What makes a “modern marketer” you ask? According to Kelvin Gee, Senior Director of Modern Marketing at Oracle in his #B2BMX session “New Approaches to Buyer-Centric Marketing,” modern marketers are those courageous marketing leaders who shift from a product-centric model to one that always considers the customer first — which, in my opinion, was a resonating theme at the B2B Content2Conversion Conference this year. And of course the process of creating buyer personas is not a new idea, given the ever expanding landscapes of marketing technologies, we’re more equipped than ever to get extremely specific with who we’re selling to, and what their needs are — at every step of their buying journey.
Marketing used to be complicated — and now it’s complex.
Scott Brinker, Chief Martec
Marketing used to be complicated because we didn’t always have the deep, data-driven insights about our customers and our campaigns, but now that we do — it is complex. We have to figure the best tools that work for our teams, culture, process, product, and customers.
My #B2BMX Takeaway: Part 1
It’s no longer good enough just to have content, but to have a well-designed content experience that always puts the customers first.
Let’s back this one up for a bit, and compare it to content marketing’s cousin — user design and user experience, otherwise known as UI/UX.
So remember the early days of the World Wide Web when businesses still had to be persuaded to get online? But once they saw the benefits of it, everyone signed up. Just like most things that are new, the experience of most websites needed some time to grow up. We had CTA banners that wouldn’t go away. Words that were too hard to read. Colors that were such eye sores. Here is a great, bad example:
The information that you want is somewhere in there. But it just such a badly designed experience, that you just don’t know where to start.
Websites have evolved a bit since then. And now we have something like this:
AirBnB is the master of a great web experience — hand holding their customer’s hand every step of the way, from the moment of inspiration, to the moment of purchase. So how does this tie into content marketing?
Just like the designs of web experiences have dramatically improved (so much that a whole field of UI/UX was created just focus on the customer’s experience), the designs of content experiences are starting to change as well.
Don’t worry, “CD/CX” (Content Design and Experience) is not a real term, yet. But gone are the days where you can include the kitchen sink of content on your website or email nurturing campaigns. There’s an increasing number of companies that are doing, or getting into content marketing out there. And that’s GREAT. But your customers are getting more sophisticated, and naturally, more discriminating with their content consumption.
Whether your company is a small four-person marketing operation or a large enterprise equipped with its own content marketing strategist who lives and breathes content, here are 4 practices that can help you get into the mindset of a well-designed content experience.
Get specific with your buyer personas – What are their personal challenges? What are their concerns at every level of the buyer journey? Many of the concerns will cross over for your customers from different roles and industries, but many times — if you dig deep enough, they may not.
For example, my company offers an AI automated sales assistant that engages with leads, and hands them to a human sales rep when the lead becomes a real opportunity. One of our largest markets are automotive dealerships. Let’s just take a look at two roles that you can find in a dealership: the internet sales manager and the general manager. So when we get really specific with the personal challenges of each of their roles, we know that the internet sales manager is focused on the use of the internet to sells cars, and the general manager’s challenge is the overall success of the sales and service departments. A piece of content that specifically helps with digital lead conversion will catch the eye of the internet sales managers, but for the general managers, we may want to introduce a different idea: how our AI sales assistant can ALSO be use used as an assistant in the service department. A tool that is all-encompassing and economical? General managers will like that idea.
When time is of the essence, you only get one chance — one piece of content, to make an impression. Putting a microscopic lens on your customer before you create the content, is a trait of the modern marketer.
Personalize the content experience – We live in world where the ability to personalize and customize our experiences is almost always expected. We customize our phone cases, our froyos, and our Netflix experiences. But personalization should not always be in the hands of the consumer. With phone cases and froyos, the limited choices make it fun to customize, but imagine when you’re faced with thousands of options, like Netflix movies for instance — customization can be a real drag. Netflix makes recommendations for you based on your interests, otherwise you’d spend hours trying to find the small sliver of horror movie genre that you like. Just because you like The Shining does not mean you’ll like Saw II.
58% of people surveyed want related content to be packaged together in a more seamless experience.
Demand Gen Report, 2017
Look at how content is presented on your page. Are your offerings limited (like phone cases and froyo toppings) or more boundless (like a Netflix library)? If it’s the latter, then it’s not effective to ask your customers to customize their own experience. Make it easier for them by recommending content that matters to who they are and the industry that they’re in. Companies like BrightInfo and LookBookHQ are a couple of options to explore to include more content personalization into the customer experience.
If you’re diving deep into account based marketing, you should look into creating content for your key accounts. In the panel “Beyond MQLs: Conversion Strategies from First Touch Through Close”, Jeff Reekers gave the audience insights into their ABM practice:
Instead of creating webinars and inviting all of your leads. Figure out a common challenge that your top key accounts deal with, and create a webinar topic based on that.
Jeff Reekers, Handshake
Un-market yourself – How do you know if you’re not being customer-centric in your content marketing? Take a look at the content that you put out; is it only about your product? In order to be customer-centric, you have to focus your efforts on creating content that helps your prospects.
In his session, “Applying Un-Marketing to B2B Engagement,” Brian Fitzgerald from Veracode explains their shift in marketing content:
The marketing team actually started to look a lot more like a customer-support team. They interacted with their customers through open communities, exposed their own journeys of software development so others could learn from them, and “built bodies of knowledge and tools, not just documents.” Think of your content marketing as less of you shouting through a megaphone, and more of a tossing of the ball back-and-forth between you and your prospects. Which leads nicely to the next point..
..Make it more interactive! – This may come as surprise, but people’s attention spans are decreasing. If you’ve made it this far in the article…kudos to you! Re-purpose your content into interactive experiences. Quizzes, polls, interactive infographics…make it both fun and informative! Although our company are still shopping around for this, there’s a couple of really great interactive companies making waves out there: SnappApp an Ceros.
Find your story – When is the last time that you heard this at a cocktail party, “Let me tell some facts about what happened to me yesterday!” Can I guess never? Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, we’re still all marketing to humans. And humans are attracted to stories. Your leads may not remember all the details, but a funny story that you tell might make them feel something — and remember your product better.
One story that I like to tell our clients is how our AI sales assistant, named Rachel Brooks, is the most hard-working SDR. But perhaps not the most ambitious, since she’d been an SDR on our company’s LinkedIn page for 8 years! We can tell you that she has sent over 180 million messages, has worked with over 16,000 sales reps to express how experienced of an AI she is, etc., but at the end of the day, you’ll most likely re-call the funny LinkedIn story better.
That’s it for Part I (of 3) of my takeaways from the 2017 B2B/C2C Conference. Next week, I’ll focus on Part II…until then, market well!
PS. Don’t you worry, Rachel was recently promoted to the Business Development Team Leader position 🙂