We recently gathered 10 intent data experts and power users and collected their tips and insights in The Content + Data Connection: 10 Top Marketing Executives Explore the Rewards of Integrating Intent Data into Content Strategies.
To keep that conversation going, we’re posting a series of Q&As with those experts to share their perspectives on how content marketers can make the connection between data and content.
Envision a Frictionless Content Experience
Today, we speak with Latané Conant, CMO of 6sense and author of No Forms, No Spam, No Cold Calls—a must-read for marketers learning how B2B brands can deliver personalized messaging. Here’s what she told us about connecting content to signal data for a frictionless experience.
Do you see opportunities for more B2B brands to use intent data intelligence at the foundational stage to formulate their content strategies?
Absolutely, it will become an essential foundation for content strategy. Intent data removes the guesswork and the need for forms. Instead of relying on gated content to drive random leads from accounts that may or may not be ready to engage, you can know exactly where your target accounts are in the buying journey. And with insight into things like predictive keywords, you can know what information buyers (not just individuals, but full buying teams) are actually looking for rather than trying to feed them irrelevant content—and at the wrong time.
For building that foundation of a frictionless content experience, our team created what we call value cards. Through persona research and interviews, we built these out (in a simple spreadsheet) for each of our key personas, based on what they likely care about when it comes to each of our top keywords. We refresh it regularly when new keywords surface or we learn new things about our buyers. We also keep a record of every piece of content we create in a content matrix, tagged with which personas and buying stages are relevant for each, so our team has quick access to the best content to share with prospects and customers.
How should the different data types be applied to content strategy?
Like I mentioned above, the focus of modern content marketers is to know more about their buyers and enable those individuals and buying teams with relevant content—without making them fill out forms. That’s where Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) come in, to help manage all the “big data” that’s generated so we can get a clearer picture of our in-market buyers and serve them with a great experience.
That data comes from firmographic and technographic account data from internal systems and third-party sources, buyer intent data from first- and third-party websites, account and opportunity data from CRM and MAP, and digital ad campaign metrics like accounts reached and results.
Whether it’s a standalone CDP (which can be a lot of work to implement) or one embedded into a comprehensive solution, the idea of the CDP is to break down data silos, de-duplicate and normalize records, and cleanse data so we end up with a single source of truth about our accounts that we can use to inform what content is served up throughout the buyer journey.
How are B2B companies using intent data to inform the content they’re creating in terms of topics and formats?
When you have insight into intent data and predictive analytics to show—with pretty damn good accuracy—what buying stage your accounts are in, when key personas are engaged and what keywords they care about, you can deliver a much richer, more focused content strategy that aligns to what different personas on prospective accounts are looking for. It’s also much more efficient for your team to build a strategy around real data rather than relying on guesswork.
Intent data helps the content team spend time focused on creating relevant content rather than a one-size-fits all experience. We personalize our content based on 6sense data segmentation and serve up content to visitors based on what they care about. Within our content hub, each piece is given a specific tag that reacts to 6sense data and segments, and filters content based on what stage the account is in and what keywords they’ve been searching for. So an account that visits our hub in the decision stage and has been researching “predictive analytics” will be served different content than an account in the awareness stage researching “account-based marketing.”
How else can B2B revenue teams use intent data to optimize content?
With the predictive, AI-based data we have access to with 6sense, our team is able to align our content to specific personas based on the keywords they care about and the account’s buying stage. We also map our existing content to the buying jobs people are doing at those different stages, enabling them to move through the buyer journey in a helpful and frictionless way.
For example, we’ve developed a different video series for each buying stage. For the awareness stage, we have two thought leadership-type talk shows, TalkingSense and Selling with Intent. For those in the consideration stage, we serve up our MakingSense series, which gets a little more into the details, and for our decision and purchase stages, we have our 6 for 6 series, which features practitioners sharing the specifics of how they use 6sense every day.
We also layer in the keywords buyers are searching, so they get served the series that makes the most sense for them (pun intended). None of this would even be possible without intent data.
How do you recommend B2B revenue teams ensure their sales teams are getting the right content in front of the right buyers?
A single source of truth rooted in intent data helps sales and marketing align on the right accounts and personas to go after, then allows them to deliver the right message to the right persona at the right time with a stage-based marketing campaign or perfectly timed sales call, based on their intent signals.
The value cards I mentioned earlier are also a great tool for making that happen, allowing the entire revenue team to align around the appropriate messaging based on persona, keywords and buying stage. That way, we can build relevant marketing campaigns and our BDRs are more informed when making outreach. Armed with these insights, we’re able to warm up ICP accounts and build brand awareness as soon as accounts become in-market, making life a whole lot easier for the sales team.
What advice do you have for brands that are just starting to apply intent data to content strategy?
Content and creative are among the busiest marketers on the team and can become overwhelmed by the volume of work they have to produce and get out into the world. It might seem like adding more data insights just means more stuff they have to create. But the truth is, using data to inform your content strategy means there’s less throwing spaghetti at the wall and more ability to prioritize what your team really needs to focus on producing.
Like I mentioned above about our video strategy, serializing your content can be really helpful not only for delivering relevant, stage-based content to your audience, but also for making things more streamlined and focused for your team. If someone in Sales asks the content team to write a blog about how to perfectly boil an egg, it’s much easier for them to say, Sorry, no, the data doesn’t suggest our audience is looking for that and therefore it’s not a priority for us. (Unless you’re actually in the business of boiling eggs, in which case, have at it!)
Are there any use cases that demonstrate how intent data has been effectively integrated into a content strategy?
A great way to take personalization to the next level is to create verticalized content experiences. Our customer PTC uses 6sense data to serve up specific content and imagery based on who is visiting their website and what industry they’re in. So if a visitor to their site is from an automotive company, they’ll see content that is familiar to that industry.
This is a fantastic way to stand out from your competitors who aren’t personalizing to this degree. So when a buyer arrives on your website, they see you speak their language and understand their business. They know they’re in the right place and your company is the expert for helping people like them. You simply can’t do this without accurate data and account identification.
How do you see intent data helping B2B marketers develop content that’s customized for unique accounts and target buyers?
We’re delivering on that today by personalizing our content based on 6sense data segmentation, and serving up that content to visitors based on what they care about. Within our Uberflip content hub, each piece is given a specific tag that reacts to 6sense data and segments, and filters content based on what stage the account is in and what keywords they’ve been searching for. So, for example, an account that visits our hub in the decision stage and has been researching “predictive analytics” will be served different content than an account in the awareness stage researching “account-based marketing.”
In the future, you’ll see this level of personalization become table stakes for all B2B marketing teams. Those that don’t embrace an account-based approach that makes buyer and customer experience the #1 priority simply won’t survive.
In our recent panel, Why Intent Signals May Be the Missing Ingredient in Your Content Strategy, we discussed the intersection of intent data and content with Latané Conant, VP of Marketing at 6sense, Nirosha Methananda, VP of Marketing at Influ2, and Jon Russo, CMO and Founder of B2B Fusion Group.
For additional perspectives, read our interactive E-book, The Content + Data Connection: 10 Top Marketing Executives Explore the Rewards of Integrating Intent Data into Content Strategies and our previous Q&As with Jon Miller and John Steinert.
Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.