Trust Will Transform the $44 Billion Content Marketing Industry in 2016

By Kevin Hurley in Marketing

It’s August 10, 2015, around 11 AM and the number of blog posts written today is around 1.8 million, climbing nearly 100 posts every second. That’s a lot of content hitting the web every single second.

It’s no surprise that the creation of content for B2B organizations continues to skyrocket each year as content fuels their social media channels and provides a foundation for SEO to gain highly relevant inbound traffic.

Back in 2013, the Custom Content Council announced that content marketing was a $44 billion dollar industry, up 9.2% from the previous year. Fast forward to 2015 where 230 million LinkedIn members across 21 industries and 9 countries have access to their very own publishing platform.

According to a post on the official LinkedIn blog from June of this year, 3 million posts have already been published, making it one of the fastest growing professional publishing platforms in the world. Content creation is not slowing down anytime soon.

 

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People Trust People, Not Companies

Despite these seemingly upward trends, B2B organizations are struggling to effectively leverage content to attract and convert new business. The latest Content Marketing Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicated that only 38% of B2B marketers feel they are effective at content marketing.

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Source: Content Marketing Institute: B2B Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America

This is a scary statistic given that 55% of the same audience expect to increase their content marketing budget over the next year. Something needs to drastically change in the way content is produced or distributed before more money is thrown into the fire. Are we possibly in a content marketing bubble?

There is a solution and it’s easier than you might think. People trust people, not companies. So why are companies creating so much branded content that attempts to reach a mass audience when their sales teams already have hot leads who simply want to read content that speaks directly to their pain points?

It’s obvious that marketing teams don’t have the time or budget to create content that speaks to everyone involved in the buying process. A lack of relevant content directly affects sales ability to nurture leads. At the 2015 SiriusDecisions Summit, FireEye highlighted a disturbing fact that 79% of B2B marketing generated leads do not get a sales follow-up. Would that remain true if sales professionals had the right content their leads desperately need?

 

Content Must Speak Directly to Buyers Pain Points

Marketing is great at creating top of the funnel content that attracts a large audience. However, as prospects progress further down the buyer’s journey, they require specific content that speaks to their direct pain points. This is where the sales team must reach out and begin to build an authentic relationship earlier on.

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SiriusDecisions stated that 60-70% of content marketing goes unused, primarily because the content does not align with the buyer audience. If companies who align sales and marketing generate 208% more revenue, why is there still a huge gap?

Sales professionals understand what content their buyers want to read while the marketing team creates content they know will generate traffic and a high volume of leads. This creates an enormous disconnect in serving the buyer who has already converted but wants deeper insight into their world. In order to fill this gap, sales and marketing teams need to work together on deals starting from the very beginning of a buyers journey.

Source: DemandGen Report: 2013 B2B Content Preferences Survey 

Once a lead becomes qualified and their main pain points have been identified, marketing can source relevant content from credible sources, giving the sales team ammunition to build trust and close the deal. In DemandGen’s Content Preference Survey, “vendor-branded content” was actually considered the least credible for B2B buyers, indicating that trustworthy data is far more important than the typical sales and marketing content we see all over the web.

 

Transformation Is on the Horizon

If you’ve been following the latest trends in the B2B sales and marketing space, you’ve surely heard of Social Selling. Regardless if you consider social selling a trend, buzz word or strategy, it’s clear that a new movement is taking place. Sales leaders are taking a proactive approach and literally becoming micro brands for the organizations they represent.

Social Selling combines aspects of content marketing, social media, lead nurturing, personal branding and many others common to the B2B space. Sales leaders have recognized the opportunity available with the explosion of new media channels to reach their buyers directly in order to build authentic relationships, earlier on.

I strongly believe this new trend will transform the B2B content marketing industry by putting more marketing power into the hands of sales professionals. According to LinkedIn, 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media and are 51% more likely to achieve their quota.

As the B2B sales and marketing world continues to coincide, there are strong indicators pointing to a shift in the way organizations leverage content to build trust with buyers. As we approach 2016 with incredibly innovative software at our fingertips, one thing remains true – building trust continues to be the key driver to success in business.

 

Kevin Hurley
Director of Marketing