Successful content marketing and marketing automation requires more than publishing a few blog posts on your website or popping a whitepaper behind a paywall on a landing page and hoping for results. Yet according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by Brightcove, only 41% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear about what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.

72% attributed increasing success to the development of, or adjustment to, their strategy, yet only 33% of respondents had a documented content strategy, and 14% said they had no strategy at all! 71% consider how their content impacts the overall experience a person has with their organization. And 69% are focusing on creating content for their audience instead of their brand.

Does anyone else see the disconnect in these stats?

Roughly three-quarters of marketers recognize the importance of strategy, yet almost two-thirds don’t have a strategy? And between 30 and 40% don’t seem to care if the audience gleans any value from the brand’s content?

So, if your content isn’t converting, you can take comfort in the fact that misery loves company. Or you can ask yourself if you have a plan to meet the needs of your target audience, and whether the content you’re pushing out into the world has any value outside the walls of your organization.

What do I want to achieve?

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Content marketing and automation programs require constant evaluation to take advantage of opportunities or correct course if things start to go awry.

Objectives may include high-level “soft” measurements, such as “raise brand awareness” while goals should be tactical “hard” measurements, such as “increase website traffic by 20%” or “500 whitepaper downloads” or “300 MQLs passed to sales.”

Know Your Audience

You need to know who you want to speak with and what they care about. The first step is figuring out the target audiences and their challenges or “pain points”. You’ll also want to uncover any misperceptions the audiences hold about your organization.

Build a prioritized audience matrix and use it to develop key messages for each audience and each pain point. You can then build out content assets that address each point, and develop a calendar to schedule publication.

Give away free samples

We often see brands become increasingly frustrated as landing pages receive lots of traffic but fail to do their job of converting anonymous visitors to known prospects. They tinker with layouts, swap headlines and reposition calls-to- action (CTAs) to no avail.

The price of access (email address) does not match the perceived value of the content on offer. To convince your anonymous visitor, try giving him or her a free sample in the form of a whitepaper except, a “teaser” preview of a webinar or part one of a five-part podcast. And remember: the longer the form, the greater the investment by your visitor. Use progressive profiling instead of the Spanish Inquisition method!

That’s edu-tainment

Remember that you’re not talking to yourself. The classic mistake in content marketing is naval gazing, followed by a too-hard sell, too soon.

The key is storytelling – good stories about overcoming challenges, solving pain points or debunking misperceptions. Some stories will naturally lend themselves to simple formats such as blog posts. Others will require deeper exploration through case studies, testimonials, videos and webinars – or even live events like seminars or breakfast meetings.

The goal is to add value through education. To showcase the benefits of doing business with your company, the success others like them have gained and get the audience to imagine themselves enjoying the same successes.