The backbone of any good B2B communications program these days is owned content. And while once upon a time, it was enough for companies to produce copious amounts of content with quality as a secondary priority, the tide eventually shifted. By 2018, it was pretty safe to say the B2B community was on board the content train. And the train station was suddenly crowded. Quantity on its own was no longer a winning strategy. Quality and quantity ruled. It had to be good – and there had to be a lot of it – in order to garner recognition.
Then 2020 hit. In a word: pandemonium. In another: pollution. Everyone is overwhelmed with content – news content, health and safety content, more news content, emails, TikTok, Instagram Stories, memes, Medium articles, podcasts, notes, Twitter threads (so many Twitter threads). There is way too much. Suddenly, hedging your bets with quantity is not only a waste of time, it’s a liability. There simply isn’t enough attention out there to go around. People will not engage with, or even acknowledge, content pollution. But they will remember the litterer and, likely, hold a grudge.
So, what comes next for B2B content?
How to Adjust Your Content Strategy
First things first, scrap those “industry standards” and “best practices.” We are off the map, folks, and there is no guide. A year ago, a weekly email cadence was standard – now it is overkill. An annual report used to be acceptable, now that information is dated before you can even hit publish. This is a pretty fine needle to thread, and it is going to require a little more art than science – and a lot of scrappy flexibility.
In order to cut the content pollution, we’re throwing it back to the three Rs of sustainability – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Approaching your content strategy with these three tenets in mind will not only come as a welcome relief to your marketing team and target audiences, but it will also serve as an opportunity to break away from a “how we’ve always done things” approach.
Let’s start with reducing your original content. We’ve seen immediate value in cutting original content nearly in half. Don’t worry – I’m not recommending you cut your entire program in half. But look at the original content you were creating and cut that cadence in half. Were you a four-a-month blog post company? Trim it back to two. Then assess and scrutinize the results of that. How did your two blogs perform? Did you lose web traffic? Did you lose engagement and conversions? By how much? How much did you gain? The gain goes beyond your metrics. In fact, your gain will likely be internal. Our gains have come in increased headspace to figure out new angles and stories. Less demand on overstressed subject matter experts. Slightly less stress on overworked content teams. The breathing room that cutting back can give you and your team right now is probably worth its weight in gold.
Once you’ve cut back original content just a bit, you can get creative with your content strategy. Look at your long-form content and see how you can really put it to work for you. This is the scrappy part. Just because your publishing cadence has decreased doesn’t mean your marketing channels should become a broken record, promoting the same two bits of content. The secret here is really slicing and dicing. Cut up those long-form infographics into social media-sized bites. Pull out a quote to pique your followers’ interest. Create an entire campaign around the TL;DR of your content. Turn that white paper into a webinar, an email, a downloadable worksheet, you name it.
We’ve preached for a long time about getting more value out of the content you create, but this is about more than giving your content legs. Looking at different ways to utilize and promote your content allows you to personalize the CTA and target more specifically, which will actually lead to more eyes, even with a deluge of content out there.
Finally, do a quick audit of your last one to two years of content. Is there a piece that needs to be updated? Is there a report that needs to be dusted off or a blog post that could stand a polish? Refreshing and revising dated content has a lot of plusses. First and foremost, it is a lighter lift for your team, keeping that headspace free. It can also give your site renewed SEO strength, if you switch out old links for new ones and optimize content to its fullest potential. And finally, it gives you the opportunity to directly target those who engaged with the original piece – delivering content that is actually desired. This keeps you from blasting your entire audience and falling into the pollution stream.
The truth of the matter is, you put a lot of work into creating content that is valuable to your audience. And there is still value there a year later. There is no need to start from scratch every time and let perfectly good insights go to waste.
Stay in (and Embrace) Your Lane
So you’ve reined in your content and your cadence as to not inundate your audience with unnecessary chitter-chatter. You’ve adopted the new three Rs of content. But how do you break through the chaos of 2020 with the content you are producing? As a general rule, stick with what you know. When adjusting your content strategy, go deep and focus in on your area of expertise. Don’t do gymnastics trying to tie your company’s solutions to COVID-19 – or any of the other 19,000 pressing issues of the day – if it is a stretch. Your audience is looking for your POV in regard to their business. If the connection makes sense, you will know. And if you’re not sure, give us a call.