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How to Overcome Content Saturation in the B2B Sector

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale and an award-winning marketing professional.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How to Overcome Content Saturation in the B2B Sector

How to Overcome Content Saturation in the B2B Sector

We had the pleasure of chatting with Shana Haynie, head of content and organic growth for MoEngage in North America. We’ll follow her journey from a fine arts graduate to a leading figure in SEO and content marketing and learn how it has changed over the past decade, highlighting the seismic shifts brought about by market saturation, AI tools, and a quest for authenticity. We don’t want to reveal it all, so just keep on reading to see how one of the industry’s most forward-thinking leaders sees the industry and its future.

Background Introduction

MTS – Could you begin by sharing your background in marketing and what has shaped your journey to your current role in content marketing and SEO?

Shana – I started my marketing career a little over a decade ago. I graduated from college with a degree in fine arts, and when I entered the workforce, it became apparent that there were very few jobs for someone like me. So, I launched my first business selling artwork online. This is when I realized that I needed to learn marketing fundamentals.

After a few years of tinkering with those businesses, I decided to start a marketing agency with my husband, who is also a marketing-minded person. We ran our agency for a few years and honed our broad set of skills working with clients in various industries on their content and social media strategy. Still, business was tough, and margins were tight, so I made the move in-house.

I dabbled in B2B services for a few years and worked my way from inbound marketing manager to director of demand generation, but I always secretly had my sights set on a role in martech. So, I took an opportunity to become the senior content manager for a tech startup in the risk and compliance space. Within the first year, I was promoted to the head of content and published a physical book called the Fraud Fighters Manual. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself for me to move into marketing tech, so I jumped at the chance to become MoEngage’s head of content and organic growth for the North American region last November.

Content Marketing Evolution

MTS – How have you seen content marketing evolve over the last decade, especially in relation to SEO and organic growth?

Shana – It used to be that you would follow a pretty standard SEO playbook of best practices. For the on-page, you would do keyword research and identify areas your brand needed to be seen as an expert on, and you would set off to produce a content calendar that included a blog a week. You would also map gated assets to support your conversion and lead generation goals. For off-page, you would do guest posting and link swaps with partners. You might even pay an agency to generate backing on your behalf. For technical, you would make sure all of your website images were small and set to lazy load, your site was mobile friendly, and your tracking tags were all appropriately configured.

This would become your foundational strategy, and you would build on this as your brand and products evolved. But things have gotten pretty crazy. Market saturation, the launch of ChatGPT and other AI tools, and what I like to call “the search for truth” have impacted how you think about content production and SEO.

For content to perform well today, it not only has to consider what prospects might be searching, but it also has to be infused with original thoughts and well-thought-out narratives. It used to be that garbage content could still rank, which may still be the case in some instances, but I think this will rapidly change as more and more people adopt AI content creation. You must have a different voice or risk getting lost in the shuffle.

Strategies for Organic Growth

MTS – In your experience, what strategies and processes have you found most effective for achieving remarkable organic growth in content marketing and SEO?

Shana – Even with the way things have evolved, I still deploy typical best practices, as this has never steered me wrong. It’s crucial, however, to ensure your content strategy ties back to business goals. Traffic is a vanity metric when it’s not anchored by lower funnel outcomes.

SEO and Content Synergy

MTS – How do you effectively integrate SEO with content marketing strategies to drive organic traffic?

Shana – As I said previously, driving organic traffic shouldn’t be the primary goal. Successful content marketing is meeting standard “know, like, trust” metrics. Search is just one of the channels where content can work magic. Doing this successfully is about a few things: understanding your prospect’s goals and mindset when they are looking for answers, creating content to serve them, and understanding how Google interprets web pages. If you can understand and implement these things, you will drive high-quality organic traffic that converts.

Content Marketing Challenges

MTS – What are the most significant challenges you face in content marketing today, particularly in the SaaS and B2B sectors?

Shana – Most challenges nowadays come from a few things — saturation and differentiation, lack of resources and prioritization, and lack of subject matter expertise and scalability.

The digital landscape is very crowded, and countless companies are vying for attention. In the SaaS and B2B sectors, this makes it very difficult for businesses to stand out. The challenge here lies in creating relevant and valuable content while being unique enough to differentiate a brand from its competitors. You need to be creative, understand the market, and be able to anticipate and quickly react to new trends in the industry. The saturation also raises the bar for quality and innovation, so companies must invest more time and resources into developing their content strategies.

Regarding the second point, it’s not uncommon for businesses, especially startups and small enterprises, to face resource constraints like limited budgets, insufficient staff, or lack of access to sophisticated content creation tools. As a result, those companies often struggle to produce high-quality content consistently. Plus, it’s hard to know where to focus efforts for the best ROI when there are so many content types and channels (blogs, videos, podcasts, social media, etc.). Prioritizing becomes a significant challenge because businesses must decide where their resources will be most effectively used, and they oftentimes don’t have the luxury of extensive trial and error.

Another challenge pops up in specialized industries like SaaS and B2B, where content often needs to be highly technical or niche-specific. As you know, this type of content requires a level of subject matter expertise that is not always readily available. It can be difficult (and expensive) to find and retain talent who can produce it. Furthermore, it’s not easy for businesses to scale content production as they grow, maintaining quality and ensuring that all content aligns with the brand’s voice and objectives. This often requires sophisticated content management strategies and systems and ongoing training for content creators.

Leadership in Marketing

MTS – As a leader in content marketing, how do you foster creativity and innovation within your team?

Shana – When I had a team of direct reports, I did my best to encourage a culture of learning, brainstorming, and collaboration, and I also invested in professional development and exposure, fostering an atmosphere where experimentation and collaborative idea development are not just encouraged but are foundational to our approach.

You must make your work environment so that every team member feels safe to experiment with new ideas and learn from failures without fear of reprisal. Frequent brainstorming meetings where all team members, regardless of their position, can share and develop ideas are essential for this collaborative approach. Indeed, that’s how innovation is born.

It’s also important to support team members in pursuing professional development opportunities. Pay for their workshops and courses, and enable them to attend industry conferences. Exposure to new trends and tools can also inspire fresh ideas.

Balancing Quality and Quantity

MTS – How do you balance the need for producing content at a high volume with maintaining its quality, especially in the fast-paced digital marketing landscape?

Shana – The balance between the volume of content produced and maintaining its quality isn’t a straightforward choice between quality and quantity. You need to optimize the intersection of both — within the constraints of available resources. The essence of effective content strategy lies in recognizing that high-quality content is a must. Producing a large volume of subpar content does not benefit your business. However, this doesn’t imply that every piece of content necessitates significant investment. Instead, the strategy should align with the team’s resources. Each piece of content, regardless of cost, must contribute value to the audience and meet the brand’s objectives.

Measuring Success

MTS – What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you prioritize when measuring the success of your content marketing efforts?

Shana – I look at full-funnel metrics. As someone primarily responsible for organic growth, I start with organic traffic/page views and follow the path all the way through to sourced and influenced revenue. I also slice and dice by campaign/asset, not just channel. I’ll look at things like leads, MQLs, Opportunities, pipelines (influenced and directly sourced), and closed won deals.

Content Strategy Advice

MTS – For marketers just starting out, what fundamental advice would you give for developing a successful content strategy?

Shana – Content marketing is both art and science — don’t skew too far in either direction, or your strategy will suffer. Too much emphasis on creative writing and awareness-based activities will leave you with an empty pipeline. However, too much focus on testing, optimization, and lead generation will limit your effectiveness at resonating with your audience.

Also, take other’s opinions with a grain of salt. Everyone thinks they know how to do content marketing, especially now that ChatGPT can write everything for you. But all great marketing is executed based on sound strategy — as a content marketer, that is where you must excel. Do the required math to appease your leadership overlords, but rely on your experience, intuition, and creativity to bring your brand to life.

Emerging Trends

MTS – What emerging trends in SEO and content marketing are you currently excited about or see as game-changers in the near future?

Shana – I think it’s a bit too obvious to mention the evolution of LMs and AI in this context, so I’ll go in a different direction and resurface two ideas that are changing how we need to think about content marketing and SEO: E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) principles and video content & SEO.

Google’s emphasis on content quality, as outlined in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, highlights the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in content creation. This pushes brands to produce content that shows deep knowledge and credibility. It’s interesting because it elevates the quality of information available online and challenges marketers to build and showcase their brand’s authority in their niche.

As for video content, the surge in its consumption is not new, but its impact on SEO is gaining more traction. Videos are fun to watch. They enhance user engagement and offer additional opportunities to appear in search results (especially now that YouTube is the second-largest search engine). This trend diversifies the SEO landscape, and there are plenty of opportunities to integrate video content into your SEO and content marketing.

Effective Storytelling

MTS – How do you leverage storytelling in your content to enhance brand messaging and engagement?

Shana – Effective storytelling in content marketing goes far beyond employing flowery language or crafting descriptive scenes. It should construct narratives that bridge the gap between the prospect and the value the brand offers. When marketers put a spotlight on how the brand’s products or services can solve problems or improve lives, that’s a great opportunity to create a powerful connection without the need for fancy words. This approach to storytelling emphasizes the practical impact and emotional resonance of the brand’s message.

Cross-Channel Marketing Insights

MTS – From your recent survey on cross-channel marketing, can you share some surprising insights or trends that you’ve observed in the B2C space?

Shana – Here are some of my favorite takes from the report.

Despite almost 90% of respondents saying they use personalization as part of their strategy, many only engage in the most basic form, which is using attributes like first name or location. This indicates a limited understanding of the potential benefits of more advanced tactics.

On top of that, 10.1% aren’t personalizing at all! This might be because they don’t have access to enough data or the proper technology to support personalized communication.

Finally, 20.79% of respondents use manual processes and spreadsheets to manage their cross-channel marketing programs, which is part of why they run into many of the challenges we discuss in the report.

Click here to access the full report.

Personal Growth and Learning

MTS – As someone who continually evolves and adapts in the marketing field, what personal learning and development practices do you recommend to other marketing professionals?

Shana – After you’ve been in the industry for a while, it’s easy to become complacent about putting effort into continuous learning, but it’s critical to make time to maintain that practice. Marketing is an ever-evolving business function. Yesterday’s best practices are tomorrow’s overused tactics that don’t yield results anymore. Aside from the standard recommendation to read books, blogs, and industry newsletters, attend conferences, and network with others in your space, it’s also a good idea to experiment. And that doesn’t mean you have to come up with something entirely new. Maybe an idea you explored at a previous company that didn’t yield results is worth revisiting a new organization. It’s all about continuing to hone your craft, testing the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t, and layering those learnings on top of each other to create innovative strategies.