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Where It's at with B2B Content Marketing: Be Audience-centric

Where It's at with B2B Content Marketing: Be Audience-centric

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending "Content Marketing Bootcamp," a day-long conference hosted by Oracle/Eloqua and Kapost that took place at Boston's Westin Copley hotel. It was a jam-packed day, filled with sessions and panel discussions featuring some of the greatest, most innovative minds in content marketing from--in addition to Eloqua and Kapost--companies including: BzzAgent, HubSpot, Kinvey, SiriusDecisions, Brainshark and more. There was so much great dialogue from the event, it would be impossible to impart it all in a single blog post. But, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the themes that resonated most strongly with me, and that align powerfully with online video's value proposition.

So what are the most prevalent concepts influencing today’s content marketing climate?

Product Messaging Can't Be Your Only Strategy
I know, I know. This is a "no brainer." What I learned from the conference, though, is that in many organizations there is often still discord between the executive team and sales and marketing when it comes to messaging and related collateral. For some B2B marketers, it's a struggle to convince leadership to shift from product-centric content to buyer-centric content (or, to even include it as part of a broader content strategy). But, it's that engaging, news or industry-driven content that centers on our buyers' interests, concerns and needs that really helps to populate the sales funnel. Nobody wants to be sold to. Instead, if we can demonstrate to both our prospects and customers that we are the authority in a specific space and recognize their pain points, that's when we really have an opportunity to drive conversion.

In the same vein, as marketers, we need to be cognizant of the varied interests and expertise levels amongst our audiences so that we're speaking to them appropriately. This is behind the shift to persona-based content marketing; because, by creating actual representations of each segment of our target audience, we can ensure that we are interacting with them in an authentic, realistic and convincing manner. For instance, a video designed to speak to developers won't resonate with a decision-maker who has no engineering background.

So, what's the solution for moving from product/solution to buyer/audience? The advice from the "pros" at Bootcamp? Go rogue. Begin to change the content process internally, and you'll ultimately rack up the data to support your assertion that modern content marketing is an effective lead-generation tool.

Content Isn't Only about Immediate Revenues
I think this is something that every marketer struggles with: is your content actually driving conversions? This is a tricky question. Of course, you want your content investment to pay off in dividends. But, similar to the long-held question of "Does PR drives sales?" the same can be asked of content. And even if you can't directly correlate content to a lead and, in time, a sale, does that mean the content isn't valuable or isn't helping to build your brand identity? In my mind, no. But, it's certainly a widespread conundrum. As a result, it's helpful to think of content marketing from a long-tail perspective.

For instance, Mike Volpe from HubSpot noted that 80 percent of the leads that his company generates are "free," derived from inbound marketing efforts. The "fully loaded" costs of traditional marketing compared to inbound? Inbound is three times cheaper than advertising, which is substantial. Most interestingly, Volpe noted that between 10 and 15 percent of inbound leads from the HubSpot blog in a given month are actually from posts that were published in previous time periods. Anecdotally, we see similar patterns on the Brightcove blog. Often, our most high-traffic posts from a given month are several months--or more--old. The lesson: if you develop a valuable, well constructed, SEO-optimized point-of-view it will resonate with core audiences for an extended period of time, well beyond the original post, Tweet or share.

A Huge Portion of B2B Content Marketing Assets Never See the Light of Day
At the event, Erin Estep from SiriusDecisions presented her firm's "Content Model." This is a framework that is designed, in essence, to shock organizations into a content revolution that requires buy-in and involvement from portfolio marketing, global campaigns, communications, sales enablement and field marketing. And, it's critical that each of these functions has some form of content ownership. Consider that 60 to 70 percent of content currently produced by B2B marketing organizations goes unused. At the same time, marketing and sales groups often complain that there isn't enough content to drive campaigns. By creating an operational "content factory" with cross-functional stakeholders, we have a chance to eliminate some of that wasted effort and also ensure that the content that we're creating is directly meeting the needs of the sales teams.

Powerful Storytelling = Effective Lead Nurturing
Also at the event, Eloqua's Amanda Batista offered some very straightforward, yet highly valuable, suggestions for creating effective content. I'm paraphrasing slightly, but this is the general idea:

  • Remember, we're all just people--communicate as such
  • If we're doing our jobs correctly, we're speaking to different segments (and our content should reflect that!)
  • Be a leading provider of education and delight for your industry
  • Maximize case studies in order to tell the story of how end users succeed because of your product or service

Amanda had several more helpful nuggets of advice, but my favorite is "Make corporate compelling." Speaking to our audiences on a personal, 1:1 level will always be more effective than hiding behind our corporate identity.

I'm of course biased toward the power of online video, but in my view there's no other content form that is as authentic and dynamic from a storytelling perspective. Because video just doesn't lie, it allows you to convey emotion, humor and competence in a superior manner that no other medium can truly match. A content mix that includes the written word and video is ideal.

Thanks again to Eloqua and Kapost for sponsoring a great event!