“Good content isn’t enough anymore; it has to be remarkably great.”

Merrie Beth Salazar, Senior Director of Marketing Strategy at Cox Media

The reason I love this quote is that it illustrates the biggest lesson that I learned in 2017 as a B2B content writer for technology companies – if you want content that converts and campaigns that show real results, do something exceptional that resonates with your target audience.

I wrote several eBooks for different clients this past year, and guess which one inspired the biggest customer engagement? The one that took a different, out-of-the-ordinary approach.

It was an eBook called “More Than a Handshake”, created for a Microsoft partner that has a P2P platform for connecting individuals and companies who are looking for complementary skills. Instead of a traditional white paper to educate prospects about the new solution, this IT company wanted to go with something more creative.

They collected 10 different stories from well-known experts in the IT industry about relevant topics that also connected to the company’s matchmaking solution. After analyzing what their existing users were interested in (like partnership challenges, cross-border opportunities, building trust, etc.), they asked authorities in each field to provide the answers through personal experiences.

The result was a different digital asset that stands out from the crowd, collects numerous downloads every day and attracts new users.

What they found was that those who base their content strategy on high-production just for the sake of it, don’t get significant results despite all the hard work. However, those who adopt a more customer-centric approach, studying the market up-close and adjusting their content accordingly, have greater success.

2017 was a crossroads for the content marketing industry, where the preference for quantity slowly started to lose favour, and quality began to change the landscape.

It’s fairly obvious why that happened after years of content hyper-production that cluttered the digital space: information offered was based on assumptions, packed with loads of fluff and did not provide true value for the customer. Gradually, the buyer’s response was to demonstrate less and less engagement.

What customers want to consume – regardless of the channel or platform – is information that speaks to them, offering solutions to their specific pain points.

But to know what really keeps your prospects awake at night, it is not enough to simply identify their industry and develop a buyer persona. Marketers now need more in-depth knowledge of their customers and the tools to reach them in innovative ways.

Sounds like a not-so-easy assignment, one that definitely takes more time, effort and creativity. To create great content, marketers need to rely on both science and art. Here are three crucial steps you need to take to skyrocket your content strategy for 2018:

1. Get Obsessed with Buyer Behaviour

Track and analyze whatever you can, such as what your ideal clients care about, how they find and consume information, what they need, how they make buying decisions and what triggers them to engage.

In the last year, Gartner published its annual chart “Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising”, which predicted the future of marketing based on a data-centric approach.

The chart showcased that, in the following years’ top marketing technology trends, we can expect data-driven marketing, predictive B2B marketing analytics and techniques focused on the voice of the customer.

2. Create “Connective Content” with Storytelling

Now that you have all the detailed data about your customer, it’s time to reply to it with remarkable content.

Storytelling is not just one of the latest digital marketing buzzwords – it is the oldest technique known to humankind that enables us to connect and relate to a certain topic, and it works flawlessly to this day. It is scientifically proven that our brains are naturally wired for stories, and this makes all the difference in creating a memorable experience that includes the “X“ factor of every purchasing decision – emotion.

The content marketing project and the eBook I mentioned earlier are perfect examples of storytelling that are successfully weaved into a content strategy.

3. Use New Technologies

Content distribution channels and tools are constantly evolving, and to employ a successful strategy you need to keep an eye on those trends.

Video posting, which started to emerge rapidly last year, is still on the rise, moving to live streaming and on-demand TV channels.

But if you really want to be on top of the game, look into augmented and virtual reality options for marketers, which are raising the bar in improving customer experience.

“Great content is a key contributor to customer experience. So if we can change how content makes people feel, that will help make our brands more memorable.”

Kelvin Gee, Senior Director of Marketing Business Transformation at Oracle

Content marketing needs to prioritize quality over quantity. Great content is snappy, actionable, remarkable, fun, eye-opening, intriguing, smart and spot on. Moreover, it pays close attention to the needs of your target audience and gives a timely response to feedback from existing customers.

Move your content from “just good” to “remarkably great” and see the difference yourself.