Are you satisfied with the success of your B2B content marketing efforts? If you’re like many companies, the answer is probably “not so much.”
In a survey by Content Marketing Institute, 21 percent of marketers rate the success of their organizations’ overall content marketing approach as minimal, while the majority (53 percent) rate their efforts as only moderately successful. It seems that full success only happens for the elusive few.
Why is that? Research firm Gartner sheds light on at least one reason in its first Magic Quadrant report on content marketing platforms (released in 2018). According to the report, attention-limited and time-constrained audiences have high expectations for quality. Ergo, if your content doesn’t deliver on those expectations, your marketing efforts won’t pay off.
What is quality, exactly?
Ask anyone for a definition of high-quality content and you’ll likely get a variety of answers. As a subjective measurement, quality can be tricky to determine. How can you determine whether your brand’s content meets the audience’s expectations for quality?
Making it worth their time
One way to think about quality is whether or not the consumer of your content believes its delivers value. In other words, is it worth the reader’s, listener’s or viewer’s time?
Thinking about quality as a measure of value to your audience lets you define characteristics to guide your content development. For instance, valuable content is typically:
- Up-to-date: No one wants to download your white paper to discover it was written five years ago. Valuable content has a shelf life and you need to market it before it goes “bad,” which typically means no more than two years for most types of content. Audit and curate your content every six months to keep your resource library fresh.
- Original: Ever read something and swear you’ve already read the exact thing before? While it’s great to reiterate findings or ideas that have already been published to make a point or establish a fact, delivering original information, analysis or thought leadership is what will make your piece worthwhile to consume.
- Accurate: Did you cite the wrong source? Misstate a fact? Exaggerate a claim? While sloppiness that manifests itself in typos and grammar errors certainly detracts from the quality of the content, factual errors and inaccuracies can be an instant turnoff for your audience, with serious detriment to the value and credibility of your content.
- Interesting: If you want your audience to do more than scan and skim your content, then it must hold their interest. To do that, it should be relevant, well written and organized, as well as visually appealing. The tone and style need to hit the mark as well. For example, an academic style of writing with dense, long paragraphs isn’t well suited to hold someone’s interest in lighter, short-form content pieces.
- Educational: Whether it’s thought leadership that tackles current issues and proposes solutions, a checklist for buyers of a certain type of product, a technical how-to discussion that gives specific instructions, or even a humorous company story, your content should educate your audience in some way to make it worth their time and effort.
- Inspirational: Quality content is often inspirational, with examples or proof points that empower and encourage your audience to take the next step, whatever that may be.
Getting an unbiased opinion
In reality, every piece of content will not check all of the above “boxes.” But that shouldn’t stop you from aiming to meet most or all of the above characteristics.
Here’s one way to get a reality check on the current level of quality of your content. Gather the last three or four content pieces that your team published. For each piece, send it to someone outside of your company, preferably someone you know well enough to be honest and open with you.
Ask them to read/watch/listen to the content and then tell you whether it was original, accurate, interesting, educational, or inspirational. Were they able to consume the entire thing or did they get interrupted (that is, bored) and stop?
Take that feedback and use it to guide your team’s efforts going forward. The success of your content marketing efforts depend on it.
About the author
An award-winning marketing writer with more than three decades of experience in the technology industry, Penny specializes in content creation for technology companies. She helps technology clients cost-effectively reach and exceed their marketing and sales goals by engaging decision makers and influencers with convincing content.
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