Data is a tried-and-true way to build the credibility of content marketing. But what happens when the data itself is bad?
It’s 2022. And content marketing is still king. What’s changed and what can B2B marketers do differently with content this year?
In this episode, Alex Burdine, Director, Marketing Technology, Adam Smartschan, Chief Strategy Officer, and Jeff Kotran, VP, Demand Generation, talk content marketing trends: what types of content B2B companies should try in 2022, how to approach the written word, and do’s and don’ts when it comes to content marketing and, specifically, SEO.
Discover content marketing trends in 2022 and how these trends impact B2B marketers by listening (and reading along!) to the full podcast episode below.
Alex: I’m Alex Burdine, Director of Marketing Technology at Altitude Marketing. Welcome to Marketing Trends 2022, a view from 30,000 feet.
This is a mini-series on the top marketing trends we think will define 2022. Each episode I’ll interview a different member of our team. We’ll talk about the topics facing B2B companies, as well as provide valuable insights to move your marketing efforts forward.
I’m back with Adam Smartschan, Chief Strategy Officer at Altitude Marketing and introducing Jeff Kotran, VP of Demand Gen at Altitude Marketing. Welcome, guys. Thanks for joining us.
Adam: Absolutely. Thanks, Alex. So, Jeff, welcome to our, I don’t know, podcast cave. Let’s go with podcast cave.
Jeff: It’s great. Nice to be here.
Adam: Oh, absolutely. Exposed brick and everything. We spare no expense. No dinosaurs. So that’s a downside. On the plus side, we are talking about marketing trends here, in particular B2B marketing trends for 2022. Wanted to dive in with you, with your thing, which is content.
TREND #1: Meet Your Users Where They Are
One of the things I keep reading about is how differently people are consuming content compared to last year, five years ago, ten years ago. One of the things so – it’s always coming back to you know, people have really short attention spans. They are not going to pay attention for more than like five, two, you see these insanely low numbers of seconds. Is that the case, really? Is it that dire?
Jeff: Um, so first of all, yes, it is true that people are consuming content differently, but people have always consumed different kinds of content. Written word, images, video for as long as video has been around, certainly, audio content is part of the mix now more than ever. I think the biggest difference is in how much each kind of content is being consumed. The pandemic certainly pushed video and audio consumption through the roof. And I think if you look at trends in that area, you’ll see data – a lot of that data is based on streaming platforms like Netflix, you know, Tik Tok, things like that. I don’t know how much relevance that has to marketers. What does have relevance is the fact that more people are just interacting, engaging with streaming, even if it’s not for, you know, work, let’s say, if it’s just for entertainment.
And the reality is for businesses, you have to be able to meet your users wherever they are, everywhere they are. So you have to be able to create content in a variety of formats that meet your audiences needs for consumption and also for information. And that means getting more comfortable with the kinds of content they’re comfortable with. So written word, of course, but you know, video and audio are coming.
TREND #2: The Written Word Is Not Dead
Adam: Video and audio are coming. How about the written word?
Jeff: So there’s still a place for the written word. I think you know written content is still a critical piece of a content strategy for a business. You know, the Google algorithm still relies on written content more than anything else to deliver answers to user queries. Websites are still largely driven by content.
But more and more, the written word’s place, especially where we see it being effective, is in the later stages of a buyer’s journey. So where users are getting deeper into the educational process, starting to shortlist possible vendors, companies they want to work with and starting to make inquiries. The written word is really critical in sort of pushing a prospect one way or another.
And then the video and the audio content, while you can leverage it pretty much throughout, we see it earlier in that process as a means of getting attention and getting a foot in the door.
TREND #3: Understand & Answer Your Buyers’ Questions Comprehensively
Adam: So that late process stuff is obviously super critical. If they’re making that list, you want to be on it. Number one, you want to be at the top of it. Number two, what can I write to get me there?
Jeff: So that’s really where written content matters most. You know, a picture is worth 1,000 words, but if you want to answer a buyer’s question comprehensively, you’re probably going to need about 1,000 words. So the reality is, you want to make sure that you understand what questions they have, how they look for those, look for answers to those questions. How they ask. Not just Google, but how they ask peers. How they ask authorities.
Again, this kind of ties into understanding their need for information. So you want to make sure that your content aligns with those needs and can answer the questions, and the written word is just still a very effective way of answering them. And like I said, comprehensive. So it still matters, it’s still really, really important. A lot of the content we produce, in fact, most of the content we produce is still written.
TREND #4: Start Podcasting
Jeff: I think when it comes to video and audio, you know, it’s certainly something businesses need to start exploring, testing it out, trying it out. You know, one of the reasons why we do it actually with a lot of different businesses is because we want to kind of see where the edges are. We want to see what industries respond more to audio content and video content. We want to see which industries prefer it and especially in terms of again, consumption and informational needs.
And actually, Alex, speaking of podcasts, you’re kind of the in-house resident expert on podcast. So I kind of want to throw that question to you, which is, you know, podcasts being what they are a great way to generate high quality content quickly. How do you see marketers making that happen? How do they actually make that practical and achievable?
Alex: I think the first practical piece of information that I can give is just do it. It seems like an Everest moment to start podcasting. I think there are some technical aspects to it. Editing and recording, you certainly need these fancy microphones that we bring to the office and set up. We certainly need some, you know, we use Pro Tools here to set that up, but you can use Audacity and that’s a free tool to do the editing. You maybe even farm that out. You know, there’s aspects of this stuff that you can do.
But the most practical thing that I can say from my experience is just do it. We have writers on staff that start with a strategy for a blog post. You would do the same thing with a podcast. You start with that strategy. You start with the focus on messaging. You focus on even things like keywords. Are you seeing the keywords that you want to rank for in your messaging on your website? You’d want to use those in a blog post or in a podcast.
And I can edit the —- what I just said because that’s what I can do. I will even keep that in and put a bleep there because I think that would be awesome.
Content Marketing Trends in 2022: Taking It Down to 5,000 Feet
Alex: All right, so I like to zoom down from that 30,000 foot view to maybe 5,000 foot and talk about some of the content marketing do’s and don’ts.
Jeff: Sure. I would say, don’t produce content without a strategy, first and foremost. We see a lot of businesses just kind of write content, produce content, try to just, almost as though they’re just, the end goal is just to have blogs. And I think the most important thing here is you want goals. You want to make sure that you have a strategy and a process for actually figuring out what you should be writing about.
Second one here, don’t rely on people that don’t know the product or the service to produce the content exclusively and don’t rely on the people that do know it, do know the product and the service exclusively. I think you want to make sure those two are talking to each other. We see a lot of businesses that, you know, they have the people that know it, they’re the inside experts, the subject matter experts, and they’re trying to get them to write and they don’t have the time, they don’t have the energy. And you know, the best thing you can do there is kind of take away that hard part for them. Give it to a writer. Allow the writer to interview them. Record them, you know on a podcast, but kind of extract that information from their heads.
And then I think a third one here is, don’t expect immediate results when it comes to especially organic content. It’s a process. There is a process to it, and a big part of that is SEO. And actually, I kind of want to throw it to Adam here just because he’s the in-house resident expert on SEO. And you know, there’s definitely some watch out for SEO that I think you can speak to.
Adam: I’m happy to. Though the word expert is doing a lot of work in that sentence, I can add one more “do” before I hop in. If you have a bleep key, swear, swear a lot. It’s fun. It’s a good stress reliever. You can do it. Better in audio though – bleeps in the written word. Yeah, not so awesome.
SEO. That’s what you asked about. Not swearing. The biggest “don’t” with SEO is “doing” SEO. I sound like a children’s book now, but for a reason.
Think about what doing SEO is. Doing SEO is trying to get your Google rankings higher. So far, so good. If you’re trying to get your Google rankings higher by doing anything other than producing really good content that your readers want and find useful, that Google is going to say it’s really good and they think your readers are going to find it useful – you’re doing it wrong. Because what you’re trying to do at that point is trick Google.
Why does Google not like being tricked? The reason being Google makes many billions of dollars from search advertising every year. They make that money because they have a lot of advertisers, they have a lot of advertisers because they have a lot of users, they have a lot of users because the users are generally happy with what Google gives them. If you trick Google, users are going to get stuff they like less. They won’t come back. They’ll go to, I don’t know, Bing. Let’s say Bing. Sure, whatever, somebody used Bing once. They’re going to go to Bing, the advertisers are going to follow. They’re going to go Bing things. It’s going to become a verb. It’s a whole thing. It’ll end up in the dictionary. You’ll be a jeopardy question or answer, whatever they call it next year. Google is going to make less money. Google doesn’t like being tricked. That’s a problem. Google likes money.
Therefore, doing SEO by trying to get your rankings higher by only doing things to get your rankings higher is an issue. Don’t do that. If it feels like a trick, don’t do it. If you’re just sticking words in just to stick words in for SEO, don’t do it.
Do it for the readers. If it makes it more clear to the reader, absolutely. If you want to link to something, if a reader follows the link and gets value, do it. If the reader follows the link and gets no value, don’t do it.
I’d love to pick on recipe sites. I use them all the time. I can also say I have found a 4,000 word recipe for toast. This is true. It took 4,000 words to explain to me whether I can make toast in an air fryer. You can, you have to butter it first. That’s all there is to it. None of that added value to me. The ingredients were simple. It was a slice of bread. Multigrain. The equipment was simple. Air fryer. Put it in. Technically, I was supposed to preheat it. I went off script there. Apparently, I only got to word like 3,000. That sucked. I hated that experience. I would have gone and Bing-ed how to make toast in an air fryer if I knew where Bing was. So the big picture there, to answer your actual question, Jeff, is don’t “do” SEO. Provide value. That’s going to give you the results you want from an SEO perspective.
Alex: Well, thanks, guys, for that rousing conversation about content marketing in 2022. My advice to everyone is get out there and podcast. It’s a really great opportunity for B2B companies to expand their dynamic content, as we call it, and get in front of new audiences.
Catch us next time when we talk about websites in 2022. Thanks for listening.