Your audience is surrounded by a sea of content that grows wider and deeper every day. You need to get their attention, but as more companies make the move into content marketing, the challenge can seem increasingly daunting. While the volume of content continues to expand, attention spans and available reading time do not.
Advances in technology present marketers with new opportunities to distribute their content and target their audience. But in a noisy, multiscreen world, the key to successfully leveraging these opportunities is to focus on creating meaningful dialogue with customers and prospects.
In B2B marketing, that means delivering timely, contextually optimized messages that are relevant to a person’s interest, industry and role. The battle for relevance will be played out across several technology frontiers over the next few years.
Activating Marketing Automation
In the B2B world, marketing automation platforms are at the core of a new approach to demand creation. These platforms allow organizations to create nurturing journeys and scoring models that help move their prospects through the sales pipeline. However, marketers will not be able to realize the promise of marketing automation without a commitment to developing a deep understanding of their buyer personas along with comprehensive libraries of content that meet their information needs.
Many companies are rushing to purchase these systems without a full understanding of what it takes to put a comprehensive solution in place. What they end up with is a very expensive email service provider (and some disappointed stakeholders).
Optimizing the Mobile Channel
Mobile is an increasingly important part of the equation in B2B. Having a mobile-optimized site is not good enough anymore. B2B organizations will have to create real mobile strategies. That doesn’t mean cranking out a brochureware app because the CEO says that “we need to do something in mobile.” It means figuring out how to integrate your brand into your customers’ work flows. (Hint: This will take insight that the lowest bidder on your mobile RFP is unlikely to provide.)
It also means that B2B marketers have as much stake in figuring out cross-device tracking as consumer marketers do. While the technical and privacy hurdles are sorting themselves out, it will be important to think about what we are really trying to accomplish. If we are following users from screen to screen so we can stuff in a few more retargeting impressions while they’re scrolling through news headlines, then perhaps we shouldn’t bother. But if we can find out that a key target decision-maker is sitting at a Starbucks two blocks away from where one of our thought leaders is giving a talk, and we can send him a personalized, real-time invitation — well, that’s a challenge worth solving.
Making Programmatic Media Work for Highly Targeted B2B Markets
While programmatic media is rapidly revolutionizing how we target online advertising, the focus of much of the ecosystem has been on reaching audiences on a scale that isn’t relevant to much of the B2B space. Media partners aren’t offering much value when they promise to generate 10 million impressions for a client with an addressable market of less than 5,000 people.
What matters is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. It would be great to see offerings that allow us to target highly specific segments — for example, control engineers in the oil and gas industry who are researching a specific set of products, services or issues. This is about narrowing down, not scaling up.
Of course, this isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. But in B2B, we’re used to paying high CPMs to speak to the right people. Some promising developments in this area will hopefully come from LinkedIn as they fully incorporate their purchase of Bizo. Stay tuned.
Personalizing Website Experiences
A few years ago, it would have been reasonable to predict that the days of serving up one-size-fits-all experiences on websites would be over by now. There are so many ways to identify visitors’ demographics and interests through first- or third-party cookies that it makes sense to personalize a site based on what an organization knows about the person visiting. But it’s still pretty rare to find robustly personalized web experiences, especially in B2B.
This type of personalization is still costly, and there are a number of challenges, including mobile and search considerations. However, these hurdles shouldn’t stop marketers from planning distinct experiences for each of their audiences. Armed with a full understanding of who your audience is and what they care about, you can create paths that allow them to quickly access the content that will resonate and drive them deeper into your site. You can add personalization to the picture as your site evolves.
In B2B, the stakes for relevance are higher than in consumer marketing. With a smaller audience of decision-makers typically making much bigger decisions, the wrong message has a bigger downside and the right message has a bigger upside. As new marketing technologies provide more opportunities to engage, we need to focus on maximizing our opportunities to get it right, providing content that stands out and resonates.