Optimize Content Performance To Create Content that Performs

Today’s CMO is facing a harsh reality: most content fails to perform. With this in mind, how can brands create content that will attract, convert, and retain their audience?

Optimize Content Performance To Create Content that Performs

In this article, you’ll learn new strategies to create content that performs by optimizing content performance in 3 simple steps:

  • Making the shift to visual and interactive content
  • Viewing sales enablement as a strategic marketing function
  • Incorporating personalized content into your marketing strategy
  • Along with these three steps, you’ll also receive industry data and customer content examples that have successfully attracted, converted, and retained audiences.

Content Summary

Content’s Return on Investment
Shift #1: Attraction is Visual
Shift #2: Sales Enablement is a Strategic Marketing Function
Shift #3: It’s Not Complicated, It’s Personal
Driving Maximum Content Performance

Content’s Return on Investment

The New Reality of Content Performance

The Harsh Reality
Today’s Chief Marketing Officer faces a harsh reality: despite years of investment and planning, the vast majority of the content that fuels marketing campaigns, sales enablement initiatives, and social and content marketing strategies, fails to perform. This is best illustrated by the astounding statistic that only 5% of content drives 90% of engagement.1 Moreover, less than 20% of content is even viewed, opened, or shared. And yet, despite these harsh realities, CMOs continue to invest in:

  • Producing more content—lots more of it.
  • Transferring ownership of their audiences to social platforms—thereby renting, not owning, the contacts, their data, and subsequent data insights.
  • Sending everything, to everyone, every time they launch an email campaign.

Expectation vs. Reality
Expectation: Investment in content creation will drive customer engagement, conversion, and retention.

Reality: Most content fails to perform. 5% of content gets 90% of engagement.

Lackluster Content Performance
Not surprisingly, using these tactics, content underperforms and fails to meaningfully contribute to the KPIs to which CMOs are held accountable. Lackluster performance has downstream impact too—on pipeline development, sales enablement, customer churn, and even employee retention. And yet, CMO accountability has continued to grow. Marketing is directly linked to cross-functional performance outcomes like sales, customer success, human resources, services, and others. The CMO needs high-performing content that will quantifiably enable sales, reduce customer churn, retain employees, and achieve marketing specific KPIs such as marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, pipeline growth, and customer satisfaction (NPS).

During the glory days of social media, marketers flocked to social platforms and in the process, gave up ownership of their audiences and the ability to mine relevant data.

Back to the Drawing Board
Compounding the issue, industry regulations most recently GDPR—have stifled traditional email marketing tactics (the ones that got us here in the first place), forcing marketers back to the drawing board when it comes to customer engagement, segmentation, and content strategy. Sure, Google Analytics, pipeline dashboards, or other performance reports are still helpful, but these do not provide mission-critical customer data.

And here we are. The content marketers produce might be relevant, but it isn’t actionable at the right moment. It might be actionable but it isn’t valuable enough to hold interest over time. It might be interesting but it isn’t exciting enough to attract new people. Most brands fail to deliver on the triple threat: attraction, conversion, retention. The question becomes: how does marketing transform its perspective and its content marketing paradigm to produce content that performs?

Almost all marketers apply insights to content planning, but most proceed from an incomplete picture. – Forrester, Content Gets Its Feet As An Enterprise Marketing Function, January 18, 2018

The Good News
Here’s the good news: producing high-performing content isn’t elusive. In fact, understanding and adjusting to three fundamental shifts in buyer preferences, behavior, and purchase patterns has the potential to shift your content performance into high-gear.

Shift #1: Attraction is Visual

Transitioning to Visual Content
The old adage that you cannot judge a book by its cover does not apply to modern audience building. Attraction is visual: video and, increasingly, interactive. Getting into that 5% of content that gets 90% if engagement means transitioning to visual content such as infographics, explainer videos, motion graphics, and animation to generate interest and educate your audience.

Worried that you don’t have the budget for visual assets? Embrace user-generated content (UGC). Not only is it more trusted and considered more authentic than brand-produced content, but it can also be a rich source of free visual content. Your consumers, customers, and employees are a great source of micro-moment content that can provide lift to any campaign or program.

To Attract: Turn static or passive content into visual and interactive content.

  • 65% of people surveyed remember a piece of information if it is paired with a visual.
  • 75% of users claim that user-generated content makes content more authentic.

Getting Started with Visual Content
You don’t need an agency or arsenal of resources to get started with visual content. Keep it simple.

  • Look for existing content such as brochures or whitepapers that could be repurposed into a visual asset, such as an infographic or eBook.
  • Launching a net-new campaign? Adopt a visual-first mentality with your content strategy to include an explainer video or demo reel.
  • Incorporate user-generated content where appropriate: your audience often prefers it to brand-produced content.

Top Performing Content Formats
According to a recent B2B Content Syndication survey report

  1. Interactive Content: Assessments and quizzes keeps users hooked
  2. Personalized Content: Tailored to each user persona
  3. Streaming Content: Content streamed over the internet
  4. Rich Media Content: Rich media content, such as videos and games
  5. AI-Based Content: Generated on the fly by AI bots

Example: Cisco B2B Campaign
Cisco’s marketing team embraced consumer-style, snackable videos for a B2B social campaign. Without any paid support, Cisco’s short videos received 4 million impressions and more than 2,000 engagements on social media.

  • 79% agree that interactive content results in repeat visitors and multiple exposures.
  • 91% of buyers prefer interactive and visual content over traditional text-based and static media.

Shift #2: Sales Enablement is a Strategic Marketing Function

Delivering a Journey
FedEx Small and Medium Business enabled their buyers’ e-commerce journey when they restructured 900 text-heavy web pages into a logical, step-by-step interactive process. The result: their revenue increased by over 80% in the first six months of going live with this new self-guided interactive experience.

FedEx embraced the tectonic shift in buyer behavior: the path to purchase has become a self-navigated journey. Not only is this by preference, research suggests that buyers 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.9 In the case of FedEx, their interactive and e-commerce experience delivered what their audience wanted and needed: a selfservice journey—no human interaction required.

To Convert: Simplify the path to purchase and be a trusted advisor.

Unique Challenges
The same purchase preference holds true for B2B companies, except B2B procurement tends to be more complex with more stakeholders involved in the buying process. This means that marketing must produce content to support the buyer’s self-service path to purchase, but also produce content for the sales organization for that final 30% of the buyer journey.

This also presents a unique challenge for the sales organization: to understand the needs and requirements of each stakeholder within the buying group. Marketing has a runway of multiple touchpoints, but sales has a very small window to make a winning-impression. Sales teams must ensure every interaction is a well-informed conversation that builds trust. Informed and meaningful interactions require knowledge of the customer, industry, and competition.

Sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% better at closing deals.

Getting Started with Sales Enablement

  • Enable the buyer with self-service tools like interactive assessments and solution finders that provide a self-navigated journey.
  • Inform sales of customer actions and data collected from self-service tools, combined with information from the customer’s digital footprint, such as campaign responses and content downloads.
  • Fuel meaningful customer conversations by embracing artificial intelligence (AI) or predictive intelligence that tracks market and industry intelligence in real-time it to brand-produced content.

Example: FedEx Small Business Center
The FedEx team launched six experiences that simplify and gamify the freight shipping process for users. One experience alone generated 136,000 visits and showed a 151% increase of Freight Box shipments.

Shift #3: It’s Not Complicated, It’s Personal

Rented Platforms
Regulations like GDPR have significantly complicated marketing and sales’ ability to capture buyer and audience data. This has given rise to workarounds such as the broader-based personification approach that aggregates data sets. That is a good start but falls short of supporting true account-based marketing (ABM) or personalization requirements that retain an audience past the sales funnel. In order for marketing to differentiate the brand and impact pipeline growth, they need audience data—it’s the lifeblood of any marketing initiative.

And yet, marketing continues to undermine its ability to collect data by focusing on the channels it does not own: specifically, social media. These are “rented” platforms where brands have no entitlement to audience data.

Owning Your Data
Understandably, regulations and compliance mandates challenge marketing’s efforts to collect data on owned media—websites, microsites, landing pages, and communities—but this further re-affirms the need for marketing to collect declared data on its owned media properties.

In order to know your audience and implement account-based marketing or other personalisation initiatives, audience data is critical.

To Retain: Know your audience, and continue to engage with them in a personalized way.

91% of marketers that use ABM have indicated a larger deal size.

Getting Started with Data
In order to know your audience, make it personal, and optimize conversion, brands need to collect “declared data.” This means:

  • Reducing dependency on social platforms and focusing on owned digital properties such as websites, mobile applications, or online communities.
  • Embracing interactive experiences to collect critical declared data such as solution finders, assessments, quizzes, and polls.
  • Using predictive analytics and insights to understand what content will resonate with your audience.

Example: Dell Mobility Assessment
Dell created an interactive assessment that both collects declared data and provides the user with a free assessment of their current mobile solutions, with recommendations for improvement.

Driving Maximum Content Performance

Make Your Content the Engaging 5%
Every piece of content builds a relationship. Creating and curating effective content to maintain healthy relationships requires excellent industry know-how, a targeted understanding of your audience, and outside-the-box creativity. Content has to be personal, exciting, informed, and relevant. It’s a multifaceted challenge. When that challenge is effectively met, it results in an accelerated path to purchase, a simplified sales cycle, stronger brand recognition and affinity, and the opportunity for long-term customer converts.

This means that planning for, creating, and publishing content is no longer sufficient. Today’s goal is to develop and execute on a comprehensive and holistic strategy that is focused on content performance: creating that 5% of content that engages, converts, and retains your audience. To do that, marketers must optimize content performance for the KPIs that drive results. They must focus on market insights and trend intelligence to inform content strategy and to provide sales with the insights they need for more valuable customer interactions. Marketers must embrace new and emerging content types that drive engagement. And the CMO must have a well-established data strategy that optimizes content experiences to focus on collecting declared data.

Source: ScribbleLive