Brand and comms

The digital opportunity

Our digital universe is expanding. New platforms emerge and, in some instances, die out just as quickly. With more digital channels to navigate than ever before, our once simple user journey has grown complex. With so many new worlds to explore, how do B2B marketing teams stop themselves from becoming overwhelmed?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the vast majority of companies are now engaged with digital focused strategies to drive ‘profitable customer action’. In addition, 86% of UK companies now use content marketing to increase leads and drive their brand forward.

Yet in the case of these organisations, 57% rely only on a small team of marketing/content experts to serve the entire organisation. So, amid the clamour for digital content and in the face of lessening resources, how do successful B2B brands deal with a demand for inspiring, insightful and engaging digital content?

Returning to basics
Most companies have a purpose statement or a reason for being. It may sound like an obvious place to start, but no organisation’s communications strategy can succeed without a connection to its strategic goals. A consistent approach, with fewer messages across more channels, is not only more manageable for small teams, it’s more likely to achieve the holy grail of getting your audiences to engage with your brand.

Keeping quality
There is a tendency to ignore the disciplines that are established for non-digital branded content. There is an argument that you only need digital governance once you know what works. The truth is that you must engage everyone who is going to be involved in commissioning or creating digital content in your organisation. Quite often, these are dispersed and multi-functional teams such as writers, designers or technology people. Whilst the initial effort to align digital marketing across the business is by no means small, embedding simple standards will ultimately provide you with the framework to create and publish quality, on-brand digital content.

Leveraging what you own
Corporate businesses are developing multi-channel campaigns to target specific markets or audiences, so the capability to turn templated assets into multi-use campaign assets is a necessity for resource-strapped teams. Digital Asset Management (DAM) has become a key tool in the challenge to control and maximise the use of digital assets. It brings together people and processes and enables creative collaboration, content governance, brand management, version control and licence management. For those who manage their assets wisely, having a digital-first mindset doesn’t necessarily mean spending more on content.

Getting emotional
Perhaps the notion that B2B digital communications is the poor relation of B2C is because of the common belief that it does not elicit an emotional decision. B2B brand stories are historically positioned from a rational standpoint, rather than an emotional one. The tools which were designed to create consistency can end up purging anything that might be considered ‘off brand’ or not ‘on message’. Consistency is good, but equally good is authenticity and evoking emotion. Could it be that corporate audiences are humans like us after all? Ultimately, if you can create accessible digital content that shows you are genuinely passionate about your business, your audiences will respond to that.

Failing more
Communications must be consistent in style and tone, but without becoming bland and monotonous. A good content marketing strategy requires a degree of diversity, and companies that experiment with diverse tactics such as blogging, films or webcasts find success. UK companies average five different types of content, with social media used by 91%. It’s important to test what does and doesn’t work so that you can gradually focus and optimise your approach over time. And finally…

Measuring efforts
Only 45% of UK companies measure the ROI of their content marketing. The main blocker for measuring the effectiveness of digital content is that there is no easy way to do it. Downloading, analysing and reporting user metrics on more than one channel is a job all by itself. However, the rise of content marketing has seen tools that can easily deal with the ‘enterprise challenge’ become useful for B2B organisations. Terms such as ‘lead management’ and ‘integrated analytics’ are now more common in corporate organisations, and inbound marketing platforms such as Hubspot are finding a niche in smaller organisations looking for a smarter way of doing things.

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