“Collateral Damage”: the true cost of poor content marketing content

It’s a statement of the obvious that poor quality content marketing will compromise revenue performance. If your content assets – your thought leadership, your blogs, your white papers and research, your e-books and explainers and the website which they are presented on – aren’t as good as they could be, then the same can almost certainly be said of your revenue pipeline. It’s no small wonder that content marketing, one way or another, takes up so much marketing time and budget: what could be more important than the message, and the content that conveys it? Tech marketers are confident they’ve got the mix right, with a hefty majority reporting that their content is either ‘consistently good’, or – better still – ‘excellent’.
Confidence, it would seem, that is frequently misplaced: in our research, half of buyers applied the damning adjective ‘generic’ to vendor content, around a fifth said ‘more of it is bad than good’, and only marginally fewer said that ‘some of it is ill-informed’.
‘Generic’ is not going to cut through content white noise and will struggle to persuade buyers, and ‘ill informed’ is going to cost dearly: clearly, there’s an opportunity to be had in sharpening your content pencil. Meanwhile, marketers are distracted with technologies and techniques that can be very expensive, and sometimes, arguably, damaging. In our research, 80% of tech marketers are using marketing automation, and whilst the vast majority rate their platform very highly on most functions, the jury is out on marketing automation’s single biggest promise: that of delivering the right piece of content to the right person at the right time, at the right stage of the funnel – with positive vs negative sentiment a watery, hit and miss, 50/50. ‘Digital intent’ signals too (based on AI, naturally, and in defiance of GDPR) are supposed to be targeting display messages perfectly. But are they? Or do they charge a premium for tracking false flags? And what is the Buyer’s experience of content marketing in the world of hyper-targeted, always-on messages? Not great it turns out: some IT DMs are getting a staggering three interruptions an hour by phone or email about vendor content. The content of these emails, phone calls – and even of google searches – is frequently, and demonstrably, indistinguishable. And meantime, the most influential ‘signals’ are stubbornly hard to track – is the focus on digital signals drowning out more important indicators simply because they can’t be piped into a dashboard via API? Because they aren’t digital? As Einstein is supposed* to have said “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” We won’t pretend we’ve got all the answers. But read the report, and you’ll see the scope of the challenge, learn some of the limits on digital intent and the dangers of relying too much on marketing automation, and the clear benefits that can be derived from focusing on high quality, relevant and persuasive content…and the cost, the collateral damage, of failing to do so: we estimate three quarters of the marketing money and effort spent on bad content is wasted – along with the sales time invested in it. Message me for a copy at tom.wright@incisivemedia.com
*the quote is also attributed to William Bruce Cameron. Einstein may have been, er, quoting.
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