Reap the Rewards of B2B Content Fails

By Ian Blake on 14 October 2015 at 16:34:00 BST


Why learn from your own mistakes when you could learn from someone else’s instead?

Online metrics and analytics tools aren’t just amazing ways to figure out what’s working – and what’s falling flat – in your own B2B content marketing campaigns. They’re pretty phenomenal ways to tap into the wealth of data provided by other companies’ efforts, too.

I’m sure you’ve done your B2B competitor analysis. If I asked you who your biggest competitors are, I bet you could reel off a list in a matter of seconds. I bet you could tell me exactly how they differ from you, how you’re better than them, how you target a different market or offer a different solution.

I bet you have a pretty well-formed idea of why your clients opted for your pitch, product or service, over the other options on the market.

But how do you know all of this?

What’s your proof?

Are you basing your analysis on the factors that they control - the language, style and target audience of their marketing materials? Are you basing this on big headline numbers, like market share?

Because neither of these things will tell you what you really need to know in order to blow their content marketing strategy out of the water.

Neither of these things will give you access to the mechanics of how people engage with their brand. The specific, granular insights that tell you exactly who is responding to their stuff, or whether their followers are turning into customers, further down the line. The invisible, but crucial factors that can make or break a campaign – things that can boil down to whether a tweet goes out at 8am on a Saturday or 6pm on a Thursday.

Rather than relying on guesswork, or – worse - sticking your head in the sand when it comes to what you’re competitors are up to, the best way to beat them is to keep a very, very close eye on them.

You need to start paying close attention to what they make, how well it’s received, and by whom.

This is known as competitor content analysis. And it’s one of the most effective weapons in a marketer’s arsenal.

So how do you get in on the action?

One way to do this is to select a reliable tool, such as NinjaOutReach or BuzzSumo, that will allow you track competitors and automatically amass data from the web about their campaigns, alerting you when someone links to their stuff or posts about them on social media.

Ideally, you’ll want to analyse the quality of these followers and shares, not just the quantity. Are they important thought leaders or influencers? The kind of people you’d like to engage with yourself?

You will, of course, need to subject your own marketing efforts to the same rigorous analysis.

Look at the times, dates and days of the week that you released content. Look at the kinds of headlines you used. Look at content length and whether you made use of things like bullet points, images or embedded video in text-based posts. Look at who wrote, designed or presented each piece and the style they adopted.

Are you seeing any patterns here?

The next step is to compare your competitor’s output with your own – as objectively as you can. Where are each of you getting the most traction? What kind of content seems to be taking off?

Are you seeing the same patterns in their successes and failures as you’re seeing in your own campaign? If not, what’s the differentiator here?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. And no, we’re not saying you should just go ahead and copy all the things your competitor does that seem to be working. You certainly don’t want to become a clone of someone else – it won’t work, and your clients will see right through it.

You need to keep your voice and style authentic. You need to keep hold of who you are as a brand – and you need to be a strong and striking storyteller.

But that doesn’t mean that you can afford to let valuable insights slip you by. It doesn’t mean that you can’t look for clues in audience responses that let you calculate risk, or optimise your content to suit buyer tastes and behaviours.  

And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistakes as the people you’re up against.

What it does mean is that you can leapfrog over the competition, armed with the kind of hard data and gold dust insights that they would have killed for six months ago before they ploughed their budget into something that didn’t quite pay off.

It means you can work smart, maximising your ROI and focussing on what matters: giving your customers more of what they really want – and less of what they don’t.

Want more no-nonsense insights on developing a content marketing strategy that works? Download The B2B Content Creation Masterclass below.