Content Strategy

A Message is Only a Message When it’s Delivered

A Message is Only a Message When it’s Delivered

Content is the oil of the customer journey. It helps prospective customers move smoothly and easily from one touchpoint one to the next. And just as different machines need different types of oil, so different journeys require different types of content. What makes content much trickier is that, with customers, you increasingly don’t know what types they need, or when. 

A major attraction of ecommerce – for buyers in both B2B and B2C – has long been the ability to avoid having to deal with salespeople. According to Gartner research in 2021, 83% of the buying decision is already made before a salesperson gets in the room with the client. People want to do their own research, at their own pace, in their own way – increasingly via social media. The pandemic only made this more widespread.

Make the prospect raise their hand

All this means that, for the majority of their path to purchase, you don’t know who your customers are. You don’t even know they’re in-market. Essentially, they’re invisible.

So a big part of marketing’s job now is “to attract people to come and talk to us, to get them involved in the buying cycle as early as we can,” as Martin Wallace, EMEA Marketing Director, Captify, puts it. 

Half the solution to this problem is your content strategy [link to article #2]. You need to know what questions each member of this invisible buying committee needs answering about the capability they require and the technology that might deliver it. But having the answers to their questions is useless if they never see them. Making sure they do is the other half of the solution.

It’s also worth remembering that, the bigger the system you’re selling in, the more likely it is to impact on other areas of your customer’s business. Senior people from these departments will probably not be involved in the detail of the purchase process, but you still want them on your side. Work out what the relevant job roles are, and target them with the right content in the right place too.

Working with publishers

Delivery strategy means making sure each piece of your content appears where the particular audience expects to find it. What sites do they visit? Which thought-leaders do they respect?

One way to find out is to ask your existing customers. Another is to ask the publishers you’re working with, or thinking of working with.

The starting point with a publisher is their media pack. You should also find out how much detail they can offer on their audience segments. In addition, you need to know whether they charge for hosting content (which is easier for them) or by the number of leads they generate (which is better for you). Then where do they host content, and how easy is it for visitors to find? Do they promote the content they host, or link to it from relevant content of their own? Do they treat all the content they host in the same way, or can you pay extra to have yours featured more prominently? 

Armed with all this information, the next thing is to run a test. Measure the performance of every piece of content you’re publishing, on every site on which it’s published, both quantitively and qualitatively, so you can identify what works, and what doesn’t. 

Even when you’ve established a roster of publishers who are delivering you the leads you want, you should still keep some of your budget back to run tests in new places.

Things to think about when creating a delivery strategy

Think beyond the traditional buyer – Buying committees are becoming much more diverse, and their decisions can be influenced by other people who will come into contact with the product they choose. Stop thinking about selling, start thinking about building advocacy. 

Value not volume – It’s obviously better to have more leads rather than fewer, but for big-ticket purchases, it’s lead quality that matters. Think about which publishers deliver the highest-converting leads, not just the most. 

Test and learn – Even if you’ve created a portfolio of publishers who are delivering great leads, you’ve still only done 80% of the job. You still need to be spending 20% of your time and budget watching out for new types of buyer and audience, and testing new lead sources to find ways of engaging with them.