Commentary

The Least-Common Denominator: How To Craft More Efficient Content Strategies

Today’s B2B buyers expect brands not only to understand who they are and what they need, but to also meet them at every stage of their buying process with personalized content aligned to their journey. These new expectations, following on the heels of the corresponding evolution of consumer-side buyer demands, represent a profound transformation of the B2B marketing model.

Many of today’s B2B brands struggle with the amount of content needed to personalize buyer experiences. To manage this formidable task, it’s important to identify the least-common denominator that exists across different segments, journey stages and buying groups, and to guide content and asset production according to that shared characteristic. Let’s explore what this looks like in practice.

Data represents both the source of — as well as the solution to — most of marketers’ greatest headaches today. A 2019 survey by B2B International found 46% of B2B marketers struggle to inform their marketing with data. Simultaneously, however, 73% expect big data to influence their marketing strategies over the next three years.

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According to the same study, B2B marketers say the two types of market research most needed to guide their efforts are customer experience research and customer journey mapping.

Indeed, to create relevant customer experiences, brands must first understand who their ideal customers are, and what those customers are seeking, in order to find ways to message to them that will resonate and evoke a desired action. Fortunately, new sources of insights — beyond the firmographic data that has traditionally guided B2B efforts — continue to emerge.

Search data continues to provide insights into B2B buyer needs, since most prospects conduct searches digitally before ever interacting with a sales team. Analyzing the highest volume searches that deliver prospects to your company’s .com is a great place to start to improve your user experience and to drive prospects to content that aligns with their needs. But B2B marketers shouldn’t stop there.

Understanding “what” prospects need is important, but understanding “why” they need it is also vital. Deeper analysis of sentiment and behavioral patterns help uncover this. Brands can also use primary and custom research to identify unique patterns of purchase motivations and decision-making factors that move past self-reported attitudes and toward deep-seated psychological motivations.

B2B marketers can use their deeper understanding of buyer mindsets to segment messaging according to pain points across the buyer journey. However, going too granular, too fast in this regard is the quickest path to exhausting content creation budgets. When uncovering the “why” behind purchasing motivations, marketers should also look for the thread that unites, rather than divides, their prospects.

True one-to-one marketing is a laudable aspiration among marketers, but many struggle with how best to get started on the people-based marketing path.

Finding an accessible starting place requires marketers to strike a balance between meaningful content personalization and the reality of limited content and marketing budgets. Identifying the common needs among your prospects is the first step to achieving this vital balance.

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