In 2013, SiriusDecisions revealed that as much as 60 to 70 percent of content produced by B2B companies goes unused by sales teams.
This finding, of course, led many a marketing leader to the realization that they’re spending an abundance of resources – time, budget, and talent – that’s essentially being wasted.
The majority of the content marketing works so diligently to create never has an opportunity to engage prospects and nurture leads.
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A Buyer-Centric Approach to Content Is the Solution
In more tangible terms, that means that 60 to 70 percent of your marketing content budget is going to waste – maybe more. The problem, it seems, isn’t that marketing isn’t producing enough content, but perhaps that marketing isn’t getting the right feedback, such as content usage metrics and other KPIs that would indicate audience value perception and engagement.
More B2B companies are realizing that a marketing content problem does exist, and in an effort to drive ROI from content are moving away from product-focused content and towards an audience-centric approach. Producing buyer-centric content means a strategic approach to producing content specifically targeted to individual buyer personas, a process that many B2B organizations continue to struggle with.
Not only is this achievable, no matter where your organization stands currently in terms of a defined content production and promotion process, but a more strategic approach to creating audience-centric content has another benefit: better alignment between marketing and sales, something most organizations consistently strive to achieve.
Conduct a Content Audit
To begin implementing a more buyer-centric approach to content, you first need a clear picture of where you stand. That means conducting a content audit [FG1] to identify the volume of marketing and sales content your company currently has at its disposal. This will help you to pinpoint gaps and identify problem areas that make it more challenging for sales to source the best content for each selling scenario.
For instance, 68 percent of organizations rely on five or more content repositories. With no clear guidance or central repository for sourcing content, sales teams waste hours of time simply trying to find slide decks and other content assets that support their sales requirements. It’s impossible to gain any real visibility into your existing content library with assets dispersed so unreliably throughout various repositories.
Define Buyer Personas and Identify Gaps
Once you have clear visibility into the full volume of content assets that your team has already created, you can begin the process of assigning content assets to your most important buyer personas and/or stages of the buyer’s journey.
If you haven’t yet defined buyer personas, now is the time to do so, as well as identify the stages of the buying journey and the various touch points at which prospects interact with your company during the journey. This is best achieved through a collaborative effort with insights from both marketing and sales.
This mapping process brings clarity into gaps that are not being filled with your current content assets and allows you to identify assets that are not being used to their full potential. You may have slide decks that have yet to be utilized by sales, for instance, or white papers that can be reformatted and repurposed to target a specific buyer persona. In most cases, reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary. Re-purposing existing content can help you gain more traction and ROI from the resources you’ve already used creating content that isn’t being utilized to its fullest potential.
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Create a Single Point of Access For Your Content
Instant access to information and content is absolutely critical for modern B2B sales organizations. Sales reps are under ever-increasing pressure to do more with less, and they can easily end up spending 10 to 20 hours per week searching for content assets that suit their selling scenarios and buyers’ needs.
Or worse, they spend time creating new assets simply because it’s more efficient to re-create assets that already exist than to waste hours searching through half a dozen file-sharing platforms and content repositories to locate existing assets.
The trap many marketing teams fall into trying to solve this problem is to create a centralized content repository for all "approved content". Unfortunately, this strategy is an impossible dream. Content will always be stored across a range of locations making upkeep unmanageable. Instead, the best content marketing teams are looking towards search-based solutions which provide a single point of access to all content regardless of storage location. The benefits include less time spent searching for and re-creating content assets which means your sales reps can focus on what they do best: selling.
Measure and Refine
Measurement is really the key to perfecting marketing and sales content. Now that you’ve produced targeted content to fill existing gaps in your resource library, content analytics will reveal shortcomings and opportunities. For instance, gaining visibility into the content assets that are used most often by sales and in what unique selling scenarios can help to drive future content production efforts.
Likewise, metrics that indicate how many prospects convert to leads after downloading specific content assets can provide valuable insights into the conversations your audience finds most relevant and engaging. There are a variety of metrics that can provide useful insights into content effectiveness and ROI, such as:
- Consumption metrics: The number of visitors, downloads, or views.
- Sharing metrics: How many people who consumed a content asset found it valuable enough to share it with others via email or social media?
- Lead generation metrics: How many visitors or readers converted to leads after consuming a content asset?
- Sales metrics: If you’re tracking prospects through the sales funnel, you’re able to monitor and document the various content assets a given prospect consumed throughout the buyer’s journey. This allows you to turn projected revenue (after the prospect is converted to a sale) and distribute that value across the content assets consumed throughout the buying journey.
There are a multitude of content marketing metrics that can provide valuable insights into content performance. The key is to align your analytics with your business objectives and define KPIs that matter most to your business. Combined with a central content repository that enables sales to quickly select and customize the best content for every selling scenario, content analytics provides critical insights that help marketing teams create laser-focused content that’s perfectly in-tune with audience needs.
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The end result is an efficient, streamlined process that enables your marketing team to understand the content needs of buyers in the marketing and sales cycles. This enables marketing to make efficient use of resources to create the right content for the right buyers at the right time, and as a result, your sales reps will save hours of time they’d otherwise spend searching for and re-creating content assets.
Coupled with the ability to prove content ROI, this process enables marketing to better meet the needs of sales, resulting in savings of time and resources for both marketing and sales, and a healthier bottom line. Happy, satisfied sales reps tend to do their jobs better and close more deals, making it a win-win solution that fosters loyalty and drives results across the board.