Part 2
The future of content marketing

AdobeStock_493221720

What is the best use of your resources? To deal with a PR agency (and pay it a monthly retainer) or to create content that can make its own way in the world – even in emails?

In Part 1 of our blog series on content marketing, we saw that the creation of customer experiences locks you in a cycle of complexity which Zngly can help resolve. As an example of that, we explored how Zngly helps B2B businesses to make the most of their webinars.

In this blog, we take a slight detour to discuss if PR is still an effective way to get your message across. Spoiler alert: for the majority of B2B businesses, it isn’t. What about emails? We all get thousands a year, and we hardly ever open them, no matter how ingenuous (or desperate) the tagline. Is it time we moved on from emails as a marketing tool?

Let’s see.

The death of PR
The Digital Revolution and the triumph of the website made every business a creator and publisher of content, whether they liked it or not. Technology vendors, banks, food wholesalers, and toy distributors – all suddenly needed “content” to stay relevant.

Many B2C and B2B businesses felt they weren’t up to this unexpected challenge and made the problem go away (or so they thought) by outsourcing it to a PR agency.

This was the heyday of PR, which for the best part of two decades skillfully positioned itself as the most effective tool to get your story “out there”.

But “out there” has changed beyond recognition. Businesses are creating so much content, and there are so many places for that content to go, that the power of PR to show off your content in “game-changing” publications has been greatly diluted.

That’s not all. The PR mindset was actually always “analogue”, and PR only ever felt at ease with print assets. These still need promoting but we know that video engages and converts better. PR didn’t see this coming.

Webinars require thorough preparation but are not especially costly to produce. Film creation can be expensive but for the budget to retain the services of a PR agency you could probably shoot one or two short “how to install the product” videos. If it’s a poor video, PR won’t save you. If it’s good and helpful – and has a clear title – your B2B customers will find it.

Because that’s the thing. We know that B2B buyers are increasingly autonomous in researching (and ordering) the products they need. In response, B2B businesses are investing heavily in making their product catalogues more searchable and user-friendly, and using tools such as Zngly to get relevant content in front of their customers and prospects.

PR’s most powerful weapon, the promise of a “story” in a prominent publication, has lost much of its shine in a context where media consumption is irrecoverably fragmented.

Is PR dead? No. But for most B2B businesses it is no more than background noise.

The email conundrum
To repeat our question: is it time to give up on email as an effective tool of content marketing?

Sometimes, it absolutely seems that way.

Subject fields and email headers are tweaked ad nauseam to find the magic key that will unlock your attention, almost always in vain. If it is a numbers game then it’s a game with diminishing returns: send out 1,000 emails and you get 17 replies (if you’re lucky); send out 10,000 and you get 28.

LinkedIn is a great platform to promote your brand and content (although here too, it is getting increasingly difficult to stand out), and whatever you are putting in an email you will post on LinkedIn. The difference is that we can opt out of LinkedIn but not out of our inbox, whether we like it or not.

Given that email is inevitable, you have to make it a success – and there are many ways to optimise your chances with Zngly. We list some of them below:

Personalise
People respond to people and email content introduced with a short video message has a much higher click-through rate than faceless messages, however clever, plaintive, or even menacing (“Do you want your business to thrive or not, Mr Wilson?”). [hahahahah! Love it!!!]
With Zngly you can copy and paste a video message in your Zngly list. Personalise where you can (but only if you’ve actually met the addressee), and explain the nature of the content in the briefest possible way.

It will come as a pleasant surprise that you are directing your customer or prospect to content that does not require a download – which brings us to our second point.

No attachments
Opening an attachment is a downer especially if you are reading the email on your mobile phone. Few people like to download PDFs or Word files on their smartphones because the way they are archived (especially in iOS) is not user-friendly. Attachments download faster on a PC and will be easier to read but you still have to decide whether to store it, and where, or to go straight to your download folder to delete it, as so often happens. It is far “cleaner” to consume the content where it lies and this is how Zngly lists work. You don’t have to go to Vimeo or YouTube; you don’t have to explore the website or the customer experiences it projects  – the content is revealed to you immediately through Zngly.

 

Curate
Contemporary B2B buyers are far less dependent on sales input than has traditionally been the case; they want to get into their decision-making and research as far as they can before contacting a sales rep.  The role of sales reps in this brave new world of digitalised commerce is to act as a consultant or expert rather than a hard-nosed vendor. The emphasis in B2B has shifted from the purchase to the purchase process, and from “clinching” sales to building relationships.

Zngly lists fit perfectly with this new sales culture. The list can contain any type of collateral – video, product information PDFs, LinkedIn posts, webinars of course, white papers – and there is no reason why all the material collated should be about your company and product. Depending on where you are in the sales cycle, you can offer background, stats, and other information to create trust and nurture that relationship.

In the final instalment of our blog series on the power of Zngly, we discuss two home truths: the importance of data and of making sure your content is for the customer, and not about you