How B2B Marketers Can Wield Content Intelligence To Enter Their Experimentation Era

Published: March 19, 2024

When we think of Taylor Swift, we think of someone who has evolved over the years and isn’t afraid to take risks or experiment — and for those reasons, she was (part of) the inspiration behind the B2B Marketing Exchange’s opening keynote. Phyllis Davidson, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester, kicked off the event with “B2B Content Lessons From Taylor Swift: Shake Off Your Old Strategy & Experiment To Engage,” which revealed that the pathway to success in B2B marketing is experimentation.

While we were on-site at the event, the B2B Marketing Exchange Podcast team was able to snag an interview with Davidson post-keynote to dive deeper into all things content, where she outlined the move away from lead-based marketing. While you’ll have to wait a few more weeks for the season 10 release to hear the interview in full, hosts Kelly Lindenau and Klaudia Tirico decided to share a little sneak peek of what you can expect when the episode drops.

Kelly Lindenau: A lot of people are afraid to experiment, whether it’s due to a fear of rejection or — potentially worse — approval. And as humans, we tend to have a fear of failure and decide to remain status quo. So, what would you say to people who are a little hesitant to try something new?

Phyllis Davidson: The edict is here to fail fast and move forward. While leadership might be reluctant to experiment and take risks, it’s in their best interests to try something new. You have to remember that true experimentation means trying something against a benchmark in a way that’s not meant to be scaled — this means sending a completely new piece of content to a portion of your audience and seeing how they react. And depending on what happens, you then move forward with delivering it to a wider segment of your audience or trying something else.

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Content is more complicated than changing the color of a banner; it takes time to put together — that’s one of the biggest reasons why people are reluctant to experiment.

Lindenau: While practitioners are experimenting with content assets, how can they determine if their changes are working or not?

Davidson: We need to really understand how our content engages our audience, not just how it contributed to developing a lead. The days of looking at things through a lead standpoint are (hopefully) continuing to fade away as we look at more important factors, regarding influence and impact: Content intelligence. Content intelligence involves understanding what people are engaging with, when they’re interacting with it and what actions they’re taking afterward.

As I look across all the technologies that support the content lifecycle, there are elements of content intelligence already built in. More and more, we’re seeing vendors use that terminology from various business intelligence data tools already built into their platforms. I’m also seeing the rise of a few standalone point solutions around content intelligence. The best tools out there will not only provide the basic data but also go a step beyond that and provide insights directly to marketers to inform their next actions.

Lindenau: Let’s drill down into data — what role will data play in informing content intelligence?

Davidson: Content intelligence is the data — it’s just a step beyond the raw data. Content intelligence works to bridge the gap between the data itself and the insights it provides. For example, if you create a white paper that was distributed to particular personas, you can understand if it’s actually engaging the audience and people beyond that persona, as well as when it’s engaging them. Are they more engaged when marketing shares it? How about when sales sends it along? There are so many great questions that, if answered, can inform our future actions.

Here’s the other piece: Getting content intelligence insights in as real time as possible allows us to tweak our programs while they’re underway. That’s really important, because we’ll have the opportunity to improve any asset that’s in the field.

Lindenau: What does content intelligence look like, and what role will technology play?

Davidson: Most likely, it’ll be a set of capabilities, because there are so many different ways to conduct content intelligence. The core product will influence where content intelligence sits: Anybody with a digital engagement platform likely already has content intelligence features and, at some point, it’s possible those will be key features that folks look at when comparing solutions.

There’s also room for point solutions in this area — over time, point solutions often get absorbed into bigger platforms, and that’s OK. But I always give the same piece of technology-related advice: Whenever you go out and look for something new, figure out the capabilities that already exist in software that you own.

For more insights into Davidson’s keynote and content experimentation, make sure to subscribe to the B2B Marketing Exchange Podcast. We’ll be dropping the full interview when Season 10 starts!

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