With B2B Content Marketing, Virality is a Big Guessing Game

Bryan Bartlett is an Online Marketing Manager at Chango

If you’re in the data business, as we are, content marketing can pose a special challenge. Our entire business is built around the power of data and algorithms to make marketing more powerful and efficient. And yet, when it comes to content marketing, precision isn’t always possible. Simply put, it’s just really hard to know what makes a piece of content go viral.

Does that mean you should throw your hands up and send out your content blindly? Of course not. There’s still plenty of room for strategy, even when success isn’t guaranteed. But it does mean that if you want to succeed, you can’t let the uncertainty of the process paralyze you.

At Chango, we publish a lot of content. The main focus of our publishing efforts isn’t our own blog; rather, we pitch our content to popular trade publications, as well as your every day marketing blogs. Guest post opportunities (like this one!) are a big contributor to our content marketing success. Generally speaking, we know which articles will be popular. But we’re often very surprised by what we see. Sometimes a great piece falls into the void, only garnering a few social shares. Other times, a hastily written blog post will catch fire and be retweeted hundreds of times.

Sometimes, we can’t even predict which publications will work best for us. We’ve had plenty of success publishing on AdWeek and other major sites. But often, the articles we write for smaller publications turn out to be the ones that go viral and lead to conversations with CMOs around the globe.

Our success with Convince & Convert, a relatively small social and content strategy firm that publishes thought leadership pieces on its website, is a great example of how unpredictable B2B content marketing can be. We never imagined that writing about Facebook Exchange or the latest trends in retargeting for Convince & Convert would be more effective than writing for the big boys. But that’s how it turned out, and if we hadn’t been willing to roll the dice and work with smaller partners, we’d have never have made this great discovery.

Again, this isn’t to say the process is entirely random. There are good reasons that Convince & Convert turned out to be a great fit for Chango’s content. For one thing, while Convince & Convert’s readership may be modest, it’s a niche audience made up of people who are genuinely passionate about digital marketing. And we looked very carefully at the stories they publish before pitching, allowing us to be certain that our pieces would appeal to the site’s core readership.

It also helps that the site is run by an influencer, Jay Baer, who is both a trusted voice and someone who is able to reach other influencers. Moreover, because Convince & Convert only publishes one story a day, its audience pays attention to every single piece.

The takeaway: b2b content marketing

So, no, content marketing isn’t just guess work. But if you hear someone say they have B2B virality down to a science, don’t waste your time on the explanation. You just can’t predict exactly what’s going to work. And you just can’t afford to let that unpredictably be an obstacle.

Maybe, someday someone really will get content marketing down to a science. Until then, keep publishing away.

What’s the deal with the Content Strategist? It’s something we created at Contently because we believe in a world where marketing is helpful, and businesses grow by telling stories that people love. Take advantage of our tools and talent and come build that world with us.

Image by Emilio Küffer
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