Content marketing is a central part of any Demand Generation program, but most marketing leaders skip over the most essential step in the content creation process: collecting buyer insights.
In this second of a three part series with Carlos Hidalgo, of ANNUITAS, on the role of Demand Generation at enterprise companies, we take a closer look at the role of content marketing and understanding your company’s specific buyer behaviors. In the first interview, Hidalgo discussed the relationship between Demand Generation, sales and marketing.
Emma Vas: Why is it so critical that companies collect insights about their buyers before creating content?
Carlos Hidalgo: “A lot of organizations create buyer personas and a strategy for their Demand Generation processes, but they never involve the buyer. If you have regular customers who keep returning to your business, why aren’t you asking and involving them in your strategy process? Why aren’t you asking actual buyers how they buy?
If you only collect research and feedback from your marketing and sales teams, it’s as if you were looking through a keyhole when you’re trying to describe a full room. You need to round out your insight by asking your current customers about their buying process – and don’t just ask them why they bought your product.
Instead, ask them about their buying process with questions like,
- What sort of content do you look for to help you through each stage of your buying cycle?
- Where do you look for content?
- Who else at your firm is involved in looking for this type of product or service?
If you aren’t asking your actual buyers about their buying process and content needs, then you don’t have all the insights you need to create compelling content.”
Vas: What role do you believe content marketing plays in the Demand Generation process?
Hidalgo: “I think you first have to determine, what is your content for? Not all content is created the same. If you think about developing content for brand recognition and brand loyalty, that’s a whole different set of content than for product marketing.
When creating content specifically for Demand Generation, you need to understand what triggers a prospect to action. Google calls this trigger, the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT) – that point when somebody makes the decision to search for and buy your product or service. You need to design content around that ZMOT in order to Engage, Nurture and Convert your buyer along their purchase path.
There are three major categories of content: engagement, nurturing and conversion content. Engagement content is about building trust, educating the reader and qualifying them as a prospect. Your engagement content should let prospects know that you understand their pains and should teach them about the challenges they’re experiencing.
Your nurturing content should then build upon your engagement content from a value chain perspective. If you provide a smooth level of continuity from your engagement content to broader solution sets, your nurturing content cultivates your prospect effectively.
Conversion content is then a matter of your sales team continuing that educational dialogue with the buyer until they’re ready to close.
Content marketing is vital to Demand Generation, but without the context of buyer insights and understanding, you’re just building content for content’s sake. This trend is clearly reflected in the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) study that shows only 38% of companies are ‘highly effective’ with their content.
Much like B2B marketing technology, spending a lot of money on designing content without asking, ‘What are we designing content for?’ is a wasted investment. For effective Demand Generation, we need to understand the buyer, their purchase path and a day in their life.”
Vas: What are some of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the Demand Generation process?
Hidalgo: “As you look at Demand Generation, you have to look at each program from both the macro and micro level. From a macro level, you look at how the program is performing, including key performance indicators like:
- Overall revenue contribution
- Overall pipeline growth
- Average close rate
- Growth in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Current customer share-of-wallet
At the micro level, you examine how each piece of content is performing:
- How is it driving more qualified leads?
- How is it helping sales close more deals?
Measuring the individual content piece at every stage of a program is vitally important. While downloads are important, they should lead to the next download or the next step in the program. If a prospect only completes a single download and doesn’t advance through the sales funnel, then you have a problem with your program.
You have to measure both macro program performance and individual content performance as it relates to the overall program. You have to apply a business intelligence lens to what we’re doing as marketers. When 52% of marketers still can’t measure ROI, that’s a big problem.”
Look out for the third and final part of Hidalgo’s interview next week. Click here to learn more about Carlos Hidalgo’s work at ANNUITAS.
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Catch up on the rest of the interviews with Carlos Hidalgo on Demand Generation strategies: