Beyond the PDF: The Case for Content Innovation
B2B content strategy has evolved significantly in the past few years with leading brands considering the information needs of the multiple decision-makers in the buying center. They create faceted content roadmaps that consider the different context, format preferences, level of detail and influences for each topic for each person in the buying center. Gone are the days when the company selling to another enterprise can cram all the information into a single white paper and offer a gated PDF for download.
Instead, brands need to consider new formats that can serve the needs of more than one member of the buying center as well as stimulate comprehension and the desire to know more. This drives the need for innovation when considering the formats of content objects.
Content Innovation: Why it Matters
It’s not just the content; it’s the content experience.
- The consumerization of business and the BYOD trend dictates that B2B customers expect the same kind of experiences that they have in their personal lives in their workplace
- People look in outlier locations for content, for example, public Knowledge Bases or the support communities. Brands need to apply innovation and best practices (BPs) consistently across content ecosystem.
The buying center is getting more complex.
- More decision-makers require more content diversity
- Finding great, innovative content formats that appeal to multiple decision-makers creates efficiency and effectiveness
Decision-makers are skewing younger.
- Life experiences are very different. We’re into the third-generation of gamers which has inspired the need for more dynamic content.
- People under 35 are not “into” text-only, long-form content
The majority of people (65%) are visual learners.
- 90% comprehension = visual + experience
Personalized hubs emerging for large enterprise customers.
- Key off product license to publish customer-specific content
How does this impact content strategy?
- As users increasingly use their own devices at work, content must be optimized for smartphones and pads…and whatever comes next. This requires thinking horizontally instead of vertically when creating content.
- Creating more engaging formats gives brands the ability to provide enough details for the granular needs of certain members of the buying center and still appeal to those who only want high-level information
- Finding formats that do double duty is essential for learning, comprehension and content efficiency
- Clickable videos and tutorials = best content formats for learning and comprehension
- Text-only content ≠ understanding; info does not stick
- Higher expectations require adoption of BPs such as:
- Making it easy to capture content from disparate sources (like email, social media interactions, and forum threads)
- Locating the right content must be intuitive
- Allowing SMEs and customers to rate and comment on content to guide consumption and experience
- Simplifying arduous review cycles for more agile publishing processes
- Using analytics and being more data driven to obtain insights on the value of content (Source: Forrester)
Content to conversion is a hot topic as brands try to expand the mission of their content marketing initiatives from demand to revenue generation. Content innovation is a key driver in navigating the buying center all the way down the full purchase path. Creating content that generates understanding and comprehension collapses the sales cycle and increases content ROI. Formats that combine video and text or allow users to launch an app that teaches them how something works and provides the option for deeper information at the point where they need it most will rapidly replace the old models of long-form text formats.
Here are links to a few of my favorite examples.
Share your great innovative B2B content. Why is it appealing?
Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.
Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.
Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.