‘Content marketing’ has become somewhat of a buzzword/phrase in the world of marketing these days. This inbound marketing practice is remarkably widespread.
Just about every company is using some form of content marketing today.
And is it really effective?
It is widely believed that ‘inbound marketing’ delivers more leads than traditional marketing.
According to HubSpot’s 2013 Inbound Marketing Report where they surveyed over 3300 marketers across various business types and industries, inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional marketing.
The report also revealed that 93% of B2B companies are using content marketing.
It is hard to question the usage, I have some good friends that are top leaders in content marketing around the world who are constantly advocating the value of it.
However, recent statistics brings into question its effectiveness.
According to the leading global content marketing education and training organization CMI (Content Marketing Institute) 2016 B2B Content Marketing Report, only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year and further down from 42% in 2014.
Twenty-six percent found it to be ineffective while 44% say it is partially effective.
What is at the heart of the decline you might be asking?
Lead generation is the process of marketers stimulating and capturing potential customer interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline.
However, the abundance of readily available information online has led to the rise of the ‘self-directed buyer.’
With the growth of the internet, the world has changed from one of information scarcity to one of information abundance.
This has transformed the buying process.
This is due to what social scientist Herbert Simon calls ‘attention economics’: the wealth of information means a death of something else, a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes – the attention of its recipients.
Buyers are overwhelmed with all the noise and they are getting better and better at cutting through it to find what they want on their own.
Today’s empowered buyer can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever crossing paths with a salesperson.
Therefore, if you really want to effectively build predictable pipelines and revenue opportunities, you’ll have to put yourself directly in their path.
I do believe content marketing can be very valuable but it all depends on where it is applied and to whom.
If you are in a B2C space where content is very powerful, sure, but if you are in the B2B space and trying to land executive-level opportunities or get conversations in your marketing funnel, then this form of marketing won’t give you the results you desire.
In fact, what I’ve found from the many communications and thousands of content pieces that we have curated for our clients over the (number of years in operation) as a marketing consulting company, less than 5% of the leads we have generated for our clients have come from content marketing.
Actually, most of it has come from direct engagement.
Executives have very busy schedules and are not normally the ones that are going to be engaging or digesting content. They will likely delegate that task to their assistants or whomever unless it’s a referral from somebody they already know and trust.
But even referrals, trade shows, speaking events or press releases, aren’t sustainable enough to consistently create executive-level conversations with key decision makers.
In our years as a digital marketing agency, we have seen and ran the gamut on all the aforementioned lead generation options.
It might now be seen as counter-intuitive to most but cold email marketing remains an effective way of acquiring customers. It is more effective than social media – nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.
And it is the most effective way of capturing executive level leads. Think about it, checking emails is one of the things every executive do consistently on a daily basis.
So the only real predictable way to get in front of an executive today is to get into their inbox and to do so in a way that is not intrusive but compelling and intriguing enough so they want to look at it.
So if you’re in the inbox of the right person with the right title with the right company consistently, you’re going to get their attention. Once you have their attention what do you say, how do you say it and how do you present it. Doing this right or wrong will determine your success.
For us, we have found this to be the most successful and effective form of executive-level engagement.
It is reported that for every dollar spent on email marketing, an average of $44 dollar return on investment is realized. (Source: Campaign Monitor, 2016).
Whoever you’re trying to reach, whether that is Managers, Directors, VPs, SVPs, Presidents, CEOs, C-Suite, Entrepreneurs or Professionals, email and Linkedin marketing strategies are the most efficient ways to secure on purpose meetings in the shortest amount of time
Traditional content marketing where companies are just chumming the waters hoping that the right fish will bite is an inefficient way to catch a specific type of fish.
You want to make sure you are targeting the people you want to talk to directly.
With all the technology and social tools currently available to us, our ability to engage executives in a direct, intimate and personal way has never been easier to do.
With the right cold email marketing and LinkedIn marketing approaches your company should be able to build and create scalable systems that bring inbound leads from outbound activities from your exact target market consistently and predictably to help you grow.
According to the CMI report, lead generation (85%) and sales (84%) will be the most important goals for B2B content marketers in the foreseeable future, as it should.
We believe cold email marketing is the number one way to generate quality B2B leads, and it has been proven that the market is moving in this direction.
An effective cold email marketing campaign is complex, and to get it right requires a commitment of 12 to 18 months to get fully optimized without outside help.
The one thing that is certain that is any B2B company in the market that wants to gain market share and continue to grow has to adopt these strategies and methodologies or it will slowly be put out of business and not know why.