The Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2B content marketing benchmark study came out a few minutes ago and I always find it interesting to read where the industry is going. I want to talk about the top reason why people are seeing more success: Their content is of a higher quality! Seems like I’ve been saying that for a while! Create better content to win!#boom Thanks. <Mic drop, @ctrappe is out.>
Okay, no need to be gloating about that here! But YAY! I’m a big fan of better content. Also, it’s much easier to say than to do.
Here’re the top five reasons of why B2B organization’s content marketing improved year over year:
- Content creation (high quality, efficiency, etc.)
- Strategy development (new or adjusted)
- Better content distribution
- Content marketing has become a priority
- Spending more time on content marketing
Makes sense and I’m not highly surprised by these answers. Of course, it can still be highly subjective what high quality content or strategy development means to different people.
“Oh yes, Christoph. We have a strategy.”
“Where is it?”
“And how do people refer to it?”
“By asking me.”
You know what I mean. Also, the quality of content is an interesting discussion. I remember people gushing over this oh so beautiful brochure and its wonderful language. Every word was weighed 15 times, run through the thesaurus for good measure and we – the producers and stakeholders – love it.
But then not that many others care about it. The audience didn’t know how much sweat (broken air condition! :)) and tears (when mean editors still exist!) or how much time it took us to create something. The audience just knows and evaluates one thing: Whether or not the piece of content is relevant to them at that specific time!
What’s quality content anyway?
Quality content is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve had people who sent me something to read because it’s so “high quality” though non-content marketers don’t usually say that, so they probably said something like: “This is really useful.” Or good, or interesting.
And I received it and didn’t find it interesting or high quality or anything. I didn’t even understand the headline. Your high quality word wasn’t my high quality word.
When I was speaking in Berlin, a participant really pushed me on that, too:
“Everyone says ‘good content’ or ‘quality’ content. But what is that?”
The answer I’ve gone with for a while:
Quality content is content that resonates with your audience and is useful to them. It’s not so promotional. It also should be authentic and your original story. That doesn’t mean that nobody else can have similar stories and experiences. They likely have. But tell your story in a way that is useful, interesting and is yours.
I’ll give you an example from Content Marketing World 2017. I was getting ready to write an article along the lines of “how to make the most out of attending the conference.” And then I stopped, googled the topic and guess what: There are already way too many articles on that topic.
So since I had nothing new to say, I just killed it. No reason to pile on. But I did later file an article on what it was like to spend the day in a tradeshow booth.. Certainly, I’m not the first person to work a booth, but it was the first time for me, so it was a new story I hadn’t shared.
Was it quality? Well, you can read it and decide! 🙂 But seriously, it likely won’t win any literary awards, but people read it and even commented back – even on Day 2 at the conference. “I thought it would feel more salesy, Christoph.”
How do you create quality content?
Step 1 is creating higher quality content is that we have to make up our minds to stop producing promotional crap. You might be the best in whatever industry you are in but that phrase does not belong into your content marketing content. Ever!
Then, make sure you have the right people creating content. Let the people who can and want to write or are professional writers write! Have good editors. Those bossy ones that change stuff because they think they can and for no other reason should go.
I’ve usually follow this process:
Of course, that’s a highly simplified way to look at stories. They happen (obviously!), then we make sure we notice them, document them and figure out what they have to do with our strategic goals. Once we know that we distribute them across all the different channels. I use emojis at different ends of the stage to illustrate the importance of teamwork. Marketing teams really can’t tell too many unique organizational stories when they don’t also talk to the front-line staff members to get those stories.
Why is good strategy so important for better content?
Good strategy helps us be deliberate with our content creation. I almost said picky. But when people are picky they may end up not producing any of the stories happening around us too. We don’t want that either. We want to know why we our business exists in the first place, what it is that we are trying to accomplish, what’s unique about us and who we are trying to reach. Strategy is needed for that.
It’s good to see that strategy development or evolutions were helpful. The CMI report, by the way, says that the top two reasons why organizations don’t have strategies is because:
- the team is small
- lack of time
I’ve actually seen small teams create fantastic storytelling initiatives – even without strategies. That’s rare though. Usually, when small teams or any size team are just cranking out content that has nothing to do with anything it’s not as successful as it could be. The No. 3 reason on that list (11 percent) was that it’s not important. Maybe those are the teams that can hum along without a strategy. Not sure.
Having a good understanding of our why and our audiences keeps the content creators on the right track and with that it’ll be easier to end up with higher quality content for their audiences.