Here are 5 Things Happening Right Now in Content Marketing

The Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs just released the B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. If you are like me, you gobble up the insights, trends and data from this report each year. I think this is hands down the best source of information about what’s happening right now in content marketing. 

And of course, I can’t help but read the report through the lens of how interactive content marketing can solve so many of the challenges marketers face today—content engagement, lead generation, lead quality, conversion rate, and measurement to name just a few.

So, here’s what I think is notable from the report and how it all relates to making your content more engaging, more conversion focused and more valuable for both your audience and your organization. No fluff, I am just diving right into how interactive content marketing can change the world. One content marketer at a time. 

 

1. Content marketing effectiveness—It’s not looking good.

The eye-opening stat:

Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. 

What this means:

Well, the obvious: it’s not good news. This means marketers think they are less effective today than they were a year ago. On the bright side, effectiveness does appear to increase with experience because 64% of sophisticated/mature markers say their content is effective.

How interactive content helps:

Interactive content is more effective at generating leads, increasing engagement and educating your audience. I think the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 70% of marketers found that interactive content engaged their audience, as opposed to 36% for static content.
  • 93% of marketers found that interactive content effectively educated their buyers, as opposed to the 70% who found static content effective.
  • 88% of marketers found that interactive content helped them stand out from their competition, but only 55% of marketers felt the same way about their static content. 
  • 38% of marketers found their interactive content being shared, while only 17% expressed the same success with static content.

Interactive content: really effective. Content marketers: Not feeling very effective these days. Solution: interactive content. See how I brought that all full circle!?

 

2. Defining content marketing effectiveness—It’s also not looking good.

The eye-opening stat:

Only 44% say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.

What this means:

It’s hard to know if you are effective if you don’t know what effective is, which is probably why marketers aren’t feeling very effective. I will state the obvious: effectiveness can be quantified by deciding what is being measured (leads, lead quality, sales, engagement, consumption, etc.), measuring how well the content is doing that in order to establish benchmarks, and then executing programs to improve the efficacy from there. 

How interactive content helps:

The big win here is two-fold. First, static content is pass/fail (It was either read, or it wasn’t. It was either downloaded or it wasn’t. It was either watched, or it wasn’t). Yet with interactive content, almost every behavior of the visitor within the experience is measurable, so it’s easier to define benchmarks and know with certainty what’s happening. Second, an interactive content platform will provide these measurements and insights and take a lot of the guesswork out of determining effectiveness. But, I will admit, interactive content can’t help you decide what you want to measure and how well you are doing against that. That comes down more to content marketing strategy and program management more than anything else.

 

3. More content on the horizon. Lots more.

The eye-opening stat:

76% of marketers saying they will be producing more content in 2016.

What this means:

We saw similar stats in last year’s report as well. Which means the content deluge that many marketers, and consumers, are feeling isn’t going away anytime soon. 

How interactive content helps:

The pressure to create more content is intense and can create a factory-like mentality, constantly racing to put out the next piece of content. Interactive content experiences help marketers face the pressure to publish more content by re-purposing a single piece of content into many. So often, the investment into a a piece of content goes underutilized by a ‘one and done’ approach—publishing it and then moving on. With interactive content as part of your foundational strategy, one piece of content can be used as the basis for several different interactive content experiences. This extends the usefulness of any particular piece by using it across the entire spectrum of the buyer’s journey and maximizes the investment you made in the original source content. Our solution planner will give you lots of ideas about how to scale your content.

 

4. Leads. Leads. And more leads.

The eye-opening stat:

Over the last six years, B2B marketers have consistently cited website traffic as their most often used metric. But this year, they were asked to rate metrics by importance. The most important metrics were sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%) and higher conversion rates (82%).

What this means:

Well, what’s interesting about this is the massive percentage of marketers who say their content isn’t effective, and who don’t even have a definition of effectiveness, but those same marketers are very clear about what metrics are important (lead quality, sales and conversion rates). Seems like these things are all pretty interrelated. The good news is that things like lead quality and conversion rates are highly measurable. So the marketers who don’t have a definition of effectiveness have a pretty quick path to getting it defined, and the marketers who don’t think they are effective have some pretty clear metrics they can work on improving. 

How interactive content helps:

This is a solid 3-way win. Interactive content directly helps to:  

  1. Illuminate lead quality, and well as improve it. How: I’ve blogged about how our interactive content platform can help surface lead quality & buyer readiness. But the right kind of interactive content experiences also help improve lead quality as well. As buyers progress thorough your interactive content, they can self qualify and self learn, helping them to understand your offering and how it fits for them. And you can marry all the various interactions the buyer has had across your interactive content for a more complete view of them, progressive profiling along the way and building out rich lead profiles. 
  2. Lift conversion rates. How: With conversion points built into a content experience, it’s easy to test and optimize for higher and higher conversion rates (yay!). Our customers, on average, report 100% improvement in their conversation rates with real-time testing and optimization. If you need higher conversions, you need to be testing for lower bounce rates and higher form completes. Here’s an entire interactive guide dedicated to lead gen and testing ideas for your interactive content. Have at it!
  3. Get more sales. How: By providing useful content in support of the buyers journey, buyers become more knowledgeable and more self-educated, creating a sales-ready lead who is prepared to engage with the organization in a meaningful sales dialogue. Plus, let’s assume that higher conversion rates and better lead quality translates to more sales, and put that as a win as well. Here’s some info on using interactive content to help sales close more deals.

 

5. Content priorities are within reach. Now, that is some good news!

The eye-opening stats:

Top priorities for B2B content marketers are:

2016_B2B_Benchmark_Report_CMI

What this means:

Marketers are setting important, and business-impacting, priorities that can be achieved. Not fuzzy stuff, but achievable, real-world stuff. I love that.

How interactive content can help:

  • Create more engaging content: Interactive content is 100% more effective at engaging buyers than static content.
  • Gain a better understanding of what content is effective: Interactive content is highly measurable, especially on metrics that matter like consumption and interest.
  • Find more/better ways to repurpose content: Scale one piece of static content into several interactive content experiences. Explore our solution finder to see how.
  • Create visual content: Interactive content is inherently visual, because it typically brings static words to life through the use of images, motion and interactivity.
  • Gain a better understanding of your audience: With passive content, the audience consumes and you know little about them (other than they read or didn’t, downloaded or didn’t, etc). With interactive content, the audience reveals who they are, what they are interested in, what their challenges and needs are. The very nature of their interactions with the content provides a wealth of very real data that can illuminate the nature of our visitors.

 

Yeah, but, do YOU need interactive content?

So, I used this blog post to outline how interactive content addresses many of the challenges and priorities content marketers have right now. But, does this apply to you? If you are like the marketers surveyed in the report then the answer should be a resounding YES. But you can also check out this blog post for a few quick questions you can ask yourself to determine if now is the right time for interactive content for your organization. Enjoy! And, hey, tweet to me @annatalerico—let’s talk about bringing your interactive content marketing program to life.