The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way content is now being consumed. With a large proportion of the population still working from home and removing their morning and evening commute, people have suddenly been given far more time than they’ve ever had before. Brands have seen social media interaction and engagement dramatically increase, with more time for people to browse their Twitter and LinkedIn feeds, but the ‘snackable’ content that was previously crowned King may not be in the limelight any more.
As many people now start returning to work, this may change again. But the sudden switch experienced at the start of this year has taught many CMOs the importance of having a flexible content strategy in order to ensure that all content will remain relevant.
In this blog, we’ll uncover how the content landscape has changed, how CMOs can decide which type of content is best for their audience, why data and thought leadership are integral to all content strategies and how content helps to build brand equity.
Let’s get started!
How has the content landscape changed?
Over the past few years, we’ve seen new content forms introduced and push traditional methods to the bottom of the list, with content forms such as social media and video taking precedence and becoming the centre of many CMO’s content strategies. For years, short-form content was proving successful, both in the B2B and B2C worlds.
The rise of Google’s rule and the inability to ignore the dominance of mobile devices also played a big part, with CMOs recognising that content needed to be scalable in order to be viewed on different devices, and that businesses of all sizes needed to create content that would not only increase their audience reach, but support their SEO efforts.
Suddenly, content creation became part of a much bigger puzzle.
Then, when COVID-19 hit the world at the start of 2020, CMOs recognised that in tandem with the huge changes every business was facing, this would also present a big opportunity for a change in how content was being consumed. With less - or no - commuting time and far more time to learn about a subject and upskill, audiences in both the B2B and B2C worlds were suddenly able to spend longer consuming content and take a deeper dive into issues impacting their industry. But how could content strategies mirror this change?
Enter thought leadership
At its core, thought leadership content is used to elevate a particular spokesperson, and therefore a business, into the spotlight by discussing issues that are pertinent to their industry , highlighting the solutions as well as the problems.
This longer form content has always had its place and been at the heart of many B2B content strategies, but with more time to invest, thought leadership has reinforced its ability to reach large - yet targeted - audiences and shown how much it can resonate.
Furthermore, this longer form of content can also be sliced and diced to be used within other pieces of content relating to the same issue, enabling CMOs to use different mediums to reinforce their message time and time again.
Add data to the content mix
Whilst thought leadership on its own is a powerful form of content, adding data to the content mix will make it even more effective. We all know that hearing or reading a statistic really brings an issue to life; rather than someone explaining that thought leadership content helps to instil trust in B2B buyers, declaring that 83% of B2B buyers will have a deeper trust in an organisation that continuously shares authentic thought leadership content, instantly demonstrates the importance of the issue.
Taking time to get to know your industry by conducting market research on the topics you want to talk about will instantly elevate your status as a thought leader as your new research will add value to the industry and provide insights that many might not have previously considered.
Using these statistics within the thought leadership content will quickly show why you are talking about the issue and why your audience should pay attention.
However, this is only one use for data within a content or marketing campaign. Data should be introduced from the start of the process to build hypotheses and test ideas, and used throughout the campaign to better understand the target audience through metrics such as user engagement and changes in sentiment. Both qualitative and quantitative data should be used as a tool not just within the content itself, but within the entire marketing strategy.
[Check out our blog on a deep dive into the power of data in your marketing strategy!]
But which form of content wins?
When it comes to content - and marketing in general, for that matter - there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one B2B organisation might not work for another, so it is important for all CMOs to get to know their audience and track the success of their campaigns, using those insights to inform future campaigns.
One thing we do know, however, is that insight is key. In the B2B world, audiences are keen to learn and find out how they can use technology, tools or other products to better their business and generate more sales. Ensure your content ticks this box by giving information or opinions that are unique and relevant for both your business and your audience.
Using content to build brand equity
A successful content strategy will greatly contribute to building brand equity and demonstrating brand value. Not only does a data-driven thought leadership content strategy help to improve SEO - and therefore sales - it also shows why you have earned your position in the industry and therefore increases the authority of the entire company. It’s a win-win.
Why should all content strategies be flexible and adaptive?
2020 so far has shown that nothing is set in stone. No business or individual could have forecast the disruption that COVID-19 would have caused across the globe, and therefore no business could have had a plan in place to even attempt to mitigate it. So, whilst planning is key to a successful content strategy, CMOs need to be prepared to be flexible and adaptive so that they are ready to make changes to their content in an instant to react to different events or issues.
Furthermore, the way that content has continuously changed over the last few years isn’t set to slow down any time soon; it is likely that more technology and social media platforms will emerge, leaving CMOs to decide whether these are platforms that will help them to reach their audience or not. After all, utilising trends is important, but only if the platform or content tool is actually used by the organisation’s audience. By staying flexible, B2B CMOs can ensure their content strategy is always relevant, both in terms of the content methods used and the messaging within the campaign.
Five top tips for navigating the content landscape
Now that we’ve discussed how the content landscape has changed, CMOs should reassess their content strategies and determine if they have successfully navigated the content landscape.
We’ll leave you with five top tips:
1. Assess your current strategy
Start at the beginning and analyse which forms of content you are currently using and if they are helping you reach your audience. Take a look at the competition and see what other forms of content you could incorporate into your strategy.
2. Become a thought leader
As we’ve talked about, thought leadership content is a key way to show your expertise within the industry and demonstrate why your audience should be listening to you.
3. Use data
Data is king! Back up the points you’re raising in your thought leadership content with data from industry research. Use data – in all forms – within the entire marketing strategy and use it to better understand your audience and the success of your campaigns.
4. Learn from previous campaigns
Always make time to reflect and use data analytics to help inform your future campaigns. CMOs can no longer rely on a gut feeling to make decisions, but there are so many insights to be gained from the data at their fingertips.
5. Stay flexible
Planning is key, but keep your content strategy flexible so that you can react to new issues or topics. This will ensure your content stays relevant and really connects with your audience.
Do any of these trends jump out?
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