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Why Traditional B2B Content Marketing Agencies Fail

Colin Barnard June 14, 2022
Why Traditional B2B Content Marketing Agencies Fail by Colin Barnard, SEO Content Director for House of Revenue.jpg

Content marketing is an entrenched part of every B2B marketing effort. Just think about all the assets on your site right now and the way they allow you to interact with buyers:

  • Blog posts can appeal to inbound audiences looking for answers and insight.
  • Lead magnets like eBooks, checklists, and templates can be the missing piece that helps buyers solve a problem years in the making.
  • Videos and podcasts play an increasingly pivotal role in reaching new audiences and securing the ongoing attention of people within your industry.

Despite the monumental improvements made throughout the industry in recent years, many organizations are still using traditional approaches that are no longer adequate for today's markets. No matter how useful, creating overly generalized content won't help your organization shine — either in the eyes of potential leads or in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Marketing that's off the mark can make your lead generation stagnate or even feel like it's moving backward.

In fact, 93% of consumers receive marketing communications that are not relevant to them. Ninety. Three. Percent. (!!!) 

Customer disengagement isn't just a failure to move forward; it's actively bad for your brand.

But in many cases, the problem doesn't originate from the brand itself but rather from traditional B2B content marketing agencies that are falling back on outdated practices.

Whether you've used agencies in the past that provided nothing but bad results and empty promises or you tried to manage all of your content marketing in-house with a junior-level marketer, it's time to rethink your approach to content. Today, we'll help you spot the signs of outdated content marketing strategies and gain a deeper understanding of how they fail so you can find the right path forward for your own organization.

The Traditional B2B Content Marketing Agency Framework

Traditional marketing agencies can help take a lot of pressure off of your internal teams. Producing content takes a lot of time and effort; it also requires specialized copywriting and editing skills that exceed your internal marketing roles. However, there are several key drawbacks of sticking with old-fashioned B2B content marketing agencies that can interfere with your efforts to personalize and target your marketing. Those include:

Blind Production

If you opt for a fully managed B2B content marketing solution, then the whole process is taken out of your hands. This offers some benefits — such as reduced to-dos for your team, fully managed production and publishing through your Content Management System (CMS), and the expertise of your agency.

But it makes the whole process opaque, something you can't afford as a marketer who relies on creating lasting relationships with buyers. You won't have easy insight into whether the content truly aligns with your brand, if your customers love the content, and what key decisions are made. Instead, you simply hand over your CMS and often feel like all you can do is hope for the best.

Content Workshop

Through iteration after iteration of search engines that have become smarter over time, marketers have focused on keywords. For many marketing agencies, it's all about hitting the numbers: getting the right percentage of keywords shoved into the text, producing as much content as possible, and writing for the search engines and their bots — not for human audiences. 

Here's the truth — content marketing is all about genuinely relating to real people, not appeasing the robots dictating SERPs.

Smarter search engines are starting to recognize consumer intent and ignore bad content. While assembly-line-style content may still draw eyes, it's much more unlikely to take your reader through The Buyer's Journey.

Technical Focus

What's the purpose of a piece of B2B content? Old-school thinking was all about proving expertise and drilling down deeper and deeper into your subject matter. Is this still useful? Absolutely! Authority and trust are still among the most important pillars of great content.

But truly great content that moves the needle must do more than just prove your expertise — it must fit the personalized needs and goals of your buyer personas and target audience. It's all about crafting the perfect piece of content for each audience, and outdated technical pieces can't compare.

Why This Doesn't Work

Ultimately, unfocused, overly technical content, especially content written for bots instead of buyers, doesn't work. Instead, content needs to have these three key attributes (whether you create it in-house or work with a more modern content marketing partner):

1. Relatable

Your audiences need to have a striking connection to the content you create for them. There are millions of articles, videos, and podcast episodes they can spend their time on. If your content doesn't strike a chord, it'll be forgotten.

Instead, you want your audience to think:

"That's exactly right! That's what I'm dealing with! How do they know me and my problems so well?!" 

This is the sign that your content is right on the mark. Even better, if your content makes readers think, "This problem is hurting my business, but it sounds like they know how to solve it," you're not just engaging with your audience — you're actively building trust and leading them to a sale.

But blind production can't achieve this connection. If content mills are producing high-volume content without a true understanding of your buyer personas, they can't empathize with their pain points, describe relatable problems, or frame your products and services in the right light. Your audiences will start to skim — or even worse, go back and click on a different article.

2. Visible

While your content needs to be written precisely for your readers, the infrastructure around it still does need to cater to the bots. Traditional content marketing services don't always give you the SEO services you need — or any SEO at all.

In order for your content to appear at the top of the SERPs, all of your keywords, metadata, and website infrastructure need to meet today's trends and requirements. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if you have great content if no one can find it.

3. Data-Driven

Content marketing isn't done the second you or your agency hits publish. Instead of moving on to the next piece of content, it's important to analyze the ongoing performance of every asset. Track these and other metrics over time:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Organic contacts created through the content
  • Keyword position tracking

Without these numbers, you won't know if your content is really resonating with your key buyer personas, if you see improvements over time, or if your agency is failing. Traditional B2B content marketing agencies often track different metrics, such as quantity, and ensure each article meets different minimum requirements — but they don't track results.

Craft Targeted Content to Speak to Your Audience

Outsourcing your content creation is a valid strategy, especially if your marketing department is small and you don't have the manpower for completely internal content marketing. But sticking with agencies that use outdated practices is bad for business. 

You won't fully engage audiences, you won't improve for SEO, and you won't have insight into your results. Instead, it's time to focus on speaking to specific buyer personas and making your business stand out from the crowd.

Contact House of Revenue today to learn more about how to holistically transform your marketing efforts and internal organization to drive better results.