You might have felt it — a small pang, a sinking feeling, a little wave of disappointment. Your latest content piece wasn’t the home run you thought it would be.
The feeling might pass quickly, but it brings with it a seemingly endless stream of questions:
- What could I have done differently?
- Should I have used a better headline?
- Did I write for the wrong buyer persona?
For me, that feeling looks like a little half-frown paired with a slight crinkling between the eyebrows. And it turns out, that’s a feeling a lot of other content marketers have — the annual CMI and Marketing Profs content marketing survey found that 47% of B2B marketers cite “producing the kind of content that engages” as their top content marketing challenge.
Why is it so difficult to produce engaging content?
Part of the challenge is certainly competition. There’s a lot of material out there, and it’s hard to cut through the noise. But at the core, it’s a question of value — is what you’re offering valuable enough to your prospect for them to pay with their information or attention?
Compelling content is valuable for both prospects and for marketers. It engages, educates, and guides prospects through their buying journey.
Here are three characteristics of the kind of content that resonates with B2B buyers.
Compelling content demands attention
In a landscape of content bloat and seemingly limitless options, compelling content grabs our attention and holds on tight.
The first barrier to engagement is getting the click. How do you get prospects to open your email, visit your landing page, or check out your blog? You need a really compelling headline.
CoSchedule offers a handy headline grader tool to help marketers write better headlines. I started out this post with the working title “How interactive content creates compelling audience experiences”, a bona fide “fail” in CoSchedule’s book – this headline netted a paltry 53.
The headline you see up there now fared much better – 75, partly due to the inclusion of the emotional phrase “the most”. CoSchedule assesses headlines based on length, word balance, character count, sentiment, and more. It’s a helpful reminder that just because a headline sounds great to you, there’s no guarantee your audience will click it.
Interactive calls to action are another way to entice prospects into the click. People crave the emotional payoff promised by words like “assess,” “compete,” “compare,” and “share,” and we all love a challenge. Calls to action like “Assess Your Data Security” or “See How You Stack Up” pique curiosity while promising a specific, valuable output for the visitor.
Which brings me to my next point…
Compelling content provides clear value to buyers
When buyers seek out your content, what they’re really looking for is an answer. They’re trying to solve a problem, meet a need, learn something, or make a hard thing easier.
The foundation of content marketing is providing real, tangible value to prospects and customers — building relationships based on reciprocity and trust. The most compelling content makes this value exchange abundantly clear, from the headline to the landing page.
What value are B2B buyers looking for? That’s a pretty big question, and one that will change depending on your industry and buyer personas, but there are a few places to start.
According to The Economist Group, 60% of buyers want content that “helps me understand a complex issue in simple terms.” That makes sense – who wants to wade through a 150-page industry benchmarking report when they could skim a summary blog post or look at an infographic?
This is one reason interactive content has much higher lead form conversion performance compared to static lead-gating. Interactive experiences, like assessments and calculators, give marketer’s the ability to distil key findings from long-form assets into quick, snackable pieces of content that give prospects what they’re looking for in an engaging way. Marketers build trust by offering up most of the content experience before the lead form and providing valuable, personalized results on the other side.
Compelling content is visual and interactive
Finally, more and more buyers are looking for content that is visual and interactive. In their 2015 B2B content preferences survey, DemandGen Report found that 91% of B2B buyers agree or strongly agree that they prefer more interactive/visual content that can be accessed on demand.
People are hardwired for visuals. Visualizing data and ideas makes them more accessible, memorable, and persuasive. Only 41% percent of people read the text of a page that has substantially more text than visuals, whereas 87% of people who see infographics will read the accompanying text.
If you really want your audience to learn something, make your content interactive. People remember 80% of what they see and do, so letting your audience answer questions or interact with your infographic in some other way will increase their retention of your content, the value they get out of it, and the likelihood that they’ll share it with someone they know.
Producing content that engages seems likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future – content marketers aren’t slowing down output any time soon, and buyers are flatlining on engagement. Marketers are now tasked with creating the most valuable, unique content they can to reach their buyers.
Incorporating interactivity is one way to jumpstart engagement—creating an assessment, calculator, or interactive infographic will add more value for your audience and keep them coming back for more. Give it a try!
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