Marketers in the technology industry seem to "get" content marketing. According to Content Marketing Institute, 76% of technology marketers say their organizations are "much more" or "somewhat more" successful in their content marketing efforts than they were a year ago.
Most content marketers in the technology industry use content marketing for brand awareness and lead generation, but many leave opportunities on the table in a few key areas. Whether you're involved in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, or another corner of the tech industry, you can refine your content marketing strategy to overcome these five content marketing challenges that technology marketers are facing:
According to CMI, 74% of technology marketers have a content marketing strategy in mind; among those marketers, only 41% have documented that strategy. If you don't have a documented content strategy in place, you'll have a hard time determining which metrics you're working toward, measuring the results of your strategy, tracking progress, and keeping your entire marketing team on the same page and held accountable for their individual roles within that overarching strategy.
To borrow a line from Simon Sinek, "start with why" when you're creating a documented content marketing strategy. To home in on the purpose behind your content marketing efforts, ask yourself and your marketing team a few questions:
After you've considered those questions and landed on your "why," write it down! The more specific you can be, the better.
Once you've determined your content strategy's ultimate purpose, dive deeper. Write down the specific audience personas you're targeting, what topics resonate with those audience members, what metrics you'll track to determine success, what types of content you'll create, what your content creation process will look like, and how you plan to distribute that content.
Another key element of a documented content strategy is an up-to-date editorial calendar. We use a shared Google Sheet to plan out all of the content we'll create. The spreadsheet is divided into 12 sections, one for each month. And within each month, we track the guest-contributed articles, blog posts, whitepapers, pillar posts, and webinars we'll create. For each piece of content, we document the content type, working title, target publication (if applicable), author, publish date, and status. We keep the status column updated each time a piece of content moves forward to the next step of our content creation process. That way, our whole team knows where we stand.
Just shy of 60% of tech content marketers told CMI that creating content that appeals to roles at multiple levels within their target audience is the biggest challenge they face. This was their top-reported challenge last year, too.
As I mentioned before, developing audience personas is a key part of creating and documenting an effective content strategy. To speak to multi-level roles within your target audience, be sure your target personas reflect those levels. For example, one of your personas might be Coding Kevin, someone who's more in the weeds with writing code. Another might be Mid-Manager Mandy, Kevin's boss who has more decision-making authority than Kevin but who still cares about the tactical skills that her direct reports need to master.
Once you have a few personas specified, refer back to them as you plan your editorial calendar. That way, you can make sure you're creating content for each of your target personas each month.
Another way to make sure you're reaching multiple levels of your target audience is to create different types of content that speak to different levels of the marketing funnel. According to CMI, only 55% of tech content marketers are doing this frequently, and that's a missed opportunity to engage your individual audience members with the information they need right now.
For example, for someone at the top of the funnel, you might create an educational how-to blog post or infographic that readers can learn from and immediately put to use in their roles. The middle of the funnel is all about nurturing leads and building trust, so to reach people at this stage, you might create more specific blog posts or whitepapers that are still educational but talk about your products or services as well. At the bottom of the funnel, you'll want to create pieces of content such as case studies or tutorials that continue to build trust and dive into your products or services even more.
CMI also found that 47% of technology marketers say their top content marketing priority this year will be to improve their content marketing measurement. Among tech marketers who use metrics to measure content marketing performance, 48% measure ROI and 52% say they do a good job of demonstrating the return on their content marketing investment.
Content marketing can lead to tangible business results, but you can only see the impact and fine-tune your strategy accordingly if you're measuring your content marketing performance. Whether your primary content marketing goal is SEO, lead generation, or thought leadership, you can track certain metrics to measure how effective your content marketing strategy is.
For example, to measure a thought leadership goal, you might focus on measuring social shares and engagement, content syndication, press mentions, awards, and time spent on your website. For an SEO goal, you might want to measure keyword rankings, traffic to your site from organic search, and search visibility. And for a lead generation goal, you might focus on measuring average lead score, clickbacks to your site, lead conversions, and the number of times your site visitors fill out forms or click on your calls to action.
Tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot can help you measure some key content marketing metrics.
Every industry is different, and one unique challenge that marketers in the technology industry face is communicating complex information to their audiences in a digestible way. In fact, CMI found that 49% of tech content marketers named that as their top challenge.
Influence & Co. has had clients in a number of complex spaces, including artificial intelligence, real-time 3D cloud streaming, and cloud computing. So we've seen companies take complex subject matter and communicate about it with their audiences in engaging, impactful ways — and you can, too!
One approach that can help you communicate complex information in a way that will resonate with your audience is creating multiple types of content of different depths. That way, you can engage with your audience at all levels of the marketing funnel and all levels of understanding.
For example, you might create a guest-contributed article that's more high-level and digestible, a blog post that goes into a little more detail, a whitepaper that really dives in, and infographics that break up complex information into easy-to-consume and visually stimulating content.
Another important way to make your content digestible is to use conversational language and ditch the jargon whenever you can. After writing a piece of content, go back and read it through the lens of your target audience. Does everything make sense? Have you used jargon in places where more common phrasing might be more effective? Once you've done that, have an editor or a colleague edit your content not only for grammar and style, but also for audience engagement and understanding.
Content marketing can help tech companies achieve a number of business goals. While tech marketers who responded to CMI's survey have been largely successful at nurturing their audiences and leads and generating revenue, only 44% said they use content marketing to build a subscribed audience.
A key component of fostering loyalty among your audience is building a base of subscribers who engage with your content regularly. The best way to approach this? Email newsletters.
If you're looking to engage with your audience regularly through newsletters, you'll need to provide high-quality, relevant content that keeps your audience coming back week after week to consume your content. Your email offering could be a weekly newsletter that shares your new blog content, a daily newsletter rounding up the best trending content on the web, a weekly report sharing industry insights and analyses, or even a monthly email from a leader at your company sharing fresh ideas and perspectives.
While marketers in the technology industry understand and value content marketing, they can still hone their content marketing strategies and make them even more effective. Dive into these five areas to see even better results from your content marketing efforts.
I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the director of content at Influence & Co. In my downtime, you can find me reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.