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Why Content Activation and Experience are on the Rise in B2B Content Marketing

If you build it, they will come. Or so marketing teams of the past once thought. Content marketing, in its purest form, drives inbound traffic, generates leads, educates buyers, fuels campaigns, and generates pipeline for organizations. But creating content isn’t a problem. Most marketing teams today have a ton of content. Often, it’s piling up.

Why? Because every year, marketing teams spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on content creation in an effort to do all of the above. What’s lacking, or where we fall short, is in leveraging that content to win and retain customers.

Today, the experience around your content is as important as the content itself. In order to create great content experiences for your buyers, marketers need to focus on not just creating content, but activating it throughout the buyer and customer journey.

What Is Content Activation?

Content activation is the process of leveraging marketing content to assist in educating buyers during the sales process. That’s how we as marketers activate content. And it’s something we need to do more of. Astoundingly, 60-70% of all marketing content created goes unused by sales reps in most B2B organizations (Sirius Decisions). But we, as marketers, can also activate our buyers with that content. We refer to this as buyer activation—compelling buyers to engage with us and our content to get them to a deliberate next step. Activation, whether it be content activation or activating buyers with that content, is an area marketing teams typically neglect.  

The Rise of Content Activation in Content Marketing

Ok, so the issue is clear. B2B marketers need to do more to activate their content. But the content marketing platforms they’re using prioritize other parts of the process, namely the ones we don’t have that much trouble with anymore—planning, production, governance—which are typically linked to creation.

But as the industry evolves, so too do content platforms.

Each year, Forrester Research puts together a wave of Content Marketing Platforms for marketers. This year, Forrester has split the Content Marketing Platform Wave into two separate waves, one for B2C marketers and the other for B2B marketers. Forrester explains the reason for this change being that B2C and B2B marketers have different demand strategies and, therefore, different requirements in how they use content throughout the buyer journey.

One of these key differences is the criterion of activation. In the B2B CMP Wave, Forrester weighted activation the highest out of all criteria in the current offering category, followed by planning, production, governance, and utilization.

“What we're finding with B2B marketers is that it's not just about creating the content, it's what you do with it that's important.” —Laura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester

Activation looks specifically at how marketers are using content to power demand strategies throughout the customer journey. Instead of having content sit idle in a single location or for a single purpose, it needs to be activated in multiple ways, through things like nurture campaigns, events, account-based marketing, sales outreach, and ongoing customer engagement. Without activation, marketers will fail to generate tangible ROI from their content assets.

This next part is a little self-serving, but bear with me because it’s important.

Uberflip is the highest scoring vendor under the activation category, with a score of 4.1 out of 5. My point here is not to sell you on Uberflip per se (although that would be nice too), but instead to show you that activation is an important element in your content marketing, and this recent change to Forrester’s Content Marketing Platform Wave is evidence of that.

How Content Experience Aids Content Activation

So if activation has risen in the ranks of importance in content marketing, so too has content experience. Experience is what will help activate buyers with content. Your content experience is the environment in which your content lives, the way it’s structured, and how it compels your audience to engage. That engagement part is activation! (lightbulb)

Make no mistake, your B2B buyers are B2C consumers. According to IBM, 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as B2C customers. B2C brands like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon have changed the way we consume content online. Things like curated playlists, intuitive search, and personalized recommendations have become table stakes in the way we engage with content. That same experience is expected in the B2B world. Your buyers, depending on their needs and stage in the buyer journey, all require a different experience.

And while a platform solution isn’t the only way to activate your content or buyers with your content, it is the best way. Content experience platforms enable marketers to activate their content in personalized experiences that are tailored to any buyer and stage in the journey. The result is better engagement, accelerated pipeline, and more revenue that can be traced back to content.

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