We live in a rapidly changing, digitalized and data-enriched environment. Working with global B2B enterprises, I often feel that marketers are desperately or ineffectively trying to create personalized relationships with digital content. In addition, B2B marketers are usually alone, meaning they are not collaborating with any other business stakeholders within the organization. This is due to a traditional organization model (read silo organization). Marketers are fumbling in the dark when it comes to content.
Research confirms this by showing that they have a hard time proving benefits – in fact 60% say their content does not create enough opportunity for engagement and feel it is hard to measure content performance and effectiveness.
Needless to say, today’s marketer is presented with new challenges they need to accomplish when comparing to old marketing tactics. Rather than relying on sales people to know the customers, modern marketers should know their customers’ needs and who they are. From a content marketing perspective, what does this mean?
Paradigm shift to drive business results
Marketing departments have been focusing too much on “hero” content – expensive and short lived campaigns. You know – the large-scale, high-budget creative ads with the purpose of creating brand awareness, most often lacking in measurability – ROI. This no longer works as the first choice tactic nor does it drive business growth.
We live in a world where customers are increasingly self-directed in their buying process, meaning they are the ones dictating the terms and conditions. Therefore, you need to look and think of content marketing differently, it is a business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content with the objective to drive profitable customer action.
If you manage to make this shift in mindset, you will benefit from it immensely and the results will show up quicker than you could have hoped for.
Understanding the customer journey is key for successful content marketing
The requirements for content has changed and it is difficult to cut through the ever increasing content clutter. The most common questions I get are “where should we focus? How should we work and where do we start?”
Well for starters, B2B processes are usually considered to be linear, but they aren’t, really. So the question you should ask yourself is: how can we map and measure all touchpoints?
Secondly, 70% of the journey is claimed to be digital, but actually digital is more like 70% throughout the journey, so who will then be in charge of the customer journey?
Not to overcomplicate things too much, the rule of thumb is that your content should always, always reflect on the customer’s buying journey. This is where most B2B companies unfortunately fall through. 90% of all content is typically from an inside-out perspective and commonly structured on a theme basis. Moreover, the content is pushed out quarterly, which is pretty absurd if you think about it, indirectly saying “in Q1 you should be interested in topic X or buy product Z”.
Additionally, most companies have not picked up one of the most intriguing aspects of digital content – the “data trail” that customers leave on their online journeys. You can read more about it in Are you in the guessing game or knowing game?
We are all different
We are all different and that is why you need to connect with your customers as individuals. You need to understand customer journeys and value creation at each stage for every buyer persona in order to have the slightest chance making an impact on your target audiences and to create personalized relationships. This requires organizations to shift their thinking and start to create content that provides answers to customers’ problems objectively. It also means that marketing, sales, business development and product/service management need to start to collaborate.
Introducing B2B content marketing tactics
Are you struggling with getting a grip of your content marketing initiatives? Do you need processes, tools and/or frameworks for analyzing and planning your content marketing efforts?
If so, take a look at our Content Marketing Tactics Gallery, you can download it from the link below. We have created this gallery to inspire you and help you get started. Based on our own experiences we have identified the key processes and key content tactics that we believe could help improve your content marketing, increase customer engagement and contribute to your business’ growth.
Sandra Berggren, (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Director, Business Unit Lead B2B