Content is the fuel for revenue marketing. It is the language spoken between vendor and prospect, and it is the “digital cue” that sets up your response in the dialogue with a prospect.
Given the importance of content, The Pedowitz Group was interested in how marketers were managing content as part of their revenue marketing practice. Specifically, we wanted to find out about content practices, processes, and measurement, including the impact of content on revenue. The results from our study were drawn from 323 respondents who indicated that they were B2B companies (half or more of their revenue generated from business customers) and whose marketing group generates leads for a sales organization or channel partners.
Here are my observations based on key data points, followed by five next-step recommendations:
One of the questions we asked was, “Which of the following capabilities are most responsible for improving the revenue contribution your content marketing?” Not surprising, marketing automation is very important in linking content to revenue results. Seventy-five percent of the respondents rated it as the top capability responsible for improving revenue contribution from content marketing efforts. This was closely followed by lead scoring at 57 percent--a strong capability of marketing automation.
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Conversely, just having marketing automation does not ensure objectives are linked to revenue. In this case, marketers with no marketing automation were more likely to report objectives linked to revenue as compared to users of marketing automation (42 percent compared to 39 percent).
Additionally, marketers who did not use marketing automation took a more strategic approach to planning content (41 percent compared to 31 percent). This implies that users of marketing automation are more focused on short-term than long-term content planning.
These data points indicate that while marketing automation is an enabler for any content practice, there is room for improvement to connect to revenue and to take a strategic approach to a content plan.
Another key question we asked was, “How would you rate the strength of your organization in measuring financial results from content marketing?” For me, this one question was the main reason for the report. Clearly marketers are spending a lot of time and effort in content marketing, so what is the payoff?
The results were underwhelming. Measures of financial outcomes from content marketing are greatly lacking for users of marketing automation, with just 28 percent measuring ROI and 23 percent measuring incremental revenue. Only 15 percent of marketers with no marketing automation measure ROI and only 14 percent measure incremental revenue. Other key measurements, such as lift in revenue per sales and lift in post-purchase retention, also received low scores for both users and nonusers of marketing automation.
A parallel to this question was, “What are the greatest challenges for measuring content marketing’s contribution to revenue?” For companies that use marketing automation, the biggest challenges were tracking contact engagement to close (62 percent) and separating impact of multiple contacts (63 percent). This implies that while marketers who use marketing automation may have the tools and data they need, they currently lack the measurement practices of applying more advanced methodologies to overcome these challenges.
One of the more interesting questions was, “How would you rate the strength of your organization’s content marketing processes?” The process that received the highest rating was educating prospects on solving needs (57 percent of marketing automation users and 45 percent of nonmarketing automation users). All other processes were rated below to well below 50 percent for both users and nonusers of marketing automation.
For companies using marketing automation, one of the big surprises was the low scores on capturing intelligence for the sales team, customizing content to buyer roles, and using intelligent content to trigger content (35 percent, 37 percent, and 27 percent, respectively). This implies that marketing automation is not being optimized because these key processes have not been defined. The lack of process, especially for users of marketing automation, was an overall theme across all elements of this report.
Based on the findings in this study, here are five actions marketers--especially revenue marketers--should take:
1. Stop! This means as you go into 2014, stop and take a more analytical look at your content plans for 2014. An area of special importance for marketing automation users will be to map and execute key processes that can be optimized in marketing automation. Start by mapping the buyer journey and align your content to these stages.
2. Stop! This means stop focusing on the short term and think more strategically about your 2014 content plan. Assess gaps on the buyer journey and create targeted content development plans for the associated campaigns that align to the stages of the buyer journey.
3. Stop! Don’t send out any more campaigns with content that isn’t targeted based on your buyer personas. It’s not hard, so take the time to fully develop personas for more targeting messaging in content.
4. Stop! Rather than just creating content “as needed,” take the time to create a 12-month content development and measurement plan. You have to begin the measurement discipline, so measure what you can.
5. Stop! Re-evaluate how you are using marketing automation and the data it provides. Make a list of two things you can do per quarter to improve what and how you measure using your current systems.