While the vast majority of enterprise-oriented marketers say they put their audience’s interests ahead of their products or services and are developing detailed personas, less than half of them are actually talking to customers to inform the stories they tell, according to the latest B2B content marketing research from the Content Marketing Institute.
The data from B2B Content Marketing 2019: Data, Benchmarks and Trends — North America, showed feedback from sales team is the leading research method based on 74 per cent of survey respondents, followed by website analytics and keyword research. Customer conversations came in at 42 per cent, second-last before “other.”
On the flip side, 90 per cent said they put their audience needs first, and 73 per cent said they plan to use personas by the end of this year.
“Customers can tell you directly about their needs and preferences. You don’t have to infer them from analytics or glean them from third-party conversations,” CMI research director Lisa Murton Beets wrote in a blog post that accompanied the release of the B2B content marketing research. “Some content marketers accompany sales reps on their calls. Some arrange phone calls with prospects and customers directly. Take advantage of in-person events your audience members attend to talk to them.”
CMI altered the methodology of its B2B content marketing research survey this year, specifically targeting those who identified as working in content marketing roles and had been pursuing such activity for a year or more.
Besides connecting directly to customers, experts suggest B2B content marketers spend more time thinking about the specific kind of content they create, and the business outcomes it can drive towards.
Technology market research firm Gartner Inc., for instance, held a sales and marketing event this week in which one of its vice-presidents stressed the needs for “buyer enablement” content, which it defined as “the provision of information and/or tools to customers that support the completion of specific buying jobs throughout the purchase process.”
Gartner said buyer enablement could be broken down into “prescriptive advice” that gives them actionable steps on what to do, and “practical support” that eases the purchase process.
“Shifting the commercial strategy to buyer enablement requires reallocating resources to producing a different kind of content altogether,” Gartner analysts wrote in an excerpt from its report, Rethinking Digital Customer Engagement. “There is an urgent need for marketers to move their content marketing portfolio away from thought leadership, industry trends and infotainment, which comprise the bulk of today’s content marketing fare, and toward buyer enablement.”
By building buyer enablement content aligned with critical buying jobs, B2B brands will be able to ease the purchase process, Gartner said. B2B brands should also think about how they can repurpose buyer enablement content developed for sales for a customer service scenario, the report added.