Optimize content marketing by facilitating the buyer's journey
Optimize Content Marketing by Facilitating the Buyer’s JourneyContent marketing represents a significant investment, consuming over 26% of total marketing budgetsannually, according to surveys of 1,100 marketers by the Content Marketing Institute. This already significantspending is increasing, with 51% of respondents indicating plans to increase their content marketing spendover the next 12 months.However, even though budgets are significant and growing, marketers have serious doubts in the returns onthese investments, with only 41% indicating that their content marketing efforts are effective.Junta42 and MarketingProfs surveyed over 1,100 North American B2B marketers from diverse industries and awide range of company sizes. The survey responses indicated a decided lack confidence in newer tactics likesocial media, blogs and videos, and even some stall worth tactics such as white papers and case studies.Content Marketing: A Crises of ConfidenceExamining the sentiment in detail, 60% of respondents reported that efforts in new marketing channels suchas social media and blogs are being reported as ineffective / less than effective, and over 50% indicateeffectiveness doubts with videos and white papers. Even print magazines, case studies, eNewsletters and
webcasts are ineffective or less than effective for more than 40% of respondents. There is clearly a crisis inconfidence in content marketing.One of the reasons for the crisis in confidence is that content marketing success is measured, more often thannot, not by how effective the content is at facilitating sales, but by how much content is produced in theshortest amount of time, and how it is distributed through as many channels as possible – success by thepound. As content continues to proliferate, relevancy to buyers is often lost in the mix, as buyers becomeoverwhelmed by the sheer volume that needs to be weeded through.Relevancy is a RequirementAccording to IDG Connect’s IT Buyer Survey, current content marketing strategies are producing too muchcontent that is not relevant to buyers, and seen as ineffective. And this lack of relevancy has a significant cost,including: o Driving up content creation costs o Increasing the buyer’s decision making process by two weeks or more o Reducing the chances of making the buyer’s selection shortlist by 1/3rd o Shrinking the chance of getting the sale by almost 50%.Making content more relevant to buyers can have a substantial impact, improving effectiveness and driving atangible ROI to the business. In fact the level of relevant content affected whether made the vendor made theshort list of alternative choices, with 86% of respondents indicating that relevant content drove the buyer’sdecision.1With relevancy being key to content marketing effectiveness, is there a strategy to better focus the contentthat is produced so it can be more precisely developed / targeted to be more relevant to buyers, and toultimately drive effectiveness success?Achieving Relevancy by Mapping Content To the Buyer’s JourneyIn order to improve content relevancy, content development needs to be concise and important, with the rightcontent developed to best facilitate buyer’s decisions, and enable sales to leverage the content to engagemost effectively.Content Marketing and the Buyer’s JourneyOne way to achieve relevancy, is to be sure content is aligned to help guide the buyer’s journey, facilitatingthe change management process that buyers need to go through within their own organization, with multiplestakeholders and executives.1 Making the Case for Shorter Content, IDG Connect, Bob Johnson, Analyst, n=389, October 30, 2008http://www.idgconnect.com/view_abstract/6005/making-case-shorter-content?source=connect
The buyer’s journey consists of several different steps that a buyer goes through to make a decision.In the beginning, the Discovery phase, the buyer has to realize they have an issue and want to change. Thepain point needs to be recognized and prioritized, and the existing status quo needs loosened in order for theprocess to proceed.Once the buyer has committed to a change, the Consideration phase is next, where the buyer explorespotential solution options, and then commits to a solution set (but not necessarily to a single provider). Theselected solution set, especially in today’s frugal times, needs to be justified, providing stakeholders andexecutives with a quantification of key financial indicators that the project is worthy of investment, includingbottom-line impacts, investment requirements, return on investment and payback calculations.Once the solution is justified, a particular provider needs to be selected in the Decision phase. With buyer’s sofrugal, often the lowest purchase price is a dominant criteria for selection, however, this may not deliver thelowest total cost over the useful life of the product / service, may require untoward risks, or may not deliver allof the expected benefits. In the final selection phase, the best overall value is selected.For a marketer the buyers’ journey represents an opportunity to provide content and tools better aligned tohelp the buyer overcome resistance at each step in the decision making cycle, providing specific deliverablesto facilitate buyer’s decisions. For sales enablement, tools need to be provided to sales in order to empowerengagements at each step in the process, especially earlier in the sales cycle where sales professionals areoften excluded from the decision making process.With content now having a specific purpose, aligned to facilitate each step, the overall amount of contentneeded can often be substantially reduced, relevancy improved, and effectiveness assured.Facilitating the Buyer’s JourneyAcross the buyer’s journey different branded content tools can help facilitate buyer’s decisions, and help salesbetter connect, engage and sell using this content. The more aligned the tools are to helping the buyerthrough the journey, the better.For today’s more conservative buyer, it is often easier to do nothing, than to change because change thatcomes with an investment in resources and capital, and has risks that many are not willing to take. In thebeginning of the buyer’s journey, during the discovery phase, interactive research and diagnostic tools can beused to be provocative, helping confirm and prioritize the buyer’s current issues, as well as potentiallyuncovering issues they might not know they have. The insight from these diagnostic tools can help the buyerrealize that addressing a specific issue and changing the status quo is a priority, and worthy of pursuit.
Later during the buyer’s journey, economic focused executives demand that every investment deliver abottom-line impact, positive return on investment, and quick payback. For marketers, it is vital to proving thevalue of the solution to ever more frugal buyers, quantifying the potential savings, incremental benefits, andthat the selected solution represents the lowest total cost / best value.Across the buyer’s journey, the recommended branded content and tools include:The following is a recommendation for specific content to address the buyer’s needs at each step in theBuyer’s Journey:Stage in Buyer’s Journey Buyer Needs Recommended ContentDiscovery Investigate and prioritize the issue(s) as Provocative Research-Based White one(s) to be addressed Papers Loosening of the status quo Interactive White Papers Committing to change Provocative Webcasts and Events Diagnostic Assessment Tools
Consideration Exploring possible solutions Solution Case Studies Committing to a solution set Video Testimonials Justifying the decision Solution Oriented White Papers Interactive ROI / Business Case ToolsDecision Making the right product / service Feature / Function Comparisons selection Value Oriented White Papers Assuring that the selected solution represents best value Total Cost of Ownership Comparison ToolsBuyer’s Demand More: Interactive versus Passive ContentIt is harder than ever to connect and engage today’s more overloaded, skeptical and frugal buyer. Thesebuyers are demanding marketers to create content that is more concise, relevant and personalized.Traditional content such as white papers, case studies and even webcasts and videos are often created for abroad audience. The one-size-fits-all approach means that the content often has to be lengthier than today’stime pressed buyers want, and often contains irrelevant content. For example, the same white paper is oftenused to connect and engage a manufacturer and a financial services executive, or an enterprise and a mediumsized business.New technology is available however to profile users, serving up content to better match their unique needs.Interactive tools go further, letting the buyer completely personalize the engagement, delivering contentperfectly tuned to their needs and opportunities.Personalization can pivot content around the buyers industry, geographic location, size, as well as around thebuyers’ stage in the buying journey, role in the decision making process, and pain points. The customizationcan include qualitative information, such as presenting only case studies matching the buyers industry andsize, or just the opportunity overview and solutions that match the buyer’s pain points. Quantified informationcan also be personalized, including presenting personalized diagnostic benchmark comparisons to peers andleaders, personalized benefit and ROI quantification, or a tally of expected total cost of ownership savingsversus legacy solutions or competitive options.The Bottom-LineContent Marketing is a significant investment, yet most marketers have little faith that their current contentmarketing strategies are effective. Marketers often measure content marketing success ―by the pound‖, yetbuyer’s, already suffering from information overload, want only the right information at the right time.