Sunday, May 4, 2014

One Way to Make Feeding the Content Beast Easier

Other than lack of time, the biggest challenge now facing B2B content marketers is producing enough content, according to the latest content marketing survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

The volume of content required for effective B2B marketing has increased dramatically over the past few years in part because publishing new content frequently is important for improving search engine rankings. More significantly, though, companies must produce more content because of the need to make marketing messages more relevant for potential buyers. To improve relevance, marketers are increasingly using two best practices:
  • They are creating buyer personas and developing content that is tailored to address the particular needs and interests of each persona. This increases what I call personal relevance.
  • They are developing content that is specifically designed for each stage of the buying process, which increases what I call situational relevance.
This approach can be extremely powerful and effective, but it can also turn content development into an overwhelming job for many companies. For example, suppose that you've created four buyer personas and that you use the traditional four-stage buying process (Awareness-Interest-Consideration-Decision). This scenario would literally require 16 unique content assets to fully implement a persona-specific/stage-specific content marketing strategy, as illustrated by the following table.

While there is no "easy" button for content development, there are some steps you can take to make the job more manageable. One important step is to ask how much customization is really required to achieve the necessary level of relevance.

For example, the reality is that you probably would not need 16 distinct content assets to have an effective marketing program in the circumstances described above. If you take a close look at your buyer personas, you would probably find that they have similar interests, concerns, and information needs when they are in the early stages of the buying process. In many cases, the need for content that is customized for each buyer persona increases as potential buyers move through the buying process.

What this means is that you can often use one early-stage content asset to "cover" multiple buyer personas without incurring a significant loss of relevance. The table below shows how this approach could be used to reduce the number of assets needed for an effective content marketing program. In this example, the number of required assets goes from 16 to 11, which represents a 31% reduction in the number of assets needed.

The above example is for illustration purposes only. There's no universal rule that predicts how much streamlining this approach will enable you to achieve. Your business circumstances will dictate how much streamlining is possible, and you should only streamline if you can maintain a high level of relevance. But, if you can lower your content requirements by even 20% or so, that will make feeding the content beast easier.

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