Your content marketing tactics are a lot like a first date between your prospects and your business. You have limited time to make a good impression, you need to come off as attractive to the other party, the conversation needs to flow effortlessly, and the pairing needs to feel like a good fit. Ultimately, it could be the start of a beautiful relationship or a total waste of time.

Not every first date will turn into forever, just as not every lead will turn into a customer. If you’re generating loads of website traffic and leads that never convert to actual sales, the problem isn’t them…it’s you, or more specifically, your content marketing strategy.

Here’s why those first impressions aren’t leading to customer commitments, and how to turn your prospects into lasting partnerships. 

You’re Too Self-Centered

People don’t like people who only talk about themselves. And above all else, B2B buyers — no matter the job title or industry — are people. If they visit your website, read your blog, or check you out on social media and all they can find is you boasting about how great your product is, they’ll be unlikely to want to learn more. There needs to be an incentive for a prospect to want to continue exploring a relationship with your business, otherwise they’ll move on.

The best way to do this is to put the prospect, rather than your products or services, at the center of your content. How in touch are you with your target audience’s needs, and how are you communicating that understanding? Do you have a grasp on their pain points, what’s top of mind for them, and what they want? If your content doesn’t prove that you “get them” and have legitimate value to share, that prospect will leave in search of someone who can.

Also, look at your language. How often do you use the words “I,” “me,” “we,” or “us,” and how does it compare to your use of the word “you”? Reader-centric content typically gets more engagement. Talk to your audience, not at them. 

You’re Coming on Too Strong

The top and middle of the funnel are not the right place for a hard sell, and coming on too strong too soon will put your prospects off. Your content itself may be too salesy, reading like an elevator pitch rather than an insightful piece of thought leadership. You may also be involving sales too soon, with prospects getting a phone call or email the moment they fill out a form to download an asset. In this blog, we compared this to picking out the wedding menu on the first date, which is honestly automatic grounds for ghosting. 

Content marketing is a long game, especially in B2B tech, where the average sales cycle is roughly seven months. Let your audience get to know you before deciding if they want to become customers and make it easy to do so by providing value-rich content throughout their journey. You absolutely must include a call to action on every piece, but it should guide your leads through the funnel. If every blog post ends with “Contact us,” you’re trying to get your audience to jump straight to the end of the buyer journey, which never works. 

You’re a Bit Dull

Content marketing is all about attention and awareness, both of which have become increasingly difficult to grab and hold onto. Recent studies have found that the average adult attention span is now around 47 seconds long, raising the stakes for making a strong impression quickly.

As a result, B2B marketing is trending towards short video content and engaging interactive assets. If you’re only employing static or long-form content, you’ll likely lose your prospects’ interest before you can even make your case. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and experiment with formats. Startups and scaleups are at a unique advantage but are also often held to a different standard; innovation and creativity are expected of you. If you’re positioning yourself as a disruptor in your industry with your products or services, why are you playing it safe with your content?

You’re Not Letting Your Personality Shine

You know that old sitcom trope where the main character goes on a date but has another character give them instructions through an earpiece, only for everything to go hilariously wrong? Letting Generative AI craft the bulk of your content is the marketing equivalent of that. 

While helpful for certain smaller content tasks, GenAI is not the most creative of technologies. It is a product of its training, meaning that its outputs tend to follow a specific format that can be formulaic and repetitive. Even with the best prompting, the writing style may never truly mimic your brand voice. The content itself may be lackluster and one-dimensional due to AI’s lack of contextual understanding of your brand, market, or customers. This is especially true for open-source tools like ChatGPT, which receive data from millions of users worldwide and are not tailored to your business specifically. That’s no way to come off as genuine and authentic. 

You Don’t Have Anyone Vouching for You

We’re usually much more open to getting to know someone who has been vetted by a friend, and B2B buyers are no different. 86% of B2B brands have found success through word-of-mouth, influencers, and user-generated content (UGC). Having this type of content available during a prospect’s ‘getting to know you’ phase helps you build credibility. Case studies and written testimonials from current or past customers are great, but why not take it up a level? Have a trusted partner or industry expert write for your blog or act as a guest on your podcast. Try a visual case study, or have your customers record their testimonials as a video. Leaning on your existing customers is one of the best ways to attract new ones.

You’re Just Not Compatible

Of course, not every website visitor, blog reader, or social media follower will be an ideal customer for your business, but your content should not put them off before you’ve even had a chance to determine if there’s a fit. It can be tempting to crank out loads of content just for the sake of it. But if you aren’t being strategic and targeted, you’ll never find your perfect match.

That’s why so many B2B organizations are shifting towards account-based marketing. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, it’s better to have a clear grasp on who you are, what your target accounts look like and which companies they work for, what topics are most relevant to them, and what will resonate best. This will help you better structure your content and bring in higher-quality leads with a higher likelihood of conversion. 

Mastering the art of content marketing is about cultivating meaningful connections. Remember, the journey from initial encounter to conversion is a dynamic process that requires experimentation and innovation. Embrace the challenge, and you’ll likely find yourself with more customers that are in it for the long haul.

For more advice on how to structure your content marketing strategy and assess the value of the content you’re already publishing, check out this episode of the FiredUp! podcast.

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