The content marketing schizophrenia and how to solve it

While preparing my speech for Yaşar University in Izmir about “How to create  Contents that rocks“,  I was searching some insights about the most used tactics in B2B and B2C. Looking at the “B2C Content Marketing 2014 and “B2B Content Marketing 2014” by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, I found two interesting charts about the preferred tactics used by marketers and the most effective tactics according to industry users.

Comparing the two charts I guessed that it exists a deep gap between the tactics used by marketers and the ones considered effective by them. Often the ones they are investing into are not the most effective. For example, 74% of B2C marketers consider in-person events as the most effective, but only 65% of them are using this tactic. Not only, while 88% of B2B marketers  are using social media as main tactic, it seems no one consider this as an effective tactic.

In this post I’m going to show you how  B2C and B2B marketers are living a dissociate world; then I’m going to show you that this depends on a excitement about the trend more than a rational motivation. Finally I’m going to give you 5 steps in order to avoid to waste your time and budget.

Lets go deep!

The confidence gap in B2C


B2C Content Marketing Tactics - Usage vs Confidence
B2C Content Marketing Tactics – Usage vs Confidence

Comparing the adoption rate with the confidence one, we can see that if Social Media ranks as the preferred tactic by marketers, it is considered effective by the 63% of marketers. More, Blogs are used by more than 70% of B2C marketers but just 45% think they are effective. Mobile contents, Webinars, on-line presentations and case studies are consider much more effective than the usage rate could show.

We can observe a similar gap when we look at the Social media platforms used, comparing them to the effectiveness rate. Facebook, for example, is used by 89% of marketers but only 62% consider it as an effective tool. Twitter is used by 80% of marketers but just 50% consider it effective. It’s interesting to highlight that, even if more than 40% are confident about Vimeo Effectiveness, less than 20% of B2C marketers adopt it.

B2C Social Media: Usage Vs Confidence
B2C Social Media: Usage Vs Confidence

The confidence gap in B2B

B2B Content Marketing Tactics - Usage vs Confidence
B2B Content Marketing Tactics – Usage vs Confidence

The B2B industry reveal a similar gap between implementation and confidence with some, but important, differences. First of all: B2B marketers use social media, but they don’t consider them effective at all.  Research Reports and ebooks register an higher rate of confidence but a low rate of adoption.

B2B Social Media: Usage vs Confidence
B2B Social Media: Usage vs Confidence

Even in B2B industry we can observe a deep gap between platform adoption and the confidence in their effectiveness. Linkedin, for example, is largely adopted but the confidence is low. At the opposite, Vimeo – as well as in B2C – has a confidence rate higher than the adoption’s one.

Effective vs Ineffective content marketer

The B2C and B2B reports include profiles of the Most Effective Content Marketer. Generally, we can guess that the most effective content marketer is the one that has a documented strategy, has someone who oversees the strategy, implement the strategy through different tactics and has a dedicated budget to the content marketing.

Most Effective in content marketing B2C B2B
Has a documented content strategy 60% 66%
Has someone who oversees content marketing strategy 85% 86%
Average number of tactics used 14 15
Average number of social platforms used 7 7
Percent of marketing budget spent on Content marketing 32% 39%
Data source: B2C Content Marketing Trends 2014, B2B Content Marketing Trends 2014

The least Effective Marketer, on the contrary, has a completely opposite profile: it hasn’t a documented content strategy, 1 on 2 hasn’t a person who oversees the strategy, it uses less tactics and platform comparing the most effective and it allocates less budget.

Least Effective in content marketing B2C B2B
Has a documented content strategy 12% 11%
Has someone who oversees content marketing strategy 50% 46%
Average number of tactics used 9 10
Average number of social platforms used 5 4
Percent of marketing budget spent on Content marketing 10% 16%
Data source: B2C Content Marketing Trends 2014, B2B Content Marketing Trends 2014

Looking at the top-three challenges that usually companies have, we see that the B2C and B2B top one is the lack-of-time. 51% of B2C Marketers has some problem in producing contents that engages and 48% has lack of budget. The main challenges of B2B marketers are the producing of enough content (55%) and the producing contents that engages (47%). It’s interesting to observe that the inability to measure content effectiveness is a challenge just for the 33-36% of marketers.

Challenges Faced B2C B2B
Lack of time 57% 69%
Producing the kind of content that engages 51% 47%
Lack of budget 48% 39%
Producing Enough content 45% 55%
Inability to Measure Content Effectiveness 36% 33%
Producing a Variety of Content 36% 38%
Lack of Knowledge and Training 33% 25%
Lack of Integration Across Marketing 31% 26%
Lack of Buy-in/Vision 23% 23%
Lack of integration across HR 14% 15%
Inability to Collect Information from SMEs 13% 25%
Finding trained content marketing professional 10% 10%

Data source: B2C Content Marketing Trends 2014, B2B Content Marketing Trends 2014

The causes of content marketing schizophrenia

Comparison between the adoption and effectiveness rates highlights a bias that probably takes place somewhere in the strategic planning. The schizophrenic attitude to invest in a platform or tactic but consider it not so effective can rely in:

  • lack of budget, so marketer choose the tactic or platform less expensive;
  • inability to measure effectiveness (or to use the wrong measure);
  • lack of time: monitoring and using too much tactics and platforms requires time that impact in producing better and more engaging contents

How to solve the schizophrenia

According to marketers, the solution generally rely on increasing budget and resources to allocate to the activity. However, this kind of solution impact negatively on ROI and, usually, the revenues generated by allocating more resources can’t justify such investment. The keys of success is to tailor the implementation according to the audience needs.

1. Define a clear profile of your audience

Describe your audience as a persona (even if you’re in B2B). The information you need are demographic (Age, Gender, Location), Professionals (job title, role, function, company size), Education, Interests. Insert this information in a template, print it and paste on the wall (this is your planning core).

To profile your persona will help you in many ways:

  • to find the right tactic and platform to use
  • to find their needs and, hereby, how to satisfy and to establish a contact
  • to associate target, messages and tools
  • to have a parameter to measure your returns
  • to define the tone of your communication

You can find useful informations and tool here:

2. Measure according to your goals

Your goals define your measure. If you’re goal is to increase the website visits, and your strategy aims to drive visit to your website, don’t  measure the conversion rate or the revenues from sales to try to shock your CEO or stakeholder. Limit your tracking to the goal of your content marketing strategy.

When you are defining your goal, set it up including a quantitative target. For example: I want to increase by a 10% the number of visitors. The qualification (10%) of the goal will be your benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy.

Website Visits, Pageviews Pageviews per visit, Time spent Returning visitor, Purchase completed, Shares, pingbacks
Social Media Likes, Followers, Fans Comments, reply, retweet Shares, mentions, share of voice, sentiment
Newsletter Pageviews Subscription Opening/Clicking, CTA


The above table is just a sample of the metrics you can use according to the generic goal (the classification comes from the networking literature):

  • Know is related to the awareness measures
  • Like is related to how many people are interacting with your contents
  • Trust is related to your reputation as an expert

3. Place your audience in the right point of the funnel

According to your goals, place the audience in the right stage of the funnel. The typical funnel is describe by four steps:

  • awareness: the customer is aware of the existence of a product or service
  • interest: actively expressing an interest in a product group
  • desire: aspiring to a particular brand or product
  • purchase: taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product

We can add two more steps to the standards:

  • loyalty: the customer has usually purchase the product from you
  • advocacy: the customer is an ambassador of your brand

Positioning the audience in the right stage of the funnel helps to decide how to approach at him and to choose the most convenient tactic and tool.

Awareness X
Interest X X
Desire X X
Purchase X
Loyalty X X
Advocacy X X

The above table helps you to match the funnel stage with the objectives type.

4. Find out the right tactic and tool

Many content marketing guides tell you that, unless you have informations about audience’s preference, it’s better to spread the information among different tactics and tools. Anyway, as we said before, the more tactics and tools we use, the more resources have to be allocated, the more the lack will increase. Try to consider one or more of the following:

  • the funnel stage of your audience: Does your audience already know you? Are they interested in a product group or in your own product? are they customers or just leads? Answering to this question helps you to decide which content you are going to deliver to them. If they don’t know you, probably you want to make yourself known, so you have to be reachable and, for example, you have to invest more in SEO and social advertising than in newsletter.
  • look at your past: which of tactic or tool has performed better with that audience in the past? Write it down on a worksheet with a quantitative approach. If it’s an event, for example, indicate the number of attenders; for a white paper, the number of downloads. Consider only the ones matching your persona profile and your goals.
  • ask to your contacts, according to the persona template, what they would prefer. You can ask in-person or use an on-line survey tool, according to the grade of relationship you have. If they are close to you, it’s better a voice call.
  • use the social platform ad tools (such as Facebook or Linkedin one). Insert the profile according to your Audience Persona to verify the size of your potential audience in there.

5. Set the right frequency

How many contents have I to create? We’ve seen that a large part of marketer are obsessed in creating more and more contents. If it is helpful to keep your brand in the audience mind, the quantity must not substitute the quality. The distance between reminding and spam is too short. If they’ll feel disturbed by your content, you’ll be recognized as a spammer and you’ll loose the relationship.

The frequency is a combination of:

  • quantity (number of content)
  • day (the week day when to post)
  • time (the hour within the day when to post)

Considering the quantity, as we said, we have to find the right balance able to give to our audience a content able to respond to their need and, at the same time, to keep us in mind. Because producing by ourselves such a type of content requires time we can consider to alternate the sharing of self-produced contents and third party ones (consistent with our strategy).

Among our contents, we can periodically push the so called “evergreen-content”. An evergreen content is the one that is always useful and not time-constraint. A post like this, can be classified as an “evergreen-content” because contains information that will be always true (especially in this section). So you can create, for example, a guide about how-to prepare the “Spaghetti Amatricana” (do you now I’m Italian? :)) and you can push periodically to your audience.

Furthermore, we can push third party contents we’ve found on-line. We can use services such as Buffer or TweetDeck to schedule this. Even Facebook Pages include the schedule-post feature letting you to create your publishing agenda. My suggestion, anyway, is to use cross channel tools, as the ones we said, that let you manage more platforms at once and often offer analytic tools that,  showing the reactions, can help you to monitor the effectiveness and set the right time scheduling.

About the posting time (day and hour). There are a lot of statistics suggesting the best day and hour to post. The limit of this statistics is that they aggregate different kinds of contents and accounts and give a general overview. I suggest to find your own through the analysis of reaction to each content over the platform you use.

Tip: if you are interested in frequency statistics, take a look at: The Social Media Frequency Guide: How Often to Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn And More

Finally, it’s all on you

The content schizophrenia is all about your attitude to the strategy. In order to get the most from tactics and tools you have to know the strengths and weakness of each of them but, more important, you must know your audience: who they are, what they want, when they want, why they want, where they are. If you feel like having a deja-vu, yes I’m speaking about the 5W.

It’s not important how many tactics or tools are you going to use. It’s important that they are the right ones. Just acting like that the performances and the effectiveness of your content marketing can improve. Otherwise, the only return you can have is just an improve of the costs and a reduction of the effectiveness.

What is your approach at content marketing strategy today? How do you choose your tactic and platforms?

I hope you that this post has been useful. It took a lot of time to organize it, and I hope you’ll take some advantage from it. Please, consider to let your opinion and suggestions in the comment. I want to be useful and you are the only one who can tell me how!

Thanks a lot





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Simone Favaro

Techno and humanist enthusiast. I'm in the technology marketing sector. I'm even the author of a book about on-line business networking.

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