by Klaudia Tirico
Features Editor, G3 Communications
I recently returned to New Jersey after spending three days in Toronto with Uberflip and more than 700 content marketers at the company’s annual Conex event. The key theme of the conference revolved around going beyond simply creating content to delivering complete content experiences across the buyer journey.
“Creating content is not enough,” said Randy Frisch, CMO of Uberflip, during his keynote presentation. “We have to focus on the content experience for the buyer journey. A content experience occurs wherever and whenever anyone encounters your content. It could be terrible or great. They occur at every stage of the funnel.”
During his keynote, Frisch even went as far as stating “____ content marketing” (fill in the blank with a certain four-letter f-word). But he doesn’t mean you must stop it all together — quite the opposite. Marketers must deliver a complete content experience because buyers are used to companies such as Spotify, Netflix and Amazon delivering curated, personalized experiences based on preference, past consumed content, etc. And guess what? They expect that in their professional lives as well.
It’s no longer about creating “random acts of content.”
Spotify allows us to be in control and not have to go digging for songs,” said Frisch. “When your audience comes to your website — they don’t want to go looking for webinars, videos, E-books, etc. They don’t think in those ways; they think about the problems they want to fix.”
Frisch recommends organizing content by topics or themes — and changing it for every step of the buyer journey. “Buyers expect content to be made for them because they’re used to experiences like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon,” he added.
Another way to mimic a B2C-type content experience is by emulating the “infinite scroll,” according to Frisch, who compared it to scrolling through your social media feed for a long time and simply getting sucked into all the content. Ideally, Frisch noted that it takes seven pieces of content until someone makes a purchase decision. “Think about how to drop buyers into an ‘infinite scroll’ and get them to those seven.”
How do you drop people into a contextual experience that locks them in? Frisch said there are three components to a successful content experience:
- Environment— how the content is presented, from design to accessibility;
- Structure— organizing and tagging the content in meaningful ways; and
- Engagement— delivering personalized, relevant, consistent and contextual CTAs.
So, how does this make a difference? Uberflip’s inaugural Content Experience Report found that:
- Putting content in more places results in 8x more views;
- Applying CTAs overtop of content drives a 7x higher conversion rate; and
- AI-powered content recommendations lead to visitors being 60% more likely to consume more content.
The Content Experience Framework
At the event, Uberflip unveiled a new Content Experience Framework to help guide marketing professionals to engage prospects with personalized experiences at every stage of the buyer journey, and deliver true content experiences at scale.
“[This is] not content creation,” said Frisch. “This is not about, ‘How do we create more and more content?’ This is about, ‘How do we take the content we have and the content we’re going to create, and actually use that content in our marketing on a day-to-day basis?’”
Step 1: Centralize Content — Realize how much content you have and find a way to bring it together so you have control.
“There is nothing worse than homeless content,” said Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs. “It’s your PDF on SlideShare; it’s your video on YouTube; it’s your infographic, sad and lonely on your blog. Give your content a home and make it feel like it has a place to live.”
Step 2: Organize Content — Take the time to organize and tag your content in a way that’s going to connect with your audience.
“Content organization is hot,” said Anna Hrach, Strategist at Convince & Convert. “It’s foundational to creating truly personalized content experiences. Use a content experience platform so you can scale it and not slave over spreadsheets.”
Step 3: Personalize Experiences — Have a structure in place that helps build a one-on-one experience, one-to-many or one-to-few.
“It all comes down to personalization,” said Yoav Schwartz, CEO and Co-Founder of Uberflip. “We need to create relationships with people and we do that through personalization. We have to show them that we know who they are. Once we get down to the bottom of the funnel, we have the data to create experiences that break through and engage.”
Step 4: Distribute Content — Take the URLs of your content destination and distribute content at scale.
“A content experience requires putting content in front of the right people at the right time,” said Nate Skinner, VP of Product Marketing at Salesforce Pardot. “At the end of the day, if you’ve got the nicest house on the block and no one knows your address, it doesn’t matter. The idea is taking these experiences and getting them to audiences to engage. That is the pillar to what this all means to us.”
Step 5: Generate Results — Frisch concluded that, “if you do all these steps, I assure you will see results.”
“Every person wants their content to perform better,” said Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert. “Content is not a joke anymore; it’s a real business. When things become a real business, scrutiny gets increased and bosses pay attention. The great thing about content experience is that it has a direct impact on the success of your content, which means a direct impact of the success of you and your company. We have to make it easier for people to do content with us.”
Salesforce Delivers Unique Content Experience With Four Factors
There are many challenges in content marketing, including how to keep buyer/viewer attention. “You have very few windows of the time to engage the audience and captivate them,” said Pardot’s Skinner during his session.
For example, Skinner referred to his three-year-old son, who can ask his Google Home questions and receive an immediate answer. “All of these things are changing his expectations as a digital native and changing all of our expectations as consumers and B2B marketers,” said Skinner. “The challenge is that it can make an old way of doing things less interesting.”
If you think about it, Skinner’s son is a future buyer. “We have to engage this audience today,” he said. “By 2020, the younger generation will represent one-third of the North American population.”
It’s important to think about that from end to end. You must elevate the experience overall, across channels and touchpoints, from the minute you engage to when the final product shows up. “Think about what it is we do, to how we deliver it,” he added.
So, what makes an experience stand out? Skinner highlighted the four components:
- It is entertaining;
- It allows you to escape;
- It’s educational; and
- It has an esthetic.
“This conference is a great example,” said Skinner, referring to Conex. “We are at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the theme of the entire conference is music. The T-shirt has a record on it; the sessions are all ‘tracks;’ we just had Choir! Choir! Choir! [on stage]. That is taking a normal conference and going to the next level, creating a totally immersive experience from end to end.”
At Salesforce, “a team of 150 young professionals have to understand the product that we market and stay top of mind,” he said. “So, how do we create an experience for sales development reps to stay relevant and top of mind?”
The company looked at this challenge with the four components in mind for a buyer whose attention span is limited. “We created a journey for them and brought our team to them in person,” said Skinner. “Esthetically, we went to them (we have offices in various cities) and we created an environment that was something different.”
That something different was “the Pardot sales enablement day.” Everyone was given Hawaiian-themed shirts that the company called “Parlohas” and the lobbies completely transformed for one day. Skinner and his team went on to educate sales reps with lunch and learns. “You walked into the lobby, you got your Parloha and you got a bagel, and we told you to come to this lunch and learn at 12:30 to learn about what’s the latest from Pardot,” said Skinner.
Skinner said they went on to entertain them with their own journey, where they saw content about what they just learned. Finally, they were given a virtual reality headset that featured a demo and talk track that was six minutes long.
“That was completely immersive and the result was a totally engaged group,” said Skinner. “The content was one part — any part of this experience was content — the demo, the Parlohas, the lunch and learn — it’s all content that became an experience that was memorable. It stood out to them among all of the products and that for us is the future of how we market.”
Address Buyer’s Remorse With A New, Circular Customer Journey
Most consumers get a feeling of buyer’s remorse at least once in their lifetime — whether it’s after buying a television or a pair of shoes. When it comes to buying software solutions, B2B buyers feel no different. In fact, 20% to 70% of new customers will decide to stop doing business with you before their 100-day anniversary, according to Joey Coleman, Author and Chief Experience Composer of Design Symphony.
“Statistically, people have no idea how many customers they’re losing in the first 100 days,” said Coleman during his presentation at Conex.
Coleman discussed buyer’s remorse in business and how sales reps may provide an exceptional experience for future customers, but once the product is purchased, the customer is handed off to someone else to service the account.
“Marketing and sales go on all the dates,” said Coleman. “They get vetted by the entire organization, then you hand it over to Bob to deliver the experience. If we did this in our personal lives, we would get slapped!”
In a traditional customer journey, Coleman said most marketing and sales teams focus on the pre-purchase stages, “but what happens after the sale to continue to connect with people? How do you use your content after the sale? If we focus on the first 100 days in a typical business, they’ll stay for five years.”
Coleman went on to share the six key tools to interact with customers in the first 100 days:
- In-person —“This is gold. If you can do this, you are in the holy land. If you do online work, host events to have face-to-face time.”
- Email —“This is the primary way to communicate, but if you don’t want to get emails, do you think your customers want to get emails? Create emails that people are excited to get.”
- Mail —“Email is too crowded, so think about going back to the original inbox, the mailbox. There will be greater impact.”
- Phone –“Focus on the ‘phone’ part of the ‘smartphone’ and actually talk to people. Have a conversation; it changes perspective.”
- Video —“You’ve got to be focused on video. It’s where it is, it’s where it’s going. Send personalized videos to individual customers.”
- Presents —“If you give someone something that has your logo on it, it’s not a present for them, it’s a present for you. A present is a thoughtful item that you give someone to let them know you care, that you paid attention.”
The challenge, however, is to change the experience your customers are having — not only before, but during and after the sale, according to Coleman.
“The secret is to come up with a better customer journey because the traditional one is broken,” Coleman continued. “It overweighs on the marketing and sales portion instead of on the portion where they’re actually giving us money. Additionally, it’s a line. We don’t want people to come in, buy one product and get to the end and say, ‘I’m good.’ I want to get them to come back and have another conversation and get them to do more business with us.”
That is why Coleman’s customer journey looks like this:
- Assess —This is when the prospect is deciding whether they want to do business with you. “The secret is to give your prospects a preview of what the experience of doing business with you is going to be like,” said Coleman.
- Admit —This is where the customer raises their hand and says, “I have a problem or a need, and I need you to solve it.’ Then they sign on the dotted line and pay.
- Affirm —Almost immediately after the “Admit” stage, they may experience buyer’s remorse. “Jump in in that moment and reaffirm the decision,” said Coleman.
- Activate —“This is where we activate the relationship; the first interaction.”
- Acclimate —“This is where we help them to understand what it’s like to do business with us.”
- Accomplish —“When someone buys something, they have something they’re hoping to achieve. What are they trying to accomplish? You need to pay attention to that from the beginning.”
- Adopt —This is when they say, “I’m all in; I want to be in a relationship with you.”
- Advocate —“Finally, the advocate stage, where they become a raving fan, singing our praises far and wide.”
“These are the eight phases, and if you do it right, you can keep going through this circle again and again,” said Coleman.
Feeling inspired? Download The Real-Time, Buyer-Focused Content Marketing Handbook. We know it can be quite a challenge to shift gears from those “random acts of content,” but you’re not alone. Content4Demand partners with B2B marketing teams in a variety of industries, and we can help you. Learn more here.