A customer-centric combination of relevant content, channels and scenario-based (as well as personal) interactions, is one of the pillars of lead nurturing. It is a cross-channel process of triggered and other contact moments that are function of the customer's buying journey and digital footprints and where content obviously plays a significant role.
As predicted earlier this year and last year (amongst others by Arketi Group and Junta42) spending on content has been on the rise. Content is really an important part of all possible marketing activities and it has always been so. Nevertheless, the increasing importance of content has resulted in what we call 'content marketing' now, a discipline that gets studied and documented like for instance e-mail marketing, social media marketing, etc.
As a cross-channel and holistic marketing thinker and worker, I like to have a global approach on interactive marketing whereby content and channels are function of customers and the bottom-line. But at the same time, sometimes it is useful to look at several "forms" of online (and of course) offline marketing such as webvertising, SEM, web analytics, e-mail and content marketing.
Marketing is an activity that requires at least an idea of what we want to achieve, how we want to achieve it and how will we check if we achieve it. With an expensive word: a "strategy". Strategies, plans etc. are important although the results are in the hard work, execution and what we see 'in real life' instead of what we think in board rooms.
What is a content strategy (and what isn't it)?
But we do need a strategy. And we do need it in a holistic way but also on micro-levels (because normally we will use Marketing ROI on both levels). So, if we look at content, we also need a strategy for that. Or maybe better: we need to have some guidelines.
What should be the elements of such a strategy? I quite liked the 3D Content Mapping" model of the Arketi Group.
Let me start by saying what a content strategy should not be, according to Arketi Group. I quote: "In today's attention-challenged, ultra-segmented and over-marketed BtoB environment, the traditional approach of developing a few white papers, case studies and data sheets and blasting them out to a list of all suspects, prospects and customers, hoping to achieve the "nirvana" of a high download rate are over - for good".
Right, blasting is pushing and broadcasting, attention-challenged means you have to get the attention in another way and over-marketed means, well, that you have to be very good in engaging your customers through content. And when I hear the word engaging, I always think ' personalization', 'cross-channel', 'data driven', 'triggered', ' event driven' and 'customer-centric', certainly in a lead nurturing sense...
In my view content marketing is indeed not simply spreading one size fits all content and looking at the bottom-line. In B2B marketing, content has to be adapted in function of the phases in the customer life cycle, and it's also about engagement, stories and dialogues.
The three dimensions of a content strategy
So, what does the Arketi Group think is a good content strategy? Welcome to the three dimensions: 3D Content Mapping.
A quick look at each of the three dimensions
You know what segmentation is. In this case, it obviously means that your content should appeal to prospects in function of their profile. You probably think "I am doing that" but instead of targeting people in function of their function alone, go as far as you can: industry, expressed needs and challenges, past behaviour, triggers, digital signals, cross-channel customer data, whatever.
- The buying cycle
Let me quote the people of Arketi Group: "Today's prospects are much more in control of the information flow, relying on trusted online resources and solution providers' websites far more often than sales reps to identify solutions, evaluate options and develop short lists for further consideration. The role of today's BtoB marketers in this new environment is to offer the right content, matched to the individual prospect's level of interest". That's what I call using customized content for lead nurturing, in function of your customer's digital footprints and where he is in the buying cycle.
- Content type
As Arketi Group says "keep the message fresh". But also make sure you use several content options, regarding format, channel and trigger (push, pull). Every prospect has his own preferences and in a cross-channel lead nurturing approach, meeting those should be the most obvious thing on earth.
Just like social media marketing is about being there where your customers and prospects are, so they can connect with you, what we call content marketing is about offering the content to your prospects in function of their needs, desires, reading preferences etc. And, certainly in B2B, about the customer life cycle.
In the end, that is customer-centricity and thus, by definition, cross-channel.
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