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Anyone and their dog can be content creators these days. You don’t need to have any qualifications; you don’t need to have a background in writing; anyone with access to the internet and the right platform can post.
In addition to individual creators (and dogs!), companies publish their own content. Some of them have depth. Some of them don’t.
In today’s online content environment, it takes effort from members of the public to unearth that perfect gem of useful information. At the same time, you need to get your message to the right people; it is essential for your business.
So how do you stand out from all the noise?
If your business targets enterprises, you’re probably already using an account-based marketing (ABM) approach and have a list of accounts that interest you the most. You’ve probably built a content bench for these accounts that’s somewhat agnostic but also customized at an industry and company level.
But what if you took it a step further and customized it for the people making the decisions, the individual people on the buying teams?
It’s called Buying Group Marketing (BGM), the next evolution in your quest to deliver ever more relevant content.
While customization for real humans might be your goal in BGM, it could backfire if you’re not careful how you go about it. In fact, it might sound downright scary.
But if you do the customization right, it will pay off. “Today’s personalization leaders have found proven ways to increase revenue by 5-15% and marketing spend efficiency by 10-30%.” according to McKinsey.
Five tips for personalizing content
Here’s how to develop and execute a cutting-edge personalization strategy that will boost your revenue while avoiding the proverbial niche.
1. Listen, listen, listen
Personalization is all about talking to and listening to your customers, understanding their real-world problems and the nuances of their business context, and following industry trends.
In addition to paying attention to your marketing channels, open the lines of communication with your sales and customer success teams and create a feedback loop for customer insights on topics that resonate. (Pro tip: Pay attention to the questions prospects ask in these “Ask Me Anything” webinars!)
2. Analyze and measure intent
All sorts of data sources can be used to analyze and measure your prospect intent. Start by finding out what content is most valuable on your website. What is the best use case? What are your best performing posts? What are your competitors’ top performing posts?
Various tools (some of which you probably already use) on the market can help you. For example, if you run ad campaigns, you can group them into themes to see what content resonates. If you use an intent solution, you can backtrack to analyze topics and determine interest in advancing those learnings.
Also check industry forums and Slack groups to gauge trends. Check the event calendars to see what topics are covered. Look at what search companies are offering. Don’t be afraid to use other content sources; you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel!
3. Define your personas and map your content strategy
It’s time to paint a picture of your ideal customer profile (ICP) and define the members of a typical buying team. Make a list of their weak points, what interests them, their aspirations, etc.
Lead personification is an important step in the BGM process. Once you have your characters, walk through their individual journeys from awareness to reaching a deal. Consider how these journeys influence each other, keep these content criteria in mind: depth, form factor, delivery, and timing.
4. Target the right channels and form factors
Consider the delivery medium for your content, whether it’s an interactive website, video, infographic, or iPad app for a fun magazine set in a futuristic world where your product solves problems. It’s fun to be creative!
How your content is delivered matters. It needs to resonate with who your target buyers are and needs to be delivered on the channels where they consume information. Form factor and delivery are aspects of customization.
5. Develop relevant personalized content
Developing high-quality content isn’t easy work, but it’s worth investing half of your time and resources to do it right. (Don’t you hate it when you read something and it ends up being a waste of time?)
While the repetitiveness of your posts over time matters, just because you generate a lot of content doesn’t necessarily mean it will have results, especially if it’s irrelevant. And you don’t want to bore your prospects. It will be a lot harder to get their attention back once you lose them.
If you’re not thinking about how your prospects and customers experience the quality of your content, it’s time to rethink your approach to content.
What BGM customization looks like in practice
Let’s paint a picture of what such customization looks like in practice.
There are three people in your target account’s buying group from three departments: Marketing, Finance, and Legal. Your prospect from the marketing team is already engaged as a stakeholder, but they’re still at the top of the funnel, while the people in sales, finance, and legal have no idea who you are.
You probably won’t want to run high-end finance and legal content, such as advertising, but they will need to be engaged later in the funnel. If you do the customization well, you will create content for each character, and the legal and financial content will serve down the funnel.
The content you create for these departments will help marketing integrate them. Finance will likely care about cost and payment cycles; The legal department probably has concerns about contractual terms and confidentiality. To support your marketing stakeholder, you’ll want to provide information that will enable them to influence finance and legal. (Marketing team members won’t want to read your entire contract, for example; they just need the highlights for the legal department, so give them that information!)
If you haven’t mapped out your content from the start, success will be a big hurdle. In fact, if you don’t understand your audience and understand your transaction cycle and who is involved, content personalization could be a big waste of time. But, if you’ve done your homework and executed on point, you’ll stand out among all the peddling and barking marketing noise.
Written by Nirosha Methananda, VP of Marketing, Influ2.