Better Content Marketing Is About Listening

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TrackMaven recently posted a blog summarizing their analysis of 13.8 million pieces of content from B2B and B2C companies over 2013-2014. What they found illustrates just how difficult content marketing has become over the past several years:

  1. Over the past 24 months, brands steadily increased their output of content per channel; and
  2. The average engagement per piece of content decreased significantly during that time.”

We know that content marketing works— the data is clear — but it is also increasingly clear that it’s becoming more difficult for companies to break through the noise and for audiences to find the right content for them. Companies keep publishing more and more content, while content consumers have kept their appetites more or less steady. It’s not quite a direct supply-demand relationship, because the demand for great content is always high, but it does emphasize that companies need to focus more than ever on creating the kind of content audiences want.

Great content works both for your audience and for you, the marketer. It’s timely, it resonates — but most all, it engages your audience and sparks a conversation. One of the big themes we see emerging in content marketing today is not just content for content’s sake, but content that really builds a dialogue with your prospects and delivers value.

We’re starting to see engagement and dialogue become so much more important because almost everything is a considered purchase these days. That means that your audience is out researching, reading and referencing you and your products long before you ever get on the phone with them (assuming you get the chance at all).

But if you want to have a conversation with your audience through your content, you can just talk all the time. You have to learn to listen. Listening is a learned skill for most of us, especially sales and marketing people, but to be effective you have to hone that skill.

The good news is that now, more than ever, marketers have the tools to be good listeners.  They can listen with their analytics, with their marketing automation systems, with interactive content and with social.

Without listening, you might get lucky and accidentally deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. But you’ll burn valuable resources and time building the wrong content or sending it to the wrong people. You’ll only be guessing at when to hand a lead off to sales, and you might just miss the forest and hit a tree.

So how do we create content that aligns with our audience’s interests — that they’re happy to see and happier to download and read?

The first thing to do is know what our audience is interested in and WHY they are interested in it.

One of the best arguments in favor of listening is that it allows marketers to find out what problems their prospects really think are important. Marketers must listen, and listen carefully, to determine if they’re solving the problem they think needs solving or the one their audience actually needs solved.

Stop by my talk at B2B Content2Conversion to hear some of my thoughts and suggestions around tools for listening as well as some of the ways SnapApp customers are using interactive content to listen attentively and get great results.

Seth Lieberman is the Founder and CEO of SnapApp, a content marketing platform that gives marketers the power to generate leads and drive revenue by creating, publishing, promoting and measuring interactive content that works across the web, email, mobile and social. Seth is a serial entrepreneur who has started three companies and four kids. Two of his companies have been acquired but none of his kids.

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