Originally posted on Salesforce.com Blog at http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/10/killer-content.html
30% of B2B marketing budgets are spent on content according to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Report, yet a whopping 50% of vendors’ content is ignored by prospects according to New Business Strategies‘ research. You can sidestep this expensive loss of money and prospect-attracting opportunities if you follow this approach: deliver the right content, through the right channels, at the right times for your kind of customers.
In our increasingly digital world, most buyers look online for helpful information, often in ways that are invisible to you, yet some don’t have to be. As buyers evaluate a business purchase, they go on a journey that includes evaluating different ways of achieving their objective, researching solutions and getting input from their peers. Along the way they interact with a lot of content. Where does vendor content fit into their journey?
Vendor content should inform, educate and establish the vendor as a trusted resource throughout in the buyer’s process. The challenge is that vendor content is not as trusted as customer- or peer-generated content. Even before the white paper is read, the buyer assumes the vendor will be biased and not objective. The trick is for vendors to understand and deliver a content strategy that takes into account buyer perspectives. Instead of delivering content that ‘sells’, vendors must adopt a strategy of delivering content that ‘enables’.
While the steps that B2B buyers go through are fairly consistent, their specific content needs and expectations are unique to each brand and market-segment. Vendors with the right content strategy can out-perform their peers in conversion by three-fold or more. There are three steps to creating a content strategy that drives revenue:
1. Know Your Buyers
The first step in establishing a content strategy is to understand, in detail, your customer’s needs and expectations at each step of their purchase journey. For example, in the journey mapping that New Business Strategies conducted for Good Technology™, during the Search phase buyers looked for information on the pros and cons of different technology architectures. In most cases, prospects just used Google to find the information online. A third party blog post with the right keywords, a technical whitepaper promoted through Google Adwords and a webinar or video on the topic could collectively dominate the search results on this niche topic. Once the buyers’ journey is discovered and documented, you’re ready to start aligning content to your buyers’ expectations and drive conversion.
2. Dump What No One Reads
While downloading a white paper might “earn” the buyer 10 points in your marketing automation system, the action is only relevant if the buyer acts on the content and, because of it, goes on to the next step in their journey. When your team understands the buyer’s content needs and expectations at each step of the buyer’s journey they can compare it with current content inventory and do some house-cleaning. Knowing what content buyers need and where they look for it enables content marketers to facilitate strategic, surgical strikes rather than bombarding the web and “seeing what sticks.”
3. Craft Your Content Strategy
Best practices in content strategy are to align every content asset, regardless of whether it is created by a vendor, customer or influencer, directly to a specific step in buyer’ journey. Leveraging journey maps, marketers can define their content strategy in four steps:
- Match each content (and channel) to a step in the journey, by persona.
- For each tollgate, identify the corresponding call-to-action content.
- Define content assets in detail for each target audience.
- Expand lead scoring to include the sequence of content buyers interact with.
Don’t forget to update your content strategy quarterly to reflect evolving buyer expectations and market conditions.
Now that you have a clear, actionable content strategy here are a few tips on operationalizing content:
- Use language and messaging that matches your buyers’ tone, terminology, and definition of value.
- Let your journey maps define campaign/touch frequency.
- Match Call-To-Actions to specific tollgates to help buyers successfully navigate their internal processes.
- Narrow down digital channels to those buyers told you that they trust and visit.
Organizations that intimately understand their buyers’ journey can convert views into revenue more effectively. By creating content customers look for that solves a specific need content marketing can evolve from a carpet-bombing approach, to a laser precision shot that produces real, measureable, business results.
It all starts by first understanding your buyers’ journey.