Marketers have long discovered the competitive advantage that they can gain from investing in content marketing.

In the B2B sector, the most successful marketers were spending 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing — compared to an average of 26% among other companies, according to a 2018 report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). On the B2C side, marketers gaining the best results were spending 26% of their total budget on content marketing, compared to 22% of all respondents.

According to CMI, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing (traditional advertising, etc.), yet generates more than three times as many leads. Also, global content marketing revenue grew 14.3% to $28.1 billion in 2016 and was projected to continue to grow at a rate of 14.4% through 2021, according to PQ Media.

While it’s apparent that an investment in content marketing is critical, marketers are increasingly faced with the challenges that come with competing against all the other other companies generating and promoting messages. Nearly all marketers are using content marketing as a strategy, according to CMI. Of B2B marketers, 91% reported using content marketing, while 86% of B2C marketers used it in their strategy.

Another challenge? You now have more than 200 advertising and marketing channels to get your message across, as PQ Media points out. That means, as a marketer, you must navigate your way through all that clutter to attempt to connect with your customers in meaningful ways on the right platforms and at the right times.

Marketers who are able to navigate those challenges in a complex environment will be able to leverage content strategy as a powerful marketing tool in 2019 and beyond.

Take a look at 3 powerful ways to connect with your customers in 2019:

1. Gain an advantage through technology. Recent advances in technology have delivered a gift to marketers trying to get a handle on their marketing strategies: the development of content intelligence platforms that seamlessly integrate into MarTech stacks.

Content intelligence works by analyzing a company’s content, identifying ways marketing teams can improve their performance in areas that include the following:

Target Audience: Content intelligence answers one of the most critical questions in marketing: Who are you really be talking to? By gathering data about customer interactions, you can gain more insights about your optimal target audience. It also helps you identify potential new audiences.

Persona: With content intelligence providing you with deeper insights about what drives your target audience to conversions, you’re able to better define their pain points, and their wants/needs. It gives you the ability to build a more comprehensive persona.

Messaging Themes: More than likely, you’re getting varying degrees of engagement with your content. With content intelligence analyzing your content activity, you will be able to determine which content themes are more likely to engage your audiences at specific times. With customers’ interests evolving, this can be key to staying on top of relevant content themes.

Consumption Type: If your marketing team has become accustomed to a formula for churning out content, you may be missing out on opportunities to more effectively engage your audience. With content intelligence guiding you on the types of media your customers prefer, you can improve your content strategy performance by exploring a different combination of videos, infographics, social media, white papers, webinars and blogs.

Channel: Your customers are digesting content on a constantly growing list of channels, Some experts say the number has grown to more than 200, including traditional channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, print, TV, radio, Google Adwords, Reddit, email, Instagram and YouTube. Content intelligence will help you determine where you’re more likely to connect with your target audience.

Competitive Framing: With clearer data insights, you can more strategically develop a frame of reference that closely matches your audience’s expectations from your brand. It also provides insights on how you stack up against your competitors, and how you can outperform them.

Content intelligence as a concept is not entirely new. Effective marketing teams have been executing their marketing strategies by gathering in-depth insights about their customers, researching and testing the best paths to reach them, and measuring outcomes as a way to boost performance.

However, content intelligence software enables you to get those types of results more quickly, efficiently and with more accuracy.

2. Get more strategic about identifying your buyer’s journey. Technology has changed the way your customers are making purchases — dramatically. If you’re not adapting to accommodate those changing customer behaviors, you’re missing out.

Consider how customers have changed their browsing behavior just in the past decade. In many cases, they’re researching their options at any given time from a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop. They may come across your brand or that of your competitors while researching answers for a business challenge or something completely unrelated, like vacation plans.

Your prospects may actually make it all the way to the end of the buyer’s journey, showing interest in purchasing your solution or product before inexplicably disappearing — perhaps, never to be seen again.

And, if you’re operating in the B2B sector, it’s highly possible that you may never engage in a one-to-one conversation with your customer until the very end of the buyer’s journey — a situation that was unheard of only 10 years ago.

Identifying the best way to target your customer’s buying path in this digital environment is rarely linear. That’s why it has become even more critical for the marketing team to invest in a strategy that guides prospects towards a series of conversions, all the way to a final purchase.

Using customer data, it’s possible to analyze the patterns that are effective in encouraging conversions. As a result, you can start addressing any gaps in your conversion strategy. Content intelligence, whether as software or through your team’s current resources, can help you determine how you can improve incentives that encourage prospects to convert.

If there are areas along the journey that are underperforming, analyze the data to assess what’s not working and why. Also, determine if timing is an issue. You may have the right incentives but the timing of delivery may be off.

Keep in mind that the buyer’s journey will be different for different audiences. Personalize experiences through automation as you gain more and more insights.

Now, more than ever, taking a strategic approach with your specific buyer’s journey will be critical in growing your company. Invest the time to perfect how you’re guiding prospects through each phase.

3. Enhance your brand’s customer experience. All brands, no matter whether they’re small, medium, large, B2B or B2C, will need to step up their delivery of a customer experience — across all departments.

As customers become more accustomed to seamless digital interactions with companies, they expect more from them. as research by Salesforce recently revealed. Here are just a few findings from a survey of more than 6,700 consumers:

  • 76% expect brands to understand their needs and expectations
  • 51% say companies fall short of their expectations for a great customer experience
  • 76% of customers say it’s easier today to take their business elsewhere if they’re not happy with their experience
  • 70% say a seamless, connected process on various channels — based on their previous interactions — is very important to winning their business

Meeting higher customer expectations requires an intense focus on taking a deep assessment on your prospects’ interactions with your brand. This can include taking a look at your social media campaigns, website, marketing materials, content quality and tone, and customer service and support. All of those experiences should be engaging and consistent.

Today’s digital marketing environment demands that you perform at higher levels than ever before. However, for companies that are able to evolve by effectively leveraging technology, content marketing and branding strategies, the opportunities are enormous.

If you’re ready to take on those challenges, talk to Vennli about content intelligence. We’ll show you a demo of how it can help enhance your connections with your customers.