With small teams and intense revenue pressure, the headwinds at a B2B startup can oftentimes feel gale-force. Don’t compound the challenge by making critical content marketing mistakes.
In all my years of startup marketing, I’ve seen five massive mistakes pop up far more frequently than others. I’m here to flag them so you can successfully navigate around them:
1. Just saying “no” to nurturing
In a rush to revenue, startups often skip over giant portions of the B2B buying journey and automatically send everyone who downloads any gated asset to Sales for follow-up. I’m sure you’ve been on the other end. Your mouse has barely left the “Download” button and you’ve already got an email and voicemail asking you to book a demo. Feels a bit like being asked to choose the wedding menu on your first date, doesn’t it?
B2B buyers (and, quite frankly, humans in general) simply don’t respond well to this. The average B2B buyer is now an entire buying team, and they must do their due diligence if they’re going to feel confident dipping into their precious budget and selecting a vendor. They move at their own pace, and it’s a lot slower than you’d like — 56 days, on average, to go from anonymous first touch to B2B SaaS demo. This is why email nurtures have to be your BFF. Offer genuinely helpful information to new leads, guide them down the funnel, and then ask if they’d like to book a demo. Consider it the Golden Rule of Startup marketing — treat leads as you wish to be treated.
2. Gating everything under the sun
Yes, you need leads, but gating practically every content asset you create isn’t going to help you turn them into revenue. In fact, this tactic starts you off behind the eight ball because it’s annoying. Because sales teams push so hard, so fast, B2B buyers are very choosy about the forms they fill out. If your well-designed, compelling landing page leads to something scrawny — like a super short infographic with data that’s widely available or a product one pager disguised as impartial market research — they’re not going to be happy. Even the days of gating case studies are over.
3. Never (or rarely) analyzing data
KPI analysis sounds about as enthralling as watching paint dry, and it’s certainly not something you have time to squeeze into your too-busy-already schedule, right? Wrong. I always say “the data tells the story.” If you’re not regularly checking to see how the market is actually responding to your content, you could be spinning your wheels churning out asset after asset. After all, you don’t know which content topics and formats are getting the most engagement and which ones make your audience say “Meh.”
But I get it, your time is so limited, and digging through all of your existing content for key learnings sounds about as realistic as scaling Everest on your lunch break. That’s why so many startup marketers are all too happy to let my team tackle their content marketing audit. We even include a KPI analysis framework at the end so it’s easy for them to take the baton and make a habit of keeping an eye on their metrics.
4. Focusing on one area of the funnel, to the exclusion of all others
A few years ago, a startup CEO told me, “I think you’ll be very pleased when you do our content audit. We’ve got fantastic content.” When it was time to present our findings, I said, “You do have fantastic content — except it’s all in the top of the funnel. There’s nothing deeper for a potential buyer to engage with, so they’re journey ends on your blog.” (Cue the deer in headlights look.)
Oftentimes this mistake comes from a hamster wheel-esque approach to content. Startup marketers are trying to get content out into the market so quickly that they stick with the path of least resistance and create whatever’s easiest. It may be blog posts. It may be solution briefs. It may be infographics. Whatever it is, you’re left with gaps in your funnel that are most likely preventing you from driving more revenue.
5. Confusing content creation with content marketing
I love the hustle of the startup culture and seeing people do whatever it takes to succeed. But some startups take it a little too far and let anyone and everyone in the building work on their content. The end result? Disjointed efforts that don’t add up to an actual strategy, an inconsistent brand voice, unclear value propositions and differentiators, and no real business impact. You need a North Star, and the only one who can give it to you is a true content marketer. Remember, there’s a giant difference between content marketing and content writing.
So here’s to warming up leads, keeping more content open to the world, staying data-hungry, embracing every level of the funnel, and respecting the half-art-half-science that is content marketing. Trust me, your conversion rates will thank you for it.
Want to see how your content marketing efforts measure up? Need a helping hand to guide you forward? Check out the Content Marketing Audits done by our experts.
Nicole Pytel is Vice President of Content Marketing at Firebrand Communications. With 15 years of content marketing and branding experience, she loves combining multimedia creativity with strategic data analysis to help clients reach their biggest goals.