New investments in content marketing are transforming the business models of marketing departments into ones more representative of publishers. Even though the adoption of new tools and distribution methods allow for the overall practice of content marketing to be effective, like typical publishers, part of the investment often goes unmonetized when it fails to generate quick purchases or highly qualified lead volume. Without other monetization avenues to combat the spoilage of content marketing assets they depreciate quickly, forcing CMOs to increase their production efforts repeating the content marketing cycle. Monetizing marketing content, if done thoughtfully, can help to maximize its value when less qualified or unready sales leads and impressions are exchanged for well-qualified ones.
Business model challenges of content marketing
As the adoption of publishing processes and business models take hold in the marketing department, so too do their challenges. The three most prominent challenges that have emerged with content-centric marketing are purchasing lags, fringe audiences, and the lack of lead volume. However, just as with publishers, these challenges can be solved with simple economics to create better business model efficiencies. The first challenge all CMOs are familiar with is purchasing lags. Purchasing lags are nothing new; however, they're more visible and measurable with content marketing. Prospects and customers will regularly consume and engage with content, but most of the time they're just not ready to buy, leaving the marketing department to figure out how to shorten the purchasing lag. The second challenge that has emerged is fringe audiences. Just as publishers need to determine the various audiences their content attracts, so too does the marketing department. Rate cards from publishers show a mix of demographics that engage with their content. Some of these demographics are considered low priority to their main advertisers yet still retain value to its overall health. The same holds true for the marketing department. There will always be audiences attracted to a company's content that just doesn't quite fit its target market. Last, low lead volume is often a result of the marketing department's inability to grow a critical mass of followers from both traditional and non-traditional media outlets.
All three challenges create inefficiencies in the content marketing model, prompting CMOs to invest in even more content production and marketing automation systems to help nurture non-sales ready leads. Even though marketing automation systems have helped to identify strong purchasing intentions while increasing overall engagement, these systems are best used to increase management efficiencies not business model efficiencies. Therefore, simple monetization strategies such as trading leads and impressions with brand enhancing partners should be considered by CMOs.
Content partnerships enhance brand perceptions
Very few successful brands can stand on their own without the help of ecosystems, partnerships and affiliations, which are viewed as strengths in the eyes of customers. In fact, with most technology products and services third-party affiliations are a must for survival. As a result, an objective of monetizing marketing content should be to include or find new brand-enhancing relationships. Since not all impressions of business content or the leads they generate are qualified or sales ready, they are mostly likely qualified for contextually relevant partners, affiliates, and other brand enhancing relationships. Additionally, most qualified leads are usually not sales ready but could be sales ready for related products and services that help to reduce a company's lag time.
To understand the benefits of monetizing marketing content, one doesn't have to look further than corporate client and user conferences. Although offline, the presence of industry partners at such conferences not only lends credence to the importance of session topics, but also helps to absorb production costs. A joint webinar is an online example of content monetization that encourages the “sharing” of complimentary corporate audiences. Other more efficient and subtle forms of content monetization include co-registration and native advertising. With co-registration, B2B marketers are able to monetize their content by trading their leads or content registrations using a permission-based process. Through this process, prospects and customers can opt in to receive information from brand-enhancing partners. The same holds true for native advertising, where contextually relevant information such as articles, infographics, and videos from brand-enhancing partners are embedded into newsletters, blogs, etc. This increases the overall experience and value for prospects and customers.
When possible, leverage ecosystems, affiliates, and partnerships to make the process efficient and successful, otherwise the use of intermediaries should be considered to help source contextually relevant trading partners. Whichever methods they use, marketers must remain mindful of the ethics involved with lead sharing and native advertising. The best way to build 360-degree trust is with providing full transparency of lead sources with trading partners, as well as a clear identification of opt-in processes for customers and prospects. With monetization, B2B marketers can earn the full value of their content, while maximizing qualified lead flow without denigrating their brand or marketing objectives.
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