Do you know the formula for effective B2B content marketing?
You’ve probably heard the marketing mantra, “right content, right person, right time”. But have you applied that concept? Applying it correctly can make or break the success of your demand generation/sales activity and greatly influence your customer’s experience with your brand.
Quality content isn’t enough (although it’s a great start). Marketers need to provide that quality content to the right person at the right time in order for it to be successful. Effective content marketing tailors every piece to a buyer persona/target segment group and their stage in the buying cycle. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “the most effective B2B marketers tailor content to the following categories: decision maker profiles (59%), company characteristics (52%), buying cycle stage (42%), personalised content preferences (23%).” (1)
Well-researched buyer personas provide an actionable starting point for content strategy and can help drive decisions about which content will be most effective when applied to your demand generation activity. Even identifying target market segments is a great starting point if you have not yet developed buyer personas.
Start with your target markets and add in behavioural data to build a definition of an individual and their defining characteristics. Demographics such as job role are important, but so is more detailed information such as geographic location, preferred methods of communication, and favoured message delivery timing for example. These insights allow for a better understanding of the persona and more effective marketing customisation.
True marketing synergy is achieved through a combination of messaging, medium and timing. You can build the best buyer personas imaginable, but if you cater your content to them at the wrong time or via the wrong channels you will still miss the opportunity to resonate with them. Understanding a persona’s stage in the buying process is the ultimate key to leveraging buyer personas effectively.
Let’s consider the basic B2B buying cycle:
- A person becomes aware of an important business problem and the impacts on their business (troubling). A blog or infographic can be useful to highlight a trend/problem.
- A person looking for a way to solve their business problem is just becoming aware of the various options to fill their needs (awareness), and would be would be interested in
- information that illustrates how your type of product can help resolve their issue. Case studies work well for this.
- A person who is researching software options (consideration) would find a competitor comparison chart to be very helpful.
- A person who already knows what software they need and has decided which two are their favourites (between consideration and purchase decision) is likely to appreciate a free demo or a promotional offer.
Notice the last example. The strongest content is not merely relevant, but also acts as a trigger to the next stage in the buying cycle. This is the philosophy behind lead nurturing. Having content available to cater to the needs of those potential buyers as they progress through the buying cycle is critical to being front-of-mind when they are ready to purchase.