B2B buyers want more interactive content to help them make their buying decisions, and companies such as Lenovo and Lattice Engines are leveraging formats such as assessments, quizzes and video to promote engagement throughout the buyer's journey.
Findings from the 2015 Content Preferences Survey show that a majority (91%) of buyers prefer visual and interactive content rather than traditional formats. This higher level of buyer engagement offers prospects a more valuable buying experience — while also providing B2B marketers with deeper insights for future marketing initiatives.
"We're doing a lot more dynamic, interactive content," said Michael Ballard, Digital Marketing Center Manager for Lenovo, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. "It allows us to measure engagement, which makes the content production process much easier. We gain key customer insights from tools like assessments and quizzes."
This demand for interactive content, as well as the insight into prospects’ buying behavior, is fueling the growth of content marketing within the B2B marketplace. A study from Gleanster Research shows that B2B firms in the U.S. spend more than $5 billion a year on content creation efforts through internal resources, agencies, technology and production processes.
Lenovo, for example, is currently running a campaign that targets inactive prospects. They developed a series of content pieces, including IT survival guides based on user experiences, and video content. The vendor also incorporated interactive content formats such as assessments and quizzes.
Lenovo’s prospect engagement has roughly doubled since the campaign launched, and its email unsubscribe rate dropped 50%.
Adding interactive elements to popular content formats such as video can boost engagement and lead to greater insights about prospective buyers, experts noted. Several video software tools enable B2B organizations to score leads based on their engagement with video content, which can then supplement other data in CRM and marketing automation platforms.
"[Video] is one of our most successful content formats," Ballard noted. "It seems to be a medium that people are really [embracing]. Incorporating interactivity within video, such as pop-up questions, offers buyers a different ways to absorb content that we already created."
B2B marketers are moving away from “snackable” content formats to more in-depth assets that add value, according to Scott Brinker, Founder and Editor of ChiefMartec. "Interactive content helps do that, providing an original content experience that has more meat to it than a curated blog post. Once you bring interactivity to it, you can bring more utility to it."
However, there are several challenges to B2B marketers’ success with video and interactive formats. B2B organizations are wasting roughly $950 million on inefficient and ineffective content marketing, according to Gleanster’s findings. A major cause is "poorly managed and cumbersome content management processes," the report noted. Video and interactive content typically require more resources to develop than traditional formats.
Progressive content marketers are finding a healthy balance between in-house, third-party and curated content to meet their potential buyers' needs.
"Best-in-class marketers are using a combination approach to create content," said Maribeth Ross, Chief Content Officer at Aberdeen Group. "They've done persona research to understand what their buyer wants, as well as understand what they should be generating internally and what should be done via third-party or curated."
Creating compelling interactive content for a long-term strategy, and even for a more real-time, spontaneous program, can be very time consuming, according to Rob Zaleski, Marketing Manager at MarketingProfs.
"With tasks like brainstorming, [content] creation, incorporating it into the overall strategy and repurposing it to give it longevity, you can really get lost in the content woods," Zaleski noted in an interview with Demand Gen Report.
Behavioral Data Boosts Content Personalization
Interactive content can provide B2B marketers with engagement data that can enhance future content initiatives, enable increased personalization and offer more relevant experiences.
"We’ve done a lot of work to understand our ideal buyers and accounts with predictive [analytics] that goes beyond your typical buyer persona that many content strategies are built on," said Amanda Maksymiw, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Lattice Engines. "This allows us to create and deliver more targeted content."
Lattice Engines produced a buyer's guide to help educate marketing directors and managers on how predictive lead scoring can impact their business. It was bundled with an interactive checklist that guided prospects through the decision-making process. This mix of traditional and interactive content influenced more than 20 opportunities for Lattice, and the buyer's guide was downloaded more than 200 times.
Maksymiw noted that testing and experimentation is key when it comes to leveraging predictive in content strategies. "All of the data and insight predictive bring can be very valuable, but… you’ll want to test and measure to ensure your new predictive-driven approach is working well."
Leveraging these types of insights can help B2B companies differentiate themselves from competitors.
"Content marketers need to leverage analytics," noted Aberdeen's Ross. "You don't want to be the guy saturating the market. Raise your game by knowing as much as you can about your target audience. Whether it's your own content or through someone else, you get a better understanding what your ideal buyer wants."