Nearly half of marketers don't think (or aren't sure) they have enough content to fill their marketing needs. Those are the findings from an Executive Benchmark Survey of B2B marketers conducted by Bulldog Solutions and Frost & Sullivan.
And these survey results should catch the attention of any marketer adopting marketing automation tools to deliver the right messages at the right time to the right prospects. After all, marketers need to "feed the marketing automation machine" in order to extract value from these tools.
In fact, in a recent survey by DemandGen Report, 79% of early adopters of marketing automation said they would “prepare the organization by building proper processes and content offers to feed the automation system.”
As a marketer, you should be concerned if you can relate to the benchmark survey findings -- even if you're not adopting marketing automation. Because prospects can easily access content via the Web, they largely bypass direct interactions with B2B companies until late in the buying process. Of course, getting prospects to reach out even late in the game means your content has to work overtime to attract, engage, and convert them. These pointers from a recent Bulldog Solutions' Webinar should help jump-start your efforts.
1) In addition to mapping content to the buying process and buyer personas, you need to understand how long your assets can reasonably deliver value. Naylor Gray, Director of Global Marketing for Frost & Sullivan, defined the general buying process by the following three stages:
He then talked about assessing a content asset's half-life to determine how long it will provide value (i.e., generate leads). In general, he said that content assets in the first stage generally have a shorter half-life than those required for the later stages.
As an example, he explained that most Webinars that are not promoted after the event have a half-life of two days. That means the day of the Webinar will generate half of all leads that you can anticipate from the event. Over the next two days, the Webinar will generate half as many leads as on the day of Webinar. This pattern continues until you are eight days out from the Webinar, at which point, you can expect 1/32 or 3% of leads – or fewer – of those generated on the day of the Webinar. If you market the Webinar after the event, you can expand the half-life by a week or two. But according to Gray, you'd be hard pressed to generate many useful leads from a Webinar more than 3 months after the original date.
Content in the "Overcome Objections" stage – when you're educating prospects – generally proves valuable for about 6-10 months, and even up to two years. In other words, in the first 6-10 months, these asset types will generate half of all the leads that they will generate over their lifespan. This content – including white papers, ROI/TCO calculators, demos, thought leadership articles and papers, and Web copy – lasts longer because prospects' objections and challenges are fairly static. That said, you should pay attention to trends and forces – such as the economic downturn – that may require you to update these assets because prospects' concerns have shifted.
Assets for the "Support Decisions" phase revolve around proposals, customer testimonials, case studies, and references. According to Gray, this is the most enduring content and can last for years. As noted above, you need to update these materials to reflect major trends and or shifts in your positioning.
2) Rob Solomon, the CEO of Bulldog Solutions, discussed ways to repurpose content to extend its value and reach. As part of that, he pointed out that most marketers put lots of attention into and promotional effort behind new assets and then quickly forget about them.
In addition to repurposing content (i.e., turning a Webinar into a podcast, using it to inspire a newsletter article or blog post, etc.), Solomon offers another suggestion for getting more bang for your content buck: create "content centers." Here you aggregate all relevant content in a single place so prospects can controlwhat they consume and when they consume it – without having to get lost on your main site. The key is to organize your content by persona type or topic. You could launch a separate site (i.e., a microsite) or set up your main site to mirror this structure. An example of a microsite organized by personas is Fujitsu's RUS/ARRA Resource Site.
Eloqua's site was held up as an example of a main site organized around prospects' concerns, by both persona and topic.
If you're looking for additional guidance, check out this step-by-step guide from Bulldog for developing a content creation plan and building a library of re-usable content.
What suggestions can you offer for squeezing the most life from content assets?
- How Do You Compare to the Best Content Marketers - by Yours Truly
- 42 Ideas on How to Create Content to Connect with Customers - by Michele Linn
- B2B Content Marketing: Six Places to Find Hidden Content Gems - by Joe Pulizzi
Read more Savvy B2B posts from Stephanie.