If content marketing weren’t already a big enough challenge — between the hours spent creating and distributing great content and carefully testing and measuring how it drives profitable action — imagine what it’s like for B2B technology marketers specifically.
Sure, they’re tasked with many of the same responsibilities as other B2B content marketers. But the difference is they’re often educating an audience about deeply complex tech systems and software and nurturing leads through what tend to be pretty lengthy sales cycles. That’s not easy.
And as more B2B companies begin integrating proprietary technology into their service offerings, the ways content marketers at those companies communicate with audiences will need to adapt. The best way to prepare and improve is to understand the field.
The State of B2B Technology Content Marketing
In March, Content Marketing Institute released its annual B2B Technology Content Marketing 2016 Report, the state of content marketing isn’t exactly the same in both categories. Here’s what we learned:
- 95% of B2B tech marketers use content marketing, up 2 percentage points from last year and 7% points over general B2B content marketing practice.
- 36% document their strategies, up from 33 percent last year. However, fewer general B2B marketers this year documented their content strategies compared with last year.
- The top organizational goals of B2B tech content marketing include lead generation, sales, and lead nurturing, and sales lead quality is rated the most important metric to measure effectiveness.
- The biggest challenges B2B tech content marketers report include producing engaging content, measuring content effectiveness, producing content consistently, and measuring content’s ROI.
- Only 30% rate their organizations as effective at content marketing, down 4 percentage points from last year.
Despite the reported increase in content marketing practice and in strategy documentation, B2B tech marketers still don’t see high levels of success. Aside from the fact that content marketing success takes time, especially when marketing technology, what else could explain the lack of effectiveness?
Why the Same Old Product Focus Isn’t Enough
B2B marketers of all types indicated a struggle with consistently producing content that’s engaging and with measuring content’s ROI. But in his analysis of this year’s trends, Joe Pulizzi cited a few potential reasons that B2B tech marketers, specifically, continued to report low content marketing efficacy, and as I read his analysis, two reasons stood out to me.
B2B technology marketers tend to focus on product, not audience.
This misunderstanding plagues content marketers in every category, but it tends to hit tech marketers particularly hard. When it comes to tech, the smallest details about functionality, experience, usability, security, etc., can be what makes or breaks a deal, and marketers don’t want to risk missing the chance to cover all the great aspects of their technology by forgoing promotion in content for a longer-term strategy of audience education and value.
The stories of B2B technology marketers aren’t always different enough.
Your story — who you are, where you come from, and what you stand for — is often as important to your audience as what you actually sell to them. Especially in the tech space — where it’s easy to lose your voice, your story, and your unique brand in the complexity of what you do — your story is what will set you apart and identify you as a thought leader.
These two reasons in particular stand out because they don’t have to equal death sentences for content marketing efforts; in fact, overcoming these challenges is completely within your control.
How Your Tech Expertise Fuels Content Success
After taking a closer look at the processes our client service and editorial teams use to help our tech clients create effective content and after analyzing content projects and strategies of other tech marketers, it’s clear to me that the solution to these content marketing challenges requires individual expertise.
By “individual expertise,” I’m talking about the specific insights and experiences you can share, in your voice and tone, that are unique to you.
Your expertise is just that: yours. Yes, you exist in an industry with other leading experts, and maybe you share some ideas with them. That’s OK. But your own experiences, practices, stories, and voice can help set you apart, and your ability to communicate new or bold ideas bolstered by that personal information can make a difference.
And when you share your expertise with your readers in a way that educates them, adds value to their lives, and helps them solve their own problems, you’re shifting the focus of your content to your audience, not your products and services — and that can dramatically improve its effectiveness.
B2B tech marketing can be challenging, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problems that disproportionately plague its practitioners, your team’s expertise and focus on your audience will always be central to your success.