the sales funnel.

3. Document Your Content Strategy Plan (and Know Your KPIs)

One way to overcome sales and marketing alignment challenges is to create a plan and share it with stakeholders and the larger team. Research reveals:

  • Only 41% of B2B marketers report their organizations have clarity on content marketing success (CMI)
  • Only 32% of respondents have a documented content marketing strategy (CMI)
  • Three-quarters of companies that weren’t exceeding revenue goals did not know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities (HubSpot)

Documenting your content strategy will ensure your content is mapped strategically to buyer interests.

4. Measure the Health of Content Production

In The Blueprint to B2B Content Metrics, Kapost identifies four areas that marketers need to measure in the content production pipeline:

  • Average length of production from idea to publication
  • On-time delivery rates
  • Bottlenecks in workflows
  • Content coverage gaps

Rely on data—not guesswork—to fill important gaps and ensure missed deadlines do not lead to missed opportunities.

5. In 2017, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Will Be the Key Metric for Measuring Marketing Success

Marketo’s March 2017 report reveals that 34% of organizations are now using ABM. As new digital tools make ABM easier to implement, organizations of all sizes are shifting focus from the individual lead to the account.

MQLs won’t go away, but it will continue to become less important in measuring marketing effectiveness.

6. Predictive Analytics Will Evolve

SiriusDecisions’ latest CMO study reveals that skills in the areas of business analytics, modeling, and predictive analytics are in the highest demand among marketing professionals.

Predictive analytics tools will allow B2B organizations to analyze the content that prospects and customers are reading. That information can be used to inform marketing and sales teams of what to write or say next.

7. Customization is Key

The increased adoption of predictive analytics tools will lead to a more personalized customer journey.

CMI research indicates that half of the respondents believe they “always” or “frequently” prioritize providing the right content to the right person at the right time. The same report reveals that only 53% craft content based on specific points of the buyer’s journey.

In addition to the common practice of sending targeted emails to segmented lists, in 2017 savvy marketers will use tracking codes and previous shopping behaviors to customize the online buyer experience.

8. Score

A content score provides a snapshot of your content ROI, rating marketing assets that generate leads, opportunities, and revenue at each stage of the pipeline. New research by Marketo reveals that 76% of marketers currently score their content journey.

Take care to track the internal reach of your content. While most salespeople report being satisfied with content quality research reveals that only 20% are satisfied with content findability.

9. Use a Content Metrics Dashboard

Kapost finds that only 27% of the B2B marketers track content utilization metrics, and up to 70% of B2B marketing content goes unused.

One solution is to use a single B2B dashboard to track key metrics. The dashboard should include email opens and downloads, channel engagement metrics, and which assets create the most engagement over a specific period.

Keeping all marketing assets in a central, accessible repository is another way to ensure that content is put to good use by your sales team.

10. Ramp Up Measurement of Mid and Late-Funnel Engagement

While CMI reports that 49% of measurement currently focuses on the top of the funnel, Gartner’s Todd Berkowitz predicts that in 2017 content creation will shift towards mid and late-funnel.

“Top of the funnel content is still going to be important, but you can only create so many eBooks and videos,” Berkowitz writes. “So keep on creating the eBooks and videos, but make sure to leave some capacity for case studies, white papers, implementation and how-to guides that will influence shortlist and selection and offer a more meaningful asset for sharing.”

Marketers should measure how content moves buyers through the entire sales cycle. Clarifying what investments lead to results at all stages of the pipeline will help your team make better planning decisions in the coming year.

 

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