December 16, 2016

Hana Abaza: The Good and the Ugly of Content Marketing

This week on our B2B Nation podcast, we caught up with Hana Abaza, head of strategy at Uberflip.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • The “good and the ugly” of content marketing
  • How to improve your content strategy to increase sales
  • How content shapes customer advocacy and loyalty
  • How marketers can automate better

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*

Problematic Trends in Content Marketing

“The content marketing landscape is more complicated than ever. When you’re creating content, you can’t just think in the context of your own product or industry. There are all of the things you and your competitors are doing, but you also need to be aware of how your consumers are being bombarded. They’re bombarded by the BuzzFeeds of the world, the media, and everything else that’s pushing content at them online.

ALSO READ: How to Make Brand Storytelling Customer-Centric

“Engagement rates for individual content are going down. The average engagement rate has gone down to about 17 percent. Buzzsumo did an analysis of one million B2B blog articles, and the median share count was eight. What this shows us is that most of the content actually underperforms. If you Google the content marketing power law, which says that the vast majority of our traffic comes from very little of our content, you’ll see this in play.

“What this means for content marketers is that we need to be much more targeted in the type of content we’re creating, and the types of content we’re creating need to be relevant. I think that’s missing in B2B marketing right now: making sure that everything you put out there is actually relevant to the buyer. Forester says that 90 percent of the content out there isn’t used because it isn’t relevant.”

How to Improve Strategy and Execution for Sales

If you don’t know your personas, you might as well not create content (click to tweet). And you don’t just need to know personas from a buyer perspective, you need to drill deeper. One of the things we do and that we recommend you do is a regular audience survey. If you already have a content strategy, or you’re pushing content but don’t have a strategy, an audience survey can be eye-opening.

“Also, drill deep into your internal team. Talk to sales, because they’re the ones who are talking to your customers every day. You need to ask them strategic questions. One of the things I ask is what is the most often product-related question you get, which will give you a lot of information about what the customers are asking.

“There is a ton of data you can access around search behavior and intent when it comes to content consumption. Answerthepublic.com will also give you a lot of information about what people are looking for around your product. There is a lot of up-front investment in researching your content, but there is also a lot of long-term payoff for it. Research like this sounds simple and easy, but it does take some time. A lot of people just aren’t doing it.”

The Impact of Content on the Sales Cycle

“While we often say content builds advocacy, I would almost flip that around and say that customers can help with content. We’re often very focused on how content affects customer acquisition. The reality is that content can be useful for customer retention and churn. That’s actually the first step: how do you leverage content to make sure that people are getting the most value out of your product or service.

“And then, once they’re convinced and they love you, that’s when you can focus on advocacy. The best way to do this is by highlighting customers and their stories. Broaden your scope of what you think content is. It’s not just blog posts and e-books, it’s customers creating content on your behalf. It’s social media and video and interviewing customers. That’s the kind of content that gets people excited to be part of your community and organization. That’s how I would think about it. First about retention and making sure they are getting what they need, and then it’s about the dialog that turns customers into your evangelists.”

Making Better Lists for Marketing Automtation

“Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation. Content, in the context of B2B, really does fuel marketing automation. Why do we use marketing automation? To nurture leads. How do we nurture leads? With content.

“If you’re using marketing automation, you must have some content strategy down. In content and marketing in general, it’s all about segmentation. When you look at the companies I worked with in the past, our click and open rates were really high. This wasn’t because we were better marketers than everyone else, but it was because we segmented our database properly. We didn’t send everything to everyone, and the content was targeted to the person who received the email. That boils down to segmentation.

“If your company is very young, you should have one list, because your customers are going to look pretty similar. But as your company begins to grow, you’re going to have different personas for different verticals, products, and markets. You’ll need to segment those lists to make any type of content marketing effective.”

Like what you hear? Connect with Hana on Twitter @hanaabaza or at hanaabaza.com

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B2B Nation is a podcast for B2B sales and marketing professionals, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on SoundCloud, or follow us on Twitter: @Technology_Adv.

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*Some excerpts have been paraphrased to enhance readability.
 

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