How B2B Marketers Can Stand Out with Original Content

Posted on by Nate Skinner
Cox Automotive is using AI to improve how it delivers targeted marketing content.

Plenty of B2B marketers talk about the importance of delivering a personalized B2C-like experience, to drive brand awareness and sales. But few are actually delivering on this promise. In fact, B2C companies customer experience ratings tend to be below the 50 percent range. To remain relevant and thrive, all B2B marketers need to walk the walk when it comes to reaching the right audience with the right content in the right context.

In today’s information landscape, an original content strategy isn’t optional—it’s crucial in order to command attention in a noisy world. All of us are inundated with communications, and the vast majority of messages go ignored. The only way to stand out from the crowd is to understand your buyer and deliver content that is personalized, relevant and engaging. This can only be achieved at scale with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). Marketers who not only understand this intellectually but also take action are the ones changing the game. The rest risk falling behind.

Here are the key components of effectively delivering original content as a B2B marketer:

The right audience

A powerful content strategy starts with deeply understanding your target audience. Content is much less effective when aimed at a general audience of buyers. Instead, you can use the power of AI to identify segments of buyers and prospective customers and predict the best way to engage each group with customized content. Understanding each segment’s needs and predicting their behavior is the starting point for crafting messages that are personalized and relevant. AI is the only way to accomplish this at scale and in real-time.

One case in point is Cox Automotive, which supplies marketing, digital and software solutions to the auto industry, touching 75 percent of all car purchases in the U.S. and Canada. The company wanted to stand out from other technology providers for the car industry, take advantage of up-selling and cross-selling opportunities and meet rising consumer demands for consistent engagement. Thanks to an AI-powered technology solution, they were able to target highly specific groups with personalized marketing materials, such as people holding certain titles at dealerships. This strategy proved much more effective than, say, a traditional promotion for all dealerships that ended by a certain date, helping Cox Automotive achieve a lead to opportunity conversion rate of 80 percent.

The right content

The content that B2B marketers produce is often less inherently sexy than that of consumer-focused brands selling, say, sneakers or soda. That means B2B companies need to work even harder to grab their audiences and produce the kind of content that gets read and syndicated. The content they create should be:

  • Relevant: Flooding people with generalized information is a surefire way to lose them. Whether a potential buyer stumbles across your website or opens an email, they should find content that is personalized based on who and where they are in their journey. Use your AI-driven understanding of your audience to craft relevant messages. Even minor customization—such as ensuring an email targeting someone in Quebec, Canada, is written in both English and French and isn’t reaching them at 4 p.m. Eastern Time–dramatically improves engagement. For example, when SPCA International shifted to an AI-based solution that allowed for more tailored messaging, online donations grew by 27 percent and its supporter base increased 200 percent.
  • Valuable: Meaty content is the most absorbing kind. Sure, infographics and bullet points are easy to digest. But buyers need something to chew on to stay engaged. Gone are the days of scratching the surface while keeping the juicy content gated. Use your company’s expertise to share useful information or offer tips. Show a demo of how you built your product. Tell an interesting customer story. Bottom line: Add value.
  • Engaging: With content that is relevant and meaningful, you’re already on your way to engagement. But think about other innovative ways to break through the noise. Can you push the envelope when it comes to your delivery method, the voice you use or the types of stories you tell? Think about how you can elicit emotion and create memorable moments.

The right channel

When considering how to deliver your content, remember that your audience is human. They check email when they wake up, read news on Twitter on the way to work and browse Instagram on their lunch breaks. Using what you know thanks to AI, employ each channel to deliver the message most relevant to your audience in that context, and consider how all channels—from social, to email, to your website, to paid advertising—interrelate.

When considering channels, prepare for emerging technologies that will be mainstream tomorrow, from virtual and augmented reality to chatbots and voice-activated assistants. All of these mediums have their strengths and require an approach that is distinct from traditional channels. VR, for example, is ideal for delivering immersive experiences that elicit an emotional response. These technologies are already widely used today, so don’t put off experimenting and using them to break the script.

Nate Skinner is vice president of product marketing for Salesforce Pardot.

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