Our survey of B2B marketers revealed 53% use content marketing to grow awareness. While 88% are looking to produce more content this year.
This means even more content to come up against when rallying for our audience’s attention. And we all know this makes driving ROI, for top of the funnel engagement, an even bigger challenge.
The million dollar question is…
How can marketers reach their relevant audiences earlier without budgets rocketing out of control?
This article is your guide to creating ‘cut through’ content that drives brand awareness and early engagement.
Reading time: 3 mins
Remember the good old days when content went viral? If you’re struggling to come to terms with the fact the golden age of organic content is over, we’re here to dust you down and sharpen up your marketing arsenal.
When it comes to social, paid engagements drive traction. Unfortunately this is not good news for your budget – especially if you’ve abandoned broad targeting tactics in favor of tightly defined audience segments.
So how can you increase your surface area to reach and engage relevant audience members? Here’s 5 recommended practices to hold you in good stead:
1. Know your audience
And we mean really know them. In our article 5 Content Marketing Goals (and how to achieve them) we look at the advantages of mapping out your target audience’s information ecosystem to truly understand where they eat/breathe/sleep information. It takes customer research, sales interviews, desk top research, 3rd party research…etc. to uncover this information. But when you have it, you’ll see why it’s worth it.
While neatly flagging up all the key areas to intercept your target audience, having an accurate map will prevent you from relying too heavily on a single channel or eliminate any irrelevant ones. This can have a positive impact on your budget, eliminating waste and maximizing channel potential.
2. Extend your target account list through lookalikes
Lead quality is swiftly replacing quantity even as high up in the funnel as brand awareness. With widening targeting capabilities in many popular platforms, never before have email lists worked so hard. The downside of course is budget, or lack of it, to be precise.
Leveraging a ‘lookalike’ strategy is an excellent way of increasing the amount of data you have to play with. This is critical if your wanting to test messaging and refine your content strategy in order to boost engagement.
3. Understand the context your content will be consumed in
Should your content disrupt/delight or debate with your target audience? The answer lies how, when and where your message will be intercepted. The aim of brand awareness is generating positive first impressions, so getting this right is crucial.
Having an in depth knowledge of your channels and how they are conducive to particular trends and patterns of behavior is paramount. Let this knowledge inform your content strategy, in particular, format and ToV. For example, many content formats are appropriate on one platform but inappropriate on others. Take for example how reactions to a meme viewed on Instragram will differ when viewed within the context of an academic publishing platform.
It boils down to real-time expectations; content success or failure can largely depend on how well you meet them.
4. Optimize content for ‘shareability’
The pervasive spread of organic may have taken a nose dive, however there are things you can do to make your content more sharable.
Infiltrating your target audiences network is a sure fire way of increasing brand exposure with added benefits of social proofing for fast tracking trust and credibility. The key is to:
- Create content that will boost the kudos of the reader when shared among their peers.
- Provide fresh insights and unique perspectives.
- Explore micro content formats such as videos, slideshares, images and listicles.
- Remember humour is compelling but keep context and audience expectation at the forefront of your mind at all times.
- Don’t limit yourself to publishing content just on social. The inclusion of sharing buttons on content hosted on your owned channels, increases discovery while maintaining ownership and control.
5. Make your content easy-to-find
Yes we’re talking SEO.
But in order to achieve better ROI, we recommend leveraging intent data to elevate your keyword strategy. This will help prevent your content from being too wish-washy by getting down to what’s really important to your target audience, while helping you intercept then at the crucial need recognition stage of the buyer’s journey.
Harvesting accurate intent data can be hard if you lack audience numbers. This is when leveraging 3rd party data can be a huge advantage, especially if they have the scale and real-time data capabilities you’re lacking.
While it may seem the algorithms are stacked against you, there are still many opportunities to cut through the noise by getting savvy with your content tactics. It always goes back to really understanding your audiences and reflecting this knowledge in your content strategy.
For more information on how to elevate your content marketing and achieve better ROI, check out our latest guide Dissecting the B2B Content Marketing Strategy.