Creating awesome and engaging content is more than just a part of an organization’s marketing strategy these days – it is your marketing strategy, at least in the B2B world. But with the insanely high number of online marketing messages that we are all exposed to each day, it can be difficult to make your content offer stand out from all the digital noise. So once you get that hard-won click and are able to capture someone’s limited attention, why would you just let them escape back into the wild? Rather than playing “catch and release” with your audience’s attention, you should aim to sustain the level of engagement and keep your visitors hooked on your story for as long as you can.
It’s time to update our definition of what real engagement is. In this first post in our Marketing Matters series, I’ll take a look at the current state of content engagement in B2B and offer some practical tips to boost engagement with your B2B content.
Why Engagement Matters
Simply sending content out into the wide open as a one-and-done experience doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to ensure you’re getting – and sustaining – meaningful engagement from the right people. You can’t effectively nurture someone if they’re not reading or watching your stuff!
You pour so much time, effort and money into getting someone’s attention by providing lots of fantastic, useful content – you want to make the most of it. While you have your audience's attention, you should be able to educate them as much as possible and not just leave them to wander off into the wilderness, never to return again. And while you’re at it, you need to measure engagement so you know that your content is actually getting read or viewed.
All marketers are in the attention-grabbing business, but sophisticated marketers today focus on sustaining that attention once they’ve got it. Maintaining attention is the key to proving the value of your marketing team’s efforts: Are you really educating your buyers and helping nudge them toward a purchase decision?
Launching campaigns doesn’t allow you to know how well you’re performing. Sure, there are metrics you can view that give you an idea of how well things are going, but you need to show that people are interested in the awesome content you are producing: What are they engaging with after they click on your offer and how much time are they spending with your content?
Real engagement is much more than just opens and clicks. Form completes, social shares and downloads are nice too, but they’re really just “vanity metrics” that help us feel good about our efforts. It’s time to stop looking at only opens, clicks and form completes as your KPIs to tell you how well your content is performing. A click isn’t meaningful without context around it. You need to know that your prospects actually spend time with your content after they click.
Ding Dong, One-and-Done is Dead
The days of thinking of B2B content in terms of one-off events are behind us. You want to take your visitors on a journey, tell them a story and get them excited about what you have to say. Providing one great piece of content and then closing the door is just a tease and the old saying “keep them wanting more” doesn’t hold true in the digital era: Your visitors may not come back later for more. They’re much more likely to get distracted, sidetracked, or find the information they want somewhere else – like in your competitor’s new eBook, for instance.
Getting extra engagement with additional assets means that your audience is actually interested in your story – the whole story – and not just the first piece you’ve offered. The amount of content they are viewing can say a lot about how sales-ready they are, as content bingeing is a signal of intense interest and engagement. If people aren’t interested in what you’re saying, they aren’t going to waste their time. The more content bingeing you can achieve from a prospect, the more likely it is that they will become your next MQL.
What the Data Tells Us
The average LookBookHQ visitor will view 2 assets per content experience. Keep in mind that this includes all those visitors who were only interested in the initial content offer. Of those who do binge, an average of 3.75 assets were viewed. That’s a lot of additional engagement that marketers ae missing out on because they’re stuck in the “one-and-done” content mindset.
Visits + Time
Time is also a crucial factor in evaluating your content engagement. Someone can click through lots of content and look like an MQL without reading more than the title of each asset. Combining the metrics of visits plus time provides a much better snapshot of how your content is performing.
As a benchmark, the average visitor to a LookBookHQ content experience spends 9.97 minutes engaging with content. Breaking this down, a single-asset viewer spends 6.06 minutes, while a binger spends 17.8 minutes on multiple pieces of content.
Measuring that engagement and knowing how much time a visitor spent with your content allows you to separate your next MQL from the tire kickers and casual clickers. This means your sales team can focus on those engaged individuals or accounts that are most likely to buy.
Let’s dive a little deeper and look at 3 simple things you can do to increase content engagement:
1. Look at the 'doors' to your content (and make them easy to find!)
The first easy step for increasing engagement is to look at where you are offering your content – what doors are you pointing your prospects to? If you hide your content deep in your website or resource center, you’re just sending your prospects on a wild goose chase. You want to make it easy for them to find. Put your content offers everywhere! Why wouldn’t you?
People are visual and are more likely to skim than read. Link to your content through images rather than burying your links and CTAs in a paragraph (or at least offer both), and put your offers everywhere you think your target audience may be looking – web, social, emails, PPC. Increase your chances that they will find it and engage with it.
In my role as a Content Experience Expert, I love to help clients explore the different doors and areas of opportunity they have available to them. It’s amazing how many there can be right under your nose and how tricky it can sometimes be to see them! Really, anywhere that you are trying to draw a visitor’s attention can be a huge opportunity that you should take advantage of!
2. Maximize value by giving more content per click
When it can be so tricky to get that one click, why would you play catch and release, letting your prospects back into the wild and hoping they find and take your bait again? Give them the option of consuming more content while you can! Let them self-educate on their own time and at their own pace by packaging your content into a journey. Your audience may not remember to stumble back to your website next week, but right now you have their attention. Use it wisely!
An example of a content experience created by our client Thomson Reuters
I have recently been paying close attention to how and when people binge on content, and have determined that not all binges are created equal – different approaches work for different clients and campaigns. But you always need to start somewhere with one hypothesis of what may work, and then you can continually analyze your data and make tweaks until you find the best way to optimize your campaign.
For example, our Client Success team sends out a quarterly newsletter to our clients. In the beginning, we would just send whatever content we thought would be interesting but, as we tracked the analytics over time, we learned a lot about what our clients are interested in and want to read. By adjusting our content accordingly, we have increased our binge each quarter. However, this is only possible when you offer additional content, guide your prospects down a specific path, and track their journey.
3. Deliver variety
Nobody wants to read 5 long, boring white papers in a row. You need to switch things up and keep your content fresh and exciting. A variety of content is important – different types, formats and lengths. Mix visuals with words and videos. Pair long-form content with quick, snackable cheat sheets and one-pagers that encourage visitors to take another bite. Everyone grasps information in different ways and you should allow them the opportunity to learn in their preferred style. And don’t forget third-party content and user-generated content. Variety is the spice of life after all!
When providing feedback on a client’s content experience, I try and put myself in their buyer’s seat. I try to learn as much as I can about the problem they are trying to solve for their customers, but I often have to tell my clients that their content didn’t keep my attention and that they could use some more variety. There are always exceptions to the rule (and 5 white papers may work for some people!), but unless you know what content works best for you, I would suggest that the more variety the better.
With so much investment going into developing and executing an effective B2B content marketing strategy, you need to do the most with every moment of attention you generate. Increasing engagement with your content will provide new opportunities to educate your prospects. If you’re not happy with the level of engagement you’re seeing today, it may be time to get more creative and savvy about how you use content to fuel your funnel. Your next sale may depend on it!
Client Webinar: How Intel Security is Enabling Content Bingeing
This Thursday, July 28 at 1 pm EDT, join Alexandre Papillaud, Marketing Director for Intel Security's Global Demand Center and a Top 40 Demand Marketing Game Changer, to hear how the team at Intel Security is nurturing buyers and moving them through the funnel faster by delivering 2.5X more content per click. To sign up, go here.
Sarah Flanagan is a Content Experience Expert at LookBookHQ. Knowledgeable about all things content, she enjoys helping clients get the best use out of the LookBookHQ platform, providing insight, tips and best practices to increase visitor engagement with their content. When she’s not helping clients whip up amazing content experiences, she indulges a keen interest in food and cooking.