In recent years, content campaigns have emerged as essential components of marketing strategies that support B2B sales. Indeed, CMI and Marketing Prof’s North American benchmark report for 2019 cited content creation as a growing concern for marketers, with a full 56% of surveyed marketing professionals reporting major content creation budget hikes over the last year. Similarly, Forbes.com contributor Lilach Bullock highlights “a real need for [business-wide] content strategy” as a content marketing trend that businesses simply can’t afford to ignore.
Though the industry-wide demand for effective and engaging content is more than apparent, these types of findings may leave B2B marketers with more content questions than ever before. Right about now, you may be asking yourself:
How exactly do I know when my content is landing with my prospects?
How do I keep tabs on my content once I offer it to my sellers?
What tools exist for measuring content performance as it moves through the sales funnel?
Is there a way to assess my content’s direct impact on company ROI? And, if so, how can I leverage this end-of-funnel knowledge so that it helps with top-of-funnel content creation?
Read on to discover some tricks of the trade to help your content assets go the extra mile.
Tip 1: Use top-of-funnel findings to your advantage.
Creating effective content shouldn’t be about making shots in the dark. Rather, it should be about gathering and harnessing the data you need to make sure your message hits its mark. This is why it’s important to collect as much information as you can about your prospects and how they interact with your content — starting from the minute you hit “publish” or “send.” Certain sales tools can be invaluable here, especially since the right solution can provide your marketing team with relevant insights into buyer interest, which can, in turn, inform your content creation almost instantly.
Need some real-world examples on how to make this happen? Using sales tools, you can track prospect awareness as well as KPIs such as who’s opening your outreach emails, who’s clicking on your latest targeting campaign, and whether or not a lead has downloaded content from your most recent pitch. With this information at your disposal, you’ll be able to see which messages are landing with your prospects and which are falling short of their targets. You’ll then be able to edit and reformat poorly performing content before your next campaign and revamp your messaging strategy before surfacing material to your sellers.
Tech solutions can help provide this vital top-of-funnel information and help you stay current regarding which assets are performing well and which should be sent out for recycling. No matter which solution you choose, for best results you’ll want to review analytics on content freshness and content coverage before you begin putting together content recommendations to your sellers. That way, your content stands a better chance of staying effective, actionable, and entirely up-to-date.
Tip 2: Investigate sales engagement activity levels.
Once buyers travel further through the buyer’s journey, it’s advisable to stay on top of seller activity, especially if you’re hoping to improve content efficiency going forward. At this juncture, a centralized sales enablement platform can act as a dynamic solution. Once up and running, a sales enablement system can easily help marketers keep tabs on which assets sellers are using and when. It can also keep your team members up-to-date on which assets have been engaged with most frequently and to what effect. In addition, advanced sales enablement solutions allow you to identify content items that are remixed out in the field, meaning you’ll have a global understanding of which assets sellers think they need to customize and/or modify––and therefore have a better sense of what kind of changes, if any, should be made before your next launch.
Comparison analytics can then take your content engagement strategy to the next level by collecting data on various adaptations of a single piece of content. This can help marketers measure the precise impact of each and every asset; as long as a certain number of assets have the same origin story, their engagement metrics and ROI will be evaluated collectively as opposed to separately, and you’ll have a greater understanding of overall content “temperature” as a result. No need to worry about sellers going rogue and creating their own content without oversight ever again.
Tip 3: Trace buyer engagement across all funnel stages.
Today’s technological landscape offers a wealth of buyer engagement analytics tools, all of which can be mobilized to your benefit when it comes to optimizing content. Here’s how:
1.) You can mine buyer behavior for essential KPIs using website analytics and social media metrics. Chief among the up-and-coming KPIs is “scroll depth” (the extent to which website visitors have scrolled through your site for a more in-depth look). By analyzing these kinds of metrics, you’ll be able to ascertain if your web content is doing its job and encouraging buyers to keep reading. If not, you can redesign your copy with an eye towards increasing engagement.
2.) You can also invest in an advanced CRM solution, which, as Forbes.com suggests, can help lay the foundation for predictive analytics that will enable your team to build prospect profiles and boost conversion. And, as an added bonus, CRM data can be integrated into a sales enablement platform. This merger can encourage processes for optimal content curation and personalization, both of which can lead to a significant increase in customer retention. In fact, 58% of HBR pulse survey respondents in 2018 reported a massive upswing in customer loyalty when customer analytics techniques were employed.
3.) Finally, you can make use of old-school strategies to gather new-age results. Phone monitoring can now be utilized to tape and transcribe buyer interactions, making it possible to extrapolate data regarding buyer anxieties, likes, and dislikes––all of which can be stored and analyzed with AI tech tools. These tools can then provide recommendations regarding how to proceed with buyers who fit previously encountered profiles, and even offer pointers on the messaging and tone that these buyers may find most compelling.
Tip 4: Don’t bow out once the deal is done.
It’s crucial to keep taking a pulse on your content once a specific deal has closed. In fact, you should think of the end of a deal as a signal to use end-of-funnel findings to re-inform and reinvigorate top-of-funnel processes.
Start by zooming out and evaluating content performance on a big-picture scale. How? By implementing solutions for closed-loop analytics. This will require you to accumulate data across all platforms (such as CRMs, content management tools, sales management tools, and sales enablement solutions), integrate the information, and then trace content effectiveness at every stage of the buyer’s journey. As this big picture falls into place, your team can flag subpar, under-performing content in order to enhance campaign strategies in the future.
Next, try revisiting your sales systems’ reporting on interactive analytics such as prospect location, number of downloads, length of time spent engaging with content, and more. One example: Once integrated with a CRM platform such as Salesforce, sales enablement systems can be programmed to offer direct “content-to-dollar” metrics for a cold, hard look at how each asset affects your bottom line and how it can be reshaped and reinvented for an even better return next time around.
Some final thoughts…
By synthesizing data surrounding buyer and seller engagement, your marketing team will be rewarded with a sophisticated road map for how to proceed with each new content campaign. Engagement metrics can offer quick and decisive answers to your team’s most pressing questions such as, “Is my content reaching my targets?” or, “How do I know how my content is faring once I hand it over to sellers?”
Remember, though: Content strategy doesn’t happen on its own. As a marketing leader, it will be up to you to help build an integrated system for measuring buyer and seller awareness, behavior, and interactions at every phase of the buyer’s journey. And, perhaps even more importantly, it will then be up to you to extract as many lessons as you can from these analytics and use them to compose, configure, curate, and adapt your content accordingly.
Implementing some of the solutions above will be a good place to begin.