The quantity-to-quality shift permeates today's B2B marketing landscape. Demand generation organizations are no longer measured by the volume of leads generated. According to the marketing leaders interviewed for the DemandGen Report's 2018 Benchmark Survey, 63% of marketing teams are evaluated based on lower-funnel metrics like MQLs, SALs and pipeline influenced.
Consequently, 73% of marketing organizations state that focus on lead quality over quantity is their number one goal in the year ahead.
This means that our demand generation and content marketing strategies must also evolve to deliver on these new goals. It's no longer about cranking out as many top-of-the-funnel assets as possible to attract new contacts. We have to balance this with building more full-funnel assets that are designed to engage highly targeted audiences at later stages in the buyer's journey and provide prospects with helpful information that they need to make a decision.
Mastering Content Marketing Strategies to Drive Demand Generation
How do you elevate the quality and relevance of your demand generation content to better appeal to your ideal B2B customers?
1. Know Your Personas
Customer knowledge must be at the core of content creation. To deliver value to your prospects, you must understand their challenges, needs and goals.
While many demand generation marketers know this, too few actually put it into action. According to the Buyer Persona Institute, less than half of B2B marketing organizations currently use buyer persona profiles.
Establishing formal customer profiles can lead to a measurable lift in B2B marketing results. According to Aberdeen Research, marketers who use buyer personas and align content marketing with the buyer’s journey achieve 73% higher conversions than their peers.
Demand marketing is the process of creating a demand or desire for a certain product or service, and actively affecting the progression of that desire. A solid understanding of your target customer is vital to capturing prospect interest and guiding them through the journey to make purchase.
Capturing Customer Insights
To attain the necessary firmographic and demographic insights, marketers need to compile data from a range of data sources:
Google Analytics: Search terms, activity patterns and demographic insights can reveal a lot about who is currently engaging with your content.
Marketing Automation Platform and Customer Relationship Management Software: Behavioral insights, list segmentation and other qualitative sources from your existing MarTech can provide details on who your customers are, how they engage with content online and what their customer journey looks like.
Social Listening Tools: Software for social listening can reveal 360-degree insights into personas both in and outside the workplace.
Surveys and Interviews: Engaging with sales and customer success to conduct in-depth customer interviews can yield new understanding of customer priorities and perceptions. Don't be afraid to ask your customers what content was most helpful to them when they were assessing your product or services, and what content would have helped them make a decision faster.
If you want to translate these insights into actionable customer profiles by account and/or persona type, we recommend A Useful Template to Develop (or Improve) Your B2B Buyer Personas.
2. Build Trust and Credibility
Your content should, above all else, help prospects to solve their problems. It shouldn’t sell directly, but it should lead prospects to your solution. The goal should be to establish a reputation as a credible advisor and gain the trust of your prospects.
B2B buyers hear a lot of sales pitches, and they’re wary of content that sounds like a hard sell. The most recent results of the Edelman Trust Barometer reveal that consumers are experiencing an “unprecedented crisis of trust” in both brands and content. According to the same research report, nearly 7 out of 10 consumers worry about actively worry about “fake news and false information.”
The solution is to refrain from talking about your products, and focus on building trust and credibility instead. According to Peter Isaacson, CMO of Demandbase, in the Top 40 Demand Marketing Game Changers eBook:
“Almost all B2B sales now are consultative. So make sure you’re telling prospects and customers information they need to know, how the market is evolving, what their competitors are doing, or best practices for their industry.”
3. Be Helpful
Helpful content is still one of the best ways to attract the right audiences. However, just like focusing on the quality over quantity when it comes to your leads, it's important to apply the same thinking to your content.
51% of B2B decision-makers admit they’re overwhelmed by the amount of content available online, according to the DemandGen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report. When researchers asked B2B decision-makers how demand generation marketers could improve their content offerings, buyers responded with the following preferences:
- Make content easier to access, such as fewer form fields (99%)
- Package related content, such as by vertical or industry (97%)
- Use more data and research to support content (75%)
- Add more insight from industry thought leaders/analysts (62%)
- Make it easier to share (40%)
4. Understand and Accommodate Role-Based Differences
The pain points and concerns of one decision-maker can be quite different from another. Many disciplines beyond B2B marketing are evolving just as rapidly, including technology, professional services, financial services, commerce and more. The day-to-day responsibilities and priorities of leaders in the same role can vary significantly between organizations, particularly when you cross over industries. This can have a dramatic impact on the pain points and concerns of the individual.
Customer knowledge is key to not only attracting the right audiences but keeping them engaged throughout the entire funnel. By understanding how factors such as firm size, industry and other variations impact your buyer personas, you can speak more specifically to the individual and ultimately increase engagement.
5. Find a Balance Between Finished and Perfect
Done is better than perfect, but done still needs to be pretty damn good.
Creating quality content is time-consuming, and marketers can easily get caught in a trap of perfectionist tendencies. When you fall behind on your publishing schedule, it can create a trickle down effect that makes it difficult to reach the rest of your goals.
If you get so caught up in perfecting your work that it slows you down, or if you’re worried that content quality is a barrier to attracting audiences and keeping leads engaged, the solution may be in more-defined content marketing processes. Establishing a system of checks and balances before your blogs and eBooks go live, will help to increase content quality and give you peace of mind that only content that's good enough will get out the door.
Improving Your Demand Generation Content Marketing
In a landscape that's increasingly crowded with content, demand generation marketers face stiff competition. There’s an emerging need in many marketing organizations for better-targeted content with the potential to attract the right audiences.
Customer knowledge is at the core of effective demand generation and content marketing strategies. With qualitative and quantitative insight into the ideal customer, B2B marketing organizations can focus on addressing pain points, educating the marketing, knowing the competition and better helping prospects navigate the customer journey.
For more helpful demand marketing advice, grab a copy of the 155 Tips & Tactics from Demand Marketing's Game Changers. This complimentary eBook will arm you with actionable ideas that you can use to up-level your marketing strategy.