The digital B2B world enabled marketers to build and publish multiple content types for target buyers at a rapid rate, but the old adage “too much of a good thing is bad” has come into play. B2B buyers are now swimming in a vast ocean of digital content, but they’re only interested in highly relevant assets.
Demand Gen Report’s “2021 Content Preferences Survey” found that as buyers engage with more content than they did pre-pandemic, 62% prefer to interact with content that’s heavily research-based and tailored to their specific needs.
Marketers are overhauling their content curation strategies to increase personalization and place an emphasis on buyer personas. Through analyzing buyer intent and performing A/B tests, they’re identifying the content formats that strongly resonate with audiences, allowing them to syndicate informative content that’s relevant to the buyers’ role, company and industry.
“We limit ourselves because our content doesn’t appear that interesting,” said Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions, a B2B digital content consultancy. “There’s a huge opportunity for us to create impactful and relevant content without dialing back our volume, which we can supplement and support our marketing through smart curation, syndication and repurposing.”
This report explores the shift to a more personalized form of content curation and syndication as marketers experiment with existing and third-party content to drive engagement. It will also highlight:
- How marketers are using account-based personas to personalize their curation strategies;
- The role of repurposed third-party research and events in curation;
- How the content can be transformed into branded vendor content that buyers can trust; and
- How marketers are syndicating their content by analyzing buyer intent and behavior data.
Personalizing Content Curation With Account-Based Personas
While 55% of buyers prefer content that is tailored to their preferences, Albee believes marketers still fall short of buyer expectations of true personalization.
“Marketers need to ask themselves the basic question: ‘Is the content and idea relevant to that target audience in a way that's engaging, and does it speak to their needs?’” said Albee.
Enter ABM. Albee explained that engaging target accounts in 1:1 ABM programs requires an understanding of their account personas or segments, which enables marketers to further engage and personalize account experiences based on the target’s roles and interests. Content marketers can leverage personas and account segments to see what content buyers are constantly engaging with.
“You don't need to know their name, shoe size or that they live in the suburbs; that’s irrelevant in B2B,” said Albee. “We need to focus on what our target personas or segments care about. Our content needs to be relevant to the problems they are solving from their role or perspective and tailored to what's important to them, their company and industry.”
This persona-based curation strategy can be done at scale in multiple channels, as proven by retail management software Aptos. The company created “content wrappers” that gather data on buyers’ roles and interests and help the Aptos team build out highly targeted pieces that would display on social channels such as LinkedIn. The “wrappers” connect to larger research content curated on the company’s website, teasing buyers via a personalized sneak peek of the deeper insights Aptos can provide.
“We are a small content team supporting a global organization, so personalization is always challenging,” said David Bruno, Director of Retail Industry Insights at Aptos. “The ‘wrapper’ is styled to each recipient and the content is, of course, derived from larger content. We can produce far more personalized wrappers than we can personalized E-books, so the model really helps us scale for different channels and still engage buyers personally.”
Although content based on buyer personas and segments can help marketers personalize their creation and curation strategies, they are also looking for more measurable metrics to determine how they should syndicate their content.
Syndicating Content Based On Buyer Behavior Data
Pulling together multiple content modules for syndication may be tedious, but it is a necessary evil for promoting digital content in 2021. Instead of drowning in complexity, marketers are using different forms of buyer data — specifically intent – to decide which content pieces to connect and which to cut loose.
Jeff Coyle, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for content planning and optimization software MarketMuse, explained that most organizations are now looking at intent data drivers to determine where buyers are in their journeys based on the types of content they are interacting with. MarketMuse uses this to syndicate their content to fit the buyer’s “reading experience” in their email campaigns, engaging buyers while connecting them to additional content on their website.
“I'm syndicating my content to be part of a reading experience,” Coyle explained “One person from a company goes and reads one article, and then they read a similar one that I placed with a paid syndication promotion. Maybe another article appears right after in their area of interest and they engage with that. It surfaces that the company may be in a purchasing process. That is the output of intent data syndication.”
To determine how buyers are interacting with specific content, marketers are analyzing direct behavioral data from A/B testing to syndicate their content. B2B company review website EcoVadis A/B tests its digital content on Twitter and LinkedIn to determine how buyers are interacting with it and how well the assets drive traffic to its other content pieces, which informs the animated social content it curates in Uberflip.
“We went back to our different channels and really examined our data so we can better understand our audience,” said Amber Francis, Sr. Digital Marketing and Operations Manager at EcoVadis. “What’s really worked well is having a consistent visual experience from the first touchpoint, which a lot of times can be an ad or infographic in our social media channels. This testing allowed us to syndicate different content types and ways to display it based on how people are interacting with our social posts.”
Repurposing Branded & Third-Party Content To Drive Engagement
The “2020 State Of Content Curation & Repurposing” report saw a rise in reused content, with marketers transforming their existing content into new formats that buyers can easily consume. However, Marketing Interactions’ Albee pointed out that “not all that content is good content,” and simply repurposing it into a blog post is not enough.
She explained that good, repurposed content is transformative, and marketers will benefit from creating fresh content from existing third-party webinars, virtual events and research reports to showcase their unique expertise. This aligns with the 61% of buyers who trust branded or third-party sponsored content.
Over the last year, Albee worked with Marketing Interaction’s clients to help them build content that displays their brand’s unique voice. This positions companies as authorities on various topics, allowing them to curate thought leadership content that’s most relevant to buyers by expanding on the same webinars and research reports their audiences already trust.
“Pre-cultivating or curating content that sets you up to be a resource is wonderful, but what you need to do with that is premise it with your own thinking,” said Albee. “What's your company's opinion? What’s your take on the topic of that content you are sharing with your audience? Why is it important to your audience? That’s what your repurposed content needs to show, and you can curate it accordingly.”
EcoVadis takes a similar approach with its case study content, repurposing the assets into smaller blog posts that include third-party research to support its claims. Francis explained that the company is “now co-designing shorter pieces of content during the same time we develop our larger content pieces,” which allows the company to deliver dynamic content supported by expert data.
The new focus on personalization has helped marketers overhaul their content curation and syndication processes to avoid falling into the proverbial bottomless abyss of search engines and social media feeds. Marketers are leveling up their curation efforts by taking a cue from ABM best practices, diving into buyer personas to create content centered around specific roles and needs. Buyer behavior data, especially intent data, is also making waves in content syndication, allowing marketers to analyze buyer preferences and link them to relevant content accordingly.
Content repurposing has also made a return this year with a heavy focus on repurposing third-party pieces in addition to homegrown, branded content. Marketers have enhanced their repurposed content with research, trends and insights taken from third-party webinars and events to deliver thought leadership content that offers buyers a unique perspective on relevant topics to drive engagement.
“If we really apply ourselves to create those key pillar pieces of content, focus on our thought leadership and expertise and supplement that with other industry insights, I think it’ll make our content more desirable,” said Albee. “We appear as well-rounded experts in the field that people want to engage with because we have more interesting things to talk about. Ultimately, it shows we're not just stuck in our own black hole, and that we know what they want and can create content they care about.”