An overwhelming majority of B2B marketers plan to invest more heavily into content marketing. In Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report, 76% of B2B marketers say they expect to create more content this year compared to 2015. 50% also plan to increase their content marketing budget.
These stats show that CMOs now see content as a valuable tool for generating in-target leads and accelerating pipeline progression. Many B2B marketers see content marketing as one of the most effective lead generation tactics available.
A fundamental ingredient of B2B content marketing success
As companies invest more in content marketing, the pressure to prove its effectiveness will only increase. The marketing technology landscape has seen the emergence of many companies that promise to help maximize the impact of content marketing. For these tools to provide real business value, however, you must first gain something more fundamental: a comprehensive and current understanding of your customers.
Before you write a single word, produce a video, or even craft a tweet, you need to have a crystal clear picture of who your customers and prospects are. Here are three ways a holistic understanding of your audience can enhance your content strategy and, ultimately, drive revenue.
1. Create personalized content
B2B buyers want content that’s relevant to them. According to Demand Gen Report, 69% of B2B buyers identified personalized content as the most influential aspect of a vendor’s website.
More martech companies are offering software that will help marketers push hyper-personalized content. Some of them, like Uberflip's content marketing experience software , allows you to curate relevant content in personalized hubs, helping surface the right content for each step of the buyer journey. A growing number of companies also now offer software for account-based marketing.
To get the most value of out of these tools, you need to get closer to your audience and develop an appreciation of their business needs. After all, 84% of B2B buyers seek content that speaks specifically to their pain points, according to Demand Gen Report. If you’re creating content without knowing the issues that most impact your buyers, you’re going at it blindly and limiting the potential of your content.
2. Increase customer engagement
According to a 2016 study, 55% of B2B marketers have identified customer engagement as a top content marketing goal, just trailing lead generation. This stat raises the important question of what makes a piece of content engaging.
Customers connect with marketers at different stages of the buying cycle. Usually, buyers seek out marketing content because they’re trying to educate themselves. You need to create content that helps prospects wherever they are in the sales funnel—from introductory thought leadership pieces to evaluative product content that tackles specific features and use cases.
Produce content that sparks customer engagement by picking up on the nuances of buyer needs. Content that works well with brand advocates, for instance, may not resonate with first-time buyers who haven’t been exposed to your company. Customer intelligence can help you map the full customer journey, identify pain points and language nuances and unlock opportunities where content offers value.
3. Get more out of your content
The biggest challenge facing B2B content marketers isn’t figuring out how to create new content. Many CMOs have realized that working with people with a journalism background can help their team deliver higher quality content. The real challenge today is distribution.
Getting your content in front of the right audience is important. But that’s a tall order considering the growing number of channels available to B2B marketers. Is Snapchat important to your business growth, for example? Does Medium provide a better distribution model for your content than your own blog? What role, if any, does social media advertising play in your strategy? These questions are hard to answer unless you know what your audience wants and where they prefer to consume media.
Use customer intelligence to find your audience
As content marketing matures, marketers will need a targeted, more precise, and sophisticated approach. This requires creating compelling content that speaks to the needs and challenges of your target personas. But this won’t happen by accident. To drive business results, you need to fuel your content marketing engine with customer intelligence and keep your customers in mind in every step of the buyer journey.
To hear more, join Hana Abaza, VP of marketing at Uberflip, and myself in our upcoming #uberwebinar, “How to Use Customer Intelligence to Identify The Right Audience for Your B2B Content.”
About the Author
Nick Stein is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Vision Critical, a customer intelligence platform that helps more than 650 other global organizations build engaged, secure communities of customers they can use for ongoing feedback and insight. Formerly an award-winning journalist at Fortune magazine and CBC's The National, Nick holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a BA in English from McGill University.Follow on Twitter More Content by Nick Stein