How has Content Marketing and Digital Content Consumption Changed During the Past Year?

 

The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on both businesses and customers in the B2B market. It shifted the way we normally conduct business, communicate with one another and market/purchase products and services. 

Not only did businesses have a tough time adjusting to the changes, so did customers. This article will run through how content consumption changed during and after the pandemic. It will also look into what organisations should be doing differently to improve customer acquisitions through content, and the typical mistakes organisations make when it comes to content marketing.

The Evolution of Digital Content Consumption

Prior to the pandemic, B2B marketing was conducted through in-person events, face to face sales pitches, cold calls and so on. However, the pandemic changed the way businesses communicate with their customers and what was once considered normal, is now far from it. 

 

During the pandemic, thousands of people started working from home, and digital content consumption was their means of obtaining information from brands. 

 

Many businesses also began to rely on content marketing to reach their audience. Roughly 85.7% of marketing professionals stated that they increased their reliance on social media posts, 57% increased their dependence on blog posts (including 47.1% who count on long-form content), and 49.4% stated they have begun to rely on webcasts. 

 

This shift from pre-covid marketing techniques to a virtual marketing outlook was necessary for many B2B businesses. In the Technology CMO Outlook Report various technology experts, including IFS, ServiceNow, ContentCal, and Adobe discussed their transition from traditional marketing methods to virtual marketing campaigns. 

“Social media has moved from a thing that’s ‘nice to have’ to the core of how you stay in touch with your customers”.

Malin Liden, Vice President Head of EMEA Marketing Transformation Office at SAP.

Social media marketing was not the only form of content marketing that aided brands. Many brands also invested in long-form content, including blogs, articles, whitepapers etc.

In fact, according to Hubspot, 70% of marketers invested in content marketing in 2020. This investment was due to the increase of people browsing online. As we live in a digital age, most people resort to the internet to solve any issues they experience. So content marketing is a huge part of solving this and generating leads for brands. . 

By investing in content marketing, brands are able to stay connected to their audience during unprecedented times. Brands also need to adapt to suit the global change. This means creating fewer in-person events and delving into digital content solutions such as thought leadership blogs, SEO website optimisation and online events.

What Businesses Can Do Moving Forward

Moving forward, there are numerous things businesses should do differently to improve customer acquisitions through content.

Lead with Empathy

When working in the B2B market, we can forget that we are selling to a person as opposed to a business. Although we need to meet the business’ demands, we must lead with empathy to build a relationship with the person behind the company. 

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that everyone is fighting their own battles and there’s something keeping them up at night. Once you, as a business, identify how you can support your customers, that’s when you can successfully continue trading and uphold relationships. 

“With companies cutting back, factories closing and employees across many industries getting furloughed, we had to be mindful of our marketing messages and lead with empathy.”

Maya Price, Marketing Director at SAP

“B2B Technology companies previously had a bad habit of being ‘tone deaf’ to their audiences and forgetting that they were speaking to humans rather than companies.”

Kathryn Strachan, Managing Director and Owner of Copy House.

To lead with empathy, you must ask yourself what does the person behind the business need? How can you help them? What’s the best way to support them during this time? Are your services flexible enough to meet their needs? How can you change your marketing message to cater for them? 

Once you have answered these questions, you can then adapt your content marketing strategy to suit your customer.

Personalising Content to Reach Your Target Audience

Having a one size fits all approach in marketing is no longer enough. When it comes to grabbing your audience’s attention, you must personalise your marketing efforts. 

Did you know that 80% of customers state that they are more likely to buy from brands offering a personalised service, and 55% of marketing professionals declare personalisation increases conversion rates and promotes growth? 

That’s why personalisation is a must moving forward. 

As everyone is at different stages of the sales funnel, you need to know what’s keeping your customers up at night, how you can tackle this and what type of content you can publish to help you reach them. 

A great analogy of the importance of personalisation was given by Kathryn Strachan, Managing Director of Copy House. She explained, 

“If you’re in a crowded room and scream, ‘Hey everyone, look here!’ it’s unlikely everyone will look. 

However, if you shout, ‘Hey you in the red shirt’, the people wearing a red shirt will turn around because you’re specifically addressing them.”

So moving forward from the pandemic, it is essential that marketing efforts are personalised. After all, if you’re trying to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.

Finding the Perfect Content Fit 

Although everyone was quick to move their events and content online during the pandemic, there was a downside to it — for example, webinar fatigue. 

Oliver Pilgerstorfer, Chief Marketing Officer at IFS noticed that there was more to just going digital. He realised that everyone was at different stages of the marketing funnel, therefore, they all had different needs. 

When looking at the marketing funnel, different content works better depending on what stage of the funnel your audience is at. Once you have established what stage that is, you can improve customer acquisitions through that form of content marketing. 

For example: 

  1. Top of Funnel: this is the awareness stage where content is created to show your audience that you can solve their problems and you exist. Here thought leadership articles, blog posts, SEO optimised websites, and infographics are normally great pieces of content to use.
  2. Middle of Funnel: this is the consideration stage where buyers are aware of their problems and consider solutions to mend them. So the best content would be white papers, reports, case studies, product landing pages, webinars and drip email campaigns.
  3. Bottom of Funnel: this is the decision stage where a buyer is ready to select a solution, and your brand should be offering a ‘hard sell’ of your product or service. How to product guides, competitor comparisons, testimonials and post-conversion emails are some of the most used pieces of content that can help you convert at this stage.

Common Content Marketing Mistakes

To develop a successful content marketing strategy, you must truly understand your brand’s vision, its unique selling points, the tone of voice your customers relate to, and your target persona. 

To fully understand this, a core brand messaging workshop is needed. This will help you delve into the above topics and get to know your brand and audience on a deeper level. 

Although each brand is unique, there are some common content marketing mistakes that brands make which should be avoided. These include:

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#1 One Size Fits All Content Marketing Strategy 

As mentioned previously, personalisation is key for attracting leads and generating sales. As artificial intelligence has become more advanced, creating personalised content has been made simpler. 

 

However, it’s more than just about writing a customer’s name at the top of a newsletter. Having a marketing strategy that adapts to different customers, and their unique problems at different stages of the sales funnel is essential. 

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#2 Failing to Understand Your Customer Avatar

Your customer avatar is the ideal customer of your brand. Therefore, before you even start drafting up your content marketing strategy, you must first dive deep into who your customer avatar is. 

 

When doing this, you can look into the following: 

 

– Who are they? 

– The impact they have on their business (i.e. are they the final decision maker)

– What are their pain points?

– What content do they consume? (i.e. do they have limited time thus enjoy a podcast? Do they like to read blog articles and thought leadership content) 

 

Once you know exactly who your customer is, you can then construct a content marketing strategy around them. This is where you’ll look at different stages of the funnel and ensure specific content goes out to cover each one. 

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#3 Creating Bland or Boring Content

It goes without saying that this is a big no. When creating content, the last thing you want to do is entice someone to your website and then fail to include a call to action (CTA) or have them close the tab before they’ve read any helpful information. 

 

Did you know that the average online user’s attention span is 6.8 seconds? Meaning, if your content has not grasped their attention before that, you can lose a potential lead? 

 

There are several tricks that can help you keep users on your site. These include: 

 

– Using eye-catching visuals to support your content. This can increase the user’s interaction by 50 milliseconds.

 

– Writing clear and coherent text. This requires you to know your audience. For example, if you’re a FinTech brand targeting mid-sized companies, their understanding of FinTech is likely to be higher than a start-up company. So you can use more technical language. 

 

– Including an enticing introduction or hook and ending your content with a great call to action (CTA). This will help you grab your reader’s attention, and convert them to the next stage in the purchasing funnel. 

 

– Utilising the best SEO practices to help your brand rank highly on search engines. Whilst creating content that helps your audience reach answers to their questions within seconds. The last thing you want to do is write clickbait content that gives your brand a negative reputation 

 

By creating engaging content that answers the user’s queries or gives them a good insight into your brand, you will be able to keep the user on your website for longer and increase your chances of converting them into a lead.

How Are You Moving Forward in 2022? 

As content marketing has become increasingly popular, it would be a disservice to your brand to not invest in it. Content marketing is a great way to attract leads and transform them into sales. 

If you want to know more about how technology giants, including IFS, ServiceNow, ContentCal, and Adobe, handled the pandemic’s hardships and moved forward in terms of marketing, download the Technology CMO Outlook Report now! 

You can also invest in a specialised content marketing service to help boost your marketing efforts. 

Copy House is a content marketing agency that specialises within the technology and FinTech space. If you are a technology or FinTech company looking to upgrade your content marketing efforts, fill out the form here and book yourself a free 30-minute consultation with our team.