A practical discussion guide for content experiences
The following discussion guide is meant to enable teams, workgroups, or functional areas in the company to engage more deeply in the development of modern content marketing experiences.
This discussion can hopefully lead to helping determine the core needs the company may require of any new approach that can facilitate the creation of these new types of content experiences. The questions are not meant to be a checklist for future-state capabilities, but rather to help uncover needs that may be addressed by skills, technology, and/or new approaches to content creation.
1. Are we able to currently meet the content quantity and quality requirements necessary to drive differentiated and bespoke content experiences?
For B2B businesses, evolving their content experiences means not only scaling to meet the demands of audiences but also evolving to meet the needs of bespoke content at scale.
Research shows that 80% of B2B marketers rate personalized content as “more effective” or “much more effective” than standard content. However, lack of technology, resources, and data – combined with perceptions of difficulty – keep B2B marketers from being able to scale into developing these kinds of experiences.
Further, simply evolving the B2B content bottleneck can be a big step. Implementing technology and processes that help the reuse and repackaging of content in multiple formats can help scale the efforts and quicken the pace of publishing.
- How are we delivering our content marketing today?
- What kinds of formats would make it better?
- What new interfaces might we develop to make our content marketing easier to consume and more modular in nature?
2. To what extent are our content experiences “interusable” and integrated into our current marketing technology infrastructure?|
We borrow the term “interusable” from Claire Rowland’s book Designing for the Internet of Things. In the book, she describes the term as an “experience of interconnected devices and cross-platform interactions.”
Put simply, how are we creating content experiences that are interactive and multimedia and can be equally and easily consumed on mobile devices and desktop computers, shared in sales presentations, etc. And how do we make it feel as if all those different devices are working together?
New content marketing experiences will be consumed across multiple devices and in multiple contexts, and your business’ need to integrate to other channels in some level of automated fashion is most likely quite high. You will need to pull and push content and data to other tools such as video streaming services, analytics systems, email marketing, marketing automation, and other content management systems.
- How are we delivering content that is equally consumable on mobile devices and desktop, print, etc.?
- How might we include interactivity, or video and audio, into our content marketing so that it’s all contained together instead of separated into different formats or siloed experiences?
3. How measurable are our current content marketing efforts?
Remember that one of the primary opportunities of these connected networks of content is that they can be nearly “borderless.” They aren't siloed websites, or blogs, or PDFs. Thus, some of the linear insights (and assumptions) that we make with siloed assets will be different. For example, today most B2B marketers assume that when someone downloads a PDF white paper they actually read the paper in its entirety; thus, the download often triggers the next “stage” of automated marketing messaging.
These new digital experiences can offer new benefits (as well as challenges) to those assumptions. You will now be able to trigger messaging based on the consumption of specific paragraphs, or specific videos within an experience, or even the level (or order) of progression through a particular number of networked assets.
True success with these new experiences will come from the much more granular insight into how business content is being utilized to help a prospective customer move toward purchase, loyalty, or other business metric.
- How do we currently define success? Is it downloads? Views? Visits? Conversions?
- What types of metrics would be most helpful for us to understand how our content marketing is performing?
4. What capabilities do we have to gather “intent data” or to offer interactivity through our content experiences?
One of the keys of insight will be the quality (and quantity) of customer buying-intent data that is captured as each “next best” experience is both determined and presented.
Interactivity is not only a way to provide for more engaging experiences, but a way to gather insight into what the next best experience should be. Whether delivered as a poll, a survey, a game, or a choose-your-own-adventure path, interactivity will be one of the primary methods by which we begin to examine intent.
This will require an approach not just in technology, but in architecting the experiences and the content so that they can be connected together in a meaningful way.
- What kinds of first-party data are we gathering now?
- What intent data would help us to understand the motivations at each step of the buyer’s journey?
- What methods of interactivity, including connecting other content experiences along the buyer’s journey, would be most beneficial for our marketing?
As you conclude these discussions and start identifying your current needs, just remember that content creation and content management are very different things. These experiences will not only need to be easy to create, they will need to be easy to manage and even deactivate as well.
As you and your team learn the strengths and weaknesses in the network of experiences you are building, you will need to be able to launch, change, and deactivate content on that network as a means of strengthening it. And it just can’t take weeks or months to do that.