Who knew this day would come? The day, for marketers, that the traditional marketing mix, devised of the 4Ps—product, price, place, and promotion—were not the holy grail to winning customers. Things have definitely changed, and I think that change is for the better.
It’s clear that the traditional marketing mix has evolved drastically over the last five years. The factors that influence the success of a product or service have shifted to ones that are completely customer-centric.
Customer Experience Era
According to a Walker study, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Customers are in the driver's seat for arguably the first time ever. And as a customer, I must admit I am loving it. I will also admit that, as a marketer, at first I was afraid (I was petrified), but now I am excited by all the amazing possibilities.
Here at Uberflip, we often speak to this Think with Google stat—80% of B2B buyers expect the same buying experience as B2C customers. We do so even though there’s a clear difference between the experiences B2C delivers compared to B2B. This difference lies in the ability for B2B to personalize its customers’ experiences in ways like our B2C favorites Spotify, Amazon, and Netflix do.
The buying process for B2B and B2C is dramatically different for a number of reasons, but a few important ones to highlight are:
There is often a buying committee involved in B2B purchase decisions
82% of the sales cycle is now spent doing research and only 18% is spent speaking to an actual sales rep
During the purchase process, B2B buyers download an average of seven assets
With online being the go-to place to research buying decisions, and content playing a major role in the B2B buyer journey, as marketers, we need to focus on personalizing the experience around content. Your content must take into account the different roles that are involved in the purchase decision as well as where they all are within the journey at any given time. Which leads me to my next point: Content experience is the new customer experience—for B2B, anyway.
Content’s Role Throughout the Customer Journey
Attached to every customer touch point and marketing campaign is content. It plays a critical role in closing a sale and engaging customers. However, when I talk to fellow marketers, they don’t always see it this way. Content is often seen in isolation or used in silos. This is likely why 60-70% of content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused.
What’s interesting is that when I talk about content experience to these same marketers, I always dissect the tactics and channels used to attract new audiences, accelerate the buyer journey, and delight customers. Each time I do, I ask them where they are sending prospects and customers. More often than not, the answer to this question is some form of content.
Whether you look at it this way or not, content is at the center of the B2B customer experience. And because this experience is heavily reliant on content, each and every member of your marketing team must turn their focus to the content experience in order to attract, convert, close, and retain customers in a personalized way.
Content Experience Checklist
The key to having a great content experience is ensuring that every time a prospect or customer interacts with your content, it is personalized to their behavior, interests, and where they are in the journey. It’s also essential, given the critical role content plays in the success of your business, that your brand and the story you’re telling are consistent and memorable.
If you agree and are interested in making content experience a central focus in your overall marketing strategy, take a look at the Content Experience Framework. This framework was created to help marketers scale content experience across all their go-to-market strategies throughout the buyer journey.
However, if you’re just starting out and looking to begin with a few key experiences to help make the case for content experience, here’s a quick checklist I review every time my team and I are building experiences around our content:
Content Journey Map
Much like you’d map out the customer journey, you need to do the same for the content journey—and, as I previously mentioned for B2B, they really are one and the same. When embarking on my role at Uberflip of overseeing the end-to-end content experience, I approached the content experience as you would the customer experience and began by developing a journey map. I outlined every customer touch point involved throughout both the pre- and post-sale journey, and all of the content that was required to move our customers through each stage.
To do this effectively, I met with stakeholders in each department, organization-wide, and discussed where these customer touch points occur, what channels they engage with, and the content they either have (or need) to accomplish the intended goal. If your organization is anything like Uberflip, you have A LOT of content, making this is no simple task—but it’s an extremely rewarding one that’s definitely worth the time.
To give you a head start, I’ve turned my content journey map into a template for you to use as you take on this content experience exercise.
There are three considerations that go into a content journey mapping exercise:
Buyer Personas: The ideal customers/personas your organization is looking to target.
Stage of Customer Journey: The goal each persona has at each stage of their journey.
Content Type/Format: The best content type or format to engage them to move to the next stage in the journey.
Before starting this exercise, you should have already done a content audit to understand what content you have and what you will need to engage prospects with the right content at the right time over the course of their journey with your business.
Your prospects are bombarded every day, on every channel, with an overwhelming amount of content. The benefits of a content map are that it ensures you’re only delivering content that matches your customers’ intent so that you can capture their attention and nurture them effectively.
Understanding the role content plays throughout the customer journey is critical to the overall success of your company in the world of B2B. Once you understand this, you can begin to map out the different personalized content experiences you need at each stage of the customer journey.
With content experience being a fairly new marketing practice, I thought it would be helpful if I broke down the different touch points, content, and experiences that occur throughout the journey. This article is getting a little long, but recognizing that the content experience probably excites you as much as it does me, and anticipating that you’re seeing the major impact it can have on your marketing results (and business), I will turn this article into a three-part series over the next two weeks. In the next few articles, I will walk you through a few of the core content experiences required throughout the customer journey, split up into pre and post-sale stages.
I promise when I am through with this series, you will see how, as a B2B marketer, content experience really is the same as customer experience. And we all know, in the experience era, that this is something we can’t afford to ignore.