As we enter 2018, every B2B marketer knows that in the Engagement Economy, they need two things to survive: an incredibly detailed understanding of buyers, and a rock solid plan to engage and support them throughout the buyer journey.
According to Marketo’s recent report, The State of Engagement, 73% of B2B buyers agree that companies must have a deep understanding of their needs to successfully engage with them. As a result, it’s not surprising that 66% of B2B buyers also expect all interactions with a company to be personalized.
In order to tick both boxes, B2B marketers invest heavily in marketing automation platforms like Marketo. And these platforms have made it easier to execute a marketing strategy, understand prospects, track most behavioral insights, and distribute content. Having said that, marketing automation platforms can’t do everything!
Like many technologies, marketing automation has its loopholes. In fact, many B2B marketers who embrace marketing automation tend to lack the ability to create compelling content experiences and take advantage of key behavioral insights.
As Forrester has noted, many B2B marketers aren’t doing a great job of merging their data across channels, tools, and platforms. This means that a lot of valuable behavioral insights from social media are being neglected.
Social media is where 55% of B2B buyers learn about companies and 84% of CEO's and VPs make purchasing decisions. Without understanding who the buyers are and what journeys they’re taking on social media, how can marketers possibly engage with audiences in a meaningful way?
In light of this, smart B2B marketers are starting to combine their social data with their content strategy, driving personalized, behavior-based content experiences, at scale. But how exactly do they do this?
Let’s dive deeper into the definitions of ‘content experience’ and ‘social data’ to demonstrate how using the latter can enrich the former.
What is a Content Experience?
A content experience is the environment in which the content lives. It’s the place where all the action happens. It’s where engagement is fostered, where visitors turn into fans and convert into leads, and where content effectiveness is measured across the entire buyer journey.
When B2B marketers publish a great eBook, a killer blog post, or their latest webinar recording, they’re not just distributing a piece of content to their audience. They’re distributing the experience in which that content lives. To illustrate this point, think about the purpose of a typical landing page.
Despite the hours upon hours that go into creating a piece of content, the content itself is rarely used to judge success. Most B2B marketers measure the effectiveness of a piece of content based on the performance of its landing page (the experience that the visitor actually interacts with).
That’s why the experience is so important. Even the greatest piece of content needs a great experience to reach its full potential. At the end of the day, experiences are the ultimate driver of engagement and lead generation.
Now, more than ever before, content experiences need to be customized to those viewing them. To do this, B2B marketers are using all sorts of data (demographic, firmographic, behavioral, and intent) to ensure that they’re delivering the right experiences, in the right context, at the right time, for the right prospects and customers.
Thankfully, companies like Uberflip have made it easier for non-technical marketers to create personalized content experiences by leveraging intent data. However, the best content experiences are ones that are continually informed and improved by data, including powerful behavioural insights from social media.
What is Social Data?
According to Oktopost, social data refers to insights and information collected from prospects and customers’ social media activity. In other words, social data tracks how individuals behave and interact with companies’ social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter–namely, which networks are they most engaged on? What types of content makes them click, share, and convert? Are they engaging with top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU), or bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content?
All of this behavioral social data enables B2B marketers to truly understand their audience's’ needs, interests, and challenges. Additionally, this data permits B2B marketers to accurately divide audiences into specific segments on the basis of intent––for example, those who engaged with TOFU content will be nurtured with more relevant content, whereas those who engaged with BOFU content will be assigned to the sales team.
As such, the ultimate value of knowing this behavioral social data manifests itself in building an engaging content experience. The more marketers understand their audiences’ social media engagement, the better they can tailor the right content experience at every stage of the buyer journey.
How to Leverage Social Data to Create Engaging Content Experiences
In the Engagement Economy, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits-all’. It’s all about delivering a customized experience to every single individual.So, let’s get personal! Here are a few use cases of how B2B marketers can tailor a personalized content experience using these additional layers of social data:
Content Topics and Types
The most common use case is personalizing the content experience by content type or topic according to what audiences engaged with on social media. So, if Stacey is frequently clicking on eBooks pertaining to ‘email automation’, the obvious choice would be to strategically provide Stacey with similar content. This sort of personalization goes a long way to increasing content awareness and visibility among visitors.
Stage of the Funnel
While the above is the most common use case, marketers can get even more strategic by tailoring content to audiences’ stage of the funnel. That means, understanding where buyers are in the sales process based on the content they engaged with on social media––namely, did they engage with TOFU, MOFU, of BOFU content?
Here’s a quick overview of the three stages:
At the very top of the funnel (TOFU), marketers are looking at a larger pool of audience who typically engage with blog posts, videos, and infographics that build brand awareness.
At the middle of the funnel (MOFU), buyers have already progressed into a ‘lead’, which means marketers should provide more advanced educational materials that address buyers’ needs and challenges using the company as the solution. This could be in the form of eBooks, webinars, and customer case studies.
Once buyers reach the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), they are considered ‘hot leads’. This is where marketers need to deliver content that positions them as the ‘best solution out there’.
Marketers know their content (and content strategy) better than anyone else. By assessing which content buyers are actively engaging with on social media, marketers can serve up more content that aligns with audience’s buying stage.
Along with providing relevant content, marketers can also personalize the messaging and CTA’s within the content experience to align with individuals’ buying stage. So if Emma is at the BOFU, the CTA’s can center around “Get a Live Demo” or “Speak to a Company Representative”.
This strategy ensures that more leads are being pushed down the funnel until they are ready to make a purchase.
As part of delivering an engaging and customized content experience, B2B marketers can also match the right type of content to the position and seniority of a particular reader. So a person in an executive role, for example, will receive a different piece of content than someone in an entry-level role. Content that resonates with one type of audience won’t necessarily resonate with another.
Using social data, marketers can easily map out a buyers’ profile based on the content types, topics, and verticals they engaged with, regardless of whether or not buyers filled out a webform.
For instance, someone who’s engaging with low-level, how-to guides may be profiled as an entry-level employee, while someone who’s engaging on an going basis with thought-leadership materials about industry trends and reports could be positioned as a c-level executive.
Essentially, all of these professional insights can be used to better tailor the content experience to individuals’ needs and challenges –– ensuring a scenario whereby a CMO is not exposed to the same content as a social media manager.
It’s Time to Create Tailored Content Experiences!
The ‘content experience’ movement is about using technology like Uberflip to build personalized content journeys that drive engagement and generate more leads.
The ‘social data’ movement is about using technology like Oktopost to track and gather insights from audiences’ social media journey, namely in terms of engagement and lead generation activity.
When B2B marketers understand the behavior of their prospects and customers, including what they clicked and converted from on social media, it’s easier to build personalized content experiences that move the needle at every stage of the buyer journey.
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