Content marketing gurus all seem to be talking about the need to create experiences for marketing to engage with buyers, but what does that mean to the average B2B company?
In short, creating an experience is more about creating content that pinpoints the issues of the individual buyer, allowing them to engage with you on their own timeframes. In other words, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
Since the days of buying lists and blasting them sales messages are mostly gone, creating experience through content is becoming more necessary than ever before.
The good news is that as technology such as marketing automation advances, creating a more individualized marketing communications program that leads to sales conversations is becoming more real. But before you go out and invest in these tools, it’s important to really understand your customers’ issues so you can develop a strategy.
It Starts With the Content Development Road Map
Your content development should mirror the experience of going to the zoo. Stay with me here!
When you visit a zoo, you don’t need a tour guide to show you all the cool exhibits. The entire park is laid out in such a way that anyone with any interest can follow.
Some people are going to speed through all the exhibits and take in the entirety of the park. Others will read all of the placards in the exhibits that they’re really interested in, and may make multiple trips.
Most zoos have live exhibits, video exhibits, interactive exhibits, and plenty of benches to just sit and relax. But there are always maps in the major locations to tell you where you’re at. You can completely build your own experience from the moment you step inside—there’s no set path to follow.
Obviously, I’m drawing a correlation to today’s buyer journey. Buyers are going to diagnose their own pain, map out their own process, and create their own road map to solve their problems—and no matter how many emails you send them, they’re not going to do anything until you hit a nerve.
So Before You Purchase Marketing Automation…
Marketing automation systems have reached some maturity in the marketing landscape. You may even have one, but are you using it to its fullest potential? Do you have the resources in place to feed the machine?
Statistics say no, since most B2B companies have expressed some level of dissatisfaction with their overall content marketing, and some have invested thousands in technology only to find that they didn’t have anywhere near enough content.
It’s no wonder that Marketo, Hubspot and others consistently talk about content development strategies on their blogs and in their webinars.
Case in point, in a recent webinar produced by Marketo called 2016 Predictions—What Tomorrow's Marketer Needs to Know Today, Scott Brinker, co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, discusses the intersection of marketing and technology, and how it's important for marketers to think about "the art of the customer experience” prior to purchasing any technology.
If marketers are to perfect the art of the customer experience on a large scale, what's required is the proper usage of marketing automation systems, which centers on generating optimized, relevant content designed to solve your prospect’s problem.
Marketing automation should deliver content that speaks to your prospect like a person—rather than a machine. As Sanjay Dholakia, CMO at Marketo, says in that same webinar, marketing is "business to human" at the end of the day, and it's vital to keep in mind that people are people, "human beings whether they're buying pants, a car or software for their business."
Understanding Your Buyer
You’d probably be surprised at what you don’t know about your customer. But if you’re not in a position to be constantly talking to prospects as a marketer, your sales people are the next best thing.
Building great content always goes back to addressing key pain points that your prospects have and creating engagement based on those issues.
People simply won’t read your blogs, watch your videos, or download your white papers unless there’s some sort of problem that they’re trying to solve.
It’s also important to note not only what your customers’ pain points are, but where they go for information. After all, not everyone is on Twitter, and email blasts are having diminishing returns. The key is to build content in multiple formats that work with the media channels you’ve chosen as distribution networks.
Your CRM Should Start Giving You an Indication
Customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Salesforce consolidates all customer information into one database, from personal data to purchase history. It also compiles data on customer interactions across all channels. The more you can segment and track prospect behavior in the CRM, the better you can target content that creates an individualized approach.