In this final installment of the top 2015 B2B content marketing trends, we look back at the predictions that were made before the year began, the outcome, and how you can leverage them to drive your own content programs.
In this article,we look at Content Shock (my personal favorite), Remarketing and Retargeting, Responsive Design, Experience and Mobile Optimization, how SEO has Evolved, and Attribution Reporting.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed the series (more than 5,000 tweets tells us you have), and we look forward to what we’ll see for 2016 content marketing trends!
“With the vast amounts of quality content available in any specific market (there are still a few holdouts) and consumer’s limited capacity to consume this content, marketers will need to create higher quality, more relevant and creative content to stay on top of the competition. Some elements that help you rise above the cacophony include: branded content, customer-created content, and employee-created content.”
- “More than 70 percent of all companies across 104 industry designations had a decline in organic reach of 30 percent or more in the past year.” — Businesses Grow
- 50% of Content Gets 8 Shares Or Less — Buzzsumo
- The amount of available web-based content (the supply) is doubling every 9 to 24 months — BG Content Shock
How can you create content that rises above the rest and cuts through content shock?
Even a brand like Buffer has run amok of Content Shock, and lost nearly half of their social referral traffic in the last year. They wrote an amazing post, and have two suggestions on what you can do about it:
- Pay for more exposure on social media (advertising, promoted posts, etc), and/or…
- Be better at understanding and connecting with your audience.
The first follows trends we’re seeing now with a dramatic rise in paid promotion on social, sponsored content, and retargeting (which we talk about below).
The latter has longer legs, a bit more authentic, and frankly better for your brand. To achieve this, they recommend making it easy to share content, making it simply beautiful, and try sharing content that doesn’t have a link—but focuses on building the brand.
In our case, we’ve found that creating visual and interactive content marketing tools have been huge for generating new organic and social traffic. Additionally, they help during the sales process for demonstration and capabilities purposes.
So, if you can, make your content visual, interactive, and easily shareable!
“Retargeting is the practice of “following” a visitor to your site around the web via a cookie placed on their machine. The forecast is that retargeting will team up with location targeting to deliver hyper-personalized marketing experiences. Spend your money smarter on paid advertising in 2015 through these opportunities.
Remarketing is Google’s version of retargeting, and specific to Google’s adsense network. Remarketing traditionally has been leveraging user data to market to them more intelligently. Typically this has been through direct marketing and email.”
- Retargeting has been shown to provide as much as a 1,046% lift in search behavior—making it the strongest of all tactics.
- One in five marketers now has a dedicated budget for retargeting.
- Only 11% of consumers have a negative reaction to retargeting.
How can you leverage retargeting/remarketing for content marketing?
One strategy we were able to use was put in play recently while working with a commodity tech manufacturer. When we were brought in, the company was doing all manner of content marketing, marketing automation, and social media. But they weren’t generating leads.
While realigning their strategy (beginning with making them realize their product wasn’t actually a commodity), building a content marketing program, fixing their marketing automation, and creating content, we set up a retargeting campaign to capture visitors to their various web properties. The result was the first lift in leads they’d achieved in months.
In a B2B scenario, leverage remarketing to push content to users at the tail end or next stage of the buyer’s journey. For example, if someone has hit a page that you know is a clear indicator of the awareness stage, you can push ads for content that will track with them to the decision making stage—or better yet—move them right into it.
“We’re finally to the point where we are spending more time on our mobile devices than at our desks. Responsive isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. This is particularly important for content marketers, who need content consumable on mobile devices. Not only does this apply to websites—emails will need to be responsive as well and you should consider how your posts—and native ads—look on mobile screens.”
- Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%).
- Beginning mid-2015 Google used mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results, rewarding websites that are fully optimized for mobile platforms.
Do you really need to make your B2B website responsive?
In a word, yes. 2015 was the year that responsive websites became ubiquitous. While we’re well into adoption and a few B2B businesses either discount the value of a seamless cross-platform experience, or don’t use their website for their business at all (how does this even still exist), most companies have either made the shift, or are fully entrenched in an update project.
The benefits to your users in updating your site from a static to a responsive interface have been well documented. Search Engine Journal offers four clear marketing benefits, two of them being key for content marketing moving forward:
1. Google Loves Responsive
Anyone doing anything in content marketing is keyed into showing up in search engines. “How to show up on Google” delivers 1.5 BILLION results. And since you’re working to rank on Google, and Google loves responsive websites (Google “favors mobile-optimized sites when presenting results for searches made on a mobile device”), you would be hard-pressed to try to rank without a fully responsive website.
2. Responsive Can Help Reduce Bounce Rates
According to SEJ, “Google will interpret this high bounce rate as a sign that a website isn’t offering relevant content to users, which is likely to lead to a drop in rankings.” This can be caused by websites that don’t work well on mobile devices or don’t have the same breadth or quality content. If your website isn’t responsive, and you’re experiencing high bounce rates from mobile users, this is an area you’ll want to address early in 2016.
“Experience optimization covers anything that brings the disparate elements of your marketing in line with your common brand ethos. “Marketers who are personalizing their web experiences see, on average, a 19% uplift in sales.”
Marketers will work to further break down silos and get their data centralized, ultimately delivering the cohesive customer experience across marketing channels like social, paid, email, mobile and more. As a marketer, delivering a unified and optimized experience helps position your organization as “the go to” for whatever it is you’re marketing.”
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- 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to fully load.
- 72% of top-performing marketers had mobile-friendly web sites.
- In 2015 mobile ad spending accounts for 49% of digital ad spending.
How can you improve your users experience to better your content marketing programs?
One area that we’ve seen a lot of progress is in creating content that is appropriate for the platform it resides in, as well as the device it’s consumed on.
A simple example of this is one client that was building all of its keynotes using an old PowerPoint template made for previous screen ratios. With new laptops, wider high-def large format screens and monitors, mobile devices and a variety of use cases made this format difficult for them to work with and consume.
Another example is a scenario where another client’s blog wasn’t optimized for sharing on social channels (didn’t have share buttons), causing users to have to copy and paste the URL out of the browser. In using a standard WordPress plugin to activate social sharing, their images weren’t optimized for sharing on twitter. They would be cropped—in their case—cutting off some messaging embedded in the artwork.
In both cases we were able to help them determine the right format, and provide a better experience across different software and device platforms.
“SEO is constantly evolving, so this is a tough one to summarize quickly, but here are a few take aways. Focus on creating better, higher quality content, and make sure your website is natively responsive to accommodate a wide array of devices.
SEO won’t operate in a silo anymore—it will integrate with PPC and Social Signals in the marketing tool kit. Gone are the days of that specialized SEO agency. Truly integrated agencies will shine.”
- In B2B, organic search drives over 51% of traffic.
- 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with web search, and 90% of buyers say when they are ready to buy, “they’ll find you.”
- More than half (53%) of marketers rank content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic.
How can you master SEO for content marketing in 2016?
I wrote a pretty thorough post on SEO for Content Marketing in 2015. This post highlighted some outstanding successes we had when focusing on quality and lengthy content.
Moving forward, if you’re looking to rank for Google in 2016, it’s only going to become harder. Everyone is now creating content and filling the web with low-quality content of all types. In fact, Mark Schaefer’s The Content Code does a really great job of outlining what he calls “content shock” (the difference between the finite amount of content that can be consumed, and the rising glut of content filling the web).
One suggestion he makes to those looking to “win” the SEO game is to pick a VERY targeted niche—and own it. Look for long-tail keywords that relate to problems your customers are facing—specifically long-tail keywords that have low competition in search (200,000 results or less), and write long-form, quality content to rank. This will act as a cornerstone to gain your Google credibility, and give you a starting point for your content creation efforts.
“We have a pretty good handle on what attribution is, but actually figuring out what aspects of our marketing to give the credit of a deal to is a challenge. We’ll see last-click attribution get less attention, and other models like multi-touch and time-decay get more screen time.
The quality of data is critical, and that will be driven by—and drive—attribution. What can we do? Keep our ears out for tools that allow us to track a more complete customer engagement model—and correctly assign attribution.”
- Although 9% more marketers have invested in revenue reporting this year, 38% still don’t have an attribution model at all.
- 21% of B2B and B2C marketers use a multi-channel (all influencing touch-points) attribution model at the beginning of 2015.
- Marketers report the top five digital marketing metrics for success are; revenue growth (32%), customer satisfaction (30%), return on investment (23%), customer retention rates (23%), and customer acquisition (23%).
Why is Attribution Reporting Important for your Content Marketing Program?
People always want to know what metrics they should use for their content marketing programs. They’re eager to prove the effectiveness of their hard work—very important when sales have become harder than ever. Personally, I think what they’re really getting at is “how do I show that I’m driving new business and results?”
Understanding where leads are coming from is a critical part of answering this question—arguably more so than # of clicks, retweets or likes. Attribution Reporting is the end result of understanding what drives your buyers through your sales funnel—and converts them to buyers.
There are a number of different attribution models, and tools like Pardot, HubSpot and Google Analytics give you a number of ways to run those. One of the most commonly used is “First Touch” or “First Interaction”. This basically gives the credit for the engagement to the first page URL your visitor sees when they visit your site.
Running a First Interaction Attribution Report will let you know which of your site’s (or campaign’s) pages are responsible for attracting most of the traffic to your website (or blog). This can tell you what content is working (and what’s not), and where you have opportunities for your content marketing program.
Getting a Head Start on Content Marketing in 2016
A lot is changing in content marketing in 2016. There’s more content than ever competing for the same eyeballs. It’s getting harder to be found on Google, it’s getting harder to get email addresses, and harder to catch and maintain your buyers’ attention.