It's not news that content is a key concern for b-to-b marketers. However, participants in Arketi Group's recent roundtable of 60-plus b-to-b CMOs provided a new – and needed – twist to the content discussion.
“More content” is no longer the battle cry for corporate marketing and the PR team. Rather than attempt to satisfy the market's unquenchable thirst for content, far-sighted b-to-b marketers now view content rationalization as the key to a successful content-marketing program.
More than a few roundtable participants conceded their focus on content generated an avalanche of information with little strategic impact on buyers. Those marketers are now working to build frameworks for content that maps the buyers' needs.
The key is to ensure content is driving conversion. “A big learning was not to just put content and articles out there, but make sure you've got a tight framework,” commented one CMO. “Otherwise, there is so much content that your content is just noise in the marketplace.”
Moving from a shotgun to rifle approach, savvy marketers are finding smart ways to source relevant content – for example, through weekly “mini-editorial board meetings” with the sales and marketing teams. The collective teams brainstorm story and content ideas by asking themselves the question, “How can this affect our prospects and clients?”
Clearly content is valuable in attracting prospects. However, content has an equally important role in moving prospects through the buying cycle, from awareness, to discovery, to validation. However “great” a piece of content is, if it does not prompt the recipient to take action or progress through the buying process, it cannot be considered a marketing win.
The key is when to present what type of content, with what message, at what time. At Arketi Group, we call this 3D Content Marketing. This framework includes marketing best practices like building personas, understanding the buy cycle, and matching appropriate content to both. This approach ensures content has a direct impact on conversion.
A recent study found that 94% of b-to-b marketers are engaged in creating new content from scratch, yet only 32% reuse existing content. A more efficient method is to “componentize” content by deconstructing and reconstructing it in various forms across multiple channels. For example, a white paper can be disassembled into a “top five” list, an eight-part blog series, a news release, a bylined article, a 30-minute presentation, and 20 Twitter and Facebook posts.
This not only extends the value of the content – it permits it to be effectively used throughout different stages of the buying cycle to move the prospect closer to a close. Content is no longer king… today, it must be the conversion king.
Mike Neumeier is principal of Arketi Group, which publishes the b-to-b Marketing News blog. Find him on Twitter at @arketi.