This article was originally published on Oracle's Modern Marketing blog.
When you hear the word “content” in a business context, you probably automatically associate it with “marketing”.
As a tactic, content marketing has been around for hundreds of years, while the term “content marketing” has only surged into popularity (and regular marketing lexicon) in the past 6-7 years. And it shows no sign of slowing down — in 2016, 88% of organizations claim to be using content marketing as a key B2B marketing tactic.
The undeniable popularity and widespread usage of content marketing points to the effectiveness of content. However, content isn’t only effective in the strict “marketing” sense — content satisfies the entire buyer journey, from awareness, to engagement, to lead generation, to sales enablement, and even to customer success.
Consequently, the way we think about content is changing: content no longer lives exclusively in the marketer’s domain. In fact, content is the lifeblood of your entire organization.
Content in every corner
Content certainly starts with marketing, playing important roles in generating awareness, engagement, and of course, leads. But this is only the start of the buyer journey.
As a lead converts to an opportunity and enters the sales realm, content can (and should) be leveraged by sales teams to handle objections, build relationships, and target key accounts. Building a content library for sales enablement is a powerful way to educate and nurture potential customers, clarify value proposition, execute account-based marketing tactics, and ultimately, expedite the sales cycle.
Content plays an equally important role once the prospect has converted into a customer. Your customer support or success team can (and should) leverage content to coach and empower your customers. Building a knowledge base or resource center with product-centric content improves customer marketing effectiveness by allowing the nurturing process to be continued even further. Filling your knowledge base with bottom-of-the-funnel content that enables customer self-service will increase your success team’s productivity and, more importantly, improve your customer retention rates.
Why content isn’t enough
Understanding why and how content satisfies the entire buyer journey is the easy part, and creating content to better satisfy the journey is an important first step.
Simply creating the content, however, isn’t enough. Organizations must be able to easily leverage this content for more than one purpose and one campaign in order to satisfy the buyer journey. This is where marketing automation comes into play — content fuels lead nurturing campaigns and helps build up your lead data based on conversions.
But as much as your marketing automation platform can help you deliver the right content to the right person, it can’t help you deliver the right content experience for the end user (be it a reader, a prospect, or a customer).
What do I mean by this? Well, your content experience is the place where all the user action takes place. It's the destination that you send your prospects to. It's where your visitors consume your content, where they convert to a lead, and where you can measure how effective your content is at every stage of the journey.
Sending your end user (regardless of where they’re at in the buyer journey) to a non-contextual, generic blog or resource center won’t help them find the information they need to move further down the funnel, and it certainly won’t compel them to continue their content journey. Your content will be far more effective if you’re able to send the end user on a tailored engagement path.
Delivering a well-optimized content experience
Let’s take a look at this in action.
Your marketing team produces an eBook. They can leverage this eBook for lead generation, targeting the particular buyer persona for whom they created the eBook using marketing automation and paid promotion tactics. Adding this eBook to your internal library for sales enablement, your sales team can leverage it to speak to a particular pain point that one of their prospects is experiencing. Or, similarly, your customer success team could also leverage this eBook in their knowledge base to provide more high-level information for your customers.
Those are three different use cases from just one eBook, within one organization. Each use case has different end goals and requires different context.
So, how do you optimize the content experience for each?
- Tailor the experience — Ensure your content is targeted, personalized, and strategically organized for the particular use case. For instance, if it’s an advanced-level eBook, don’t include a CTA to sign up for a beginner-level webinar.
- Facilitate further content discoverability — Don’t let your content pile up by date, or by type of content. Regardless of the use case, people are much more likely to search for a specific answer than they are to search for a “white paper”.
- Include targeted and contextual CTAs — Provide a logical and contextual next step to continue the buyer journey.
Content begins with marketing — generating awareness, engagement, and leads — but it also feeds into sales enablement and customer success, fueling your entire organization and propelling your end users throughout the entire buyer journey.
However, organizations must think beyond individual content assets and start producing relevant and contextual content experiences for the desired end user. By leveraging content experiences at every stage of the buyer journey, your content will not only become more valuable to your end users, but also to your organization.