“Content is the most effective way to ignite meaningful relationships. But even the greatest content must be combined with a remarkable experience to reach its full potential.” - Yoav Schwartz, Co-founder & CEO of Uberflip.
The way we digest content is changing.
Once synonymous with the 3-pillar system, Content Marketing was defined by creation, distribution and insights. But what this fails to recognise is a fourth, and possibly the most important pillar, experience.
CONTENT MARKETING VS EXPERIENCES
Let’s get the facts right before going guns blazin’ into creating an engaging content experience.
A content experience is where your lovely content lives, how it’s structured and how it sets the stage for your customers to engage with your organisation.
Moving away from single sessions in a ‘read it and leave it’ format, users are now journeying through content for sustained periods of time. These browsing sessions ask for greater cohesion and clearer direction from branded content; where traditional content marketing has nurtured based on multiple single-touchpoint engagements, it must now facilitate longer, multi-touchpoint sessions.
This transformation in user experience is already fuelling new platforms, environments and formats - from Facebook Ad experiences to the algorithm update from the search engine big-wigs Google Discover.
For brands ready to keep up with the changing demands of the ‘engage me or lose me’ generation, this new approach needs to be a connected one. The answer lies in creating an accessible network of content that’s optimised to help the user stick around, navigate easily through a library of information, and leave wanting more.
Let’s start with the basics.
We all know Content is King. That’s why 88% of B2B organisations are leveraging content marketing as part of their growth strategy. But for the user - your existing customers and your hot prospects, the popularity of content has come at a cost.
With so many marketers creating so much content, there’s a hell of a lot floating around on the world wide web. Faced with this vast collection of information - some of it good, much of it questionable - it’s now more confusing than for the end-user to find exactly what they’re looking for and derive true value from their searches.
It’s not surprising that a hefty 74% of visitors get frustrated when content appears on a website that has nothing to do with what brought them there in the first place.
A B2B marketer worth their weight in gold will have spent extensive time developing personas, researching blogs and delivering top-notch content.
Naturally, the next step is to place relevant information in the path of the user, allowing them to seamlessly continue their buyer journey.
Enter the fourth pillar…
To create a true content experience, start by centralising and organising your existing content. Suck it up and put it all in a spreadsheet. From here you can explore the user’s journey and make sure there’s a clear path for them to follow, otherwise there’s a risk they’ll get bored and leave your site.
Essentially, you’re working to avoid a content silo, where dead-ends obstruct the users path and prevent them from continuing their journey.
LONG HAUL ENGAGEMENT
With so many interactive content platforms in place these days, B2B marketers are leaning on snackable, participant-based content such as polls and quizzes for quick results for active engagement. But while these routes offer a short-term boost, their impact and life-span is limited. Real engagement and experiences go much further.
It’s about connecting with your user on a meaningful level and developing a long-term relationship. Especially for B2B bods and brand, who can expect to see sales cycles of anywhere up to 36 months.
Fun interactive assets can help build connections, but you need to think about the bigger picture and focus on carving out an engagement path.
This is where organising your content comes in, it’s the key to discoverability. A winning content experience is ultimately about tailoring content pathways that help keep things personal and relevant for your audience.
Psst. Need help on making your marketing more relevant? We’ve got it covered, read our personalisation blog here.
85% of B2B marketing teams say lead generation is their main goal - and in today’s climate if you want to build rich lead profiles, content alone isn’t going to cut it.
Promoting an eBook? This is how the story should go:
The user lands on the page, provides their details and receives the asset as requested. They then digest it - or save it for later - and move on to a related piece of content that you have clearly presented to them. And so on.
However in many cases, this plot gets lost. For example, if the user is exposed to multiple CTAs which direct them all over the place (including landing pages with little to no relevance to the previous touchpoint), the path becomes a confusing one.
This jumbled and distracting journey can lead the prospects down endless rabbit holes or away from your perfectly crafted content entirely - meaning they lose out on your eBook and you lose out on a valuable lead.
It’s time to cut the crap and create a clear path to the desired outcome.
You could, for instance, connect your lead gen journey with gated pop-ups. Within a lead generation content experience, this is where you can make all the difference. Gates ask the user to provide their information in order to be granted access to premium content.
These gates shouldn’t be considered as barriers, but opportunities to sell in your content experience. They are the blurb to your story. They don’t displace the reader or detract from the content experience. Instead, they provide their own value and tease the next step the user needs to take: download the damn thing.
Take this example from The Drum, I’ve want to read the article but to do so will have to sign-up. Now I’m a member I can stay signed in on their site and freely access content.
Undoubtedly content is the backbone of your marketing.
It plays the role of generating awareness, engagement and leads. But this is only the start of the buyer journey.
The relationship between Sales and Marketing needs to be aligned.
It’s a two way street. Marketing provides tailored content and insight about the buyer to Sales, and in return Sales provide valuable insights to inform the content strategy.
Need some more help creating a healthy SMarketing relationship? Read our blog on why Marketing and Sales should be bros, not trade blows.
Content experiences aren’t a new concept. But B2B companies struggle to put forward the resources required to optimise their content. Focusing too much effort on the 3-pillars, or struggling in the face of technological limitations.
The goal should always be to deliver value to the end-user. The environment in which your content lives ultimately impacts on its performance.
Allow your content to reach its full potential by building a focused experience.