Leading B2B organizations such as Booker Software and immixGroup are seeing improved lead volumes and higher engagement with buyers through greater coordination of their demand gen and content efforts. One emerging trend that has emerged out of the increased synergy between demand gen and content teams is the adoption of content sequencing — the process of giving prospects a progressive pathway that is aligned with their learning objectives.
The move toward more synchronized content and demand gen efforts is being driven by B2B buyer expectations, according to experts. Findings from the 2015 Content Preferences Survey show that 97% of B2B buyers prefer packages of related or similar content.
Industry leaders noted that content sequencing is not a new concept, but is being adopted more widely in B2B marketing as buyers do most of their research online to obtain objective insights prior to engaging with a salesperson. Early-stage content has to be educational and not overly promotional.
“I liken [content sequencing] to building an intent-driven path for prospects as they research buying decisions,” said Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip. “Like many of today’s B2B marketing strategies, this is fueled by behavioral data and a solid understanding of target buyer personas.”
For example, Booker Software was able to organize content into sequential streams around specific topics of interest to better engage and target their buyer personas through the help of Uberflip. The strategy has helped Booker triple its inbound lead volume, while also cutting their lead generation spend by more than 60%. Booker will be providing deeper insights on its revamped content strategy during their session at the 2016 B2B Content2Conversion Conference and Demand Gen Summit, taking place Feb. 15-17 in Scottsdale, AZ.
“I do think we're seeing a lot more synergy between content marketers and demand gen,” said Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing at LookBook HQ, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “You're starting to see a lot more alignment between departments because now content marketers understand that [content] has to tie to the funnel.”
While there are clear benefits to aligning content and demand gen teams, challenges remain, according to Kevin Joyce, VP of Strategy Services for the Pedowitz Group.
“What we observe is that [B2B companies] are still in the early stages of content measurement,” Joyce noted. “The big hole they fall into is that they think they know their audience, but there is always that bit of doubt that they are the right people to be talking to.”
Joyce added that it’s important to “develop the buying journey first, not on job titles but on how buyers engage with their brand. That will help dictate what content is required for each particular buying stage.”
Sources noted that alignment between the content and demand gen team results in more shared goals, ultimately allowing the content team to create consistent, quality content that meets the demand team’s needs.
It starts by aligning the content creation game plan with the demand gen teams need, Woulfe explained. “What content do buyers need at this stage of the buying journey? Smart planning aligned to the needs of the buyer and goals of the marketing team.”
immixGroup, a value-added distributor owned by Arrow Electronics which offers enterprise software and hardware for the public sector, tapped LookBook HQ to deliver a more complete content experience in a continuous session. Doing so positions the company to gain greater insight into the buyer’s journey and how they engage with their content. The company has seen a 4x increase in content engagement increase as a result of the initiative.
“You have to think of it as one consecutive experience,” Woulfe added. “From the moment they start shopping to the moment they buy, it's one experience for them. You have to put yourself in the buyer's shoes and understand the natural path to purchase that a buyer fitting that persona would take.”
Sequencing Provides Deeper Insight Into Content Performance
In many cases, marketers are leveraging content sequencing to gain deeper insight into what's working, industry experts noted.
“When they see those metrics, they are also able to see the topics and subtopics that are moving the needle with buyers,” said Adam Weinroth, CMO of OneSpot, a content engagement platform provider. “Because of that, [marketers] can be smarter about content production.”
Many sources noted that while this type of strategy can have an impact at any stage of the buying journey, mid-funnel lead nurturing initiatives tend to see the greatest impact.
“It requires that you be able to track an individual, even if just with an anonymous cookie,” said David Raab, Principal of Raab Associates. “So that would make it most important in the middle of the funnel where you are reaching trackable individuals with some frequency and have enough interaction history to understand the direction of their interests.”