Let’s get real about B2B content marketing. Most of it sucks.
It’s full of jargon, self-promotion, and fluff.
It doesn’t add value to your audience and can seem completely irrelevant.
The truth is, your content doesn’t have to be boring or stuffy. It needs to engage, inspire, and connect.
In this post, we’ll review why B2B content marketing sucks and how to improve it so that it delivers a true ROI (return on investment).
- Bad content isn’t going to propel a company forward.
- B2B content often fails because it’s not written for the audience, readable, or interesting.
- B2B content teams can inject creativity, simplicity, and a point of view to resonate better.
How Much Ineffective B2B Content Is Out There?
Companies publish millions of blogs every day. Most industries are in a state of content marketing saturation. With so much content out there, why does most of it fail to deliver?
In looking at some research, I found an interesting study from Forrester every B2B content marketer should see. Researchers evaluated 60 websites across 12 B2B industries. The findings? Almost every site scored poorly. A scathing review from the report said, “Most B2B marketers continue to fail miserably when it comes to creating content that buyers find interesting, interactive, or compelling.”
Further, more data suggests B2B content marketers aren’t confident in their success. Only 26 percent said they are very to extremely successful, according to a Content Marketing Institute report.
That same report found that only 43 percent of organizations measure content marketing ROI! Without these metrics, it’s impossible to know if your content is working. The lack of measurement and strategy to understand performance would have me believe that what they’re putting out there sucks.
If you’re unsure if your content marketing sucks, take a look at these telltale signs.
The Hallmarks of Bad Content Marketing
What makes content marketing suck? Do any of these sound familiar?
You Aren’t Writing for Your Audience
B2B content marketing can be complex, depending on the industry. However, I can guarantee that your audience knows less than you think. Many times, corporations look at content marketing from their perspective of having all the knowledge about their product or solution. Your audience isn’t an expert. It’s that simple.
Leaders often get picky about content because they read it as themselves, not the customer. That’s a bias, and organizations need to break away from this. If you can’t step outside of this, you’ll be doomed to continue publishing stuff that doesn’t resonate.
Your Content Isn’t Highly Readable
There are many components of readability, and B2B content fails them a lot of the time. Content marketing is not the time to show off your extensive vocabulary. Some more complex words are necessary at times, but if you’re using words that don’t sound like your audience, you need to simplify.
Other issues in readability include:
- Sentences or paragraphs that are too long (Pro tip: If you can’t read a sentence out loud without needing a few breaths, it’s too long!).
- Passive voice vs. active voice: Avoid passive voice in content marketing. It degrades your readability score and impedes flow.
- Bad formatting: Not using headers and bullet points means you only have long blocks of text. People will avoid reading this, no matter how interesting it might be.
Overall bad quality: Think anyone can be a content writer like your executives or SMEs (subject matter experts)? Think again; they may have great ideas and insights, but they need a professional writer to clean it up. Otherwise, the attempt at thought leadership will fall flat.
Your Content Is All About You
The most cardinal sin of content marketing is making it all about your brand. You aren’t the star of the show; your audience is. If everything you create comes from a place of self-promotion and is narrow, it won’t work.
Great content leads with education and offers specific takeaways. Yes, your company is the solution to their challenges, but you have to build that story. You can’t immediately force a conversion. It’s like proposing on the first date.
What B2B Content Marketers Should Do Instead
To suck less and improve more, you can look to these pillars to reenergize your content efforts. Consider how these tenets can move you to high-performing content.
Have a Personality
You don’t have to be bland or boring, no matter what you sell or whom you help. Your brand personality will vary and shines through in your brand voice and tone. The idea is for the personality to be authentic and genuine, embodying whom your audience will trust.
Showing off a personality also humanizes your brand. It’s not this intangible corporation. Instead, it’s a group of people that have skills and want to help other companies. So, stop being so stuffy and condescending and get real.
Develop a Point of View
A point of view doesn’t have to be controversial. It just means your company has firm values and lives them. If that shows up in your content, you get to continue building trust with that buyer.
Remaining neutral typically only works for Switzerland. When you’re developing content on big challenges and concerns for your audience, take a position. Waffling or being uncertain won’t win over customers. They’ll respect that you have expertise and are coming from a place of offering insights.
Make Your Audience the Star
Content marketing is really storytelling in a more strategic way. From eBooks to video to social media posts, you are creating a narrative. The most important thing is to ensure the star is your buyer. The journey is theirs, and your business is the supporting cast member that helps them navigate.
Creativity isn’t mutually exclusive from B2B content. Some of the best B2B content is imaginative and even entertaining. When your content is this, it’s easily consumable. Audiences associate positive feelings with your brand. Here are a few ideas:
- Animated explainer videos that break down big ideas
- Themes for eBooks or white papers that inject a little bit of fun (Bonus tip: If you’re writing an eBook about partnerships, use a theme that includes side stories and images of famous teams throughout history.)
- Honest, authentic videos or podcasts featuring experts and leaders that answer big questions
- Conducing research in your industry and publishing it to support your entire field
- Injecting some humor into your blogs and even occasionally saying words like “suck”
Some Examples to Inspire
I’ll leave you with some examples of B2B companies that are killing the content game.
The eCommerce platform has a voluminous amount of content. In every format, it’s clear their audience is the star. There are takeaways, insights, and education at every turn. They also have a podcast, guides, and business courses. Below are a few of their blogs. The creativity is fun, and the titles are engaging.
This help-desk software built a strong brand on content marketing. It’s been a key part of their success. I found this personal post from the CEO to be really on point with transparency, honesty, and thought leadership.
Deloitte is well-known in the professional services industry. The company has credibility, but that doesn’t mean they’re slackers at content. Their Business Chemistry project is an assessment and interactive quiz that can help leaders understand how to be better leaders and recognize traits in their team.
Your B2B Content Marketing Doesn’t Need to Suck
If your goal is to leverage content marketing to produce leads and close deals, then you need to move forward with being honest about why it’s not working. It’s time to plot out a new content strategy and plan. We can help.
If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.
Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.