Ardath Albee’s insights to inspire binge-worthy content
How can you create content marketing that’s so resonant, you make buyers binge on content?
Most people admit to bingeing on content at home. In fact, 73% of Americans admit to bingeing: watching all the episodes of a TV show at once.
Ardath Albee explored how to make buyers binge on content at the Marketing Profs B2B Summit.
- Understand exactly what buyers want
- Focus on buyer engagement in content distribution strategy
- Look at websites through buyers’ eyes (not marketers’ eyes)
- Inspire buyers to make them binge on content.
Buyers want an easy path through content
Deliver buyers meaningful content experiences that are purpose-built for the jobs the buyers are doing.
Give buyers a clear path through content. That may sound obvious, yet most websites and content marketing don’t offer buyers a clear path forward.
Here’s the proof.
After B2B buyers consume a piece of content, more than half lose their way on their journey through content. Yikes!
“Show buyers what’s next,” Albee advises. “They’re not going to figure it out themselves.
“Focus your content distribution strategy on engagement. It’s all about pages per person, versus persons per page.”
Guide buyers throughout the journey
Make it easy for buyers choose their own starting point. Then guide them through the buyers’ journey with a logical flow of questions and answers.
Help buyers overcome the problems obstacles they’re sure to encounter.
Give them content that makes it easier to build a consensus with the others who play key roles on the buying team. For example, build separate content streams to address the needs of technical buyers, economic buyers, and users.
Use buyer personas to drive distribution strategy
Good buyer personas will give you insights into questions like these:
- Where are the buyers’ watering holes, the online and offline places they go for content?
- What are the different roles that members of the buying committee play?
- Where do buyers get stuck? How do they get unstuck?
- What help do buyers need to move forward with building a consensus?
Bundle related content together
How do buyers want to receive content?
Almost everybody (93%) wants related content bundles, says the Buyer Preferences Content Survey (2016).
But only about 14% of marketers actually package content assets together in a logical progression. Others use drip marketing (27%) and lead nurturing (40%).
It’s sad, but true: most websites are not built for buyers
You can see it in the navigation: marketers usually build websites for the way marketers think, not for the way buyers think.
Many companies’ websites offer this type of navigation: products, services, resources, blogs and about. Within the resources section, you may find white papers, videos, infographics and webinars.
These categories make it easy for marketers to place content where they think it belongs. But categories like “resources” confuse buyers who are seeking certain content.
Remember, buyers don’t care about your brand, features or categories. They care about topics, answers and outcomes.
Content hubs make sense to buyers
When marketers see content through the eyes of buyers, they build content hubs organized by:
- Industry, as IBM Smarter Planet does with its Life Sciences Hub
- Applications, as Schneider Electric does
- Segments, as Forrester Research does
- Roles on the buying team
- Business value delivered.
Content hubs help buyers find exactly what they need, instead of wandering around in a wilderness of content searching for something that’s just too hard to find.
Build a ‘problem-to-solution’ content hub
“Build a problem-to-solution hub based on the jobs that the buyers need to do,” Albee says. She offers a website model with three layers:
- Help buyers recognize the need for change. Challenge the status quo, validate the problem, and set a vision of the future state.
- Educate buyers by answering their questions and sharing best practices. Use real buyer questions to construct a logical flow through content. Lead buyers by the hand with relevant content, step by step.
- Help buyers build a consensus inside the buying committee. Give them content that targets the specific, varying needs of a technical buyer, an economic buyer and a user.
Use questions and answers to drive content flow
Using questions and answers is like having a conversation with buyers. “Listen to conversations. They’re driven by questions and answers,” Albee says.
Buyers’ questions help you see where exactly they are in the decision process. Buyers need content to address these three steps:
- Consider change: Decide whether the problem is worth solving.
- Prepare for change: Decide how to solve the problem.
- Embrace change: Build a consensus on the buying committee.
Meet the needs of buying committees
It’s tricky to market to B2B buying committees, since everyone wants something different.
So, buying committees stalemate more often than they reach a decision to buy, the Corporate Executive Board found. That’s why so many customers stick with the status quo.
Why do buying committees get stuck? Conflicting needs block buying committees’ decisions.
The average B2B buying committee includes about 5.4 people. Each represents a different discipline, a different department, a different set of needs and interests.
It’s a struggle for committee members to align around one main goal, agree on what the problem really is, and reach consensus on which solution to choose. So, they bog down. The average-sized buying committee of 5.4 people reaches a decision to go beyond the status quo less than half of the time.
Conflicts among committee members peak early in the process, about 37% of the way through, Albee observes.
To overcome buying committee gridlock, reach buyers with personalized content early in the process, before the gridlock sets in. Make it easy for recommenders and decision-makers to share relevant, personalized content with others on the team.
Two-thirds of buyers prefer content that’s personalized by role, found the Content Preferences Survey (2017).
Inspire buyers to binge on your content
Offer connected pathways that lead buyers step by step through a logical buying process. Give them what they need, when they need it.
After each piece of content, suggest relevant “see also” content they can consume as a next step (as you see the bottom of this blog).
Buyers want to hear from people like themselves
Back up your content with data and research from third parties to build credibility.
Give buyers other points of view that they find more believable. For example, give them content from reviewers, news media, analysts and most of all, people like themselves.
That’s how you can create content buyers want to binge on!
Make buyers binge on content by applying these ideas from Ardath Albee, the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results. Here’s a link to her blog.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.